Martin Pitt, Basingstoke, UK (Contact details: mjpitt35clere(at)hotmail.com)
Texas is regarded on both sides of the Atlantic as a premier birding destination. With a state list of over six hundred species and a mix of species including near Mexican specials, east coast migrants and access to some of the country’s near endemics, it has a reputation for the range of species on offer and the ease of building a good list.
That being said, I had no intention of going to Texas this year. I was planning a trip to Ethiopia that fell through and looking around for a destination that could be shoe-horned in at the last moment it appeared to be the perfect destination due to the amount of information on the web, the ease of flights and car hire and the current rate for the dollar.
The initial plan was to fly to Houston, do the local sites based around High Island and Anahuac and then head down to the Mexican border and bird along the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) before heading back to the Houston area and picking up more migrants. This initial plan was supported by internet bookings of Motel 6 rooms for the first 5 nights leaving the last three nights open. In fact after discussing this with a few locals they suggested that I went to Lost Maples near San Antonio and therefore I never made it to Houston back in time to return to High Island area.
When in Houston, I picked up a copy of the Falcon guide ‘Birding Texas’ and this helped me to confirm the sites I was planning to visit and gave a few more alternatives as infills. Access to all the sites is straight forward and birding is big business out there. That being said fees for access to the various reserves were very affordable and ranged from free (Anahuac) to five dollars, most were 2-3 dollars.
The Upper Texas Coast is on a well known flyway and the species that pass through are Neotropical migrants heading north. As such any visit from early April through to mid-May is going to yield a mix of wood warbler, tanagers and vireos all in summer plumage. The number and mix of species is dependent upon the weather as it is normally only the northerly winds or bands of rain around the Texas coast that force the birds down at first landfall. Shorebirds are also a feature of the local migrants. The choice of sites around Houston are wide but the most famous is High Island which is a low wooded salt dome within sight of the Gulf coast – arguably it is neither high nor an island but all things are relative I guess. The last week of April is later than most tours arrive but migration is still in full swing and there is also a progression of migrant species so the mix of migrants is a little different.
The Texas Birding trail cover 500 miles of Southern Texas marking out a series of protected sites that cover migrant and resident species. The little brown signs become a familiar sight along the highways and there are more than it is possible to visit even on the longest of trips. I chose a mix of sites that would give a range of species and more specifically the particular species I wanted to see. I could easily have spent the whole time around Winnie, but I was keen to see the valley and some of the birds that are rare to American birders. The Falcon guide lists 32 top species for American birders to try and see in Texas. Of these, the vast majority are Mexican species. In all without really trying I managed to see 20 of those listed.
The option to head for the Edwards Plateau was a last minute decision and one I didn’t regret. It was arguably on my way back and scenically it was a distinct improvement on the rest of Texas I had seen to that point. The incised limestone hills reminded me of Europe and these hills hold a different mix of species including the key Texan specialities of Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo.
A short note should also be made of the pine forest to the north and east of Houston. These include American endemics and near endemic species of Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch and Bachman’s Sparrow.
The flight and the car hire were booked three weeks before leaving on the Opodo website. The flight from Gatwick to Houston with Continental was a total of £354 and car hire for the period arranged through Hertz was £138.
Accommodation is relatively plentiful along the main roads in motels and the like. I had heard that Motel 6 was good value and booked nights in Conroe (near Houston Airport), Winnie and McAllen. The internet rate is lower and provides a guarantee even if you are running late in the field. In reality there is no real need to do this but it gave shape to the tour. The rates were in the range of $30-50 dollars a night.
Most of Texas roads are toll free, with the exception of some around Houston itself. Petrol is still very cheap by UK standards. Price per gallon ranged between $2.09 -$2.30 depending on location a cost that most Americans are up in arms about, but most fill ups cost less than $25, a ridiculously small sum and it made the 2000 miles I travelled relatively cheap.
Food is available everywhere, gas stations, drive-thru and other restaurants. Most of the food is cheap and there is plenty of it but I found it generally a matter of quantity over quality. There is something for everyone and the ability to keep a birder in the field is unrivalled anywhere.
