Saturday, December 26, 2009

Another Bare-throated Tiger-Heron photo

This really pretty cool pic of the BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON was buried just to left of the middle of the uncropped pic below. Look carefully--it is flying to the left into the thick vegetation that surrounds the pond on the south side of the canal and the top of it's wing is far to the left of (and in line with) the 2nd line of text. The banding on it's tail is visible in the center bottom of the pic and it's legs show directly to the right of the tail. This shows the beautiful what-looks-like-fringing on the trailing edge of the wings (could this what is called the "vermiculated" wing plumage???).
The dark object across the bottom part of the pic is spotting scope belonging to another birder--one of the pitfalls when quickly photographing flying birds when there are other birders around. It may help to double-click on each of these pics to enlarge them for more detail. SeEtta

Friday, December 25, 2009

More BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON pics

These are the next 3 pics in the sequence of photos I took during the 2nd flight of the BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON.
The bird was well past us in these pics but still going to the left. It was starting to descend to land on the south side of the canal. The bottom pic shows the bird just before it went into the trees in the re-vegetation area which is west of the Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park buildings and volunteer camping area.
Kudos to the staff and volunteers of Bentsen for the great job in planting hundreds of native plants in this area that was previously either onion fields or fallow--clearly the BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON has found a good place to feed there as it has repeatedly flown into it during the day then flown back to the pond area on the south side of the canal at night to roost. SeEtta

BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON-2nd flight

This is part of a series of pics I took during the 2nd flight of the BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON this afternoon. Each of these pics was taken sequentially (and ordered on this post in the order taken) in less than a minute per the time stamp from my camera (I was shooting as fast as I could). Though the bottom pics appear larger they were actually a little more distant and the illusion is due to my cropping the pics as quick as I could while trying to make sure they accurately reflect the bird.
As the pics show, I did not get on the bird until it was a little ways past where I stood. As the bird flies further away it is turning slightly to the left. It flew in a partial arc as it flew around the group of birders on the levee. More pics in the series in the next post. SeEtta
The bird was flying maybe 20-25 feet above the levy then

BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON PICS


This afternoon a group of us were given a great Christmas gift--killer views of the BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON flying not just one time in the daylight but TWICE within a few minutes. This is the a pic of the bird as it flew near us and into the south side of the canal that runs just south of the Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park where a pond is located that is surrounded by heavy vegetation. The yellow colored throat can be seen in this pic. More pics to come. SeEtta

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Saw the Bare-throated Tiger-Heron

Tonight on my third try to see the probable first U.S. record Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, it appeared. Unfortunately it was almost dark and the photo I took did not come out. As it was getting dark, several of the birders who had been watching for it for hours were leaving and did not see it.

I was more fortunate as I was looking in the direction that it flew from and so spotted it just as it came into sight and flew over the canal near the Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park World Birding Center buildings. Though I have seen this species before, I don't recall having seen one in flight but I knew immediately that this was likely the tiger-heron as it looked like a night-heron as it flew with methodical wing beats across the canal and into the thicket of trees with a pond on the other side. As I review Sibley's field guide, it looked quite a bit like a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in flight--large, dark bird with it's head tucked back and it's legs outstretched behind it.

There were still close to 10 birders watching when the Bare-throated Tiger-Heron flew tonight and I believe most of them got to see it. Several birders said they saw it when it flew at around 4 pm and apparently several also saw it fly around 10 am this morning. This bird is apparently molting from juvenile to adult plumage. It was found on Dec 21 by Rick Nirschl and Rick Snider who got some great pics. SeEtta

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Nice distraction--White-tailed Kite

Today I spent some hours with many other birders watching for a super rarity--a Bare-throated Tiger-Heron that was found last night near Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park in Mission,TX. I didnt' see this vagrant bird from far below the border and only possible sightings by others today. Many of us were entertained by this White-tailed Kite that worked an area nearby. Other pleasant distractions were a Northern Harrier and an eastern Red-tailed Hawk.
The dark wrist spots visible in the top pic are field marks for this species as is the white tail. SeEtta

Sing,sing a song-White-eyedVireo

I was fortunate to catch this White-eyed Vireo in song today at the Santa Ana NWR. I was on my way down the 'hawk tower' so for a change I was higher than this vireo putting me and my camera in a position to look right into it's wide open beak. SeEtta

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bright Great Kiskadees

Fortunately the sun had come out by the time I photographed this Great Kiskadee at Santa Ana NWR today. It's bright yellow plumage shows so much better with sunshine.
As brightly colored as they are, these beauties can hide in plain view by sitting still. But when they call, their voices carry and they can be heard at some distance. SeEtta

"Interesting hawk" is a Gray Hawk

I received several emails this morning about the hawk in my prior post that I found at Santa Ana NWR--all said it was a Gray Hawk. One of those was Tim Brush who is well known and highly respected authority on birds in the Rio Grande Valley (and probably elsewhere). SeEtta

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Interesting hawk at Santa Ana

I found this hawk this morning east of the Pintail Lake trail. Unfortunately the tree was perched in a tree well over a hundred feet away (more like 150 feet). Due to that distance, the mostly cloudy sky and my handholding the camera, I had to use a high ISO setting and fast speed so the pics came out pretty dark and I was unable to lighten them any better than as shown without distorting them.
The hawk is blackish with a wide white band around the middle of the tail, a narrow white terminal tail band, it has a yellowish cere, wingtips are shorter than tail tip, and it appears to have long legs. These fit the description for a Common Black Hawk. Also it called and retrospectively it sounds like the call of a Common Black Hawk.
What I have some problem with is the white feathers that can be seen in the last two pics that appear to be in the area of the upper legs that are whitish which are not consistent with extensive description of Common Black Hawk in Raptors of Western North America by Wheeler. I have some experience with this species as a Common Black Hawk spent a month in my town (Canon City,CO) several years ago and visited on several other occasions--in all, I observed the species on at least 8-10 occasions and photographed it. I don't see these whitish feathers in my Colo photos (viewable on my old blog at SE Colo Birding).
Birds of North America online states, "irregular in Lower Rio Grande Valley (G. Lasley pers. comm.)." I searched Texbirds archives and found it has been some years since this species was reported in LRGV in winter.
The other possibility is a ray Hawk that is fairly dark so that it would appear blackish in my pics. This would resolve my issue of the white feathers near the legs of the bird I photographed since Gray Hawks have white undertail coverts. The descriptions indicate that the wingtips of Gray Hawks go halfway down the tail so I am unsure if they would cover the additional white tail bands. Hopefully I will get some assistance to resolve these identification issues. SeEtta