Better weather and more good stuff

We had forgotten just how rich was the bird life in Edinburg.  It is an oasis of water, trees and flowers amid suburbia, only half an hour away.  The weather is nicer than it’s been, with a few more sunny breaks, although I admit to loathing getting into a clammy bed at night.  Humidity is not my cuppa.  But this area promotes birds and flowers along with butterflies.

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At last I have my photo of the beautiful Black-bellied Whistling Duck.  Some great pink feet eh, to say nothing of that bill!  You oughta hear ‘im whistle!

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The spiny soft-shelled turtles were basking on a bank when we came to a viewing platform at this pond.  There was one amongst them which was either albino or some type of aberration, since it was completely pink!  Too bad it slid into the water before Bill could capture it.

We had been told there was a Winter Wren seen near the visitor’s center, but no luck. A school bus full of kids arrived soon after we did and they were busy doing projects all over the place.  We avoided them and I guess the wren with them.

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We did finally find a Least Grebe in one of the canals – only 9 1/2 inches long.  It can be a hard one to find here.

There were lots of flowers blooming as well as berries.  Many bushes run the complete gamut:  buds, flowers blooming, fruit forming and ripe fruit.

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This very large apple cactus had some good lookin’ fruit on it.  I gather it’s edible (the inside looks like dragon fruit – white with black seeds).

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The herons and egrets were too far away to photograph, but this Spotted Sandpiper (which I showed in a Falcon Park blog posting) is much closer.

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There was lots of singing as well as calls.  Long-billed Thrashers who are excellent mimics, and White-eyed Vireos seemed to dominate.  Finally got a shot of this fast little flitter, showing its white eye.  The yellow line goes right across its bill to the other side and over the other eye.  We are getting to know this song, since they seem to be everywhere!  Didn’t really expect them to sing in the winter.

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In open grassland nearby we found the same things we’d found 4 years ago when we visited – American Pipit.  I included a photo earlier, but this shows its markings a bit better.

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Sorry, I can’t resist these little beauties.  Must’ve been a dozen in a flock near the pipit – my beautiful little Inca Doves.  By the way, Sandy was the one who chose them for my header – good choice San!!

Sun. Dec. 14:  Yesterday was a day of work for Bill – and I did laundry/cleaning.  But today we got out to Bentsen for a walk in the morning.  A hot day with highs of 27, but windy.

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Not much to be found, but we saw this lovely Great Egret along the canal next to the visitors center.

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As we approached the information kiosk and first feeding station, there was a large puddle of water on the road in which 6 or 7 Great-tailed Gralckles (those huge black birds) were indulging in communal bathing.  Can’t resist bathing birds – what a hoot!  Maybe it’ll be a theme this year!

Dec. 15:  Walked Estero Llano Grande in much better weather than last time (rain) – however, quite windy.  Added 6 new species to our list (now at (156).

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First exciting bird is a one which is often heard but not seen – Sora.  This little rail lives in all the sloughs up in our neck of the woods, but here was a chance for a quick shot before it hid back in the reeds.

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Right in front of it was a White-faced Ibis.  Obviously the white area isn’t very large eh?  Matter of fact, don’t worry if you can’t see it in this winter bird!  Nonetheless, a great bill.

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Also seen were White Ibises – and they have lots of white, great pink bills and a small black tip on the end of their wings which is hidden when they land.

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Lots of snapping turtles inhabit these ponds and don’t seem to run away too quickly from humans, allowing a few photos.  The bottom 2 were watching a plane fly over (no, not really).

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Other pond inhabitants included Snowy Egrets – always lovely in a group (with Green-winged Teal).

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Along the pathway there are piles of sticks in one place which denotes the sleeping Common Pauraque.  It took us awhile to find him because they blend so beautifully into the background.  Cool bird!

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We found a group of roosting Yellow-crowned Night Herons in the aligator lake (yep – there are indeed aligators in it).  We saw a very large one (about 8 feet) last year, but today just a quick glimpse of part of a body of a smaller one.

We headed to the edge of the property to see if we could find out White-tailed Kites – which Bill photographed so beautifully last time we were here.  Unfortunately, none to be seen (the wind was blowing a gale by that time also!

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But we spied a fishing formation of American White Pelicans in the canal.

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Then finally spotted some Roseate Spoonbills – but I sure hope we can a shot closer laster on.  The smaller black and white birds are Black-necked Stilts.

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We took shelter among the trees to see if we could find any passerines. There were more of those fuscia colored beauganvillia (just for Deen).

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This attractive female, Black-and-white Warbler showed up for a photo.

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Later, at the feeder and bird-bath, she showed up to bathe.  Unfortunately we didn’t get any really different shots of her bath, like I usually like.

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However, we also got this one of an Orange-crowned Warbler, and a little bit of his orange crown is visible when he bathes!

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The Buff-bellied Hummingbird also showed up at the feeder.  No Yellow-throated Warbler seen this trip.

From this day on, Bill has been working and the weather has been not that good (very cloudy, sometimes rainy, sometimes cool, sometimes windy).  So that’s it for this posting.

Only 2 more days until Christmas!  Merry Christmas everyone!

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