RGVBF 2011: 5

busyWe wrapped up the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival with a bang, visiting the South Padre Island area. The resort area on this barrier island is, um, more built up than its counterparts in, say, North Carolina. Nevertheless, there are some protected green spots that serve as migrant traps and places for wildlife to overwinter. And SPI seems to be much less popular this time of the year than it is at spring break; we saw lots of deeply discounted accommodations on offer.

Kevin Karlson led this trip, and even he was knocked over by what was probably the best bird of the festival, a Long-eared Owl (Asio otus) that turned up in the greenery behind the convention center. The flats on the lagoon were also good for Royal and Sandwich Terns (Sterna maxima and S. sandvicensis).

see the lightA boat trip, leaving from Port Isabel in view of the lighthouse, provided good looks at Franklin’s Gull (Larus pipxcan).

Back at the festival HQ in Harlingen, I finally stopped to look at a large flock of black birds in the city park and found what everyone had been saying was easy to find. Mixed in with the Great-tailed Grackles (Quiscalus mexicanus) were 30 to 40 Bronzed Cowbirds (Molothrus aeneus).

I had a great four-plus-day visit through a good variety of habitats, with a trip list count of 125. Yet I left a good number of birds on the table for my next trip to south Texas. (I’m looking at you, Ladder-backed Woodpecker.)