Photos with this report (click to enlarge)
Franklin's Gulls & American Avocets
Whenever I plan a trip abroad, I try to cover as many birding sites and habitats as possible, being mindful not to waste too much daytime driving between each to help eliminate lost time in the field. Inevitably this means more time is needed overall especially to allow enough time to explore each area to the full upon arrival. I had never been to the ‘Lone Star’ State before but had read about the many wonderful reserves in southern Texas and with so much ground to cover this was never going to be a short visit. Looking back, I think we covered most of the best sites along the Gulf coast; it took 30 days and 3,392 miles driving to incorporate them all.
Recent studies have shown that up to 2.1 BILLION(!) migrants cross the Gulf of Mexico every spring with the 18-day period 19th April – 7th May being around the best time to see them, weather dependent of course. I was therefore praying for northerly winds and heavy rain to ground them. This “ideal” however, wasn’t shared by Gerda, my non-birdy wife who wished for clear skies and sunny days, but I digress. Coming from SW England and never having visited the States in springtime, the lure of seeing all these birds, warblers in particular, in their full glory, spring plumage has long been an ambition of mine so this trip concentrated on the migration hotspots along the coast with excursions inland to savour other areas and give Gerda something else to look at. I decided not to include the Big Bend National Park (on most birding itineraries) or King Ranch on our list of places to visit, mainly on budget grounds. The former would have entailed quite a detour (we only just entered the corner of Big Bend Country in the SE) and with no accommodation on offer in our price range (ideally you would have full camping gear at your disposal or an RV), I decided to spend the time elsewhere. King Ranch we discovered only accepted paid groups and bookings in advance so although we drove through it, we didn’t visit the Ranch itself…another time.
At nearly £2,000 each, this was the most expensive holiday Gerda and I have ever had. Due to Brexit, the exchange rate was awful, costing us 79p/dollar. The cost of a hire car from Houston at £941.47 was almost double what we usually pay. Return flights from London £583.72 each with United Airlines included a charge of £60 for ‘one piece of checked luggage’ which we paid in advance to the agent, Travel Trolley, only to discover they didn’t pass this on to the airline when we arrived at the airport – we had to pay again! We are still chasing this up with TT but obviously unlikely to use them again. US visas cost us £11 each. Thankfully petrol costs in Texas were very low compared with UK and we only spent £164 in total; pump prices were $2.39 = £1.89/GALLON! We booked all our accommodation in advance from the UK via Booking.com. Once we knew where we were going and how long we needed in each area this saved wasting time whilst travelling. Booking.com also gave us a 10-15% discount on our advanced bookings as we are regular customers. We only booked motels where we could cancel up until 24 hrs before arrival as this gave us the flexibility we felt we required. We used the relatively cheap Motel 6 chain for accommodation at most places and spent £1,454 in total. These motels are ideal for our needs with fridge/freezer, microwave and WIFI all provided…and a desk to write up my notes in the evenings. A lot of the National Parks charge an entry fee between $4-8 each and we spent £73.50 for the two of us on visiting these.
We enjoyed dry, warm, sunny days between 24-34’C most of the time but experienced some heavy rain and strong winds at both ends of the trip and narrowly escaped two tornadoes! The rain I had wanted to create a fall (‘fallout’ in US speak) of migrants on the coast, however, didn’t really happen - much to Gerda’s relief. For a big ‘fallout’, the best weather to produce the birds is a strong northerly headwind with rain as the birds arrive at midday. Unfortunately, we were told these happened less often in recent years and we certainly didn’t experience any such arrivals except for one day – see below. It takes up to 18 hours for these birds to traverse the 600-mile sea crossing from the Yucatán, Mexico, so if they leave the coast there in the evening and travel overnight, they won’t arrive until lunchtime on the Texas coast. However, if weather conditions are favourable, in calm and clear conditions, they won’t make landfall at all and so continue unseen high inland.
Notwithstanding, the night of 3rd/4th May seemed to have some effect on the birds, albeit probably not as much as it did with us. We were asleep at Groves as a tornado swept through just west of the town. Gerda’s mobile beeped at 02:45 “Evacuate! Evacuate! All your emergency contacts have been activated”. Quite where we should go (nobody was going anywhere) wasn’t explained but she spent the rest of the night watching the thunder and lightning from the “safety” of our room - as clearly did others at the motel from the number of rooms alit prior to the power cut - and let me sleep on. It wasn’t that I was completely unaware of the situation: the torrential rain hammering on the windows and noise of the wind outside woke me up. Around 04:00 I actually got up and started to dress thinking in my dreamy state, at seeing Gerda at the window, it must be time to go birding… before she told me what was happening and I went back to bed. Anyway, it brought in 4 Bay-breasted Warblers, a lifer for me, along with a dozen other new species for the trip when we finally got outside so it was well worth it.
Driving in Texas and other observations
We drive a 2-door Peugeot 107 at home so hiring a 4-door VW Golf was a welcome change – a massive car by our standards. Once out on the open road, however we were quickly dwarfed by the huge 4x4s that dominate the highways and having read about the need to adhere to speed limits at all times I was very careful not to exceed them for fear of being caught. This meant, as always abroad, we were the slowest car on the road (and usually the only obvious tourist vehicle in the places we went) and with ‘tailgating’ coupled with the use of mobile phones behind the steering wheel being the norm, I found it quite challenging driving in Texas. There doesn’t appear to be an ‘Overtaking Rule’ either, with cars speeding past either side so when slowing to a turnoff you just hope (a) the car tailgating you can see your brake lights and indicator and (b) doesn’t undercut you on the junction. We paid an additional premium for Gerda to drive but that never happened. Thankfully, traffic is light and, in many places, almost non-existent away from the towns. What was a welcome sight was the profusion of wild flowers along the roadsides and the clouds of butterflies amongst them – in sharp contrast to the scene in the UK where verges are mown and insects few.
On the food-front I have to say we struggled to find fresh fruit and veg: most of it was processed and the only cafes/restaurants we found in the main were beef burger/chicken/steak houses served with chips. We usually bought salad for our evening meals and took this back to our room. After a long day in the field (we were up at 6am and out by 7 every day) we were usually too tired to drive out again and we don’t usually cope with eating meat every day. On the plus side, we lost weight! Recycling doesn’t seem to be a priority anywhere and in contrast to home we were shocked to be given plastic cutlery with polystyrene cups and plastic plates with every meal, all to be thrown in the bin afterwards. Of course, they have the room for huge landfill sites and in-between we drove for miles in the most wonderful wildernesses often without another car in sight. The flat, open landscape of the Gulf Coast and South Texas Plains, the abundant wildflowers, birds and insects, the massive nature reserves and National Parks were a joy to see. The only other birders, indeed tourists, that we met were at the birding hotspots along the coast. Away from these we were greeted with a warm curiosity by local folk as to why we were there.
The Texas Hill Country was in stark contrast to the flat landscape monotony of the lowlands with green, wooded hills, as someone said “much like Wales”. It was cooler here and offered relief from the deserts of the South Texas Plains. We enjoyed the nature reserves along the river in the Lower Rio Grande Valley which straddle the border with Mexico but not the high wall (actually a tall metal fence) with its attendant Border Patrol vehicles and police. The constant noise from helicopters overhead, looking for illegal migrants from Mexico, rather destroyed the tranquillity we had enjoyed hitherto and I was always aware I might bump into a gang (I did) when out birding somewhere remote on my own and end up in trouble (I didn’t) if they were armed.
