Thursday, February 28, 2013

Green Kingfisher

This is a small bird, about half the size of the Belted Kingfisher we have back in Minnesota. They have a beautiful iridescence, which I totally failed to capture.  I'm still working on this photography thing. I'll get back to you if I ever get the Kingfisher sheen right. Kingfishers spend a lot of the day looking at the surface of the water. I could see he was getting twitchy, but I still missed the splash completely. He only paused a few seconds with the minnow before he flew away with it up the shoreline, presumably to feed his nestlings.





Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lorna's Blog

My wife, Lorna has started a new blog to share the photos of butterflies and birds that she has taken with her new camera. Note MY BLOG LIST on the sidebar.

Thank you.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Heron's Breeding Plumage, etc

Tech stuff: Nikon D3200 camera (24 mega-pix) with a Nikkor 55-300mm variable lens - no tripod. These would both be considered entry level by "real" camera buffs. I shoot at about F8, saved in a J-peg format. These photos are not Photoshopped, only cropped as required. I am probably eventually going to  a RAW format, but that opens another can of editing and I don't want to become a photographer looking at birds. I'm pretty happy being a birder lugging a camera around - up to a point. With my old eyes it's great to be able to take a picture and really see the bird back at home.

These were taken on Feb 21 on South Padre Island. While we were there we were finally able to see the Flammulated Owl, a single tiny owl which has been the star of the Lower Rio Grande Valley this year. It was deep enough in the shade thicket that I didn't even bother to attempt a picture. 

The various heron and egrets are starting to get their breeding trim. Check out the blue around the eye of this Great Blue Heron. He is magnificent - so often the beaks are dinged and spit. He's a perfect specimen.






Great Egret

Tri-color Heron


Little-blue Heron

Reddish Egret
Long-billed Curlew

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Frisco Depot

by Mickey Newbury:

When you're cold there's nothing as welcome as sunshine
When you're dry there's nothing as welcome as rain
When you're alone there's nothing as slow as passin' time
When you're afoot Lord there's nothing as fast as a train

Folsom Prison Blues

City of New Orleans

Edinburg and Wine


We went to Edinburg yesterday morning. There is a covered deck centered in a small pond. It's a great place to linger and watch the pair of resident Green Kingfishers and the other small birds that come to drink and bathe. In the past I have thought it would be a great place for benchs. This time I fixed that problem with a stop to pick up chairs at the local Walmart. As well as the kingfishers and more more common birds, I saw a Blue-headed Vireo, a life first for me.



After sitting for a while, we walked the labyrinth of paths, looking for more birds and enjoying the butterflies. Lorna was able to see the Blue-headed Vireo and she identified a number of butterflies.





Later back at the Alamo Inn Wesco Apartments we decided to beat the heat by lingering with our new chairs and a little wine in the shadows of the south side overhang of the courtyard. It must have seemed like a good idea. People drifted down and eventually there were nine people gathered. (Thanks to Keith Hackland for fetching another box of wine glasses, and to all the people who brought more wine). About the time the party was breaking up, my daughter, Addy and her partner, Abby arrived from the Great Northland. We went out to eat with them and our Brit friends, Ian and Julie. Another fine day.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bonkers for Butterflies?

Still birding and taking pictures, but not finding much time to post. Lorna has fallen hard for butterflies, of which there are 350 species locally. I am resisting learning the names of all the butterflies, but they are sneaking up on me.

Dinner and drinks with Ian and Julie, Steve and Sue at the Blue Onion last night. Thanks to Ian for most of these pictures.























Addy and Abby arrive today for a week and it should be warm again today. All is well.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Nordeast Brew District

Day 32: Bentsen State Park

This park is supposedly one of the stations of the cross for serious birders. Apparently for frivilous bird lovers like us, not so much so. We did see some semi-domesticated birds at a series of bird feeding stations. It was a nice five walk on a loop road, shared with guided motor trams and fat RVers riding their matching folding bicycles, all wearing cute matching bicycle club t-shirts. Bless their chubby little hearts.

Green Jay

Plain Chachalaca

Monday, February 11, 2013

Day Whatever (today) : Harris's Hawk

We met our neighbors, Bill and Kathy when we arrived at Santa Ana this morning. Bill has bad lungs and the smoke from the burning sugarcane fields was forcing them to go back to Alamo. They had a little news to share. They saw a Peregrine eating something near the radio tower and they had seen a large Blue Racer snake. They also gave us a location for a pair of Great Horned Owls they had seen by Willow Lake. We headed for the owl site, but couldn't seem to locate them. We eventually gave up and continued on down the path. Suddenly there was a muffled "whump! whump! whump!" of wing beats behind me. I glanced over my shoulder just as a large owl launched off the top of an 8 foot stump I had just walked passed (observant lad). We stood stunned and speechless as a pair of the big birds flew away, deeper into the woods.

There are at least five Harris's Hawks making a pretty good living at Santa Ana, culling the American Coot population. It's a great looking bird. Just great!



A Kiskadee that got in the line of my camera as I was taking Harrisis pictures. 
The Santa Ana Refuge is on the Rio Grande, so it is often visited by our friends from the other side of the river. This tends to attract the attention of the Border Patrol with their power boats, ATVs, mountain bikes and helicopters. Apparently there was a group of hopefuls coming through this afternoon. As we were scoping out some shorebirds and ibis a chopper made a very close swing pass to check us out. The birds seemed to perceive this as the largest hawk in the world and they reacted accordingly.

Day Whatever (today):: Butterflies


Lorna has gone for butterflies, so I have starting taking some pictures. Except for the gulf fritillary, all of these were taken on the same plant. There were more varieties, but they were small, flitty and generally uncooperative. I have no clue what any of them were.