We reached Neal's Lodges at Concan and were well and truly onto the Edward's Plateau. Outside the main office and shop are some feeders and we soon had our first Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the trip. Also around here were House Finch, White-winged Dove, a heard only White-eyed Vireo, Eastern Phoebe and Northern Rough-winged Swallow.
After getting settled into our rooms we all gathered again for a walk down to the river. Bronzed Cowbirds were seen on the way and a male Black Phoebe was found calling from a bush overhanging the River Frio (called the Rio Frio locally).
We didn't know where we were heading for so we just followed the leaders around a path to a wooded hillside. Here we had singing two Olive Sparrows, a Black-chinned Hummingbird, a Yellow-breasted Chat and the star of the area, a singing male Black-capped Vireo. It wasn't very close and so couldn't be heard but it could be seen excellently through a 'scope. Turning 180 degrees in response to a loud song we had our first Carolina Wren, seen well and quite close. On the walk back we added Lesser Goldfinch to the trip list.
Around the back of the office is a path alongside a bushy/wooded area and a feeding station. To end the day we got a male Hooded Oriole, Lincoln's Sparrow and Black-throated Sparrow. Just as we began the walk back Pete came on the walky-talky with news of a Spotted Towhee at the feeding station. Helen, David and I started running, met Trevor on the way to breathlessly shout 'Spotted Towhee'. Trevor joined the run to the feeders. We got there in time to see the bird well but it had moved away by the time the rest had arrived. It's always worth running!
We were aiming for a high point in the road where there is a water tank for cattle to drink from. Here the land was a bit more open.
We did make a short drive to a spot nearby, which was farmland and grass fields. Here we had the target bird which was Eastern Bluebird plus saw or heard at least six Grasshopper Sparrows, plus at least eight Lark Sparrows, a singing Field Sparrow, two male Vermilion Flycatchers, four Savannah Sparrows, White-winged Dove and a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
Back at Neal's we again did the walk which started behind the office and shop. First bird was a young male Scott's Oriole followed quickly by a male Hooded Oriole. A Bewick's Wren was tracked down followed by Black Vultures, Lesser Goldfinch and White-winged Dove. A Bell's Vireo was heard and also tracked down, and further along the path was a bush with at least six Chipping Sparrows in it.
An open muddy field and it's surrounding grassland added another four or five Grasshopper Sparrows, Savannah Sparrow, Lark Sparrow and our first Vesper Sparrow. The fence wires held Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Blue Grosbeak and an American Pipit was found feeding in the field. The walk back again gave us Black-throated Sparrow.
Next it was down to the river for a walk through the woods along the river bank. We found a natural calm pool with bathing House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch and Northern Cardinal. A little way along we had another Black Phoebe, Purple Martins and two male Summer Tanagers. I really wanted to see a bird I'd heard singing since we had arrived, although only in one place. It didn't take long to find a fine male Yellow-throated Warbler – a seriously good-looking bird. Further along the river we came across a 'spotted' Spotted Sandpiper. Later we watched two male Yellow-throated Warblers getting very fractious over territories.
On our last morning, as we were leaving we did another trip to the Black-capped Vireo site but failed to see or hear the bird. We did get great views of a singing Yellow-breasted Chat plus a pair of Bushtits, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a White-eyed Vireo eating a moth and I wandered off and found a nice singing Olive Sparrow showing quite well.