I'm so geeked up and ready to go to the Valley that I can hardly stand it. I feel like Peter Petrelli from season one of Heroes
, glowing and about to explode -- the excitement of a roadtrip, new birds, going to my old hometown of Harlingen and my old favorite hangout of South Padre Island, and spending some quality time with ol' Mary, my little sister-pal! It's just almost too much! Almost!
I was just on Mel's Peruvian wonderblog
and marvelling at all the amazing southern hemisphere birds she's seeing lately, and I was surprised to find some of the RGV "specialty birds" on her list -- I guess the tip of Texas is the northernmost part of their range. That just got me even more excited to get down there and start looking for birds.
Here's a list of some of the birds I'm hoping to see down there, all of which would be lifers and some of which are only on the USA birdlists because of their presence in the southernmost tip of Texas:
Altamira Oriole, Bolsero Campero, I. gularis
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Pijije, Dendrocyna autumnalis
Black-throated Sparrow, Chiero Gorjinegro, Amphispiza bilineata
Bronzed Cowbird, Tordo Ojirrojo, Molothrus aeneus
Brown-crested Flycatcher, Copetòn Tiranillo, M. tyrannulus
Clapper Rail, Rascòn Picudo, Rallus longirostris
Common Ground-Dove, Tortolita Comùn, C. passerine
Common Moorhen, Gallareta Comùn, Gallinula chloropus
Common Pauraque, Pachacua Pucuya, Nyctidromus albicollis
Couch's Kingbird, Tirano Mexicano, T. couchii
Dunlin, Playerito Lomo Rojo, C. alpine
Great Kiskadee, Luis Bienteveo, Pitangus sulphuratus
Green Jay, Chara Verde, Cyanocorax yncas
Groove-billed Ani, Garrapatero Pijuy, Crotophaga sulcirostris
Harris's Hawk, Aguililla Cinchada, Parabuteo unicinctus
Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Carpinterillo Mexicano, Picoides scalaris
Lark Sparrow, Garriòn Arlequìn, Chondestes grammacus
Lesser Scaup, Pato Bola, A. affinis
Lesser Yellowlegs, Tinguìs Menor, T. flavipes
Lincoln's Sparrow, Gorriòn de Lincoln, M. lincolnii
Marbled Godwit, Agachona Real, L. fedoa
Mottled Duck, Pato Tejano, A. fulvigula
Nashville Warbler, Chipe Gorrigrìs, V. ruficapilla
Olive Sparrow, Gorriòn Olivàceo, Arremonops rufivirgatus
Red Knot, Playero Conuto, Calidris canutus
Reddish Egret, Garza Melenuda, E. rufescens
Ruddy Turnstone, Chorlete Comùn, Arenaria interpres
Sandwich Tern, Charràn de Sandwich, S. sandvicensis
Tennessee Warbler, Chipe Peregrino, V. peregrine
Tricolored Heron, Garza Flaca, E. tricolor
White-tipped Dove, Paloma Perdiz, Leptotila verreauxi
Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Cuclillo Piquiamarillo, C. americanus
It's a pretty amazing list, and these are only the birds that are supposed to be abundant or common down there; I didn't even include anything that was supposed to be uncommon or rare or accidental! You'll note that the list has the common English name, the Spanish name, and then the usual Latin genus and species. This has been a real advantage when Birding Mommy starts talking to me about birds she loved as a child--she only knows the Spanish names, which aren't exactly easy to match up with the English names I know.
Still, there are some bird names she's used that I haven't been able to find the English translation for. Does anyone know what a "calandria" is? (spelling is my approximation based on her pronunciation) I was so happy to find out, for instance, that a gorrion
is mostly like a sparrow and a galandrina
is probably a swallow, though that isn't always true on that list.
One Spanish name that I really like is that of the Western Wood-Pewee: Tengofrìo Occidental
, which, loosely translated, means "I'm cold in the West!" Hee hee!
Anyway, the birds above are probables for the trip, which means my lifelist could grow by at least 32 birds! There are other South Texas specialties I might see; it just will be a little harder to find them at this time of the year. I was really hoping to see a Verdin, a Roseate Spoonbill, a Vermillion Flycatcher, a Pyrrhuloxia, an Aplomado Falcon, and an Anhinga -- but they're all "uncommon" according to this list
I found online. They also list Sandhill Cranes as uncommon, which is a real disappointment. I really want to see one!
We were going to camp out when we were down there, but we've ended up booking rooms at (where else?) Motel 6. I almost always stay at Motel 6 wherever I go, because you always know what you're going to get--a clean room, nothing fancy, cheap rates--no matter where you are. So we're staying on the Island Friday and Saturday nights, and we'll come back sometime Sunday afternoon or evening.
It's been ten years since I was in the Valley; I wonder if it's changed at all. It never used to seem to change when I would go down there from college or when I lived in Austin and Fort Worth. Should be interesting!