17th April. London - Houston. Stay Rosenberg. Brief visit Seabourne Creek Nature Park in heavy rain.
18th April. Rosenberg – El Campo - Palacios - Port Lavaca - Aransas NWR - Rockport - Port Aransas (193 miles). Visit Palacio & ‘Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Centre’ at Port Aransas. Thunderstorms and heavy rain en route but dry on coast, 27’C, NW gale.
19th April. Port Aransas - Corpus Christi - Petronila - Kingsville (84 miles). Visit Port Aransas, Blucher Park in Corpus Christi and Dick Kleberg Park, Kingsville. Hot, dry & sunny, 28’C.
20th April. Kingsville - Riviera - Falfurrias - Encino - Linn - Raymondville - Harlingen - Brownsville (160 miles). Visit ‘World Birding Centre’ at Resaca de la Palma State Park (Fee $4 ea.). Hot, dry & sunny, 28’C.
21st April. Brownsville. Visit Sabal Palm Sanctuary (Fee $5 ea.) and Oliveira Park. Hot, dry & sunny but SE gale force winds, 30’C.
22nd April. Brownsville. Visit ‘Birding & Nature Centre’, South Padre Island (Fee $5 ea.) and Oliveira Park. Hot, dry & sunny, 28’C.
23rd April. Brownsville - Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge - McAllen (58 miles). Visit Santa Ana NWR (Fee $2.5 ea.). Warm, dry & overcast, 28’C.
24th April. Rio Grande Valley State Park. Visit ‘McAllen Nature Centre’ (FREE entry) and ‘Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre’, Bentsen State Park (Fee $5 ea.). Hot, dry, overcast & humid, 30’C.
25th April. McAllen - Salineño - Falcon Dam - Laredo, South Texas Plains (170 miles). Visit ‘Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre’, Bentsen State Park (Fee $5 ea.) and Falcon Dam State Park (FREE entry). Hot, dry & sunny, 34’C.
26th April. Laredo, South Texas Plains - Del Rio, Big Bend Country (177 miles). Visit Amistad National Recreation Area, Del Rio (FREE entry). Hot, dry & sunny, 34’C.
27th April. Amistad National Recreation Area. Hot, dry & sunny, 34’C.
28th April. Del Rio, Big Bend Country - Uvalde, Texas Hill Country (70 miles). Visit Amistad National Recreation Area and Cook’s Slough Sanctuary. Hot, dry & partly cloudy, 28’C.
29th April. Uvalde. Visit Lost Maples State Natural Area (Fee $6 ea.), Rio Frio & Concan. Cool, dry, overcast, 26’C.
30th April. Uvalde. Visit Garner State Park, Edward’s Plateau (Fee $8 ea.) and Cook’s Slough Sanctuary. Warm & humid, rain, mist, 28’C.
1st May. Uvalde. Visit (private) Chalk Bluff Park, Nueces River (Fee $10 ea.) and Cook’s Slough Sanctuary. Warm & humid, rain, 28’C.
2nd May. Uvalde - Pearsall - Choke Canyon State Park - Beeville - Goliad - Victoria, South Texas Plains (233 miles). Visit Choke Canyon S.P. (Fee $5 ea.). Warm & humid, dry, overcast, 28’C.
3rd May. Victoria - Edna - El Campo - Brazos Bend State Park - Lake Jackson - Hitchcock - La Marque, Galveston, Gulf Coast (190 miles). Visit Brazos Bend S.P. (Fee $7 ea.). Warm, overcast, showers, 24’C.
4th May. Galveston Island, Gulf Coast. Visit east end (Corp’s Woods) and west end (Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve) (FREE entry to both). Hot, dry & sunny, 28’C.
5th May. La Marque, Galveston Island - High Island, Gulf Coast (54 miles). Visit Corps Woods, Bolivar Flats, Rollover Pass, Bolivar Peninsula & High Island Boy Scout Woods Sanctuary (Fee $8 ea.). Hot, dry & sunny, 28’C.
6th May. High Island & Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge (FREE entry). Hot, dry & partly cloudy, 26’C.
7th May. High Island. Visit Boy Scout Woods Sanctuary, Eubanks Wood, Smith Oaks Sanctuary ($8 ea.). Also Rollover Pass and west end McFaddin N.W.R., Bolivar Peninsula. Cool & humid, dry with thunderstorms in afternoon, 27’C.
8th May. High Island - Texas Point N.W.R. & Sabine Pass Battleground S.H.S. - Groves - Port Arthur, Gulf Coast - Peveto Woods Sanctuary, Louisiana (168 miles). Dry but warm & humid, overcast, 27’C.
9th May. Groves cemetery & Louisiana. Strong winds & thunderstorms overnight brought heavy rain (7.5”), with widespread flooding by dawn 10th. Tornado “nearby”!
10th May. Louisiana. See separate trip report for State of Louisiana: https://www.surfbirds.com/trip_report.php?id=2924
11th May. Louisiana.
12th May. Louisiana.
13th May. Louisiana.
14th May. New Orleans, Louisiana - High Island & Rollover Pass, Bolivar Peninsula, Gulf Coast, Texas (288 miles). Hot, dry & sunny, 30’C.
15th May. Anahuac N.W.R. - Houston - London. Hot, dry & sunny, 29’C.
We saw 257 bird species, 15 mammals, 13 reptiles, 11 Odonata & 23 butterfly species.
Great Northern Diver. 12 at Palacio 18th.
Pied-billed Grebe. 1 Port Aransas, 2 incl a juv at Santa Ana NWR; 1 Choke Canyon SP; 25 incl several young at Brazos Bend SP.
Least Grebe. 1 Sabal Palm Sanctuary.
American White Pelican. 40 Port Aransas; up to 34 at Rollover Pass on three visits.
Brown Pelican. Common at the coast where seen daily. This species has only recolonised since the late 1990’s apparently after a population crash in the 1950’s. Counts of 120 Port Aransas, 200 Galveston Island, 300 Rollover Pass, Bolivar Peninsula, 100 McFaddin NWR for example.
Magnificent Frigatebird. 2 out to sea off High Island 14th.
Anhinga. A few seen at widespread locations but high counts c70 Stoke Canyon SP and 10 Brazos Bend SP.
Double-crested Cormorant. Widespread around the coast and breeding on inland lakes but less common than Olivaceous.
Olivaceous Cormorant. Seen most days with highest count 76 at Falcon SP.
Least Bittern. Adult and immature from the boardwalk at ‘Birding & Nature Centre’, South Padre Island 22nd and two at Anahuac NWR 15th.
Great Blue Heron. Seen most days; fairly common and widespread. Counts of 20 Port Aransas, 10 South Padre Island & Brazos Bend SP; 20 Rollover Pass, Bolivar Peninsula where breeding.
Great Egret. Common and widespread, more abundant than above species. Counts of 30 at Port Aransas, 20 Stoke Canyon SP, 30 Brazos Bend SP; 80 Rollover Pass, Bolivar Peninsula where breeding.
Snowy Egret. Common & widespread with up to 30/day.
