Saturday, January 3, 2009

More good: Green-legged heron

Though clearly not blue, this is a Little Blue Heron. Immature Little Blue Heron's have white feathers with bluish gray ends on their primaries. And they have the distinctive greenish legs amd feet (evident in these pics) to grayish legs and feet. SeEtta

Friday, January 2, 2009

So Padre Island-the good, the bad & the ugly

Today I visited So Padre Island, a wonderful barrier island just off the south Texas coast. The "good" is the birds that are still found there including this Caspian Tern. Though the temps today were in the lower 80's, the strong breezes on the island made it feel cooler. SeEtta

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Another Llano Grande delight-American Bittern

Embedded in the reeds in this pic is the neck and head of an American Bittern. Actually the brown and white stripes formed by her feathers make it stand out. The bittern's head is best seen by double-clicking on the pic to enlarge it. Their very effective camouflage makes it a real challenge to spot them even when they are known to be in an area like this bird at Estero Llano Grande State Park. SeEtta

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fresh frog meal

I spotted this Great Kiskadee catching this small frog not far from the visitor center at the Estero Llano Grande State Park today. Right after I took this pic the kiskadee raised it's head skyward and swallowed the frog in one quick move. This is a good pic to enlarge--just double-click on it to get a ringside view. SeEtta

Government suing Nature Conservancy

No matter one's position about illegal immigration, this horrible border wall is not only an ineffective waste of taxpayer dollars but horribly destructive to the unique ecosystem along the Rio Grande River in south Texas. It is being pushed through with great speed in order to have almost all of it built before Obama takes office. Now they are suing the Nature Conservancy so they can destroy the integrity of their preserve. This makes me sick. SeEtta

"McALLEN — The Homeland Security Department has sued The Nature Conservancy to condemn land in a South Texas nature preserve for the border fence.

The conservancy’s Lennox Foundation Southmost Preserve, which includes more than 1,000 acres along the Rio Grande near Brownsville, is home to a rare grove of native sabal palms, a South Texas native plant nursery for reforestation projects and habitat for the endangered ocelot and jaguarundi."
Read the full aricle

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sickle-winged Skipper butterfly

This is a Sickle-winged Skipper, it's wings being shaped somewhat like a sickle. The top edges of it's wings fold over onto themselves, as though they were curled. This is one of many butterflies that seem to fly all the time at the Estero Llano Grande State Park, especially along the path that goes from the parking area to the visitor center. I was told that all the plants are in the park are native and planted when the park was established. It certainly has wonderful habitat for butterflies as well as birds.I learned this and more on a butterfly walk with one of the park's staff naturalist's, John, one of the great staff and volunteer naturalists at this location. He was not only highly skilled at identifying butterflies but birds as he also led a bird walk I attended earlier that day. SeEtta

Mockingbird view

A common species in the Rio Grande Valley, Northern Mockingbirds are rather handsome. This is another bird at Estero Llano Grande State Park that allowed close-up photos. I found that this park not only had very good species diversity, but excellent viewing opportunities. I was especially impressed with the number of birds that were out and about in the rather high winds during the Christmas Bird Count. This area also had great butterflies, but that's the next post.SeEtta

Monday, December 29, 2008

Great Kiskadee

Though these members of the flycatcher family are almost 10 inches in length and bright yellow, they are masters of blending into their habitat, betrayed only by their loud calls that sound to many like they are saying "kiskadee". As we were returning to the Estero Llano Grande State Park Visitor Center towards the end of the Christmas Bird Count day before yesterday, this fearless Great Kiskadee perched on a post over the trail and it wasn't giving up it's trail to human interlopers. The photo was enhanced by the fact that I was using a borrowed 400 mm Canon telephoto lens with my 1.4 extender. though some of it becomes a little blurry, you can double click on the bottom pic for an extreme close-up view that provides some great detail) The results were great (you can see the individual feathers on this bird) so now of course I want one of these expensive lens.
I found the staff and volunteers at Estero Llano Grande State Park to be exceptionally helpful and friendly. I spent most of the count with volunteer naturalists Shellie and her husband Johnathon (it was his telephoto lens that got these super close-ups), and we had a good time. SeEtta

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mexican visitor--Crimson-collaredGrosbeak

Today I birded at the Frontera Audubon Center in Weslaco, TX. Though a cold front has moved through and dropped the temps from yesterday's record 90 to the upper 60's, birding was quite hot in the fantastic wooded area at this great preserve. There were a good number of birders there today, most chasing the vagrant birds from Mexico--the female Crimson-collared Grosbeak and the female Blue Bunting. Though the bunting was seen several times today I didn't see her. However, I did see the Crimson-collared Grosbeak and got these two pics of her. She was sitting about 25 feet away, perched in the middle of the heavy vegetation so I was happy to get these pics. SeEtta