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Jake Mohlmann on his and Evan Obercian's recently concluded tour, Texas: The Rio Grande Valley

February 23: Jake Mohlmann on his and Evan Obercian's recently concluded tour, Texas: The Rio Grande Valley

Our satiated group after a genuine Texas barbeque feast.

We just ended our latest tour through Texas's Lower Rio Grande Valley where 209 species of birds were seen around and over 1085 miles of border roads. We always hope our tour happens at a time when Mexican strays are being seen and this year didn’t disappoint. A Golden-crowned Warbler tested our bird finding abilities while a female Crimson-collared Grosbeak stole the show at Quinta Mazatlan.


A rare Crimson-collared Grosbeak showed nicely.

Valley specialties were in abundance this year. Good numbers of Groove-billed Anis were utilizing the shrubby arroyos. We saw two at the famed Estero Llano Grande and stumbled into a particularly confiding Audubon’s Oriole in Salineño.


An Audubon’s Oriole came in for close inspection.

Waterfowl species numbered 23 and included such delights as thousands of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Ross’s Geese, and several diminutive Least Grebes.


This Least Grebe was a showstopper.

We searched far and wide and found some hard to find species including LeConte’s Sparrow posing in the open, tiny Northern Beardless-Tyrannulets, a bright Yellow-throated Warbler, and a very secretive Sprague’s Pipit that finally showed well.


Sprague’s Pipit takes time to see but is well worth it


Yellow-throated Warbler in the early budding trees.

Jake upper left, LeConte's Sparrow lower right, both in focus.  Surely a first... Image: Ro Carlisle

Surveying the extensive wetlands on South Padre Island is always an exciting experience. Shorebirds like Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs posed for nice comparisons, bright pink Roseate Spoonbills glowed in the waning light, and waders like Reddish Egrets and Tricolored Herons foraged in the shallows below our feet.


This Tricolored Heron wreaked havoc on a school of minnows.

The extension focused on seeing the endangered Whooping Cranes at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. We witnessed a rarely seen behavior when an adult crane fed its mate a plump blue crab, and were thrilled when the boat pulled up right next to a family as they foraged for their favorite food source in the salt marsh.


Extremely close views of the rare Whooping Crane.

Posted: February 23, 2019