Reddish Egret. Highest count 40 Port Aransas from Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Centre on 19th. Otherwise singles Galveston Island, Rollover Pass and Anahuac NWR.
Little Blue Heron. 3 Resaca de la Palma SP, 2 Sabal Palm Sanctuary, c50 Brazos Bend SP, 10 Galveston Island, 4 Bolivar Flats, a few at High Island but common at Anahuac NWR.
Tricolored Heron. 4 Port Aransas from Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Centre 19th with 6 elsewhere there next day, 5 South Padre Island, 1 Choke Canyon SP, 3 Galveston Island, 10 Rollover Pass and common at Anahuac NWR where breeding.
Cattle Egret. Common and widespread except in the South Texas Plains and Hill Country with highest daily counts 100 18th, 250 2nd, 400 3rd for eg.
Green Heron. Seen on 11 dates with highest counts 20 Brazos Bend SP and 16 Anahuac NWR.
Black-crowned Night-Heron. Singles Port Aransas, Cook’s Slough Sanctuary, Choke Canyon SP, Rollover Pass with 8 at Brazos Bend SP.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Singles nr Houston, Port Aransas, Bentsen State Park, High Island, Groves cemetery and Anahuac NWR with 4 Galveston Island and 15 Brazos Bend SP.
Glossy Ibis. Only one seen – at Anahuac NWR on our last day.
White-faced Ibis. 20 Port Aransas, 11 between Del Rio & Uvalde, 2 Choke Canyon SP, 4 Galveston Island, c30 north-west of Winnie, c70 Anahuac NWR.
White Ibis. Common and widespread except in the South Texas Plains and Hill Country eg. counts of 150 Port Aransas, 50 Brazos Bend SP and 100 Anahuac NWR.
Roseate Spoonbill. Singles Choke Canyon SP, Galveston Island, 2 Bolivar Flats, 5 South Padre Island, 6 Rollover Pass, 40 Anahuac NWR, c80 Port Aransas from Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Centre, and a breeding colony at Smith Oaks Sanctuary, High Island where c30 seen on 7th.
[Wildfowl. Unfortunately, we were too late to catch the wintering wildfowl so missed species such as Pintail and American Wigeon as well as any diving duck, with the exception of Ruddy Duck for example]
Fulvous Whistling-Duck. c150 at Anahuac NWR, the only place I saw them.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck. With Blue-winged Teal, the commonest and most widespread duck encountered and seen almost daily. Highest counts c100 Brazos Bend SP and c80 Anahuac NWR.
Wood Duck. Pairs at Cook’s Slough Sanctuary and Brazos Bend SP.
Muscovy Duck. One on a canal outside the entrance to McAllen Nature Centre. They are rare in Texas and only found in the far SW near the border with Mexico from where they originate.
Mallard. A few of dubious origin (incl hybrids) at Seabourne Creek Nature Park and a female with 2 ducklings in Winnie, the only sightings.
Mottled Duck. Seen on 12 dates but nowhere common, usually <10/day. Max. 16 Galveston Island 4th included a brood of 6 ducklings.
Gadwall. A pair at Port Aransas 18th, the only ones I saw. Presumably late wintering birds.
Northern Shoveler. 20 north off Palacio 18th, c80 Port Aransas 19th and a pair at Anahuac NWR 6th.
Blue-winged Teal. Widespread along the coast and inland wetlands with max counts c160 Port Aransas, 45 Santa Ana NWR, 40 Galveston Island and 25 Anahuac NWR.
Green-winged Teal. 20 Port Aransas 19th.
Red-breasted Merganser. Drake standing on the beach at Palacio 18th.
Ruddy Duck. 11 Port Aransas and 5 Cook’s Slough Sanctuary.
Black Vulture. Fairly common and widespread and although not as common as Turkey Vulture, usually 10-20 seen most days. Highest daily counts of 30 at Falcon State Park 25th, 58 on 30th incl 35 at Cook’s Slough Sanctuary and 125 at Choke Canyon SP on 2nd.
Turkey Vulture. The commonest and most widespread raptor, seen daily with 50-100 most days. Highest count 500 included 425 on northward migration over Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen SP in 2 hours on 25th.
Osprey. 1-2/day on 11 dates at widespread localities.
White-tailed Kite. Singles near McAllen 24th and east of Rollover Pass, Bolivar Peninsula 7th.
Swallow-tailed Kite. Single at Liberty nr Houston on our last day.
Mississippi Kite. Arguably the bird of the trip for me as I knew they were fairly local and not particularly common - so I was surprised to see so many. [Along the Mississippi in Louisiana they were (perhaps not surprisingly!) the commonest raptor and I found two nests in two towns]. My first was a flock of ten flying north over McAllen Nature Centre, Rio Grande Valley SP 24th but the following day I counted an incredible 305 on northward migration over Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen SP in 2 hours from the “Hawk Tower”! Actually, the official count that morning was 607 so I clearly missed a lot! Next were 24 north (flocks 15, 1, 7 & 1) over Choke Canyon SP 2nd, 1 west over Colombia next day. 5 east over Groves 5th. 7 over Liberty and 5 others en route to Houston on our last day.
Sharp-shinned Hawk. Singles at Oliveira Park in Brownsville, Santa Ana NWR, Cook’s Slough Sanctuary and Chalk Bluff Park with a pair at Del Rio and 2 migrants north over Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen SP.
Cooper’s Hawk. 1 on northward migration over Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen SP in 2 hours on 25th and 1 Del Rio 28th. 3 north over Choke Canyon SP 2nd and 2 Galveston Island 4th.
Northern Harrier. 1 on northward migration over Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen SP in 2 hours on 25th but otherwise, presumed local birds at Rosenberg, Aransas NWR, Santa Ana NWR and along HW 2690 nr Uvalde. Two seen from car en route Uvalde – Victoria on 2nd.
Harris’s Hawk. Single perched on roadside telegraph pole en route Brownsville-McAllen on 23rd with 3 others that day at Santa Ana NWR. 6 along road en route Laredo – Del Rio 26th.
Red-shouldered Hawk. 1 Santa Ana NWR, 3 Brazos Bend SP.
Gray Hawk. 3 Santa Ana NWR and 3 Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen SP.
Broad-winged Hawk. Seen on 8 dates with peak count 466 on northward migration over Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen SP in 2 hours on 25th. 30 flew north there the previous day and on 23rd there were 20 Santa Ana NWR.
Red-tailed Hawk. Seen on five dates with max 6 on 20th and 4 15th.
White-tailed Hawk. Singles nr Harlingen 20th, High Island 5th with 4 Brownsville 22nd.
Swainson’s Hawk. Widespread. Seen 14 dates with up to 5-7/day.
Crested Caracara. Widespread. Seen 17 dates with up to 6-9/day but 15 on 2nd during 233-mile drive Uvalde-Victoria.
Merlin. Single fem/imm north at Port Aransas 18th.
Peregrine Falcon. Single hunting over marsh at Port Aransas 18th flushed every bird in sight!
Plain Chachalaca. 2 Sabal Palm Sanctuary, 2 McAllen Nature Centre, Rio Grande Valley SP, 8 Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen SP and 1 at Cook’s Slough Sanctuary.
