Masked Duck the leisurely way

After the near all night drive several years ago, this weekend’s Masked Duck was a lot more leisurely. After a long week of ten-hour days, Claudia and I slept in and headed south barely around noon. Living so close to the Rio Grande Valley now makes the drive a breeze and we arrived at Sabal Palm Sanctuary around two in the afternoon. Apparently several birders had searched for the Mangrove Cuckoo in the morning, unsuccessfully I should add. With little hope for the cuckoo we headed down the trail towards the blind, to see whether the Masked Duck was around. It didn’t take long until it materialized from among the dozens of Least and Pied-billed Grebes, Moorhens and Coots. It swam quickly towards us, but then hauled out at quite a distance to preen for fifteen minutes. Two female Ruddy Ducks appeared close by for great comparisons. Unfortunately the bird remained distant, allowing me to get only poor photos.

Masked Duck Sabal Palms Sanctuary, Texas Photo Stephan Lorenz

After watching the bird for nearly thirty minutes we continued down the trail to where the Yellow-green Vireos had been observed over the past week. From several hundred yards away I could hear one singing and before long we spotted it high in a tree on a bare twig, giving its loud song. We observed the bird moving in the canopy along the trail, when suddenly a second bird sang from the mesquite across the path. I caught sight of a pair and soon three birds were involved in a serious territory dispute, chasing each other through the trees. One bird maybe an unpaired male. We had great views of three Yellow-green Vireos (what others had been reporting) fanning their tails, singing, and calling. Within minutes things calmed and the first bird we had located returned to the original perch, singing. I had seen Yellow-green Vireos here before, but never this easily. The birds could be heard from very far away and were easily tracked down. Unfortunately again I was unable to get a decent photo.

There were plenty of other birds and wildlife, most notably two Groove-billed Anis, Buff-bellied Hummingbirds by the dozens, and a large Indigo Snake.

Indigo Snake Sabal Palms Sanctuary, Texas Photo Stephan Lorenz



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