"In the night...the scream of the rabbit is terrible. But the scream of the owl which is not of pain and hopelessness and fear of being plucked out the world, but of the sheer rollicking glory of the death-bringer, is more terrible still. When I hear it resounding through the woods, and then the five black pellets of its song dropping like stones into the air, I know I am standing on the edge of the mystery, in which terror is naturally and abundantly part of life, part of even the most becalmed, intelligent, sunny life--as for example, my own. The world where the owl is endlessly hungry and endlessly on the hunt is the world in which I live, too. There is only one world." Mary Oliver, Blue Pastures
Taken at South Padre. It appears the Reddish Egret dances around like a feathered fool, scatter scaring bait fish in all directions, then spreads it's wings and freezes, casting a shadow that the disoriented fish rush to for safety. Wrong move.
The winds were estimated to be gusting to 237.531 mph, and that's probably on the low end. We went over to Estero Llano anyway. Most of the birds were laying low - no small birds. If they were airborne, they are in Kansas now. We found a little pond that was sheltered where we found a Solitary Sandpiper (only one) and what I took to be a mother White Ibis with five immatures. What's the plural of Ibis? Ibis? Ibises? Ibi? We saw a young Ibis, no wait, there were five!
An unidentified woman taking a picture of a world famous bird photographer. Seriously, I haven't a clue what that was all about.
Back on Day 12 our outing was to the South Padre Island Birding Center, which is a salt marsh and mud flats on the Laguna Madre shore. I promise that I will still get around to posting the bird pictures eventually, but birding, bicycling, and beer keep getting in the way. Lorna says we need a bumper sticker that reads, THIS CAR BRAKES FOR BIRDS AND BEER. Maybe. But back to South Padre, I love the subtlety of the environment. Even the mud there is beautiful.
Lorna was volunteering at the 70th Anniversary of the Santa Ana Refuge today. I stayed in Alamo and pissed the day away reading and riding the Nishiki. For all you guys who are in love with old bicycles like I am, the visits to this blog have jumped by about 100 hits a day to 352 yesterday. Obviously there are more people who would rather look at pictures of birds than our old bicycles. Who would have guessed.
Green Parakeets, native to Mexico and south, about a foot long, maybe a tad longer. These were whirling about the sky and landed outside the Blue Onion cafe in McAllen, Texas. We were all impressed by the show and noise. After we had worked up an appetite doing all that admiring, we went in the cafe and ate salads, wraps and pizza. I had mine with an IPA from Real Ales Brewing, Blanco, Texas. I take back (again) all the bad things I wrote about Texas beer. It was excellect. And now, more parakeets than you could shake a stick at.
The park is an environmental disaster zone, 100 acres of irrigated grass and clusters of lawn shade trees. A Big Texas size picnic grounds. We were there to see the Beardless Tyrannulet, a bird that is rare enough that it doesn't even make it into a lot of the bird books. We saw that little bugger, a nondescript brown flycatcher, but I didn't get any photos.
No matter, there were a pair of Vermilion Flycatchers. Now, a bird doesn't evolve that screaming orange red color by being a bird you can walk up to. They are almost impossible to get within a football field of, so I am quite pleased with these photos; pleased enough that that's all I'm posting today.
Herons and egrets have a neat prehistoric look, the closer you get the stranger they are. Just for fun here's some from yesterday. And I threw in a two or three others just because they have great beaks.
We met Paul and Carolee at South Padre. We had a good morning of birding, then they left at noon for Edinburg, chasing, hoping, praying for another rare bird. We, in turn, went to the Padre Brewing Company for beer and burgers. Then we returned to the South Padre sanctuary for "ordinary" birds. I've been posting a handful of typical birds we see each day; today I have to break away from that. There were some incredible birds today, birds that stood right up and posed for pictures. I've culled today's batch down to about a hundred photos, but I'm going to just post one bird today, the Roseate Spoonbill, just because at one time it is both awkward and graceful, ugly and beautiful. And a little goofy.
We were out early with our neighbors, Paul and Carolee. They are both serious birders, and Paul in particular is working to add to his life list. I am indifferent to keeping lists of bird sightings, but Lorna is getting on board that train as fast as she can and I support her efforts when I can. Paul's quest today, and therefore all of our's, was the smallest tyrant flycatcher, the Northern Beardless Tyrannulet. We hung out in areas where the bird had been sighted. We saw a lot of birds, but not our quarry. Eventually Paul's enthusiasm waned, and he and Carolee decided to check out the Edinburg Refuge. As we were there yesterday, we stayed at Estero Llano. It was a bit of a slow day, but I did get a poor picture of a Black Phoebe, a reasonably rare sighting, and a few other miscellaneous birds.
I'm slowly falling in love with Little Blue Herons. They are always a great subject.