Home Patch Birding: Shorebirds. Empids! Orange-cheeked Waxbills?

After a long day yesterday finishing field work, packing up, I finally got some sleep around midnight. This this morning’s start wasn’t early to say the least, I paid for it by sweating in the heat, but the birding was pretty good at El Franco Lee Park today with tons of shorebirds, a few migrants, and a beautiful escapee, actually two. There is more water now than there was one month ago, thankfully some was pumped apparently, great shorebird habitat and the numbers and diversity are climbing. Highlights included seven Wilson’s Phalaropes (new bird for the park list), 1-2 Baird’s Sandpipers (new for my park list), several Pectoral Sandpipers, tons of Least Sandpipers with a dozen Semipalmated Sandpipers mixed in, surprisingly not a single Western, a few Solitary Sandpipers and Spotted Sandpipers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, two Semipalmated Plovers, lots of Black-necked Stilts, 4 Stilt Sandpipers and obviously Killdeer, need to keep an eye out for more salt loving shorebirds that may drop in, like Snowy Plover, Red Knot, Willet as new possibilities are slowly exhausted.

Thankfully the summer doldrums are over as migrants are beginning to trickle through with Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and a single female Yellow Warbler. To my surprise there were several Empidonax Flycatchers, somehwere around a dozen, plus what looked like an Eastern Wood-Pewee, but poorly seen. It was definitely Empid heaven or hell out there, depending on your inclination, and I personally lean more towards fire and brimstone, this might be a good fall to improve. The birds that I studied well, just two, definetly fit Least Flycatcher (a new bird for the park list for me).

The other suprise were not one, but two Orange-cheeked Waxbills in a mesquite right along the water’s edge. Pretty birds of which I had seen many in Puerto Rico, while not countable, these birds are still fun to watch, alas no photo, maybe later. The next two weeks should be good for migrants at the park.


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