Wild Turkey. 1 at World Birding Centre, Resaca de la Palma SP, 3 at Garner SP.
Northern Bobwhite. 4 males calling at Amistad NRA and 2 between there and Uvalde at roadside stops. 3 at Choke Canyon SP.
Scaled Quail. A pair along dirt road, ‘Old School Road/Dump Road’ north of Salineño cemetery.
King Rail. One feeding in ditch north of Farm Road 1985 northeast of Anahuac NWR.
Sora. Two showed very well from boardwalk at the ‘Birding & Nature Centre’ South Padre Island, with another at Anahuac NWR.
Common Gallinule. Locally common. Highest counts c100 Brazos Bend SP, c150 Anahuac NWR including many young at both sites.
American Purple Gallinule. c30 Brazos Bend SP, c20 Anahuac NWR.
American Coot. 8 Port Aransas, 6 South Padre Island, 8 Amistad NRA, 2 Cook’s Slough Sanctuary, 32 Choke Canyon SP, 1 Brazos Bend SP, 2 Anahuac NWR.
Whooping Crane. 2 late-stayers (thank goodness!) watched from a dirt road, ‘Oak Island Road’ off Farm Road 1663 north of Interstate 10 northeast of Anahuac NWR. Tipped off that they were still around by volunteers at Boy Scout Woods, High Island, they gave tremendous views as we watched from our car on 6th May. Apparently, this was unusual to see them away from the coastal Aransas NWR where they winter but they seemed to be finding enough food in the tall grasslands bordering the quiet road NW of Winnie and seemed well settled. Apparently the wintering population is now c440 – a huge increase from the 15 birds in 1941 following years of presecution.
[Waders. At Port Aransas and other estuaries along the coast there were thousands of waders on distant mudflats that even with a scope were too far to identify in the heat haze from the shore. Therefore, the list and numbers below are a serious underestimate of the true numbers seen.]
Grey Plover. 1 Port Aransas, 5 South Padre Island, 21 Bolivar Flats, 6 Rollover Pass, 6 Anahuac NWR and 14 McFaddin NWR.
American Golden Plover. 6 in flooded fields along HW71 west of Bay City at Restoration Ranch, 1 Palacio, 1 Port Aransas and 7 flooded fields Farm Road 1985 NE of Anahuac NWR.
Killdeer. Widespread. Seen on 16 days, usually single pairs, some with young. Highest daily count 33 on 15th along Farm Road 1985 NE of Anahuac NWR and at the latter site itself.
Semipalmated Plover. 2 Bolivar Flats, 1 Anahuac NWR and 1 Rollover Pass.
Wilson’s Plover. A single at Rollover Pass 5th.
American Oystercatcher. Flock of 3 at the ferry port beach, Bolivar Peninsula 5th, the only sighting.
Black-necked Stilt. Widespread in suitable wetland habitats. Seen 12 dates with max daily counts 23 18th, 20 22nd, 80 6th and 20 7th.
American Avocet. 300 on a pool at Port Aransas 18th was the highest daily count. 30 Rollover Pass 5th and 48 there 14th.
Greater Yellowlegs. Seen at widespread locations but less common than Lesser Yellowlegs. Max daily count 50 on 6th.
Lesser Yellowlegs. See above. Highest daily counts 300 18th, 250 19th and 6th at separate locations.
Solitary Sandpiper. Up to 8/day Port Aransas, others at Anahuac NWR.
Spotted Sandpiper. Singles Port Aransas, South Padre Island, Bentsen SP, Cook’s Slough Sanctuary, Galveston Island, Chalk Bluff Park and Groves with 2 at Choke Canyon SP. 3 at Santa Ana NWR and 5 at Anahuac NWR.
Eastern Willet. Widespread coastal marshes with up to 20/day. Breeding at Bolivar Peninsula.
Marbled Godwit. 7 Rollover Pass on 5th the only sighting.
Hudsonian Godwit. A group of 7 birds in flooded fields, Farm Road 1985 NE of Anahuac NWR on 5th.
Hudsonian Whimbrel. Seen on 6 dates with a flock of 88 in flooded fields annex Farm Road 1985 NE of Anahuac NWR on 6th the largest number encountered.
Long-billed Curlew. 40 feeding on distant mudflats at Port Aransas 19th, scoped from the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Centre.
Upland Sandpiper. 3 in flooded fields along HW71 west of Bay City at Restoration Ranch, a mile north of Midfield on 18th.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper. 14 in flooded fields annex Farm Road 1985 NE of Anahuac NWR on 6th.
Ruddy Turnstone. Seen on ten dates along the coast with up to 25/day but 70 at Rollover Pass on 7th and some at inland sites eg. flooded fields annex Farm Road 1985 NE of Anahuac NWR.
Sanderling. Seen on six dates along the coast with max count 45 on 5th.
Dunlin. c60 South Padre Island, 6 Bolivar Flats and 5 in flooded fields annex Farm Road 1985 NE of Anahuac NWR.
Pectoral Sandpiper. 10 in flooded fields along HW71 west of Bay City at Restoration Ranch, a mile north of Midfield on 18th, 10 Port Aransas 19th, c40 in flooded fields annex Farm Road 1985 NE of Anahuac NWR.
White-rumped Sandpiper. Seen on 4 dates with max 77 in flooded fields annex Farm Road 1985 NE of Anahuac NWR on 6th.
Baird’s Sandpiper. 1 Santa Ana NWR 23rd, 2 77 in flooded fields annex Farm Road 1985 NE of Anahuac NWR on 6th.
Semipalmated Sandpiper. Seen on 8 dates with max count 100 at Anahuac NWR on 15th. However, several hundred peeps seen during the trip at distance would have involved this and species below.
Least Sandpiper. Seen on 6 dates with max 20 Port Aransas and 15 South Padre Island.
Stilt Sandpiper. One of the commonest waders at coastal and inland waters. Highest daily counts were c300 Port Aransas, c250 in flooded fields annex Farm Road 1985 NE of Anahuac NWR.
Long-billed Dowitcher. Specifically identified on 4 dates with 30 at Santa Ana NWR 23rd the highest count.
Short-billed Dowitcher. Specifically identified on 5 dates with c100 at Port Aransas 19th the highest daily count.
Wilson’s Snipe. Single bird at Port Aransas 18th with another there next day.
Wilson’s Phalarope. 6 Port Aransas 18th with 2 there next day. 29 in flooded fields annex Farm Road 1985 NE of Anahuac NWR on 6th.
Laughing Gull. The common gull of the Gulf Coast but not seen inland in Texas Hill Country or South Texas Plains. Counts up to 500/day on the coast with c800 Brownsville rubbish tip on 22nd.
Franklin’s Gull. One of the surprises of the trip was to witness migrating flocks of these flying north. All sightings as follows: Flock 15 NE over flooded fields along HW71 west of Bay City at Restoration Ranch, a mile north of Midfield on 18th with further flocks likewise that day at Port Aransas of 10, 15 and 12 and a flock of c260 settled on a lagoon there at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Centre! Five flocks totalling 114 flew NE Port Aransas next day. 4 north over our hotel at Brownsville 21st. I north South Padre Island 22nd. On 25th a flock of 16 settled briefly on the reservoir at Falcon State Park before continuing north.
