Sunday, July 27, 2014

Texas Day 4: Resaca de la Palma; Sabal Palm Sanctuary

We had arranged by email to meet Sherry Wilson, volunteer at Resaca de la Palma, at 8am and she very kindly took us out and about for 4 hours and taught us a lot about all aspects of wildlife on the reserve.

An early excitement was the electric vehicle screeching to a halt because a Texas Coral Snake was slithering across the road. Top venomous snake – excellent.

Further on we spotted a small grey bird with an orange/red bill, which we decided must be a flea-market escapee as we know of no such naturally occurring bird. Just as we were discussing this, Leo spotted a White Tailed Kite (formerly Black Shouldered) and White Tailed Hawk having a ‘domestic’. This encounter enabled us to realize that the bird at Santa Ana had in fact been a Swainson’s Hawk.

In sweltering conditions we managed a fleeting glimpse of a Yellowthroat (song reminiscent of our whitethroat?) and of a young White-Eyed Vireo (after a lot of looking at musical bushes).

The female Blue Grosbeak is not very colourful, but nice to see anyhow.

Back near the visitor centre, Sherry was trying to show us a Common Paraque, but grass clipping had disturbed it from its usual hiding place. However, looking round here enabled us to spot 3 Black and White Warblers, our second First-of-Season sightings of them!

Interesting learning
-        Mockingbirds mimic the sounds of other birds (so are a clue as to what else lives in the area) as well as other sounds. But they only mimic each sound 4 times, which enables one to distinguish from the original bird

Sherry also gave us some good advice about other places to visit.

Firstly, we looked into Texas University for a reported Black Phoebe on the bridge. No sign unfortunately, though we picked up double crested  (thanks Sherry!) Neotropic Cormorant.

Thence on to Sabal Palm Sanctuary, a delightful place which is technically in Mexico as it is through a gap in the giant border fence which runs along the levee here. The visitor centre is in a wonderful old plantation home, and the very helpful guy there told us about how they regularly hear gunshots from the Mexican direction.  The Sanctuary had some nice birds, and at one turning on the path we were lucky enough to encounter a Texan Tortoise! Only the third one I have seen in the wild – a Greek Island and Sardinia being the other places.

After a long day, we decided to ‘shoot down the highway like a rocket to the ocean’. The Boca Chica highway to be precise, famous for having raptors on its poles. Sure enough there were raptors. My confidence was ebbing as we had no idea how long we had to go along this featurless road through scrub, when suddenly the road ran out and we arrived straight onto the sand of Boca Chica beach – miles in both directions with a few cars parked at intervals along the sand.  So we had another relaxing dip.

Black & White Warbler

Neotropic Cormorant

Mourning Dove

Northern Waterthrush

Texan Tortoise

Texas Coral Snake

Giant Swallowtail
Orange Sulphur
Cloudless Sulphur
Boisduval’s Yellow
Mimosa Yellow
Band-celled Sister
Tawny Emperor
Brown Longtail
Sickle Winged Skipper
Julia’s Skipper

Texas Coral Snake
Texan Tortoise



Black Crested Titmouse
Green Jay
Great Tailed Grackle
White Winged Dove
White Tipped Dove
Buff Bellied Hummingbird
Northern Mockingbird
Great Kiskadee
Tropical Kingbird t
Couch's Kingbird

Groove Billed Ani
Olive Sparrow
Turkey Vulture
White Tailed Kite t
White Tailed Hawk l t
Common Yellowthroat l t
Lark Sparrow l t
Brown Crested Flycatcher
Blue Grosbeak l t
Carolina Wren

Yellow Billed Cuckoo
Northern Cardinal
Long billed thrasher
Plain Chacalaca
Ladder backed woodpecker
Golden fronted woodpecker
Inca Dove
Common Ground Dove
White Eyed Vireo l t
Black and White Warbler

White Ibis
Great White Egret
Roseate Spoonbill

Double Crested Cormorant t

Lesser Goldfinch
BB Hummingbird
Northern Waterthrush l t
Pied Billed Grebe

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