Field Trip Reports
Lower Rio Grande Valley Trip (January 26-29)
Twenty participants enjoyed a wonderful four days of birding in the LRGV. We got sprinkled on a little bit on
Friday and Saturday, but other than that the weather was very agreeable.
Thursday, after arriving in the LRGV, some of us spent the afternoon at Estero Llano Grande looking for the
Ruddy Ground-Dove; two of us got good looks at it, and a few more saw it the next day. We spent Friday birding
Santa Ana and Anzalduas County Park. Highlights for that day included the Red-naped Sapsucker, Cinnamon Teal,
Bufflehead and Eared Grebe at Santa Anna; and Gray Hawk, Altamira Oriole, Black Phoebe and Vermillion
Flycatcher at Anzalduas. Ducks and shorebirds at Santa Anna were incredible — David Poteet said that it is the best
that it has been there in a long time. On the other hand, it was sad to see how dry it was in the valley and this was
really noticeable at Anzalduas County Park where many of the trees had lost leaves or curled-up leaves.
Saturday was spent birding in Salineno, at the DeWinds' El Rio RV Park in Chapeno, Star County Park in
McAllen, and Seven Palms Subdivision. (I may have the name of the subdivision wrong. If I do, please let me know.)
Highlights at the DeWinds included Audubon's Oriole, Clay-colored Robin, Bewick's Wren, good looks at Olive
Sparrow, Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler, Green Kingfisher, White-tipped Dove, Altamira Oriole, Hooded Oriole,
Curve-billed Thrasher, Ringed Kingfisher and Canvasback. If you have never birded Salineno at the DeWinds, I highly
recommend it. I was very impressed with the setup they have there. It should be a stop on every trip to the LRGV. We
added Brown Jays, Song Sparrow and Northern Bobwhite at EL Rio RV Park; Lark Sparrows, Black-throated
Sparrow, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher and Greater Roadrunner at Star County Park; Tropical Kingbird at Seven Palms
subdivison; and Green Parakeets and Red-crowned Parrots in McAllen.
Sunday morning was spent birding Sabal Palms in search of Groove-billed Anis and the Gray Crowned
Yellowthroat. Neither bird was found, but we did see Couch's Kingbirds, Black-throated Green Warblers and a
133 birds were seen on the trip, with just about all of the participants adding at least one bird to their life list and
with a few adding as many as 35. A complete list ofbirds seen on this trip will follow, broken down to what was seen
at each location. A big thanks goes out to David Poteet and Sean Smith for leading this very successful trip.
Russ Pittman Park (February Mid-week Trip)
The OG Field Trip to Russ Pittman Park in Bellaire was held on February 8, 2006. In spite of the incorrect
instruction as to how to find the park, seven hardy souls showed up on a crisp, clear morning to bird. We were
welcomed by the sight of a female Pileated Woodpecker digging a hole in the pecan tree directly in front of the
Discovery Nature Center. She was only about 15 feet above us, so we all got good looks and John Old got some
After spending some time watching this fascinating bird we began to wander the grounds. Norma Barnes, and OG
member and volunteer at the Discovery Nature Center, hoped we would see several species of hummingbirds and
possibly the summer tanager which has been hanging around. Well, we were lucky: we did see the summer tanager
near the bee nests she has been feeding on all winter. We were also lucky enough to see three (possibly four) species of
hummingbirds. Our first one was initially identified as a Rufous Hummingbird. Closer looks at the bird suggested that
it might have been an Allen's Hummingbird, based upon the amount of green on its back and head, but none of the
participants were familiar enough with the hummers to be sure. We later saw an additional Rufous hummer with very
little green, and an immature Ruby-throated and an immature Black-chinned Hummingbird.
There were all the usual suspects one expects in a city park, including Blue Jays (lots), Mockingbirds, doves
(Rock, White-winged, Mourning, Eurasian Collared, and Inca), one American Robin, Orange-crowned and Yellow-
rumped Warblers, American Goldfinch, and blackbirds (Common and Great-tailed Grackles, Red-winged). In
addition, we saw three Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and one Blue-headed Vireo to go along with the expected Chickadees,
Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and Northern Cardinals. Our final tally was 26 species.
This close-in spot is a place for an easy stroll that will almost always provide a good look at many birds close up.
- Skip Almoney