Migration is really kicking into gear in the valley. Everything from shorebirds to herons and warblers have been passing through the area in numbers and I have been happily documenting them with camera in hand. Even warblers make themselves available as photography subjects!

Among the many Yellow Warblers, Wilson’s Warblers, female American Redstarts, Eastern Kingbirds, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were a female Painted Bunting and even a Warbling Vireo. Magnolia Warblers were also present and this one was so busy feasting on berries that it let me capture it through the understory vegetation at close range:

Magnolia Warbler Rio Grande Valley

The tidal mudflats at Laguna Madre are a great place to see shorebirds, including the threatened Piping Plover. It’s always a treat to photograph these pale, orange-legged plovers and when I took these images, ten were feeding on the mudflats (the most I have seen in one day at this site!).

Piping Plover Rio Grande Valley

Piping Plover Rio Grande Valley

If you take a close look at the second Piping plover, you can see that it has 3 bands – an orange one on its right leg, along with white and metal bands on its left leg. This bird probably came from breeding populations in the northern Great Plains or even the Great Lakes region.

The Piping Plovers were accompanied by several other shorebirds including Black-bellied Plovers and Short-billed Dowitchers.

Black-bellied Plover Rio Grande Valley

The thick bill and grayish plumage identify this bird as a Black-bellied Plover. You can see why European birders call it the “Grey Plover”.

Short-billed Dowitcher Rio Grande Valley

Short-billed Dowitcher Rio Grande Valley

Despite their name, the bills of Short-billed Dowitchers aren’t all that short! Their long-billed cousins usually show up a little later in the year.

Stately herons are always fun to photograph. Unlike so many other birds, they stand around just asking to have their pictures taken. They make such nice portraits that even though I have taken hundreds of shots of Great-blue, Yellow-crowned Night, and Black-crowned Night-Herons, it ‘ s always hard to resist taking a few more.

Great Blue Heron Rio Grande Valley

Great Blue Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron Rio Grande Valley

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Yellow-crowned Night Heron juvenile Rio Grande Valley

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Although I have been birding and capturing wildlife with cameras in the lower Rio Grande Valley for years, the multitude of photo opportunities makes every trip into the field an exciting one!

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