Return to the Valley: Day 2

by Dave Dolan on February 6, 2012

I got up and headed for Sabal Palm Bird Sanctuary to look for the Dusky-capped Flycatcher, and found one car in the parking lot. This could be good news or bad news. The good news is that I will have a chance to listen for the bird and not have it flushed by people on a nature walk, talking and running around. The bad is possibly two-fold: either there is nothing there to draw the birders, and I think that a Dusky-capped Flycatcher should do that, there is nobody there to have another set of eyes and ears to find the bird. I went inside and talked to the young man behind the desk, and when I told him why I was there, he said that the bird had not been seen in almost a week! He played the call for me to listen for and mentioned that I should go to the ponds first, because nobody has been back there and I would have a better chance of seeing what was back there before things got stirred up. I went back there and found a couple of Black-crowned Night Herons in some beautiful light, along with some Least Grebes.

Black-crowned Night Herons

Black-crowned Night HeronsLeast Grebes

Least Grebe

While standing in the blind I heard one note that sounded like the call that I heard at the visitors center on the other side of the pond. For the past couple of weeks the bird had been consistently seen way on the other side of the visitors center, but since it had not been seen for so long at that location it was obvious that it had moved. I went to look for it and could not find it. I then talked myself into thinking that it may have been something on the water, like a coot. I had been back there for over an hour and possibly heard another one note call, but when I chased it, again I could not find my bird. I did see a number of Eastern Phoebes, a Solitary Sandpiper and an Olive Sparrow.

Eastern Phoebe

Olive Sparrow

Solitary Sandpiper

After looking for a couple of hours I decided that I had not really heard the call of the Dusky-capped Flycatcher and went inside to tell them that I might have heard the bird over there and then headed out to look for some sparrows on Old Port Isabell Road. I had been warned on Texbirds that the road was bad, but it was in really good shape most of the way. The problem was that there were no birds and the last couple of miles was very rutted. I made it but was really nervous. I really wished that I had the Jeep, but the gas mileage was double with the car.

I then decided to head to Port Mansfield for the Purple Sandpiper. When I got there, a couple told me that they had been looking all day, but they did not see any sign of it or the Ruddy Turnstones that it was seen with all week. The wind was really blowing and most of the birds were not out in the elements.

Snowy and Reddish Egrets


Neotropic Cormourant

I walked around the beach to the cove and found some ducks and more waders and a Black-bellied Plover, but no Purple Sandpiper.

Northern Pintail


Black-bellied Plover

Tri-colored Heron

Little Blue Heron

Northern Pintail


After checking out all of the beaches that I could find, I decided to go look for the Mountain Plovers that had not been found yet, and they were late. On the way out of town I ran across several Long-billed Curlews in the grass, as well as a Harris Hawk on the road out of town.

Long-billed Curlew

Harris Hawk

I arrived at the site that historically had Mountain Plovers overwintering in the plowed and had a number of sparrow sized birds that would hide in the ruts out of site from the road. I was having real difficulties seeing these birds as they were the same color as the dirt. I finally got my scope on one and realized that they were Horned Larks. I never got any pictures because of distance and light (which was running out) and I decided to head on home. Once on the road, I came across a flock of black birds, but wasn’t sure what they were, so I stopped to find Brewers Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Brewer's Blackbird and Brown-headed Cowbird

I had 5 more hours of driving to get home and it was getting dark, but I kept looking in the fields for Long-eared Owls, but found nothing, which was typical for the day. I started the weekend with success, finding the Brown Jay and the Golden-crowned Warbler, but struck out today. Just makes you want to return for more!!!

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  • Lauriefoss

    Not to be too picky, but I believe that your cormorant is double-crested. Note the squared-off mandible and short tail.
    I’ve enjoyed your return to the valley blogs. Thanks for sharing

  • Kymkeiser

    I love your professional photographer photos of the wildlife.  Your an awesome Photographer.  Keep up the great work.  Luv Kym Keiser-Lakdairi-Elkahari

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