The distances, as anywhere in the states, are enormous. A nearby site is often fifty miles away! Travelling on the main roads is straightforward and relatively rapid. Speed limits vary and can be a low as 55 mph but are generally 60-70 mph. The logic in some places defies understanding as you can leave a ‘farm road’ with a limit of 70mph and join an interstate with three times as many lanes with a limit of 60mph. Signposting also takes a bit of getting used to as it is rare to show distances to cities and towns ahead. Travelling around is simple and with a 2-litre Automatic with cruise control and air-conditioning, the travelling to the LRGV and back was not a big deal.
The LRGV is a sensitive area in terms of border controls and it is worth carrying your passport at all times. I was only stopped twice and both of those at permanent customs posts someway from the border, one at Boca Chica and one north of Laredo.
Around Houston the weather was generally in the late 70’soF to early 80’soF with high humidity. The exception was when the wind was from the north and this shaved a few degrees off the peak daytime temperatures.
In LRGV it was hotter with the peaks hitting 100oF, but the humidity was much lower making it more bearable. In neither location was there an obvious drop off in bird activity in the middle of the day and generally the first hour of daylight was a bit quiet.
21st Apr - 12.50 flight Gatwick – Houston, arrived 15.50; picked up hire car drove to Motel 6 Conroe
22nd Apr – Dawn at Jones State Forest, drove to Winnie via Trinity River. Drove down to Rollover Pass and High Island; Night at Studio 6, Winnie
23rd Apr – First Stop Route 1941 Rice fields, Morning at Anahuac, afternoon at High Island.; Night at Studio 6, Winnie.
24th Apr – Early morning Rail walk at Anahuac, drove to Attwater reserve and then down to McAllen in LRGV; Night at Motel 6, McAllen.
25th Apr – Dawn at Santa Ana, drove to Bentsen State Park for afternoon. Tried La Sal del Rey Tract in the evening; Night at Motel 6, McAllen.
26th Apr – Morning trip to Sabal Palms, Brownsville. Mid day moved to the coast at Boca Chica and then on to Laguna Atascosa; Night at Motel 6, McAllen.
27th Apr – Drove North from McAllen to Chapeño for the morning. Moved on to Falcon State Park at lunch time and then to San Ygnacio. Left LRGV at approx 2pm for drive to Edwards Plateau. Night at D’Rose motel at Leaky.
28th Apr – Morning at Lost Maples. Left at midday for drive back to Houston. Stopped off at Palmetto State Park. Arrived Houston 18.30. Night at Motel 6 Nr Woodlands
29th Apr – Early morning at Jones State Forest. Moved on to Liberty. Back to Bush International Airport for 15.50 flight to Gatwick arrived 7.10 the next morning.
Least Grebe (Tachybaptus dominicus) – Seen only in the Lower Grand Valley with 1 at Santa Ana and 12 at Bentsen on the 25th and 9 at Sabal Palms on the 26th
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)- Seen at Trinity, Anahuac, Bentsen, Falcon State Park
American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) – first seen at Rollover Pass on 22nd and a small flock was also present at Falcon State Park on 27th.
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)- Only seen at the coast and particularly common around Rollover pass on 22nd.
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) – a few birds were seen on the coast and around Rollover pass.
Neotropic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) – common near the coast around Houston, at Laguna Atascosa and at Chapeño
Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) – first seen at Trinity River on 22nd and thereafter found at most wetlands around Houston and the LRGV.
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) – seen almost daily in small numbers. Most plentiful around Trinity River.
Great Egret (Ardea alba) – seen daily around any wetland area both inland and the coast. The commonest heron.
Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) – only seen at Rollover pass on 22nd when three present.
Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolour) – present at every wetland area throughout.
Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) – present at every wetland throughout although noticeably scarcer in LRGV.
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) – seen in low numbers at most wetlands
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) – common with big roosts at Smith Oaks, and Santa Ana
Green Heron (Butorides virescens) – common at Anahuac, elsewhere in low numbers.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea) – Common at Trinity River and Smiths Oaks on 22nd
Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) - seen around Shoveler Pond at Anahuac where a minimum of three were seen on 23rd. Also a single seen at Anahuac on 24th.
American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) - a minimum of two birds seen in flight at Anahuac on 23rd.
White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) – common wherever there were wetlands
White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi) - Common at and around Anahuac on 22nd, 23rd and 24th.
Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja) common at the rookeries at Trinity River and Smith Oaks wood at High Island and seen on the 22nd, 23rd, & 24th.
