Who are we? We are our stories.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Oakwood Trickle Creek

We arrived home in Oakwood from Texas three days ago. First day back was unpacking and getting our bearings again. Day two was an eye injection which tends to wipe me out. In between all this we were raking leaves, filling feeders, cleaning leaves out of the water feature and getting the re-circulating pump operating. Today, more yard clean up, buying a new clothes dryer and getting a haircut.

Almost immediately after getting water moving, the year-round birds showed up, joined by a few migrators, mostly White-throated Sparrows and Chipping Sparrows. There was a Brown Thrasher, but it did not show up at the water, at least that I saw.

Be well, Gunnar

Friday, April 12, 2019

1952 Vincent Black Lightning

Mangrove Warbler

We first saw the Mangrove Warbler off Scarlett Colley's boat in a offshore Mangrove thicket six or seven years ago. The Mangrove Warbler is a subspecies of the Yellow Warbler, which may become eventually be designated as a standalone species. Unlike the Yellow Warbler it has a rusty red head, has a slightly different song, does not migrate, frequenting only mangrove swamps of the Caribbean (and recently South Padre Island). Different appearance, different habitat, different song - to my mind, and almost all birders, it is simply a different bird.

Over time we have probably spent three or four hours stalking them on South Padre Island, listening to the loud clear song, getting fleeting glimpses of shadow shapes deep in the mangroves. Yesterday we finally actually got rather poor photos of it. Because of the patchy head markings this bird in the photo is likely a first year male.

I was tickled, and I think Lorna's photos are even better!         -Gunnar

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Random South Padre Birds

Here are a few more pictures from yesterday at the South Padre Convention Center. It was a good day, not incredible numbers, but enough variety.

The only downer was somehow I lost a very well broken-in South Padre Brewing baseball cap - after five years it was just getting good. I do have a new one, but my head had kinda grown into that old one. I drowned my sorrows with a mug and a flight (and shrimp salad) at South Padre Brewing joined by Lorna, Mike and Nancy, their sweet daughter Abby, and brewmeister Mark Hagemiller.   

Prothonotary Warbler

Summer Tanager

Green Anole

Yellow-throated Warbler

Hooded Oriole (F.)

Hooded Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Gray Catbird

Mark has been making beer on South Padre since 1995. There are a number of newspaper clippings and brewing awards on the wall. Yesterday I noticed that one of them was the 2016 Texas Governor's Small Business of the Year Award. My first thought was ... how many mugs of free craft beer did that one cost?  ;-)

- Gunnar

Painted Buntings

Frankly these are not my favorite birds, but some people are so ga-ga about them that it is hard not to get caught up in the chase for photos. And I did.

I am weak.  - Gunnar

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Bathing Beauty: The Clapper Rail

These suckers are just about impossible to see in the reeds, so when this one walked out it was a once in a lifetime for me. Maybe it was because the morning started out so foggy. This one ran across the flat, then later as the fog lifted, stepped out without shame to bathe in front of god and the whole blessed world. Or at least three of us. I have probably never posted this many photos in one posting, but this bird was so damned marvelous. 

The morning light was dim, but I am not certain why the photos are so dark. Maybe shooting through the fog? When I tried to lighten them a little something seemed lost, so here they are as they came out of the camera, except for cropping.

"90% of the folks there won't know how amazing this event really was. Of the other 10% that knew, 90 % either didn't have a camera or were so awed that they didn't think of taking a picture! That leaves you with these GREAT photos at the top 1 %. However, the photos are 100% amazing." - Joe Sausen

Least Bittern

These little nippers are devilish hard to even see crawling through the cattails, so getting photos is always fun. Wheeee.

Cactus Blooms

It was a hot day, a day of barbed wire, scratches, prickles, and sweat burning eyes. Punctuated by wild cactus blooms.

And a Swallow-tailed Kite wheeling wide circles in far skies. Fine.             - Gunnar