Bird Walk September 23, 2014

Lines of migrating raptors traced throughout the upper limits of the sky. Migrating warblers were seen among the branches, savoring the recent hatch of airborne insects. It was an amazing morning to be out, witnessing the spectacle of bird migration, as well as several great views of butterflies and a southern toad species…

Like many mornings, the Great Kiskadees charmed the air with their bubbly chatter and stellar appearance. Their wings are toned of dark grays and rufous-reds, with a belly of bright yellow, all topped-off with a sharp mask of black and white. Look closely, and you might even get to see their neon yellow stripe along the crown on their head! Great Kiskadees are year-round residents at Quinta Mazatlan.

Great Kiskadee taking flight

Great Kiskadee taking flight

Clay-colored Thrushes were seen feeding in two small groups. Each of the thrushes were busy foraging throughout the many nooks and crannies in the leaf litter and branch thickets. The young-of-the-year Clay-colored Thrushes are a little scruffy-looking, with grayish heads and scruffy bellies, as they molt into their clean-cut set of beautiful golden-brown and dark-chocolate-colored feathers.

Clay-colored Thrush

Clay-colored Thrush

Clay-colored thrushes

Can you find all three Clay-colored Thrushes in this photo?

The ever-squawking Green Parakeets were seen feeding on anacua berries. Their lime green plumage glowed against the blue morning sky. Through close observation, we could even see their rosy-purple eye rings and neon yellow leg feathers. They are a very flashy bird, and are often heard before they are seen.

Green Parakeet

Green Parakeet

Several fiery skippers were seen flying and feeding throughout the grasses and flowers in ebony grove. While crouching on the ground, I was able to get pictures of two of them in the same picture, with a side-profile as well as a back-profile of this butterfly species.

Fiery Skipper

Fiery Skippers. Note the positioning of the orange spots along the side of the wing.

Fiery Skipper

Fiery Skippers. Note the “black-toothed” margins along his hindwing.

One very content gulf coast toad was seen hopping across the the path, as it made its way from the expanses of leaf litter along the perimeter of a puddle of water. This is a primarily-Mexican species of toad, that can be found throughout central Texas through southern Texas, as well as the southern edge of eastern Texas. They are more common near the coast, and can be found as far “north” as the Gulf of Mexico coastline of Louisiana.

Gulf Coast Toad

Gulf Coast Toad

Late September is one of the prime times of fall migration to see migrating raptors coming through in large numbers. Several small kettles (migrating groups) of raptors were seen overhead, containing both Broad-winged Hawks and Mississippi Kites. Can you identify both of the birds shown below? Like all of the other photos in this blog, these two raptor photos were taken on the bird walk. To see the answer, position your cursor on the picture for a moment to let the answer appear. Get your binoculars out, field guides ready, and keep your eyes to the skies!

Mississippi Kite

Broad-winged Hawk

Below are the birds seen during this morning’s bird walk at Quinta Mazatlan.

Plain Chachalaca  12
Mississippi Kite  2
Broad-winged Hawk  26
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  4
Inca Dove  11
White-winged Dove  10
Mourning Dove  3
Chimney Swift  20
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  2
Buff-bellied Hummingbird  5
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  4
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  2
Green Parakeet  4
Great Kiskadee  2
Couch’s Kingbird  1
Green Jay  1
Purple Martin  1
Tree Swallow  1
Cave Swallow  2
Carolina Wren  1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1
Clay-colored Thrush  8
Curve-billed Thrasher  2
Northern Mockingbird  3
European Starling  2
American Redstart  1
Wilson’s Warbler  1
Olive Sparrow  3
Great-tailed Grackle  1
Orchard Oriole  1
Lesser Goldfinch  3
House Sparrow  7

 

Good birding,

Erik Bruhnke

Bird Walk: April 16th, 2013

This is a weekly bird report written and photographed by our Interpretive Guide and Birder John Brush.

Had a nice group of birders come along for the morning walk, along with our regular crew. We started off the morning with a bang, seeing a Green Jay, a couple female Summer Tanagers, and an Ovenbird (a cute little warbler that walks on the forest floor).

Bird Walk 2013-04-16 Swainsons Thrush

We also got looks at this Swainson’s Thrush, a migratory thrush, at the water feature beneath the big Anacua tree. Many thrushes have the same general appearance, with speckled breasts and an overall brownish color. One of the field marks of this species is the tan eye-ring, and pale supraloral band going from the bill to the eye.

Bird Walk 2013-04-16 Nashville Warbler

We also saw some migrant warblers, such as this Nashville Warbler. These birds have bright yellow breasts and bellies, but the distinguishing marks is the gray hood and large white eye ring. They are migrating through in large numbers, and are fun birds to see.

Bird Walk 2013-04-16 Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat is another neotropical migrant in the warbler family. They are larger than most warblers, and have much thicker bills. They like to be in thickets near water, but will occasionally come out into the open. Today we got to see one bathing in Ruby Pond!

Bird Walk 2013-04-16 Mississippi Kite

Mississippi Kite is another species of raptor that migrates through the Rio Grande Valley in large numbers. These birds have the stereotypical shape of a kite – long, thin wings and a slender body. Watch for them in the evenings as they come down to roost in wooded areas; they’ll even spend the night in your neighborhood, as they have mine!

Join us for a Bird Walk! Tuesdays (through April) 8:30am-10:00am at Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen, Texas.