Ring-billed Gull. 3 at Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Centre, Port Aransas 18th with 4 there next day. 2 Bolivar Flats 5th, 1 Rollover Pass and 1 McFaddin NWR 7th and 2 at Rollover Pass 14th.
American Herring Gull. 1 Palacio & 6 Port Aransas 18th, 1 Rollover Pass 5th & 7th and 4 there 14th.
Lesser Black-backed Gull. 1 on beach at Rollover Pass 7th.
Black Tern. None prior to 4th then daily: 18 Galveston 4th. 9 ferry crossing Galveston Island- Bolivar Peninsula and 12 Rollover Pass 5th. 4 Anahuac NWR 6th, 60 Rollover Pass & c100 McFaddin NWR 7th. 1 Sabine Pass 8th. 30 Sabine Lake 9th. 57 Rollover Pass 14th. 40 Anahuac NWR 15th.
Caspian Tern. Seen on 6 dates with largest gatherings 12 Galveston Island 4th and 10 McFaddin NWR 7th.
Royal Tern. Common and widespread along the coast. Highest daily counts: 50 South Padre Island, c150 Galveston Island, c300 Rollover Pass and c400 McFaddin NWR.
Gull-billed Tern. Seen on 7 dates with highest daily number 10 Port Aransas on 19th.
Sandwich Tern. Seen on 6 dates with highest daily number 40 Rollover Pass on 7th.
Common Tern. Highest counts c300 at Rollover Pass and c400 McFaddin NWR on 7th.
Forster’s Tern. Highest count on 5th when 39 Bolivar Flats and 8 Rollover Pass. Few away from the coast.
Least Tern. Breeding along Bolivar Peninsula. Highest counts 15 South Padre Island, 30 Bolivar Flats (breeding), 50 Rollover Pass, 20 McFaddin NWR, breeding colony c25 beach near High Island.
Black Skimmer. 9 South Padre Island, up to 20/day Rollover Pass.
Feral Pigeon. Common and widespread, seen daily.
White-winged Dove. Common and widespread, seen on 22 dates with regularly 100/day. Highest counts were c400 in flocks over the forest in 2 hours at Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen State Park on morning of 24th with c300 similarly there next day.
Mourning Dove. Common and widespread, seen every day with often 100-200/day.
Inca Dove. Pair Blucher Park, Corpus Christi, 2 pairs Resaca de la Palma SP, pair Santa Ana NWR. Singles at McAllen Nature Centre, Lost Maples SNA, Cook’s Slough Sanctuary and Chalk Bluff Park. 6 Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre.
Common Ground-dove. 6 on 20th included 2 pairs Resaca de la Palma and another pair en route there. Otherwise singles at Sabal Palm Sanctuary, Santa Ana NWR, Falcon State Park, ‘Spur 54’ (Amistad Recreational Area), a pair near Uvalde and 3 at Chalk Bluff Park.
Collared Dove. Widespread in small numbers. Seen on 19 dates with up to 30-40/day with 70 on 28th the highest daily count.
Ringed Turtle-Dove. Single ‘Barbary Doves’ seen at Port Aransas and with Collared Doves at South Padre Island.
White-tipped Dove. 4 Resaca de la Palma, 12 Sabal Palm Sanctuary, 3 Santa Ana NWR, 1 McAllen Nature Centre, 4 Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre and 1 Lost Maples SNA.
Red-crowned Parrot. c50 coming to roost at dusk in Oliveira Park, Brownsville 22nd.
White-fronted Parrot. 8 coming to roost at dusk in Oliveira Park, Brownsville 22nd.
Green Parakeet. 18 coming to roost at dusk in Oliveira Park, Brownsville 22nd. A pair were nesting in our Sure Stay Hotel (entrance column) in Brownsville.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Singles Oliveira Park, Brownsville 21st and Anahuac NWR 6th with 2 between there and Houston on our last day.
Greater Roadrunner. 6 Falcon State Park, 1‘Old School Road/Dump Road’ north of Salineño cemetery, 1 Amistad NRA, 2 Chalk Bluff Park and 1 Choke Canyon SP.
Groove-billed Ani. A pair at Santa Ana NWR.
Lesser Nighthawk. 1 alighted on a branch in front of me at South Padre Island 22nd.
Common Nighthawk. What a fantastic surprise to see these on migration in flocks and hunting in broad daylight - I wasn’t aware they did that! 80 birds in total with all sightings given: Pair over Walmart store in Kingsville 19th, 3 Oliveira Park, Brownsville 22nd, 1 over Walmart store, Del Rio 27th, 3 at our Motel 6, Uvalde 29thApr-2nd May, 2 Uvalde outskirts along HW83 on 29th & 30th; 1 Rollover Pass and flock 8 (and 1 other) at Boy Scout Woods, High Island 5th all feeding in early afternoon – presumed just arrived across Gulf. 6 Anahuac NWR 6th incl 3 perched on fences. 1 Boy Scout Woods and 1 Sabine Pass 8th. 16 in flocks 7,6 & 3 flew east high over Groves on 9th. 1 Boy Scout Woods 14th. 14 along track at Anahuac NWR and flock 20 high east over Liberty 15th.
Chuck-will’s-widow. 1 asleep in a garden tree by road opposite Bulcher Park, Corpus Christi 19th.
Common Pauraque. A pair at our Motel 6, Uvalde 29th. On the edge of their range here?
Chimney Swift. Widespread with small numbers seen most days. Up to 35/day.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Widespread but mostly only 1-2/day. There were usually up to 7 daily in gardens at the entrance to Boy Scout Woods, High Island but 11 there on 7th.
Black-chinned Hummingbird. 40 coming to feeders at Lost Maples SNA 29th but smaller numbers elsewhere: singles at Oliveira Park, Brownsville 21st, McAllen Nature Centre 24th, Cook’s Slough Sanctuary 1st (2 here 30th) and Brazos Bend SP 3rd with 4 north of Uvalde and 3 at Garner SP 30th.
Belted Kingfisher. Singles at Santa Ana NWR and river bridge north of High Island.
Ringed Kingfisher. Single at Santa Ana NWR 23rd the only sighting.
Red-bellied Woodpecker. 6 Brazos Bend SP and 2 others en route there 8th. 1 near Liberty 15th.
Golden-fronted Woodpecker. Seen regularly in the west and south-west. Highest daily count was 30 on 24th (incl 9 McAllen Nature Centre and c20 Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre).
Downy Woodpecker. 2 at Brazos Bend SP on 3rd.
Hairy Woodpecker. 1 at Lake Anahuac Visitor Centre 15th.
Ladder-backed Woodpecker. A pair occupying nesting hole at Oliveira Park, Brownsville, 1 Santa Ana NWR, 1 McAllen Nature Centre, 2 Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre and 1 at Chalk Bluff Park.
Pileated Woodpecker. 1 flew over road north of Lake Anahuac Visitor Centre on our last day.
Eastern Wood-Pewee. Singles Port Aransas 19th, South Padre Island 22nd, Chalk Bluff Park 1st, Boy Scout Woods, High Island 6th-8th; 2 Corps Woods, Galveston 4th and 2 Oliveira Park, Brownsville 21st-22nd; 4 at Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve, Galveston 4th and 4 Boy Scout Woods 5th.
