2021-02-23 First Time At Quinta Mazatlan

Dusky-Capped Flycatcher - Myiarchus tuberculifer
This was the first bird I found on entering the compound. I saw it (or its doppelganger) again on the opposite side of the reserve shortly before I ended my stay. I spent a lovely day walking the paths of Quinta Mazatlan, a 20 acre reserve in McAllen (Texas). Late February may not be the best time to chase birds in the area, but those I met pleased me.

Quinta Mazatlan is a 20 acre nature reserve owned and operated by the City of McAllen (Texas). Theirs is a story about a tiny victory in the war on the environment, and the rescue of an estate that was under threat of demolition and obliteration by developers. The city fathers heeded the out-cry of concerned citizens in the 1970s and bought the property and restored the buildings and planted native trees on some of its neglected sections. It is a jewel in the crown of this amazing part of our planet.

I found the reserve intimate, with friendly folks to share it with, and a few birds I enjoyed meeting. There are trails weaving through the thorn forest, but they total only to about a mile, so it wasn’t taxing on the tootsies. The total distance I walked was 1.5 miles, because I retraced my steps on a few occasions.

Despite the dense fog and dark skies, my day began with a bang. The first bird I met at the northern border of the compound was a Dusky-Capped Flycatcher. These birds look very much like their cousins, the Ash-Throated Flycatchers, but their calls and songs are different. Had this bird had not been issuing its plaintive whistled calls, I might not have had the confidence to assign the ID as I have. According to range maps, it shouldn’t be here.

The end of my day was as exciting as its start. Not only did I meet the flycatcher (or its doppelganger) again, I had a nice, long visit with a most cooperative Sharp-Shinned Hawk at a water feature as I was leaving. I’ve struggled over the years to capture descent images of this species, but this day made up for all my past shortcomings. The sun began peeking through the clouds as I was on my way out of the park and added a descent, finishing touch to the series with the hawk.

The day’s take was not one of quantity, but of quality. The birds I captured were Black-Throated Gray Warbler, Dusky-Capped Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Hermit Thrush, House Wren, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and Sharp-Shinned Hawk. I wouldn’t mind revisiting this place, but my time this winter in south Texas is drawing to an end soon. But as Arnold once said, “I’ll be back.”

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