2021-02-04 Laguna Vista and Laguna Atascosa

Long-Billed Thrasher - Toxostoma longirostre
I met my first Long-Billed Thrashers last spring here at Atascosa, and I enjoyed getting re-acquainted. I spent the day in Laguna Vista and Laguna Atascosa Thursday. I didn’t find any unusual birds, but I enjoyed those that I met.

My time in Brownsville is winding down, so I wanted to visit a location that I enjoyed very much during my spring visit last year. Laguna Atascosa NWR was one of the few birding venues that remained open during the pandemic, and it saved me from missing out on meeting the birds I drove several thousand miles to enjoy.

I recently learned of a small nature preserve nearby Laguna Atascosa, and I thought I’d spend an hour or so at the Laguna Vista Nature Trail on my way to Atascosa. I’d scouted it out a couple of weeks ago, and while there is no comparing it to the likes of Sabal Palms, South Padre or other such meccas, it had charms of its own. Located amid the sprawl of a suburban development, this reserve covers approximately 15 acres, with a trail that winds through its interior, and three small blinds with water drips and feeders, setting just off the trails. I found the blinds awkward for my stature, with small portholes either too high or too low for watching the wildlife. The portholes were too small for efficient photography, so I sat outside of #2 blind on my folding stool, and worked on whatever birds the universe would have to show me. Long-Billed Thrashers and Olive Sparrows darted in and out of the small arena while I watched, but they did not linger long enough for me to capture images. I was luckier with Orange-Crowned Warblers and Buff-Bellied Hummingbirds. After a vigil of about an hour, I picked up my gear and proceeded to Laguna Atascosa.

It’s been my experience that the water and feeding station near the Visitor Center is the most efficient place to meet the local birds, and I restricted my visit to the benches in front of the feeders. At first, the birds kept their distance, but as I waited patiently, they began arriving in waves. Grackles and blackbirds were the dominant visitors, but the Green Jays rivaled their numbers. Cardinals were plentiful, of course, and Olive Sparrows and White-Tipped Doves made an occasional appearance. Orange-Crowned and Yellow-Rumps were the only warblers I saw, but I most enjoyed the Long-Billed Thrasher attending the buffet. I arrived on scene about 11am and lingered until 1pm, and when I left, I felt I’d captured most of what this location had to share with me.

When I reviewed my images, I found I’d captured Buff-Bellied Hummingbirds, Great-Tailed Grackles, Green Jays, Ladder-Backed Woodpeckers, Long-Billed Thrashers, Northern Cardinals, Olive Sparrows, Orange-Crowned Warblers, Red-Winged Blackbirds, White-Tipped Doves, and Yellow-Rumped Warblers. Experienced Texas birders won’t find any rarities on this list, and it’s never been my priority to chase rare birds. Rather, I will look at places where I enjoy birding, and then be grateful for the birds that greet me there.

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