Valley birds

I guess I've complained enough about my rain-spoiled birding vacation in the Rio Grande Valley. It was a week I had long looked forward to, since it is one of the birdiest places on the planet. I was hoping to see lots of new birds. That didn't quite work out, thanks to the weather, but, in fact, I did see quite a few birds. I even managed to get pictures of some of them.

This group of Roseate Spoonbills was resting at mid-day in the wetlands of the World Birding Center on South Padre Island. 

Also at South Padre was this Long-billed Curlew.

A pair of Mottled Ducks napping in the sun - the first sun we had seen in several days.

This was one of the two Red-breasted Mergansers I saw and was able to photograph at South Padre.

Green-winged Teal were quite common in the ponds at Estero Llano Grande State Park. Lovely ducks!

As were the very distinctive Northern Shovelers.

I wasn't able to photograph very many songbirds that I saw, but this little Savannah Sparrow was cooperative.

This Tri-colored Heron is well-dressed in his showy breeding plumage.

Black-necked Stilts are fairly common shorebirds at this time of year, but I never get tired of observing and photographing them. 

This was a small section of a very large flock - over 100 birds - of White Ibises in flight that we saw on South Padre island.

A male American Wigeon enjoying a swim.

This little Pied-billed Grebe was having a vigorous wash-up and seemed very happy about it.

A male Blue-winged Teal resting on a fallen tree at Estero LLano Grande State Park. 

Who knew that Orange-crowned Warblers enjoy oranges? I certainly didn't, but now that I do I will try to provide some when they come back to us next winter. 

Another very common shorebird, the Killdeer

The Great Blue Herons also were dressed in their showy breeding feathers. This one was resting from its labors.

The Plain Chachalaca, a large chicken-like bird, is a Valley specialty. They are more often seen on the ground but a pair of them were feeding on some sort of berries in the trees around the visitor's center at Estero Llano Grande State Park, and I managed to get a few pictures.

One of the highlights of my trip was being able to get several pictures of this little Sora at South Padre Island. I saw a King Rail, a Clapper Rail, and a couple of Soras in the wetlands, but this Sora was the only one who was cooperative enough to let me photograph it.  

It wasn't all about the birds, although it was mostly. This very large alligator, viewed from the boardwalk at the World Birding Center on South Padre Island, caught the eye and the camera lens of a lot of the birders on this day.
In the end, I didn't really add many new birds to my life list, but, fortunately, I'm not an obsessive lister. For me, it is mostly just about enjoying the experience and I never get tired of watching birds, even those that are familiar to me. Throw in a nice alligator or two and I'm one happy birder!


  1. I'm sorry the rain marred your vacation, but you wouldn't know it from the pictures! I enjoyed seeing the Chachalaca -- I had never seen a bird like that, and it has a great name too.

    1. The bird is named for the sound that it makes - "chachalaca, chachalaca, chachalaca." When a flock of them get going, it is quite a chorus.

  2. What a fabulous experience. It sounds like a great place to visit. The spoonbills are quite a colour!

    1. The spoonbills were particularly bright, no doubt because they are in their breeding feathers.

  3. Great photo of the spoonbills! They're my favorite ~ still trying to get a decent shot of them myself.

    1. They always seem to position themselves far away from me, at the limit for my camera lens, but this particular group was a little more cooperative.

  4. Great pics, Dorothy! That's a big, menacing looking alligator. I thought the spoonbills were flamingos; that probably shows how much I know about birds. :-)

    1. Well, all big pink birds look a LITTLE alike, I guess!


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