Fulvous Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna bicolour) – common around Anahuac and seen on 22/23/24th. Not seen in the LRGV.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis) – first seen at Jones State Forest on 22nd. Thereafter only seen in LRGV where common around pools and other wetlands particularly at Santa Ana.
Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata) – a male was seen flying upstream at Chapeño on 27th.
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – two males and two females were seen at Jones State Forest on the 22nd. Later that day another male was seen at Trinity River Rookery.
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) – the ‘Mexican’ form ssp diazi were common at Bentsen on 25th and Sabal Palms on 26th.
Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula) – Common around Anahuac and also a few seen in the LRGV where confusion with Mexican duck is more of problem.
Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) – the commonest duck and seen at all wetland reserves.
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) – only seen at Anahuac where a couple of birds were seen on 23rd.
Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) – a common roadside bird throughout
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) – the commonest raptor and a familiar roadside bird throughout.
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) - surprisingly uncommon with only two seen. One at a waste water plant nr Anahuac on 23rd and another at Chapeño on 27th.
Hook-billed Kite (Chondrohierax uncinatus) – a pair were seen at Chapeño on 27th.
White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus) – first seen at Santa Ana on 25th and another was nr Laguna Atascosa on 28th.
Mississippi Kite (Ictinia mississippiensis) – first seen with a single near Anahuac on 22nd. Also seen at Bentsen and at Liberty
Northern Harrier (Circus (c) hudsonicus )– a single female was seen around Anahuac and the surrounding area on 23rd & 24th.
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) – a single bird was seen at Boca Chica on the 25th.
Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) – a single was flushed repeatedly at Santa Ana on 25th
Harris' Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus) – seen regularly around McAllen, La Sal Del Rey Tract, Boca Chica and in mesquite as I headed north to Laredo. Nearly all birds were singles and most were seen as they perched on fences and telegraph poles by the side of the roads.
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) - The first was at Attwater on 24th, and other birds were seen at Lost Maples, and Palmetto State Park on 28th.
Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus) – seen in low numbers throughout although a kettle of 20+ birds were seen as they lifted off from Santa Ana on the morning of 25th
Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) – seen almost daily in reasonable numbers. Although a migrant no flocks were seen and the most together were four.
White-tailed Hawk (Buteo albicaudatus) - first seen nr Kingsville on 24th, 2 showed well at Boca Chica on 26th.
Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus) – a single was at Bentsen on 25th.
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) – a common roadside hawk, also seen at Anahuac on 24th and Lost Maples on the 28th.
Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway)
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) – surprisingly only a single bird seen on 24th nr Corpus Christi
Merlin (Falco columbarius) – a single female was seen take an Eastern Kingbird at Anahuac on 23rd.
Plain Chachalaca (Ortalis vetula) – common at Santa Ana, Bentsen, Sabal Palms and Laguna Atascosa on 25th & 26th.
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) – a single party of seven birds seen at La Sal del Rey Tract on 25th.
Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) – one was seen on route 1981 to Anahuac on 22nd. Another was seen just outside Chapeño on the 27th.
Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis) – a minimum of six birds were seen on the Rail Walk at Anahuac on the 24th.
Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola) – one was flushed on the Rail Walk at Anahuac on 24th.
Sora (Porzana carolina) – one was seen on the margins of Shoveler Pond at Anahuac on 23rd. Another was flushed on the Rail Walk at Anahuac on the 24th.
Purple Gallinule (Porphyrula martinica) – Seen at Anahuac on 23rd and 24th particularly around Shoveler Pond.
Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) – common at nearly every freshwater wetland throughout.
American Coot (Fulica Americana) – common at nearly every freshwater wetland throughout.
American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliates) – only seen at Rollover Pass with a couple there on the 22nd.
Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) – a familiar site at wetlands throughout
American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica) – a flock of forty were at Rte 1941 on 23rd.
Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) – small numbers were with the mixed wader flocks at Rollover Pass on 22nd and at Route 1941 on 23rd.
Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) – two were at La Sal del Rey Tract on 25th.
Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) - not uncommon at coastal sites such as Rollover Pass on 22nd, Route 1941 on 23rd and Laguna Atascosa on 26th.
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous) – common almost everywhere, including car parks and town centres.
Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) – thirty or so were at Rollover pass on 22nd and also at Anahuac on 23rd. Thereafter no attempt was made to separate them from Long-billed although those seen at Laguna Atascosa were assumed to be of this species.
Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus) – large numbers were at Rte 1941 on 23rd and at Anahuac on the same day.
Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa) – six birds were seen at Rollover Pass on 22nd
Whimbrel (Numenius (p) hudsonicus) - the commonest shorebirds in the Anahuac area with flocks of 20-30 seen regularly on 22nd 23rd and 24th heading north.
Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus) – singles seen at both Boca Chica and Laguna Atascosa on 26th.
Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda) – only seen on 23rd along Rte 1941 with four distant birds seen amongst cattle. A further single bird was seen on the road itself.
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) – 20-30 birds were with the mixed wader flock at Route 1941 on 23rd and less than five were at Anahuac later the same day.
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) – the most widespread wader, every pool seemed to have a few throughout.
Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) – two were at Anahuac on the 23rd and 24th. Much commoner in the LRGV, where it was the commonest wader at Santa Ana, Bentsen and Sabal Palms.
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia) – the first was seen at Anahuac on 24th. A single at Santa Ana perhaps should been my first species on my Mexican list as it flew to the far bank of the Rio Grande. Also seen at Laguna Atascosa on 26th.
Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus) – First seen at Rollover pass on 22nd. A few were at Route 1941 and Anahuac on 23/24th. Also it was evident in the coastal grasslands around Boca Chica and Laguna Atascosa on 26th.
Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) - small numbers were with the mixed wader flocks at Rollover Pass on 22nd and at Route 1941 on 23rd.
Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) - vied with Least Sandpiper to be the commonest peep. Good numbers were at Route 1941 and Anahuac on 23/24th. Also it was the major constituent of the mixed wader flocks at La Sal del Rey Tract on the 25th and at Laguna Atascosa on the 26th.
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) – large flocks were seen in the Anahuac area on 22nd, 23rd and 24th.
Baird's Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii)– a single bird was seen on the flooded rice fields along Rte 1941 nr Anahuac on 23rd.
Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) - common on the flooded rice fields along Rte 1941 nr Anahuac on 23rd and present at Anahuac on 23/24th.
Sanderling (Calidris alba) – common on the foreshore between High Island and Rollover Pass on 22nd.
Dunlin (Calidris alpina) small numbers were with the mixed wader flocks at Route 1941 on 23rd and at Laguna Atascosa on 26th.
Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus) – common around Anahuac and the surrounding rice fields on 23rd. Also good numbers were at La Sal del Rey Tract on 25th and Laguna Atascosa on 26th.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis) a party of seven displaying birds was seen on the flooded rice fields along Rte 1941 nr Anahuac on 23rd. These were later joined by a flock of approx 200 birds.
Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolour) – thirty or so birds were at Anahuac on 23/24th. Four were at La Sal del Rey Tract on 25th.
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) – a single bird was at Rollover Pass on 22nd and a further bird was at Laguna Atascosa on 26th.
Laughing Gull (Larus atricilla) – the commonest Gull, seen on every visit to coastal areas
Franklin's Gull (Larus pipixcan) – a party of seven birds were seen heading north over Sabal Palms on the 26th. A further 4 birds were seen at Boca Chica the same day.
Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica) - a single bird was at Anahuac on 23rd & 24th and then a couple were at Laguna Atascosa on 26th
Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia) - a single bird was with Royal Terns at Rollover Pass on 22nd.
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis) - First seen at the coast at Rollover Pass on 22nd and also at the coast at Boca Chica on 26th.
Royal Tern (Sterna maxima) - A dozen or so were at Rollover pass on 22nd and flocks were seen just off shore that day.
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) – seen on the coast and also at Chapeño on 27th.
Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri) – Seen on the coast at Rollover and between here and High Island on 22nd.
Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) – common around Rollover Pass on 22nd, also at Boca Chica on 26th.
Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) – two were at Rollover Pass on 22nd.
Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon (Columba livia) – common in towns throughout. Pure plumaged Rock Doves were seen in the LRGV particularly around Falcon State Park.
Red-billed Pigeon (Columba flavirostris) – seen at Chapeño on 27th, a total of five birds and only in flight.
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) – seen in small numbers in towns
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) – common species seen throughout.
White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica) – common in towns and reserves in the LRGV.
Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina) – seen daily in small numbers in the LRGV. Particularly common and approachable at Chapeño and San Ygnacio.
Inca Dove (Columbina inca) - first seen at High Island on 22nd. Seen almost daily but more common in LRGV.
