Justin Rink led Friday’s field trip to the upper Rio Grande Valley, with stops at the town of Salineño and Falcon State Park, near the line between Starr and Zapata Counties.
The morning was brisk along the river. Starr County is an upland relative to the bottoms of Brownsville and Harlingen. I regretted leaving my sports gloves behind in Reston as I lugged the cold tubes of the tripod about. But we had nice looks at several birds, including A-quality views of Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) and Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus). We looked at two of the three valley speciality orioles, Altamira and Audubon’s; seen across the water, these birds are the first for my Mexico list.
At the county park, some of my busmates spotted Greater Roadrunner, but I was content with multiple looks at Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) (a big eight-inch wren warrants a big scientific name) and Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus).
Back at home base in the afternoon, I followed tips from the festival guide and my seatmate to pick up Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis) at the Harlingen Country Club (20+ of them) and Green Parakeet (Aratinga holochlora) on the wires above the intersection of Dove Avenue and 10th Street in McAllen (holy Michael J. Fox, more birds than I could sort through).