Willow Flycatcher. 1 at Blucher Park, Corpus Christi 19th.
Acadian Flycatcher. 1 Boy Scout Woods, High Island 5th.
Eastern Phoebe. Singles Lost Maples SNA 29th and north of Uvalde 30th; 5 Garner SP 30th; 2 Chalk Bluff Park 1st.
Black Phoebe. One on the canal at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen SP 24th-25th.
Vermilion Flycatcher. Singles near Zapata 25th and Laredo 26th. 6 Amistad NRA, Del Rio 26th with 2 there next day. 3 Walmart store area, Del Rio 27th. 4 ‘Spur 54’, Amistad NRA and 13 between there and Uvalde 28th. 1 north of Uvalde 29th. 9 Garner SP 30th included a pair with 2 fledglings. 12 Chalk Bluff Park 1st and 1 Choke Canyon SP 2nd.
Ash-throated Flycatcher. 1 Garner SP 30th and 2 Chalk Bluff Park 1st.
Brown-crested Flycatcher. 1 our Motel 6, Kingsville 19th and 4 between there and Brownsville next day. 2 World Birding Centre, Resaca de la Palma SP 20th. 2 Santa Ana NWR 23rd. 2 Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen and 2 McAllen Nature Centre 24th. Another Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen 25th. 1 Amistad NRA 26th-27th with another 28th.
Great Crested Flycatcher. 1 at a rest stop near Falfurrias 20th and 4 Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen SP 25th.
Western Kingbird. Seen on 9 dates with max day counts of 14 28th between Del Rio – Uvalde, 18 29th between Uvalde and Lost Maples SNA and 17 30th which included 5 at Cook’s Slough Sanctuary and 12 between there and Garner SP.
Eastern Kingbird. Our first was 1 at Laffite’s Cove Nature Preserve, Galveston Island 4th but thereafter daily and especially common at Anahuac NWR and nearby area where 27 counted on 6th and 32 on 15th. 19 at Groves cemetery on 9th included 3 on obvious migration, flying very high eastwards.
Couch’s Kingbird. Seen daily 18th-25th with max counts 12 20th between Kingsville and Brownsville, 10 Rio Grande Valley SP 24th-25th and 10 elsewhere on the latter date.
Tropical Kingbird. 4 23rd Santa Ana NWR. 1 McAllen Nature Centre and 1 Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen 24th. Another at latter site 25th.
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Common and widespread, seen daily. Highest daily counts: 63 along road between Kingsville-Brownsville 20th; 32 Laredo-Del Rio 26th and 23 between Uvalde and Lost Maples SNA on 29th. Fewer further east.
Great Kiskadee. Seen daily in the south west 19th-26th with max counts 15 Mc Allen Nature Centre and Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen SP 24th; 12 25th incl 6 at latter site. 1 at Choke Canyon SP, South Texas Plains on 2nd the furthest east.
Loggerhead Shrike. Widespread and seen on 13 dates but only 1-4/day.
Warbling Vireo. Singles Port Aransas 18th, South Padre Island 22nd, Lost Maples SNA 29th and Boy Scout Woods, High Island 5th.
Philadelphia Vireo. Singles Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve, Galveston Island 4th, High Island 6th and another there 8th.
White-eyed Vireo. 1 Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen SP 24th and 4 Lost Maples SNA 29th.
Bell’s Vireo. 1 Amistad NRA, Del Rio 26th and 3 Lost Maples SNA 29th.
Red-eyed Vireo. 4 Lafitte’s Nature Preserve, Galveston Island 4th, 1 Boy Scout Woods, High Island 6th with 3 there next day and 2 on 8th.
Yellow-throated Vireo. 1 Lafitte’s Nature Preserve, Galveston Island 4th.
Blue-headed (Solitary) Vireo. 2 at roadside rest stop near Falfurrias 20th.
Blue Jay. Not seen until we reached the east then daily 6th-15th. 2 at High Island and 23 Groves cemetery with a few others en route.
Green Jay. Only seen in the south-west. Seen on 6 dates with up to 17/day incl 15 at World Birding Centre, Resaca de la Palma and Sabal Palm Sanctuary, Brownsville.
Western Scrub-Jay. 2 at Lost Maples SNA 29th.
American Crow. Uncommon. Only 1-5 seen on 6 dates but 16 on 3rd included 10 at Brazos Bend SP.
Common Raven. A pair at their nest atop a grain silo NE of Brackettville; a pair over hills east of Leakey; 5 Lost Maples SNA; 8 Knippa, west of Sabinal; 5 Utopia; 1 Garner SP; 1 Chalk Bluff Park and 2 near Pearsall.
Chihuahuan Raven. 1 Brownsville city dump 22nd and singles on 26th at two separate locations along HW83 between Laredo and Del Rio.
Barn Swallow. Common and widespread, seen daily. Flocks migrating north throughout our visit with counts of up to 500/day on occasion.
Cliff Swallow. Common and widespread and seen on all but 6 dates. Usually found nesting under road bridges where some colonies up to 400 birds present. Highest day count c800 on 18th of which at least half were migrating north at Port Aransas.
Cave Swallow. c150 at road bridge colonies between Kingsville-Brownsville on 20th and smaller numbers on other dates in the South Texas Plains and Hill Country. Noted on 7 dates but may have been overlooked on others whilst driving through colonies of presumed “Cliff Swallows”.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow. Widespread but nowhere common. Seen on 9 days with up to 30/day on three dates.
Bank Swallow. 200 north in heavy rain on 17th at Rosenberg was exceptional. Thereafter, ten next day moving NE at Port Aransas, a total of 20 NE 19th at various locations then just singles on 5 dates to 9th.
Purple Martin. Widespread in small numbers up to 100/day but more often only 10-20. Seen daily. Great to see them using the artificial nesting boxes/houses wherever we found them – although some occupied by House Sparrow and European Starling too.
Carolina Chickadee. 5 Lost Maples SNA and 12 Garner SP, Edwards Plateau.
Black-crested Titmouse. 2 road rest stop near Falfurrias; 4 Sabal Palm Sanctuary; 4 Santa Ana NWR; 2 Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen SP; c20 Lost Maples SNA; c15 Garner SP and 6 Chalk Bluff Park.
Verdin. Up to 3 on two dates at Amistad NRA, Del Rio.
Cactus Wren. Up to 3 on two dates at Amistad NRA, Del Rio. A pair nesting in a metal pipe NE of Brackettville and another nearby. A pair at Chalk Bluff Park.
Canyon Wren. Singles at a cliff near boat ramp at south shore, Amistad NRA and Lost Maples SNA.
Carolina Wren. Singles Sabal Palm Sanctuary and Lost Maples SNA. 6 Chalk Bluff Park. c10 Brazos Bend SP and 2/day High Island at Boy Scout Woods and Eubank’s Wood.
Bewick’s Wren. Singles Falcon SP (in main car park) and Chalk Bluff Park.
House Wren. Singles near entrance Garner SP and Choke Canyon SP. Two Chalk Bluff Park.
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher. Single at Amistad NRA, Del Rio.
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher. Two Lost Maples SNA.
Eastern Bluebird. Singles Garner SP and Liberty with 2 at Groves cemetery.
