Saturday, May 2, 2009

Screech-Owls at Quinta Mazatlan also


The reason I returned late this afternoon was to try to get a better pic of the Eastern Screech-Owl family nesting in one of the dead palm trees at Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center. I saw at least 2, and possibly 3, sticking their heads out of the condo like holes earlier but the sun was behind them. So I came back in the late afternoon in hopes of getting better pics. Unfortunately this adult Eastern Screech-Owl was the only owl with it's head in view. And it was about 50 feet up and I had to photograph it almost straight up. SeEtta

American Redstarts at Quinta Mazatlan WBC


Today I birded again at Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center in McAllen,TX. The weather really sucked--the winds were gusting up to 35 mph, the humidity was awful and it got to 96 degrees in McAllen and was that temperature when I returned later this afternoon. I almost never wear shorts when birding but it was so bad this afternoon I couldn't bear to put on long pants.
I found the female but a McAllen resident who used to be on the board of Quinta Mazatlan told me about the male. They were both in the same area near the golf course.
Both redstarts were actively foraging. The female stayed up in the trees but the male bird did go down on the ground by a small pond as shown in the bottom 3 pics.
Quinta Mazatlan had other migrants including a possible first year female Hooded Warbler and 2 other warblers I didn't get a good look at plus a male and female Orchard Orioles. SeEtta

Luscious lime green lizard at SPI Sanctuary

Besides all the cool birds at the So Padre Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary, I also saw two lizard species including this brilliantly colored lime green lizard. Unfortunately I'm not skilled at lizard identification so I'm hopeful that someone will let me know what species it is. SeEtta I got an email letting me know that this is a Green Anole, Anolis carolinensis. Thanks to Joshua Rose, Ph.D., a Natural Resource Specialist at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. Joshua is a great resource on birds, butterflies, insects, reptiles and probably more.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Painted Bunting at So Padre Island Sanctuary

This is another bird that I saw at the So Padre Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary. This bird appears to be a male but it certainly is not in full Definitive Basic/Alternate (same for males) plumage like the Painted Bunting a few posts below. I suspect this bird is in partial Pre-Alternative Molt. According to Birds of North America online, this molt occurs for this species between Jan 1 and May 31. SeEtta

So Padre Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary


Yesterday I drove out to So Padre Island, TX to enjoy the great birding opportunities that this barrier island provides. One of the hotspots I visited is the So Padre Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary, an unassuming but vital stopover for landbirds that are migrating across the Gulf of Mexico. Its' just a few vacant lots filled with vegetation that migrating songbirds need and which is becoming scarcer on this terribly overdeveloped island. This is one of the birds I saw there and I believe it is a Philsdelphia Vireo. SeEtta

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Colorful female Painted Bunting

This female Painted Bunting was foraging in the same location as the male pictured in the post below. Though her plumage is not as brilliant as that of the male, she was still quite colorful with her bright greenish feathers. She was less reticent than the male so I got to watch her for several minutes and got several pics.
A few blue feathers on the shoulder area and a few around the head area show up in several pics. Birds of North America online states that females in Basic I plumage may have blue feathers on their heads.
This female and the male Painted Bunting, in addition to foraging close together, interacted at one point. This makes me wonder if they are paired-up. SeEtta

Gorgeous Painted Bunting


I found this male Painted Bunting at Santa Ana NWR today. These guys are one of the brightest and most colorful landbirds that we see in the U.S. Do double-click on the pic to enlarge it--the close-up is even better. SeEtta

Monday, April 27, 2009

Common Yellowthroat with different song

As I walked on the "wetland bridge" walkway over the currently dry marsh area, I heard a song I with which I was unfamiliar. I was surprised when I found that the Common Yellowthroat in these pics was giving that song. It's song sounded nothing like the wich-e-ty, wich-e-ty, wich-e-ty that is associated with this species. I was told today that there is a subspecies called the "Brownsville Yellowthroat" that has a very different song. I found some brief information about this subspecies, Geothlypis trichas insperata, but I couldn't find a recording of its' song to listen to.
Though "Birds of North America" online notes subtle plumage differences between this and other subspecies, though it didn't indicate if these were distinguishable in the field. I will post about my experience on Texbirds listserve and maybe someone will have further information. SeEtta

Brilliant Blackburnian Warbler

Brilliant,brilliant,brilliant--that is the most descriptive word for male Blackburnian Warblers. Their orange heads are so very bright and intense.
The warblers including this one in the mixed flock that I found were actively foraging in the middle of the day. The temperature was in the mid eighties and the humidity was at least that high--it was quite soggy. The winds were strong as they have been all week, with speeds around 20 mph with gusts over 30 mph, but the palm forest at Sabal Palm Audubon Center provided some protection. SeEtta

Chestnut-sided Warbler at Sabal Palm

Hopefully the gremlins that took over my laptop the past few days (no,not a virus) are gone so I can post more pics from my trip like these. I took these photos at the famous Sabal Palm Audubon Center in Brownsville, TX--the same one for which I have conservation alerts due to the likely building of the dumb-destructive border wall that is still being built and will probably cut-off Sabal Palm from access (though the arrogant jerks in charge won't even tell Sabal Palm representatives what they are planning). I better not get wound up about this awful border wall as I could go on for pages about why it is a taxpayer rip-off as well as devastating to the remnant ecosystem that supports birds like this one. Sabal Palm is one of my favorite places because it is such a jewel with it's remnant sabal palm forest, a habitat that has been decimated by development along the Rio Grande Valley. I talked to someone who was catching beetles for a university research program and he told me that over 1,000 beetle species have been identified in these palm forests--that's some dramatic biodiversity.
This Chestnut-sided Warbler was foraging in a mixed flock of warblers (including Blackburnian, Black-throated Green and Black-and-White species). They came in this little burst of frenetic activity that lasted only a few minutes until they moved off in their foraging. SeEtta