Oakwood owl querying
Pilgrims at the journey gate,
Whooo will pass this night?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Group Shots

... and a Black-capped Titmouse.

We drove down to Santa Ana NWR early this morning. Lorna went out with the organized "bird walk". There were about a dozen people - not my cup of tea, so I wandered off by myself. 

There were large flocks of waterfowl at Willow Lake, virtually nothing at Pintail Lake. There was nothing special today, unless you count the Least Grebes, a Mexican species who's range only creeps into the far south tip of Texas. 

Least Grebes

After I was back on a bench waiting for Lorna. a group of women from Dallas came by reporting a male Rose-throated Becard. I considered going back out to find it, but by then I was hurting a little. I probably should have, I seem to have a relationship with the species. 

A REAL birder would have sucked it up. - Gunnar, 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Snowy Egret

I don't know what to say about this set. The bird was in front of me, I had a camera, the bird flew and bang, bang, bang, I shot pictures.

- Gunnar

Surprise Bird!

Some birds are rare simply because there not many of them, but most are rare because of their location - they are somewhere they should not be.  For instance one of the "rare" birds at Estero Llano Park this year is a Common Grackle, the first Common Grackle sighted in the park in ten years. Well, rare or not, I ain't chasin' no damned blackbird.

So I took a picture (or six) of an Orange-crowned Warbler, a very common winter bird here.

A while later a handful of Clay-colored Thrushes showed up at the drip I was monitoring.

Then with the Clay-colors, a rare south Texas visitor - an American Robin!

Straight out of Oakwood - Gunnar

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Walk Around Quinta Mazatlan

... and McAllen Nature Center. Killing time while the apartment was being cleaned. ;-)

Curved-billed Thrasher. Note the leg band.

Green Jay

Clay-colored Thrush
Weather report: a pleasant day - began a bit cool, warmed up into the sweet zone without the high winds of yesterday.   - Gunnar

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Hot and Windy

It was 82F this afternoon and windier than Old Billy Hell (who in hell was old Bill?). So we went birding at Estero Llano.  Had to tack into the wind to walk down the trails. Seem to make sense at the time.

There were dozens of Least Sandpipers, the most I have ever seen. Any person that doesn't love Least Sandpipers has severe issues. There were also White-faced Ibis, a few Long-billed Dowitchers, Couch's Kingbird, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Great Egret - pictures in that order. Of course there were another dozen or two that I didn't photograph, or the pictures were fuzzy, boring, common, or were just lousy pictures.

8:00PM, cooling off, but still windy - both the weather and me - Gunnar

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Green Kingfisher

Lorna and Cathy Mauck were on a native plant tour of a ranch north of Rio Grande City today. I spent the afternoon at Edinburgh Wetlands (read: sewage treatment ponds) where a Long-eared Owl has been spotted off and on. Yesterday and today proved to be "off". Not a really rare bird, but a very rare sighting down here. No owl, but fantastic weather, 80F and sunny.

No owl? Instead, here is a female Green Kingfisher, a little bird with a seriously large head. Sorry about the branch in the foreground - turned a potentially good photo into a "meh" photo.

- Gunnar

Bonvicini Bicycle History?

This is my 1948 M. Bonvicini bicycle, which has been a bit of a puzzle to me. I am aware of two Bonvicinis, this one and a 1950s bicycle which, from photos, appears to have been either restored or is unridden. The puzzle has been, how would a marque that is this obscure have a cast brass headbadge and even a Bonvicini labeled seat tube clamp? Even more puzzling is that the workmanship is really quite fine, the work of a master, not that of a first time builder.

Today I may have stumbled onto part of the answer - put two and two together. The newer bicycle was attributed to Luigi Ganna, a former racer who retired to became a bicycle builder.
"Luigi Ganna was born in Induno Olana, Italy, on December 1, 1883. He died at the age of 73 years on October 2, 1957.
Ganna was an Italian professional road racing cyclist and the legendary highlight of his cycling career was his overall win in the first Giro d'Italia which was held in 1909. The 1909 Giro was a gruelling cycle race of 2448 kilometres where only 49 of the 127 competitors managed to complete the course.
In his younger days Ganna worked as a brick layer many miles from where he lived and he rode his bicycle to and from work each day. The roads were rough and this daily exercise enabled him to become a very strong and talented rider.
His enjoyment of cycling led him to entering local cycling competitions where he regularly won. After convincing wins he realized that the skills he had gained on his daily rides to work were worthy of him becoming a professional cyclist." 
Marino (Mario) Bonvicini was also a bicycle racer, who in 1927 rode for a Ganna sponsored team - and after retiring manufactured Bonvicini and BM motorcycles. In 1948 Luigi Ganna would have been 61. Maybe he got a motorcycle in trade for building a bicycle? Or maybe he just built a fancy bicycle for his friend Mario to ride around Bologna. Or maybe Mario DID build it, but I would bet against that.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Delta Lakes

My knee was paying the price for an upright day so we sat around until we were stir crazy and decided to drive up to Delta Lakes for a little car birding. Frankly, it was a bust. Both lakes were very high, taking away the shoreline and all of the potential bird action. We drove around the picnic park, hoping for a glimpse of Curlews. None. We didn't see much, only the two most common Warblers in Texas, maybe in North America. Nice day though - sunny with temperatures in the mid 70s. Can't complain.

"What is that little bird with the yellow-rump?" "It's a Yellow-rumped Warbler." "Who's on first?" "What kind of butterfly is that little yellow one?"  "It's a Little Yellow." "Yeah, it know it's a little yellow butterfly, but what kind is it?" "It's a Little Yellow."


Yellow-rumped Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Spotted Sandpiper (spotted in breeding trim)

Little Yellow

I'm on first - Gunnar

American Oystercatchers

Yesterday we were at South Padre Island. We saw a mix of birds, not a great day, but hell, it was sunny and we were on the water watching birds. And then a pair of Oystercatchers showed up! People gasped, "Oh, aren't the colors wonderful? Aren't they beautiful?" To which I reply, "Naw, they're ugly, goofy, and awkward looking. They look like they were designed by two grade school kids with only three Crayolas left in the  box ... 

And they're positively wonderful to behold!"  

Keeping warm, taking pictures - because someone has to do it. - Gunnar

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Nice Warm Sunny Day

Common Pauraque

Yellow-crowned Night Heron - juvenile

Finally 😊  - Gunnar

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A Trip To the Cemetery

The weather here in the LRGV is still cool, but the sun has come out, it will probably warm up and we will likely survive.

Lorna and I, Paul and Carolee, went out this morning to what was intended to be an easy outing for me. It soon became obvious to me I am still hobbling far worse than I had hoped for. We first went to Quinta Mazatlan, a beautiful facility which is noticeably improving every year. An immature male Blue Bunting has been seen there - but not today. We bumped into Peggy Rudman, a friend from past years, who joined us for the rest of the outing. She is a good set of eyes and is simply an amazing photographer, specializing in photos of flying birds. Jeez. 

Eventually I had to admit knee defeat and I just sat in the sun (took a knee) while the others beat the bushes for birds.

Clay-colored Thrush

Green Heron

Rufus Hummingbird 
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Later we went to Roselawn Cemetery, a tree covered island in the sea of concrete and asphalt development, to hopefully find some warblers. Not a great outing, but we did see a Black-throated Green Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, and Yellow-throated Warbler. Me? Given the choice between my increasingly sore knee and a stone-cold ass, I opted for a nice soft granite Gonzalez gravestone while the others continued their chase.

Death is hard. A large, rather grim gravestone. 
We saw some birds, but I never did take a really good photograph all day. - Gunnar