White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verreauxi) – common in the LRGV and made easier to see by its attraction to bird tables at the reserves.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) – first seen at the TOS reserve at High Island on 23rd. Also seen at Bentsen on 25th.
Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)– a single bird was seen twice at Falcon State Park on the 27th.
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) – seen on the coast at Rollover Pass, High Island and at Boca Chica. A second bird at Boca Chica could have been the sister species Lesser Nighthawk but disappeared too quickly to confirm.
Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica) – a few seen daily but nowhere numerous.
Buff-bellied Hummingbird (Amazilia yucatanensis) – a couple of birds were frequenting feeders at Sabal Palms on 26th.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) – first seen at Boy Scout woods on 22nd. Also at Frontera at Weslaco.
Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) – common at feeders at Vanderpool on 27th & 28th and at Lost Maples on 28th.
Ringed Kingfisher (Ceryle torquata) – a minimum of two birds were at Chapeño on the 27th
Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) – three birds seen at Jones State Forest on 29th.
Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes aurifrons) – common in the LRGV, and seen at each of the reserves there. The commonest woodpecker in this part of Texas.
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) – common at Jones State Forest and at High Island.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) – seen at High Island on 23rd and also at Sabal Palms on 26th.
Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Picoides scalaris) – seen at most reserves in LRGV, but generally inconspicuous. Also seen at Lost Maples on 28th.
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) – a single bird was seen at High Island on 22nd.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) – two birds were seen at close range at Jones State Forest on 29th.
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) – a single bird was at Liberty on 29th.
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens) – a single was at High Island on 23rd and a couple were at Lost Maples on 28th.
Acadian Flycatcher (Empidonax virescens) – a couple of birds were at High Island on 23rd.
Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii) - a single was at Santa Ana on 25th.
Least Flycatcher (Empidonax minimus) – a single was a High Island on 23rd
[Other Empids remained unidentified]
Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) – a pair feeding young were at Lost Maples on 28th.
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans) – a bird was by the Ponds on the East Trail at Lost Maples on 28th.
Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens) – conspicuous at Lost Maples on 28th.
Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus) – single birds seen on each of 22/23rd at Boy Scout wood, High Island.
Brown-crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus tyrannulus) – common at Santa Ana, Bentsen and Sabal Palms in the LRGV.
Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus) – common and conspicuous throughout LRGV.
Couch's Kingbird (Tyrannus couchii) – common and conspicuous throughout LRGV.
Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis) – not simple to distinguish from Couch’s but birds definitely of this species were seen in McAllen, Laguna Atascosa, and Chapeño.
Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) – common and conspicuous in the Houston/Winnie area – absent in LRGV.
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus) – common and conspicuous across Texas
Shore Lark (Eremophila alpestris) – seen in small numbers at both Boca Chica and Laguna Atascosa on 26th.
Purple Martin (Progne subis) – common throughout, and a familiar sight due to the number of ‘houses’ put up for them.
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolour) – a common species particular around water.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) – a few birds identified around Winnie and Anahuac
Bank Martin (Riparia riparia) – a few birds were seen around Anahuac and also Santa Ana.
Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) - the commonest hirundine in most areas. Large colonies nest under Highway bridges at are therefore familiar sights at interchanges.
Cave Swallow (Petrochelidon fulva) – only positively identified at Bentsen on 25th. It was suspected on other occasions amongst the masses of Cliff Swallows in the LRGV.
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) – common throughout
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) - a couple of birds were seen on the East Trail at Lost Maples on 28th.
Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) – first seen on the road to Chapeño on 27th. Also seen at Falcon State Park the same day.
Canyon Wren (Catherpes mexicanus) – only seen at Lost Maples where a minimum of three birds were seen on the 28th.
Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) – seen regularly in small numbers around High Island and in LRGV. Generally of the nominate form, those at Santa Ana and Sabal Palms seemed to be of the ssp lomitensis.
Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii) – first seen at Jones State Forest on 21st. Not commonly seen but most plentiful at Lost Maples and the surrounding area on 27/28th.
Sedge Wren (Cistothorus platensis) – seen at close range on the Rail walk at Anahuac on 24th.
Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) – common in well wooded areas throughout.
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) – common throughout
Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) – a single bird was seen at Boy Scout woods on 22nd.
Long-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma longirostre) – first seen at Santa Ana on 25th. Also seen at all reserves in the LRGV.
Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre) – first seen at La Sal del Rey Tract on 25th. Also at Falcon State Park on 27th.
Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) – birds were breeding at Jones State Forest and were seen on the 21st, 22nd and 29th.
Veery (Catharus fuscescens) – one was at Boy Scout Woods at High Island on 22nd
Gray-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus) – for or five birds were at Boy Scout wood on the 23rd and a minimum of two at Bentsen on the 25th.
Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus) - a couple were at Boy Scout wood on 23rd and a single was at Sabal Palms on 26th.
Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) – two were at Boy Scout wood on the 23rd
Clay-colored Robin (Turdus grayi) - a minimum of five birds were seen at Santa Ana on 25th, with a further two at Bentsen State Park the same day.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) – seen at Jones State Forest on 22nd ad then again at Lost Maples on 28th,
Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) – common in Jones State Forest. Also seen at Lost Maples on 28th.
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolour) – two sub-species occur in Texas. The normal grey crowned birds were seen at Jones State Forest on 21st/22nd and 29th. The black-crested form was common in the wooded areas in LRGV, especially Santa Ana and Bentsen.
Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla) – seen at Jones State Forest on 29th. Two parties were seen and a total of 7 birds.
Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) – a single at Laguna Atascosa on 26th was the only record.
Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) – seen daily in small numbers.
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) – common in Jones State Forest and at High Island.
Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas) – a common visitor to bird tables and in the reserves along the LRGV and at Laguna Atascosa
Brown Jay (Cyanocorax morio) - only seen at Chapeño on 27th with a minimum of two, probably more birds present
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) – a few birds were seen in the Houston & Winnie areas
Chihuahuan Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus) – first seen at Boca Chica on 26th and then again heading north and around Falcon State Park on 27th.
Common Raven (Corvus corax) – the only record was one heard and then seen at Lost Maples on 28th.
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) – common, seen daily in most habitats
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) – common, seen daily in towns and other urban areas.
White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus) – relatively common in the LRGV and also at Lost Maples.
Yellow-throated Vireo (Vireo flavifrons) – seen regularly but not in large numbers with birds at High Island on 23rd, Sabal Palms on 26th and also at Lost Maples on 28th.
Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius) – singles were at Santa Ana on the 25th and Sabal Palms on 26th.
Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus) – only seen at Sabal Palms with at least six seen on 26th.
Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) – the commonest Vireo with reasonable numbers seen daily at High Island and in the LRGV. Also birds in song at Lost Maples on 28th.
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) – seen at Vanderpool on 27th and Lost Maples on 28th.
Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria) – first seen at Frontera Audubon, Weslaco on 26th. Another bird was seen at D’Rose motel, Leaky on evening of 27th.
American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) – the only sighting was a female at Attwater on 24th.
Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora pinus) – 3 or 4 were at Boy Scout wood on 23rd.
Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) – two males were seen on 23rd at High Island. The first at Boy Scout woods and the second at The TOS reserve in the evening.
Tennessee Warbler (Vermivora peregrine) – first seen at Boy Scout wood on 22nd and thereafter seen almost daily in a mix of habitat. The most numerous member of mixed flocks in the LRGV.
Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata)– only seen at Lost Maples with two birds seen on 28th.
Nashville Warbler (Vermivora ruficapilla) – first seen at Santa Ana on 25th and the commonest warbler in the mixed migrant flocks along the LRGV.
Northern Parula (Parula americana) – a single bird on 23rd at High Island at Boy Scout woods.
Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia) – seen at High Island on 22nd and 23rd.
Chestnut-sided Warbler (Dendroica pensylvanica) two males were seen on 23rd at High Island. The first at Boy Scout woods and the second at The TOS reserve in the evening.
Magnolia Warbler (Dendroica magnolia) – a single male was at Boy Scout woods on 23rd.
Golden-cheeked Warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia) – a minimum of five birds were at Lost Maples on 28th.
Black-throated Green Warbler (Dendroica virens) – seen at High Island and in the LRGV on a daily basis
Blackburnian Warbler (Dendroica fusca) – a minimum of six birds were at Boy Scout wood on 23rd.
Pine Warbler (Dendroica pinus) – common at Jones State Forest were birds were already feeding young.
Bay-breasted Warbler (Dendroica castanea) – a minimum of two males were at Sabal Palms on 26th.
