Gulf Coast and the Rio Grande

I have been setting aside some photographs for a “rainy day” post, something to share when I don’t get a chance to get out with my camera. What follows are a few of the many photos from a trip to Texas in February 2019. It was a Massachusetts Audubon group tour that went from Corpus Christi down to Brownsville then up the Rio Grande to McAllen. The weather was a little damp and dreary at times but the company was great and so were the birds. (Shout out to the two trip veterans who are subscribers!) These are just a small sample of what we saw. You can see the overcast conditions in the pictures but the colors still stood out.

I’ll start with this photo I took the night before the group met to start the tour. I was walking along the docks near my hotel and came across this photo op. This female Boat-tailed Grackle must be watching her weight and avoiding sugar.

There were lots of wading birds to see, as you would expect near the coast.

A group photo. On the left, is a Royal Tern with a Laughing Gull behind him. The small tern on the right is a Forster’s Tern. The Royal Tern has the appearance of a receding hairline. I feel your pain, buddy.

A pair of Northern Shovelers for duck lovers. Those big bills are unmistakable.

There were lots of raptors and this is just a few of the ones we saw.

We did see a special raptor. Aplomado Falcons were common in southern Texas and the Southwest in 1950s but were driven out due to loss of habitat. They are starting to come back near Corpus Christi with the help of conservationists that provide new habitat for them. Similar programs in the Southwest have not been successful. This is a mating pair. The female, as is the case with most raptors, is the larger of the two.

We have our Blue Jays here in New England, but they have a Green Jay. What colors!

I like this name…Great Kiskadee. It’s a large flycatcher.

This bird lives up to its name: Vermillion Flycatcher.

There is a bird in these pictures. Really. The Pauraque is one of the nighthawks, sometimes called “goatsuckers”. Whip-poor-wills are another member of this group. It really blends into the foliage and is virtually invisible when it isn’t moving. Look closely and you can see its eye, especially in the second picture.

Last, and most certainly not least, is the Whooping Crane. This rare bird breeds in the Aransas NWR north of Corpus Christi. We saw a few in flight (first photo) but the highlight was taking a boat trip out to the refuge and seeing them up close. It was dark and rainy when we left the dock but things brightened up when we reached the refuge. The second photo is an adult and an immature bird with a brown head.

Now I will continue dodging the rain and looking for warblers to use in a new post.

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