Friday, November 1, 2013

Chumming for Orioles, Texas October 29, to Laredo and then Louisiana

On Tuesday, October 29, I added Audubon's Oriole at Salineneo in the morning.  Recall that I saw and photographed Audubon's Oriole at Salineneo in the spring but did not count it, because it was on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande River.  This time the bird was on the American side.  On Monday afternoon I had also tried for Audubon's Oriole at Salineneo and took a bag of oranges with me.  I staked out 12 orange halves outside the fence in the area where the feeding station was last year.  However, no orioles were attracted to the orange halves while I was there Monday afternoon and evening.  Tuesday morning, I found a male Audubon's Oriole with greenish tinged yellow back and the black hood in the area near the oranges but got no photos.  Something had been feeding on the oranges that I left on Monday, but I never saw an oriole at the oranges.  Male and female Altamira Orioles were also in the area.  Butterflies seemed to like the oranges.  I had started to photograph butterflies after arriving in Texas when birding was slow and during the heat of mid-day when butterflies are more active and birds are not.  I have been interested in butterflies since I was about ten years old.  I bought the butterfly guide "Butterflies of the Lower Rio Grande Valley" by Roland H. Wauer to aid in identification.  October is a peak time for butterflies in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.  The photo below shows an Empress Leilia, one of several hackberry butterflies, on the left on one of my orange halves, along with another very black butterfly on the right that is hard to identify exactly but is possibly a species of Metalmark.  Empress Leilia has submarginal (near edge) eyespots and two solid dark bars on the leading edge of the forewing (top wing) which distinguish it from two other hackberry butterfly species found in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The next photo shows the underside of the Empress Leila, and the third photo shows a close-up on the ground.
Empress Leila on left, possible Metalmark on right
Empress Leila, underside
Empress Leilia, upperside closeup
I left Salineneo and headed for Laredo to try for White-collared Seedeater at Las Palmas Nature Trail and Zacate Creek.  I had no success on Tuesday afternoon and evening for White-collared Seedeater.  It was hot and muggy as I walked the Las Palmas Trail about four times.  I heard a distant bird call that sounded like White-collared Seedeater out toward the large patch of rushes along the river.  However, the call could have been coming from the Mexican side of the river.  A close brush with success?  A cooperative Ringed Kingfisher sat on a power line on the south or east side of Zacate Creek and called while I got a photo.  See below. 
Ringed Kingfisher, calling
In the evening at about 5:30 pm, there were large flocks of White-winged Doves flying and sitting in trees along Zacate Creek.  In one tree I counted/estimated 200 White-winged Doves and estimated a total of about 1000 White-winged Doves.  They seemed to be coming to the creek for water.  I certainly did not see that many during the afternoon.

I stayed in Laredo Tuesday night and tried again early on Wednesday morning, but also had no success in finding the elusive White-collared Seedeater.  Only the Ringed Kingfisher along Zacate Creek was cooperative again for a photo displaying tail flicking.
Ringed Kingfisher, flicking tail up
I drove back to San Antonio, Texas, switched to a new rental car and drove the 5 to 6 hours to Jennings, Louisiana.

I am writing this blog post on Thursday, October 31, Halloween Night, from Jennings, Louisiana where I will be joining Donna Dittman's tour for Yellow Rail.  The weather has been fierce with heavy rain and tornado warnings today, Thursday, October 31.  We will try for Yellow Rail tomorrow, Friday, or the next day depending upon the weather and whether or not the rice plants have dried sufficiently from today's rain.

Audubon's Oriole raises the total to 687 + 2 provisional species.             

1 comment:

  1. I am so enjoying your blog and give you tremendous credit for persuing this adventure.