Cerulean Warbler (Dendroica cerulean) – a single male was at the TOS reserve at High Island on the evening of 23rd.
Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia) - seen daily at High Island, LRGV and Lost Maples
American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) – a male was at Boy Scout wood on 22nd.
Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorus) – a minimum of two birds were a Boy Scout wood on 23rd.
Swainson's Warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii) - a single was seen briefly at Boy Scout wood on 22nd.
Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) – the only one seen was at Sabal Palms on 26th.
Northern Waterthrush (Seiurus noveboracensis) – first seen at Boy Scout wood on the 23rd. Also a single at Sabal Palms and ten at Laguna Atascosa on 26th.
Kentucky Warbler (Oporornis formosus) – seen at High Island on 23rd.
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) – Seen in low numbers at High Island on 22/23rd . A single bird was at Sabal Palms on 26th.
Gray-crowned Yellowthroat (Geothlypis poliocephala) – a single singing bird was seen well at Sabal Palms on 26th. Many thanks to the two American birders who helped me see it.
Hooded Warbler (Wilsonia citrina) – seen at High Island on 22/23rd
Wilson's Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla) – a single was at Bentsen on 25th and three more at Sabal Palms the next day.
Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens) – seen in low numbers with birds at High Island 22/23rd, Sabal Palms and Frontera at Weslaco on 26th, and finally at Jones State Forest on 29th.
Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) – seen at High Island on 22nd & 23rd.
Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra) - seen daily through out
White-collared Seedeater (Sporophila torqueola) – a single singing male was at San Ygnacio on 28th.
Olive Sparrow (Arremonops rufivirgatus) – a common bird in the wooded areas of the reserves in the LRGV
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerine) – common at La Sal del Rey Tract on 25th and Laguna Atascosa on 26th.
Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida) – first seen at Bentsen on 25th and then again at Laguna Atascosa on 26th.
Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus) – Seen at Anahuac on 23rd and also at Laguna Atascosa on 26th.
Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus) – common in the LRGV, where present at most sites.
Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata) – a single singing bird was found at Falcon SP on 27th.
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) – seen at Anahuac on 23rd and Laguna Atascosa on 26th.
Seaside Sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus) – it was plentiful and easy to see on the Rail Walk at Anahuac on 24th.
Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) – two were at the Attwater Prairie Chicken reserve on 24th.
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) – a single bird was seen in Boy Scout Woods on
Crimson-collared Grosbeak (Rhodothraupis celaeno) – A female was seen chewing buds at Sabal Palms on 26th.
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) – common and conspicuous throughout
Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus) – only seen at Falcon State Park where at least 4 were seen on 27th.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) – seen daily in low numbers around High Island. Also seen at Sabal Palms on 26th.
Blue Grosbeak (Guiraca caerulea) – 2 at Boy Scout woods on 22nd
Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) – seen at High Island on 22/23rd and then daily in the LRGV.
Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) - seen daily in a mix of habitats from High Island to LRGV.
Dickcissel (Spiza americana) – first seen nr Anahuac on 23rd in low numbers. Although seen at Attwater, Laguna Atascosa it was only really common on the agricultural lands south of Vanderpool where hundreds were seen.
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) – common throughout
Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) – common on agricultural grasslands around Houston
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) – about ten were with a mixed flock of Red-winged Blackbirds and Brow-headed Cowbirds at Chapeño on 27th.
Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major) – the only attempt to separate this species was at Rollover Pass on 22nd and Anahuac at 23rd.
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) – a few seen around Houston on 21st/22nd and 23rd
Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) – common across most of Texas. Seen and especially heard on all dates.
Bronzed Cowbird (Molothrus aeneus) – common in the LRGV
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) – common around Houston and scarce in LRGV with the exception of the largest flock of circa 100 seen at Chapeño on 27th.
Altamira Oriole (Icterus gularis) – first seen at Santa Ana on 25th, but more common at Bentsen, Sabal Palms and at Chapeño.
Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus) – first seen at La Sal Del Rey tract on 25th and thereafter at Chapeño on 27th.
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) – seen daily at High Island and then again at Sabal Palms and Chapeño in LRGV.
Bullock's Oriole (Icterus bullockii) – a single bird was seen at Falcon State Park on 27th.
Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurious) – first seen at Jones State Forest on 21st. It was generally the most plentiful Oriole around Winnie and High Island