HARLINGEN BIRDING FESTIVAL - 2002


Monday Nov. 4th- We left Cape May at 6:30 AM for Philadelphia Airport, Wawa breakfast on the way. Arrive at Economy Parking 8:45 AM, park, shuttle, check-in, no problems. Take off for Houston on time (11:00AM). At Houston we picked up car and at 2:50 PM left for Corpus Christi. Raining all the way. Checked in at Robstown Days Inn, ate dinner and off to bed to be ready for birding the next day.

Tuesday Nov. 5th - We arose with some sunshine and set off to do some birding. We birded the Flour Bluff, Laguna Madre area. Nice early morning birding, finding 2 Caracaras, 2 White-tailed Hawks, Reddish Egret, Roseate Spoonbill, lots of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, many Black-necked Stilts and Am. Avocets. The latter bunch at Tule Lake. A bridge was out so we couldn't easily get to Pollywog Pond. Hilltop Community Center - not much - Inca Doves. Checked "Bert's" spots for Anis, no luck. Drove down Rte. 77 and stopped at rest area, no warblers but got Brewer's Blackbird. Then it was on to El Canelo where we spent an hour and couldn't find the owls! We were ready to leave with a "rain check" when the owner found an Owl, well hidden in the front tree. She set the scope up in the backyard looking over the roof, to get a better look and as we moved to the back, right over the set up scope, there was the second Ferruginous Pygmy-owl, very nice. As a bonus, Judy got to play with the Brittany in the back yard! Then it was on to Harlingen to pick up the Festival Package, check-in at Comfort Inn, and eat dinner. Total 65 birds, 11 Lifers for Judy.

Wednesday Nov. 6th - First tour - 6 AM to 12 noon at Bentsen. Leaders Jon Dunn, Parker Backstrum, and one of our Cape May Hawk Watch Interpreters, Mike Retter. Immediate Altimari Oriole on the way to rest rooms, then Green Jays, Chachalaca, Long-billed Thrasher, Great Kiskadee, Couches Kingbird, a half decent look at Clay-colored Robin, and after a while Hook-billed Kite, and Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet. Judy feeling tired, so while she rested, Karl went off with Michael Retter and buddies to try for the Golden-crowned Warbler in Edinburg on the Univ. of Texas Pan Am. campus. We walked down the long walkway to the circle mentioned in the reports and saw a group of 20 birders looking for "the bird" beyond the circle. We then heard a loud Ruby-crowned Kinglet type call as we approached and there "it" was. We called to the others and all got on it until lost in thick trees. Wanted a good binocular view so no time for a video shot. This was an unexpected Lifer for Karl. Then on to McAllen for a short time to look for a Green-breasted Mango that was seen on and off at a feeder. No luck, but did get a Buff-bellied Hummingbird. Then back to Harlingen at 6:00 PM to wash up and get ready for dinner. Thirty-three new trip birds and Judy 13 more lifers.

Thursday Nov. 7th - Second Tour - 5 AM to 1:00 PM at Chapeno/Salineno/Falcon Dam. Bob Shutsky main leader. Chapeno at 7am and as we drove in one leader saw a Brown Jay fly off. Two and 1/2 hours later NO Brown Jays showed. A big miss (the day before and after they got them). Great looks at Audubon's, Hooded, and Altimari Orioles, as well as Lark Bunting, Cassin's Sparrow, and a surprise fly over Muscovy Duck!! Then to Salineno for ducks, etc. where we got a nice immature Gray Hawk perched and flying. No time for Falcon Dam so it was back to Harlingen for lunch, visit show, rest, and dinner. Twenty-two new trip birds and Judy 9 more lifers.

