After Salineno, I drove about 40 minutes out to Zapata, a small town along the Rio Grande. It's pretty far west from where I live, but it's famous for a single species of bird called the White Collared Seedeater that's been seen a lot lately in the city park. So, I went down to the city park. As soon as I got out of my car, I saw a older couple with binoculars. I asked them if they'd seen the seedeater and they said no, and that they were giving up. Undeterred, I started taking a look around the park. I saw plenty of familiar favorites including this ladder-backed woodpecker.
There were tons of ruby-crowned kinglets (no good photos, though) that kept popping up and making me think they were the seedeaters. Then, I got a flash of a little brown bird that was too stocky and too slow to be a kinglet. I ran back to my car to check the bird guide. Sure enough, seedeater. I went back out to the reeds to get a good photo. Alas, this one's the best I have:
A couple of other birders and I stalked these little guys (gals, actually) for awhile, but I never got a great picture. I was looking through the reeds at a bird and noticed that there were some ducks on the pond I'd been neglecting. I knew right away they were Scaups, but there are two types: Greater and Lesser. I snapped a ton of photos in hopes of getting someone to help me ID them later.
Turns out, they're Lesser Scaups. Thank you, WhatBird e-community!
There were a few other ducks as well, so I grabbed some more photos, including this one. This is a female ring-necked duck. They're everywhere at Estero Llano Grande (the park near my house), but it turned out to be a nice photo all the same.
I knew I had a long drive back to Weslaco, so I decided to get back in the car and get on my way. As I was walking toward the lot, I spotted this Vermillion Flycatcher on a tree. He was undeniably beautiful so I took a whole bunch of pictures of him. He stayed absolutely still for way, way longer than I felt like he should have. I owe this little guy part of the photo credit.
I decided to stop on my way home for hawks on telephone poles. The west valley is great for hawk-watching, and today was no exception. By Falcon Dam, I saw this Osprey having dinner on an electrical pole. If you look closely, you can see whatever nasty thing he's eating in his left talon:
I also managed to snap a slightly-out-of-focus but largely clear picture of a gray hawk, which is a valley specialty. This guy was posing:
So, after 8 hours, I'd managed to pick up 4 new birds for my life list as well as a whole batch of new photos. I was exhausted from the driving, but it was a day solidly spent :)