Swainson’s Thrush. 1 Oliveira Park, Brownsville 22nd; 1 Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve, Galveston Island 4th; 3 Boy Scout Woods, High Island 5th with 1 there 6th and 4 7th; 2 Eubank’s Wood, High Island 7th and 1 Texas Point NWR 8th.
Wood Thrush. Single at South Padre Island 22nd, the only sighting.
American Robin. Two Groves cemetery 9th, the only sighting.
Clay-coloured Thrush. A pair with nesting material Oliveira Park, Brownsville 21st. Two separate individuals 24th & 25th Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen SP.
Grey Catbird. 2 South Padre Island Birding Centre; 1 Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre; 1 Brazos Bend SP; 1 Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve, Galveston Island; up to 7/day Boy Scout Woods, High Island; 1 Eubank’s Wood, High Island.
Northern Mockingbird. Common and widespread, seen daily. Counts up to 100/day on occasion.
Brown Thrasher. Singles McAllen Nature Centre and Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen SP.
Long-billed Thrasher. Singles Sabal Palm Sanctuary and Falcon SP. Two singing males Santa Ana NWR. Three singing males Choke Canyon SP.
Curve-billed Thrasher. 1 at our carpark (under the car!), Sure Stay Hotel, Brownsville. One Oliveira Park, Brownsville. 8 McAllen Nature Centre, Rio Grande Valley SP. One Brackettville. One Chalk Bluff Park.
American Pipit. Single at meadow opposite Walmart store in Del Rio on 27th, the only sighting.
Cedar Waxwing. Good numbers (675!) of these which we were told was late in the year for them. All records listed: 35 Oliveira Park 22nd; 27 over our hotel in Brownsville, 25 Santa Ana NWR and 22 en route 23rd; flocks totalling 295 at McAllen Nature Centre and 13 Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre, Bentsen SP 24th; flocks of 5 & 10 Chalk Bluff Park 1st; 40 Choke Canyon SP 2nd; flocks 12 & 50 Brazos Bend SP 3rd; 1 Boy Scout Woods, High Island 5th with 47 in two flocks there 7th and 93 in 6 flocks on 8th.
European Starling. Common and widespread. Seen daily with up to 200/day.
Tennessee Warbler. Singles Port Aransas 19th, Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve, Galveston 4th and Boy Scout Woods, High Island 5th.
Nashville Warbler. Singles Sabal Palm Sanctuary 21st and Lost Maples SNA 29th.
Orange-crowned Warbler. 2 South Padre Island ‘Birding & Nature Centre’ 22nd.
Blue-winged Warbler. 1 Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve, Galveston Island 4th.
Yellow Warbler. Singles Walmart store, Del Rio 27th and Anahuac NWR 15th with 2 at Chalk Bluff Park 1st and Boy Scout Woods 15th.
Chestnut-sided Warbler. 4 Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve and 1 Corps Woods, Galveston Island 4th and singles at Boy Scout Woods 5th & 8th.
Magnolia Warbler. Singles South Padre Island ‘Birding & Nature Centre’ 22nd, Brazos Bend SP 3rd, Boy Scout Woods 6th & 7th with 2 at latter 5th.
Blackburnian Warbler. Singles Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve, Galveston Island 4th and Boy Scout Woods 5th & 6th with 3 at latter 7th and 2 there 8th.
Cerulean Warbler. Female at Boy Scout Woods, High Island 7th.
Black-throated Green Warbler. Singles Port Aransas 18th, Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve, Galveston Island 4th and Boy Scout Woods 5th – 7th with 2 at latter 6th.
Golden-cheeked Warbler. 4 singing males Lost Maples SNA 29th.
Bay-breasted Warbler. 4 Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve 4th with 2 at Corps Woods, Galveston Island next day. 8 at Boy Scout Woods 5th and 2 there 6th & 8th.
Black-and-white Warbler. 2 Port Aransas 18th; 1 Blucher Park, Corpus Christi 19th; 4 South Padre Island ‘Birding & Nature Centre’ 22nd; 1 Santa Ana NWR 23rd; 1 Lost Maples SNA 29th; 3 Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve, Galveston Island 4th with 2 at Boy Scout Woods 5th and 1 there 7th.
American Redstart. 1 South Padre Island ‘Birding & Nature Centre’ 22nd. 1 Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve and Corps Woods, Galveston Island 4th. 2 Boy Scout Woods 4th-6th with 5 there 7th.
Common Yellowthroat. Singles Blucher Park, Corpus Christi 19th, Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre 25th and Corps Woods, Galveston Island 5th. 3 South Padre Island ‘Birding & Nature Centre’ 22nd and Anahuac NWR 15th.
Northern Waterthrush. Singles Paradise Pond, Port Aransas 19th, South Padre Island ‘Birding & Nature Centre’ 22nd and Boy Scout Woods 7th.
Louisiana Waterthrush. Single Paradise Pond, Port Aransas 19th.
Ovenbird. Single Boy Scout Woods 7th.
Wilson’s Warbler. Female Boy Scout Woods 7th.
Yellow-breasted Chat. Singles Blucher Park, Corpus Christi 19th, South Padre Island ‘Birding & Nature Centre’ 22nd, Lost Maples SNA 29th and Cook’s Slough Sanctuary, Uvalde 1st.
Scarlet Tanager. Males at Sabal Palm Sanctuary 21st, Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve, Galveston Island 4th, Boy Scout Woods and Eubanks Wood 7th, female Boy Scout Woods 5th and 2 pairs there 8th.
Summer Tanager. Singles road rest stop near Falfurrias 20th, South Padre Island ‘Birding & Nature Centre’ 22nd and Whitehead Memorial Museum, Del Rio 27th. 6 Garner SP 30th. 10 Chalk Bluff Park, 4 Cook’s Slough Sanctuary 1st. 3 Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve, Galveston Island 4th. 2-3 Boy Scout Woods 5th-8th and 4 Groves cemetery 9th.
Dickcissel. 1 South Padre Island ‘Birding & Nature Centre’ 22nd. 21 singing males along roadside FM 2690 east of HW 83, north of Uvalde 30th. 1 Chalk Bluff Park 1st. 2 Anahuac NWR 15th.
Blue Grosbeak. 1 ‘Spur 54’, Amistad NRA 28th. 5 Lost Maples SNA 29th. 1 Garner SP and 2 nearby 30th. 2 Cook’s Slough Sanctuary 1st. 3 Corps Woods, Galveston Island 4th & 5th.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak. 1 Sabal Palm Sanctuary 21st. 1 South Padre Island ‘Birding & Nature Centre’ 22nd. 1 Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve, Galveston Island 4th. 2 Boy Scout Woods, High Island 5th with 4 there 7th.
[Black-headed Grosbeak]. On 5th May I photographed a male grosbeak at High Island which showed characters similar to this species. I sent the photo to ‘Tropical Birding’ who are seeking further opinions as this would be out of its normal range - if indeed it is Black-headed and not a hybrid Black-headed X Rose-breasted.
Indigo Bunting. 1 South Padre Island ‘Birding & Nature Centre’. 2 Lost Maples SNA. 1 Garner SP. 1 Chalk Bluff Park. 7 Brazos Bend SP. 1 Corps Woods, Galveston Island. 2 High Island.
