Texas Volume Six: All the leftover stuff

Welcome to my last blog post about Texas!  This is all the random stuff that did not fit neatly into any of the other posts.  Enjoy!

When Audrey and I arrived in Brownsville to pick up Sarah, Max, and Eric from the airport, we had an extra hour to kill, so we found a small park to bird, Dean Porter Park.   It was windy AF but there were new birds and new trip birds and new turtles too.

 Texas spiny soft-shelled turtles

 Golden-fronted Woodpecker

 Domestic Muscovy Duck in top of palm

 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks

Green Parakeets!

Audrey vs. Laughing Gull

Once the whole gang was in town we headed to our Airbnb in Harlingen.  This place was the shiznit.  We could have sat in the yard the whole five days and still seen a ton of birds.  For example, here is a checklist from one evening when we drank beer and ate popsicles. 

Harris's Hawk yard bird

The morning we went to South Padre with Nate and AJ we first drove the dusty Old Port Isabel Road.  The highlight here was finding the nesting Aplomado Falcons who eventually flew right by us. 

Initial views:  caracara on left, Aplomado on right

 Much better view, thank you.

Later in the day after leaving South Padre we stopped at the Zapata Memorial Boat Ramp and finally found some Wilson's Plovers. 

 There were a bunch of terns around and I believe these must be Gull-billed with their honkin black bills and long black legs.

Nerd cluster
 From this hazy spot we headed to Boca Chica Beach which involved driving the shoreline all the way to the mouth of the Rio Grande.  There was a dead dolphin that caused some excitement.

While we were standing around at one point AJ yelled "pelagic bird!"  We looked out over the Gulf to find a Sandwich Tern being pursued by a Parasitic Jaeger.  Definitely a surprise!

At some point Max caught a fish with his bare hands because that's how he rolls.

After picking up some Mexico year birds we headed out with one more stop at some random beach that held our state Dunlin. 

One morning we drove out to Sabal Palm Sanctuary and noticed this sign along the way:

Sabal Palm 

It didn't feel as birdy as I wanted it to be but we did see some good stuff.

 Couch's Kingbird

Broad-winged Hawk...I think

 Giant swallowtail

On Sarah, Max, and Eric's last night in Texas we headed south to Brownsville to visit the parrot roost at Oliveira Park.  The park itself was bananas with a bunch of different soccer games, little league, a playground or two, and people everywhere.  Someone noticed a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker on a palm tree around the same time parrots began to fly in.

Audrey vs. sapsucker

The parrots were cool, mostly Red-crowned which are ABA-approved.

There were also Red-lored (below), Yellow-headed, and White-fronted, none of which are "countable."

I was also stoked to look up at one point and see a Lesser Nighthawk cruising over. 

Bonus bird.

The last morning in Harlingen we birded random spots around town.  A few fun things were found...

 Ladies room spider bigger than my hand

 Roseate skimmer

Rio Grande leopard frog

 Tropical Kingbird

We packed up our stuff from the Airbnb, did a little birding at a college campus, then stopped for snacks and Lone Stars before taking the gang to the airport.

18 years of training.

On our last day in Texas after birding Salineño, Audrey and I had to make the long drive back to San Antonio.  We had time to stop for stuff along the way and so we did.  Like this turtle debating the idea of crossing the busy highway. 

We turned it around and it scurried off into the grass.  This is the sort of thing that makes Border Patrol want to stop and talk to you. 

One of at least fifty Crested Caracaras we saw that day

We stopped for tons of dead things including a snake, a cow, a piglet, and the saddest one, a bobcat.  I learned here that butterflies drink blood.

Lastly, we stopped for some swallows nesting under a highway overpass in hopes of finally getting good looks at Cave Swallows.  Success!  They were nesting right alongside Cliff Swallows.

Finally I am done blogging about Texas!  It was a fantastic adventure and I can't wait to go back and bird there again someday.  Thanks to Audrey, Sarah, Max, and Eric for joining me!  And thanks to Nate and AJ for making the trek to join us for a couple days and show us the secret pauraque hiding spot (and a million other things). 

25 lifers!  41 ABA birds!  Only one tick!  A billion bug bites!  Good times!!!!!

Sorry, pretty butterflies...


  1. Man, that trip was great! Reliving it through your blog posts has somewhat eased my transition back into normal life. Lets go birding together again soon!

    1. Yes!! Instead of bug bites we can get tiny bruises from all the damn hail.

  2. 41 ABA birds...incredible.

    I dig the variety in this post. All bases covered. Jealz about the Cave Swallows, I've never seen them at active nests. Any idea what that turtle is?

    How do you get through blogging your trips so quickly? I still have a Puerto Rico post to put out.

    1. I haven't researched the turtle yet, beyond 2 minutes of failing on google. Gotta pump out the blog posts before I forget everything I learned!

  3. Totally inspiring! 25 lifers, that's a great number!! Butterflies are so hard to miss on the highway...

    1. Yeah there was no hope for the butterflies unless we drove way way way below the speed limit. 😢

  4. Rad post all around with the diversity of things. This might set a record for number of dead things covered, too. That last pic.. the carnage!

  5. We crushed so many good birds! And lizards. The other love of my life.

    1. You didn't receive all that lizard training for nothing! Better start finding some here.

  6. The turtle could be a river cooter. They've got long nails and a flat chin. Beautiful!

  7. Looked like an awesome trip. I'm loving the Golden-fronted Woodpecker...and the parrots and the Jaeger and...and...and...!


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