Salineno, TX. Mexico on the left, U.S. on the right.
I guess I can call it a tradition now, making my yearly birding adventure an adventure that starts in Texas. Last year, I started the new year birding such places as Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and South Padre Island. Some of my first birds of 2011 included: Clapper Rail, Royal Tern, and Brown Pelican. By January 2, I had added Whooping Crane and Snow Goose among many others.
This year, I was invited by my friends Rob and Eric Ripma to join them on an aggressive birding adventure that would begin in San Antonio and follow the border of Mexico to Brownsville, then north to South Padre Island, even farther north to Corpus Christi and ultimately back to San Antonio. During the week long excursion we birded some outstanding destinations including Falcon Dam SP, Frontera Audubon, Bentsen SP, Santa Ana NWR, Salineno, Laguna Atascosa NWR, Estero Llano Grande SP, the World Birding Center at South Padre Island and Mustang Island. Each of these destinations alone could easily be rated as one of the best birding destinations in the world!
Our first goal was to get what I would consider the golden bird of the trip - the Brown Jay! This particular bird had been making daily appearances at the feeders at Salineno, smack on the U.S./Mexico border so the feeders at Salineno become our first destination. Unfortunately, the Brown Jay did not show up during our first four hour wait but, the feeders did not disappoint. They were full of Great Kiskadees, Altamira Orioles, Hooded Orioles, Audubon's Orioles, and many other gorgeous birds including the Green Jay - which has to be one of the most beautiful birds in the United States.
Since we missed the Brown Jay the first day, we headed back to Salineno again the next morning. Fortunately, this awesome bird made an early morning appearance for us with some great looks. So, we immediatly headed out to get some other great Texas commoners including: Pyrrhuloxia, Verdin, Inca Dove, Ladder-backed Woodpecker and some breathtaking views of a Zone-tailed Hawk.
Brown Jay... the Golden Bird! Salineno, Texas.
White-winged Dove... Salineno, TX
Altamira Oriole... Salineno, TX
And this was just the first two days...