Painted Bunting. 1-2 on 12 dates at widely scattered locations. 3 McAllen Nature Centre 24th and Chalk Bluff Park 1st. 4 Cook’s Slough Sanctuary 30th.
Northern Cardinal. Widespread and seen on all but two days. Usually <20/day but higher counts of 25 on 1st & 3rd, 30 on 29th and 31 30th in Hill Country.
Pyrrhuloxia. 1 along dirt road, ‘Old School Road/Dump Road’ north of Salineño cemetery and 2 at Falcon SP 25th. 2 Amistad NRA 26th and 2 different individuals there 28th. 1 between Del Rio & Uvalde 28th.
Olive Sparrow. 5 Sabal Palm Sanctuary and 3 Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre.
White-collared (Morelet’s) Seedeater. A pair at McAllen Nature Centre and 1 at Chalk Bluff Park.
Black-throated Sparrow. 9 Amistad NRA and another near Del Rio.
Cassin’s Sparrow. Singing male ‘Spur 54’, Amistad NRA 28th.
Chipping Sparrow. Small flocks South Texas Plains and Hill Country where seen daily 26th – 1st with max 50 28th between Del Rio and Uvalde.
Clay-coloured Sparrow. 8 near Eagle Pass with Lark and Savannah Sparrows and 6 Amistad NRA 26th. 10 Amistad NRA 27th with 7 different birds there next day. 17 NE of Brackettville 28th and 1 Garner SP 30th.
Lark Sparrow. Widespread. Seen on ten dates with highest counts 22 26th between Laredo & Del Rio, 35 on 28th between Del Rio & Uvalde and 28 30th between Uvalde and Garner SP.
Grasshopper Sparrow. 5 singing males along roadside FM 2690 east of HW 83, north of Uvalde 30th.
Savannah Sparrow. 20 18th Restoration Ranch, HW 71 west of Bay City, 2 Santa Ana NWR 23rd, 4 near Laredo 26th and 6 Anahuac NWR.
Lincoln’s Sparrow. 1 Santa Ana NWR 23rd; 1 near Eagle Pass 26th; 1 Amistad NRA and 1 near Del Rio 28th.
White-crowned Sparrow. 2 in mixed sparrow flock NE Brackettville 28th.
Baltimore Oriole. Seen on 8 dates with highest day count of c15 at South Padre Island 22nd. On 4th 11 flew north over East End, Galveston Island in just ten minutes, having obviously just arrived but a search of suitable habitat thereafter only found one bird so presumably the clear weather that day allowed birds to continue north without stopping.
Bullock’s Oriole. Male at Dick Kleberg Park, Kingsville 19th and another male near Zapata 25th.
Orchard Oriole. Seen on 8 dates with highest day count of 19 on 6th at Anahuac NWR.
Hooded Oriole. A pair in woodland at road rest stop near Falfurrias 19th.
Altamira Oriole. Seen on 5 dates with highest day count 8 on 24th at Rio Grande Valley Birding Centre.
Scott’s Oriole. A pair came to feeders at Lost Maples SNA 29th.
Eastern Meadowlark. Widespread but not common. Seen on 7 dates with highest day count of 17 at Anahuac NWR on 15th.
Red-winged Blackbird. Common and widespread, seen daily. Highest day count c1000 19th but more often 1-300/day.
Yellow-headed Blackbird. Male with a large flock Red-winged Blackbirds north of Port Lavaca 18th. Flock 15 males Port Aransas 19th. 2 north of Uvalde 29th. A flock of 50 females at the entrance to Chalk Bluff Park 1st and 2 at Anahuac NWR 6th.
Common Grackle. Locally common, particularly Gulf Coast. Seen on 9 dates up to 50+/day.
Great-tailed Grackle. The commonest grackle. Widespread and seen daily with day counts up to 400.
Boat-tailed Grackle. Locally common at the coast in the east eg. Anahuac NWR and marshes north of High Island east to the border.
Brown-headed Cowbird. Small flocks at widespread locations. Seen on 19 dates with up to 60/day.
Bronzed Cowbird. Locally common (especially in SW) but less common than Brown-headed and in smaller groups, often just pairs. 10-20/day with highest count 25 Brownsville area 21st.
House Sparrow. Common in every town we went with up to 100/day. Seen daily. Widespread.
Lesser Goldfinch. Male near Del Rio 28th. Male near Utopia and 5 (both sexes) Lost Maples SNA 29th. 6 Chalk Bluff Park 1st.
Pine Siskin. 20 Lost Maples SNA 29th.
House Finch. 4 McAllen Nature Centre 24th; 2 Walmart store area, Del Rio 27th; 3 north of Del Rio 28th; 10 Lost Maples SNA 29th; 10 Garner SP 30th and 1 Chalk Bluff Park 1st.
Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus
Eastern Cottontail, Sylvilagus floridanus
Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis
Rock Squirrel, Spermophilus variegatus
Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
Rio Grande Ground Squirrel, Ictidomys parvidens
Northern Racoon, Procyon lotor
White-tailed Deer, Odocoileus virginianus
Black-tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
Swamp Rabbit, Sylvilagus aquaticus
Nutria, Myocastor coypus
Wild Boar, Sus scrofa
Collared Peccary, Tayassu tajacu
[Chital, Axix axis - Introduced]
[Black Buck, Antilope cervicapra - Introduced]
Nine-banded Armadillo, Dasypus novemcinctus
American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis
Green Anole, Anolis carolinensis
American 5-lined Skink, Plestiodon fasciatus
Texas Spiny-Lizard, Sceloporus olivaceus
Eastern Collared Lizard, Crotaphytus collaris
Ribbon Snake, Thamnophis saurita
Mud Snake, Farancia abacura
Eastern Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis
Diamondback Watersnake, Nerodia rhombifer
Red-eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans
Spiny Softshell, Apalone spinifera
Guld Coast Box Turtle, Terrapene carolina major
American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus
Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor
Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxens
Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes
Spicebush Swallowtail, Papilio troilus
Checkered White, Pontia protodice
Small White, Pieris rapae
Lyside Sulphur, Kricogonia lyside
Monarch, Danaus plexippus
Viceroy, Limenitis archippus
American Lady, Vanessa virginiensis
Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui
Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta
Tawny Emperor, Asterocampa clyton
Hackberry Emperor, Asterocampa celtis
Reakirt’s Blue, Echinargus isola
Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanilla
Variegated Fritillary, Euptoieta claudia
Bordered Patch, Chlosyne lacinia
Pearl Crescent, Phyciodes tharos
Texan Crescent, Anthanassa texana
Question Mark, Polygonia interrogationis
Common Checkered-Skipper, Pyrgus communis
Laviana White-Skipper, Heliopetes laviana
Eastern Ringtail, Erpetogomphus designates
Four-spotted Pennant, Brachymesia gravida
Eastern Pondhawk, Erythemis simplicicollis
Band-winged Dragonlet, Eryithrodiplax umbrata
Common Whitetail, Plathmis lydia
Roseate Skimmer, Orthemis ferruginea
Blue Dasher, Pachydiplax longipennis
Eastern Amberwing, Perithemis tenera
Blue-fronted Dancer, Argia apicalis
Kiowa Dancer, Argia immunda
Blue-ringed Dancer, Argia sedula
Wolf spider sp?
Silver Garden Spider, Argiope argentata