A snowstorm ushered in Philly’s first day of spring but it did not prevent USAIR from whisking me to McAllen, Texas in search of two “code 4’s”. You will recall that a code 4 is a mega-rarity…a once every ten year occurrence. Yesterday and this afternoon I looked, listened, cursed, and prayed (that is mandatory down here), but unfortunately missed the Gray-crowned Yellowthroat and Blue Bunting. It was some consolation that E-Bird, Cornell’s birding database, failed to receive any reports of these birds this weekend. Maybe they returned to their home country, a mere 20 miles south.
E-bird did report the presence of two Groove-billed Anis on Saturday at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. This bird has eluded me because it is primarily a summer resident in the Rio Grande Valley and its population has been in decline.
This morning I drove to the precise location indicated on the report and waited for sunrise. TWO Bobcats and the Cameron County Sheriff eyed me as I walked in circles around the Refuge entrance. After only an hour or so, I noticed a flock of red-winged blackbirds flee from a flooded field. Oddly, one remained behind. I took a casual look with my binoculars and was pleasantly surprised to focus on the unmistakeable Ani! I walked towards it and it flushed to a nearby bush. I approached with my I-phone camera and snapped one shot as it flew.