About half of the Red-billed Pigeons I saw flew close to the US shoreline or over our heads on the US side, so I can count these for my ABA area Big Year list. I got a distant photo of a Red-billed Pigeon flying toward a tree on the US side south of the boat ramp in the vicinity of where the temporary feeders were maintained this winter. See second photo. The river was quite high, much higher, John said, than on his most recent visit. The higher water level was the result of negotiations between US and Mexico to allow more water to be released probably to relieve some of the stress of the drought on the US side, and most likely for agriculture.
We were expecting to see the Muscovy Duck fly-by south, and it happened. Alex picked it up coming south near the US shoreline up-river in front of the island north of the boat ramp. It nearly flew over our heads. I was not able to get the best photos, because the Muscovy Duck was very close and moving quite fast. See two photos below which are identifiable as Muscovy Duck if not the best photographs. I was not able to get the whole bird in focus, and the head is not sharply in focus. We also saw Audubon's Oriole in the tops of the trees on the Mexican side. See photo below. Unfortunately for my Big year list, I can not count this Audubon's Oriole for the ABA area. I checked on Google maps about the location of the border at Salineno, specifically at the boat ramp. The border is closer to the Mexican side than the US side, but the land is in Mexico. We tried later in the morning in the village of Salineno, but I never saw an Audubon's Oriole there. Alex thought he saw one but we were not able to locate it. We continued to bird at the boat ramp, and at 10:30 am, John mentioned how unusual it was that we still had Red-billed Pigeon activity. A cooperative Green Kingfisher gave photo opportunities. See photo below. I heard an unusual cowbird call and then John and I heard a definitive Bronzed Cowbird. We found the Bronzed Cowbird sitting in a dead tree right nearby, another new bird for the year. See photo showing the large bill and head and flat headed appearance with a red eye. Then I heard a "whit" call and suggested that we need to find that bird, because it sounded like a Brown-crested Flycatcher. We pursued the bird up-river on the US side. The bird sounded like a Brown-crested Flycatcher but, as John stated, was very light colored like an Ash-throated Flycatcher. Both birds are possible at Salineno at this time of year. Finally we got a good look at the underside of the tail. The dark brown along the outer edges of the closed tail did not curve around the bottom of the tail making this bird a Brown-crested Flycatcher, another new bird for the year. Because there were reports of Audubon's Oriole in the village of Salineno, we went into town and parked near the church, where we found male and female Hooded Orioles. I looked at a kingbird on the wire expecting the usual Couch's Kingbird but noticed the white outer edge to the tail feathers. It was a Western Kingbird another new bird for the year. I was pleased to hear the Western Kingbird call and sing. I have not often
been in their breeding territory to hear them.
See photo. I wanted to drive the dump road from Salineno to get to Falcon State Park. In previous visits I have found Pyrrhuloxia and Black-throated Sparrow as well as Greater Roadrunner on this road. John pointed out that Scaled Quail is also possible on this road as well as Black-tailed Gnatcatcher. John suggested that I lead the way since I was doing a Big Year and needed to get the birds. We exchanged phone numbers, and they agreed to flash car lights to signal me if I missed something.
On the way out of town, I thought that I heard an oriole call, and saw a small dove that might be an Inca Dove, so I stopped. We did find an Inca Dove this time. Earlier by the church in Salineno, I saw two small doves fly by that looked like Inca Doves but we could not find
Year, because it turned out that they did not have to flash their lights. We continued to Falcon State Park to the feeders and the blind with feeders
managed by volunteers and located near the butterfly garden. The new birds for me that the volunteers indicated are present at the feeders are Common Ground Dove and Greater Roadrunner. John, Alex and I stayed at the feeders behind the camper of the volunteers, but these new birds did not show up. A cooperative Pyrrhuloxia showed up. See photo with an Inca Dove in the background. At the feeders with a blind in the mesquite, a Black-throated Sparrow showed up. See photo. We left the feeder area to look for the Audubon's Oriole nest found by John from Massachusetts. However, we were not successful. We returned to stop at the feeder area. I wanted to look for Greater Roadrunner and Common Ground Dove. I did get the Greater Roadrunner at first close to but not at the feeders. The Greater Roadrunner then moved toward the feeders and came in to the water bath. See last photo. It was about 3:30 pm and Alex had to leave to start back to get his flight back to Minnesota leaving from Harlingen Airport. I had hoped to be able to get to Laredo to try for White-collared Seedeater, but given the time, I had to cancel those plans. I had an early flight at 6:50 am on Tuesday, tomorrow, from San Antonio and was quite tired from the last two days of long-distance travel, birding until after dark for the Elf Owl and then getting up early to get to Salineno. The choice to get the Whooping Cranes eliminated a try for White-collared Seedeater for this trip. It was at least two hours to Laredo and at least four hours from Laredo to San Antonio. I said goodbye to Alex and John and stayed in the area to look for Common Ground Dove at the feeders. When that search and wait was unsuccessful, I returned to Salineno to look for Audubon's Oriole in the US. There was also a possibility for Common Ground Dove in Salineno and a Ringed Kingfisher fly-by down by the river, but that did not happen. Between 4:00 and 5:00 pm, I saw two more Red-billed Pigeons fly by the boat ramp on the US side. One flew south and then another or the same one flew north. I did not find the Audubon's Oriole in the US, nor the Common Ground Dove or the Ringed Kingfisher. At about 5:15 pm, I started to drive back to San Antonio. I arrived at a motel near the San Antonio International Airport at about