CHASING BIRDS (AGAIN) WITH CHAPMAN & CO.
For Ben Feltner, it was a chance to regain his lead over Jim Tucker in the great
Texas Life Ltst Race. For Ben's Doberman puppy Merlyn, It was a chance to substantially increase his life list. For Linda Roach, It was an opportunity to relax
after hectic preparations for her upcoming art show at The Chickadee. For Mary Ann
Chapman, It was one more excuse to bird the Rio Grande Valley and show off Texas
birds to a Yankee. For Yankee Callfornlan Bob Behrstock, It was another try for
Hook-billed Kites and other Valley specialties he'd missed earlier In his trip. All
of us were eager to see the Golden-crowned Warbler which had been patiently awaiting
us In BrownsviIle.
We left Houston on the chill and windy morning of March I. By the time we arrived
in Corpus Christl it was bitterly cold, and the search for a Masked Duck on Padre
Island was curtailed by frozen fingers. After a fine dinner at the Black Diamond
Oyster Bar, we pressed southward to Norlas for some sleep. The dawn chorus of coyotes was not nearly as impressive as the Ice on the inside of Linda's tent.
After a brisk drive to the Benns' house in Brownsville, we stationed ourselves in
the thicket where the Golden-crowned Warbler had been seen. Moments later Bob spotted the bird and everyone except Mary Ann got great looks. Since her Chinook was
our means of transportation, we had to find it again for her before moving on. A
Tropical Parula, Ringed Kingfisher, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, and wintering Ovenbird
entertained us while we waited.
After signing the guest book of our congenial hosts, the Benns, we made a quick stop
at the scenic and popular Brownsville dump where Bob added the sought-after Mexican
Crow to his AOU list. A brief stop a+ a pond west of Brownsville produced several
Least Grebes, and we pressed on to San+a Ana. There we were informed +ha+ all recent Hook-billed Kite reports had been from Bentsen State Park. Since we were planning to camp there anyway and still had daylight left, we moved on to the Park.
Circling the Loop In search of a campsl+e, Mary Ann jokingly said, "There +he Kl+es
are now", pointing at some circling hawks. Bof> took a closer look and shrieked for
the car to stop. Sure enough, two Hook-billed Kites drifted lazily above us low
enough for us to see all the field marks, including the sharply hooked bill. After
much jubilation, we combined around the Loop and Mary Ann spotted a bobcat to round
out the day. A night walk through the campground produced many screech owls and a
On Monday morning we headed toward the upper Valley to share In the most recent discovery of White-collared Seed-eaters at San Ygnaclo. Howling winds and negative reports at the Rancho Hawaii Campground dulled our optimism. Nontheless, within ten
minutes Mary Ann spotted a female Seedeater which she excitedly shared with the rest
of th© group. We then headed back to the Santa Marguarita ranch, where we had missed Brown Jays a few weeks before. Again we were not overwhelmed by the flocks of
Brown Jay's but eventually did hear several.
We retreated for a tas+y Mexican dinner a+ Caro's Restaurant in Rio Grande City, and
on to Alice for an evening stop at the home and natural history museum of Richard
0. Albert. Although Richard's pet alligators, Cedric and Abercrombie, were In their
deep winter's sleep and unavailable for viewing, his collection of artifacts from
his world-wide travels were enjoyed by all.
On Tuesday we rolled home basking In our success.... Ben Is ahead of Tucker once
again. Bob was thrilled with having seen seven new birds In the U.S., and Linda and
Mary Ann were similarly pleased with the adventure. The only displeasure was on
the part of Merlyn, who slept through the appearance of the Golden-crowned Warbler!
PLACES TO GO AND BIRDS TO LOOK FOR
You have a choice of two Burrowing Owls currently: the Houston Baptist University
Owl has returned to the same culvert....be+ween two dormitories on Beechnut is a
parking area, park and walk to the right to the entrance to the track. Do not enter
but turn right along the fence, watching for culvert grate on track side of fence.
Owl often sits on grate. The other one Is on Sharp Road In W.Harris Co. On the
right side of the road, midway between sharp right turn In road and gilder airport,
look in bushes and small trees on fence line. A Burrowing Owl has been seen in that
spot several times In last ten days (prior to the 9th). Migration is upon us, and
if you Just get out birding, you are liable to find anything! Margaret Anderson
had a Calliope Hummingbird fhe 5th, 6th, and 7th, but It hasn't been seen since then.