2022-08-30 at Laguna Atascosa NWR

Worm-Eating Warbler - Helmitheros vermivorum
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is only a few miles north of South Padre Island on the Texas Gulf Coast. Migrating birds, such as this Worm-Eating Warbler, pass through here each spring and fall. This was my favorite bird of the day.
Mourning Warbler - Geothlypis philadelphia
At Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, I met migrating birds, such as this young Mourning Warbler.

Monday, I drove to Estero Llano Grande, one of the premiere birding destinations in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. I rode my bike over several miles of trails there, but I couldn’t find any birds that inspired me to break out my camera gear. Not to be deterred, I drove from my Brownsville camp at Breeze Lake to Laguna Atascosa NWR Tuesday morning and spent several hours sitting at the feeders in front of the STILL CLOSED visitor center. This is the third year I’ve visited here, and I’ve never seen the Visitor Center open. 

The triple-digit temperatures (103°F) and the high humidity (90+%) are not conducive to hiking the trails while packing my heavy camera gear. Despite the minimal seed offerings at the feeders, I chose to remain stationary and wait on the birds to come to me. 

I found most of the usual suspects here that I’d met during my previous spring meetings. As expected, the Green Jays were the main actors on the stage. Some of the neighborhood birds, such as the Ladder-Backed and Golden-Fronted Woodpeckers, were shy, and only provided a few peek-a-boo views. Long-Billed Thrashers were only slightly more generous, as were the White-Winged, White-Tipped, and Mourning Doves.

My favorite moments were when a migrating Mourning Warbler, and later a Worm-Eating Warbler dropped by to check things out at the water supply. I’ve had more productive visits meeting migrating birds here in the spring, but given how slow the birding has been recently, these birds made me glad for the time I spent here.

In an effort to perk things up at the feeders, I walked back to my RV and grabbed some pecans I’d been carrying around, and the fancy Ancient Grains Granola I love for breakfast when omelets are not an option. Along with some oatmeal I’ve been carrying with me, I took these back to the feeders and tossed some of the oatmeal, and granola out on the ground in front of the feeders, along with all the pecans. It wasn’t long before the Green Jays picked up that there were fresh offerings on the table.

Many of the birds this time of year are in varying stages of molting their spring feathers and growing a new crop. When they are in such a state, they don’t always look their best. The Green Jays were all in various stages of dress on this day. Some were freshly attired in new feathers, while others were growing new ones. Those birds still growing new feathers were fun to study. There were large patches of skin with still sheathed pin-feathers erupting. Soon these sheathed feathers would be unveiled, displaying the brilliant greens and blues that dazzle all who see, and will not easily forget.

This visit to Laguna Atascosa was the only excursion out of my Brownsville camp that produced any images to share. My time at Breeze Lake is at an end until I can return one day. My next destination is to nearby South Padre Island for a week, where meetings with birds migrating south should be more plentiful.

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