Friday Nov. 8th - Third Tour - 6 AM to 12 noon to Santa Ana with Jon Dunn, Debbie Shearwater, David Bird, as leaders. The ponds were dry, paths muddy. Hit some feeding flocks of land birds. Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Tropical Parula (Trip Lifer # 2 for Karl), Pauraque (on ground in woods), plus other warblers. Back at noon, eat, rest, and back to Show and Bus for 4:30 to 6:00pm Parrot Tour. Chatted with Mike Hannisian and then on the bus to a Mall parking lot S. of Harlingen in San Benito for Green Parakeets. Yes, right on cue. Noisy little birds! Then to a spot E. of Harlingen for Red-crowned Parrots. We stop and there they are on the wires. We also found one White-fronted Parrot with them (non-countable). Back for dinner, and motel for sleep. Only eight new trip-birds, and Judy 6 more lifers.

Saturday Nov. 9th - Fourth Tour - 6 AM to 12 noon at Brownsville/Sabal Palm-Michael and Louise Leaders. (best of the trip). Went to the lake at Cobblestones Restaurant first. Found 20-30 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and 3-4 Fulvous Whistling Ducks!! and a Tropical Kingbird. On to Brownsville Library for both "Parrots", Couch's Kingbird, and Tropical Kingbird. Next on to (?)St. Joe's School athletic field (I was here on last trip in 1999) where we got more parrots/parakeets, both kingbirds, some warblers, Anhinga fly over, and Vermilion Flycatcher. Then it was on to Sabal Palm where Michael found a feeding flock of warblers on the way to the pond. There we found Least Grebe with 2 young, Green Kingfisher, Ringed Kingfisher, and as we were ready to leave 5-6 Grove-billed Anis!!!! (Trip Lifer # 3 for Karl). Clear, 88 degrees, a real nice day. Back to Harlingen for lunch, wash up, and Judy to the Show. Dinner, sleep. Twenty-two new trip birds and Judy 10 Lifers.

Sunday Nov. 10th - Fifth Tour - 6am to 12 noon at Laguna Atascosa. Leaders Jeff Gordon, Mike Retter, Jay Packer, Merriwood Ferguson (from Brownsville). Spent time at Visitor Center with Jeff, pishing and playing tape for Olive Sparrow, finally it sat up for all to see. Many Redheads with 3 Long-tailed Ducks!! mixed in. Reddish Egrets (both color morphs), White-tailed Kite and Hawk, and a falcon, 1st called Aplomado but alas morphed into a Merlin. The group had 102 birds and we had 85. Back to Harlingen - Judy to the Show and Karl to Ramsey Park for a few more birds. Got Curve-billed Thrasher, Long-billed Thrasher, and Common Ground Dove. Will go back in morning for Judy to get the Curve-billed Thrasher. Meet Judy at the Show, back to motel, then dinner, pack up, and to bed. Twenty-one new trip birds and Judy 1 Lifer.

Monday Nov. 11th - Travel Day - Continental breakfast at motel at 6:15am, then to Ramsey Park. No thrashers, or much of anything but mosquitoes! Finally up jumps a Long-billed Thrasher, which we didn't need, but then up comes a Curve-billed Thrasher and we are OK. No Common Ground-Dove, but would you believe right over head flies an (had to be wild) adult Muscovy Duck. On the road at 8:10am and stop at rest area again for Lesser Goldfinch, and 3 did oblige by flying in and sitting on a wire! No warblers, but lots of Brewer's Blackbirds. We hit Houston about 3 PM, and Airport at 4 PM. We ate and waited until 7 PM for the plane. Arrived at Phila. 11:25 PM, and at Parking lot at 12 am where we found the car battery down. Called AAA, who gets Airport Service (5 minutes) but with no flashlight. Finally jump started the van and we were on the way home in fog. Arrived Cape May at 2:00am. Meeting for Naturalists at CMBO Goshen is scheduled for 10 am in the morning, not much sleep. Two new trip birds and Judy 2 Lifers.

Total: Judy 170 birds, 51 Lifers
Karl 172 birds, 3 Lifers(Tropical Parula, Groove-billed Ani, Golden-crowned Warbler)


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