During the fall, winter and spring months, the Rio Grande Valley fills with birding enthusiasts who come down for the weather and for the many birds found in the area.
The Alamo Inn Bed & Breakfast is one of our sponsors and it is a favorite place of traveling birders. The Inn is found in a quaint and peaceful area in the Valley. Visitors also find gear and plenty of books at the Alamo Inn. Birders can also book a birding tour and or guide with the folks at the Alamo Inn.
Below is a blog written by Mary Beth Stowe who is one of the guides.
Sharing the Valley With Friends, Part 1 – By Mary Beth Stowe – 2/10/20
Richard and Barbara from Boston were on a return trip to the Valley (last time they had come with Massachusetts Audubon and stayed on a couple of days), and this time they brought their friends Jeff and Sandy with them! They had also rented a new Ford Explorer that could seat five and had all sorts of fancy gadgets (including a gear shift that was more like a dial), so like last time, we departed from the original itinerary and headed to Santa Ana first, as they ( particularly Jeff; he is a raptor man) were very interested in trying for the Hook-billed Kites!
Once there we took the Tower Trail in order to get some other birds under our belts; an Altamira Oriole sat near the top of a tree, and I pointed out various vocalizations as we went along (mostly wintering stuff like Orange-crowned Warblers and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers). Where the trail hugs Willow Lake, Barbara (I think it was) spotted a hawk sitting right above us that had me puzzled for a minute: my first impression was a juvie Harris’ because of the russet wings, but I had never seen a juvie Harris’ so contrastingly light and dark in the face and underparts (he almost looked like a cross between a Harris’ and a Swainson’s)! But once he flew there was no question, as the tail gave him away! Our one and only White-tipped Dove gave us a quick look on the trail as well, and Barbara found an Olive Sparrow skulking in the mud, which Jeff had missed the day before, so he thankfully got to see this one! At the lake, a Belted Kingfisher flew overhead, but otherwise, there weren’t any waterbirds about.
We dragged ourselves up the tower where another gentleman was already keeping watch (with an adult Harris’ “way over there”), and it wasn’t long before we spotted some Turkey Vultures flying low over the trees, and with then was a smaller raptor with a long, black-and-white-banded tail, and I thought for sure we had our Hookbill! It was quite distant but seemed to be circling closer, but I made the mistake of trying to get documentation photos instead of studying the bird more closely as it made its way over, as that little voice was saying, “Are you sure??” (To be honest, the wings didn’t look quite right…) Thankfully Richard got some identifiable shots, and the bird turned out to be a Gray Hawk! L (Well, the guys, especially Jeff, were thrilled, but I was more than slightly embarrassed at the mis-ID…) So we resumed our watch, and actually had some nice sightings: a juvie White-tailed Hawk flew low overhead, and the funky juvie Harris’ Hawk blasted in, showing his very obvious Harris-like upperparts, regardless of what his underparts were saying! After awhile another gentleman who was apparently leading a group spotted a suspicious bird and got his own scope on it, which by his description sure sounded good! As usual, I couldn’t spot the thing, so the guy very graciously got my own scope on it to confirm it, and it was indeed a snazzy female Hook-billed Kite, with a lovely chestnut collar and underparts contrasting with the slaty upperparts!
To continue reading this blog post, and for information on birding in the Rio Grande Valley, where to stay please visit http://alamoinn1.blogspot.com/
List of bird species spotted by Mary Beth and the group on that outing totaled 90: