[texbirds] Uvalde Area Birding (VERY LONG)

  • From: sgross77@xxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: TEXBIRDS <texbirds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 6 May 2013 19:53:43 +0000 (UTC)

I was honored to act as guide for a few friends this weekend as we explored the 
Uvalde County area. 
Our first stop was Cook’s Slough, and the highlights there included Green 
Kingfisher, several Spotted Sandpipers, and scads of Clay-colored Sparrows and 
Painted Buntings. Clay-colored Sparrow proved to be the default LBJ (Little 
Brown Job) over the course of the weekend. 

Next was Park Chalk Bluff, which I like more and more with each visit. We were 
able to find one of the Rufous-capped Warblers along the streambed past the 
Pecan Bottom. This is the possible hybrid, as posited by Chris Benesh on his 
blog and ID-Frontiers. <http://www.chrisbenesh.com/currents/> 

The bird sang the Common Yellowthroat song and showed the subdued cheek patch 
that Benesh mentions. We’ll see what shakes out on this interesting creature. 
The Park also allowed us good looks at Yellow-breasted Chat, Olive Sparrow, 
Brown-crested Flycatcher, a singleton Olive-sided Flycatcher, and a solitary 
Solitary Sandpiper upstream from the boat ramp area. We also heard the 
White-tipped Doves that have been reported from that location. 

The drive back to Uvalde garnered the group a perched Harris’s Hawk, at 
nearly the identical spot where I’d seen one bird during my visit over Easter 

Neal’s Lodges was our home away from home for the next two nights, and the 
property offered up lots of goodies. Owners Dallas and Brad Hart have done a 
great job accommodating birders, and they seek any and all constructive 
criticism re birding at the site. My Golden-cheeked Warbler spot on Neal’s 
property up US 83 proved to be sans Golden-cheeked, but we surprisingly heard a 
Black-capped Vireo in the same area. Rufous-crowned Sparrow sang there too, and 
we got a glimpse at one of those beasts. 

Our other highlights from the various birding spots at Neal’s included: 
Hooded Oriole, Black-headed Grosbeak, Verdin, Lazuli Bunting, Ringed 
Kingfisher, both Tropical and Northern Parula, more Clay-colored Sparrows, Blue 
Grosbeak, Spotted Sandpiper, Canyon Wren, lingering Pine Siskins at the Pecan 
Grove feeders, a single Mississippi Kite flyover, Black-throated Green Warbler, 
and Canyon Towhee. A pretty good haul, all things considered. 

On Friday night, several of us took to the road for owls and nightjars. We were 
able to hear Common Poorwill and Elf Owl at locations along US 83 within 10 
miles of Concan, but not at the locations where we initially sought them. It 
was a beautiful, Milky Way-filled night, and the birdsong/calls improved the 
soundtrack (which was mostly the roar of passing vehicles). 

Sunday morning, we spent a bit more time at the Cattle Guard feeding station 
(that’s where we had the MS Kite flyover). 
Our last bit of birding before heading home to Houston was on Uvalde County 
Road 202, a place which I always enjoy visiting. The species found there are 
similar to what you find on the “Dump Road” near Salineno (and many other 
spots in western TX): Black-throated Sparrow, Pyrrhuloxia, Verdin, Roadrunner, 
etc. However, on this visit, we also enjoyed Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (a 
species that seems to have moved into the Uvalde area), Long-billed Thrasher, 
Wild Turkey, Summer Tanager, and a few surprises. A single male Yellow-headed 
Blackbird made a vocalization that Steve Matherly and I didn’t recognize, but 
then it flew into a roadside tree and allowed a momentary view. At the Nueces 
River crossing, we had four high-flying Broad-winged Hawks. Then, as lagniappe, 
we found a Lesser Nighthawk on the road on our way out. It flushed when a car 
passed by, then landed in a pasture about 25 ft. from the road. Amazingly, 
Steve M found the bird sitting on the ground after it had flushed, and we all 
got scope views of the bird. It took a few moments to identify it as a Lesser 
Nighthawk rather than a poorwill, but there you go. 
Our trip home was uneventful, but the conversation was brisk, the Asleep at the 
Wheel album we listened to made us tap our toes, and the traffic was bearable. 

It was another great weekend in the Hill Country. It's a pain to get out there, 
but I'm always glad I made the effort. 

Steve Gross 
NW Houston 

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