Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pretty Pyrrhuloxia

I photographed this gorgeous male at San Angelo State Park in San Angelo, TX 2 days ago. What stunning plumage. (Also my Canon EF400,5.6 lens is a great lens that takes excellent pics) Please double-click on each pic for close-up views of this beauty. SeEtta

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hummer-still pics--[Post note: probable Black-chinned]

[POST NOTE: I have requested and received feedback from several members of the Texbird listserve, including those with considerable experience and expertise, that all agreed this is not an Ann's Hummingbird. They all also agreed that it is, or it is suggestive of, a Black-chinned Hummingbird.]
Not the best pics but these may provide more clues for an identification. Double-click on each pic for enlarged views. SeEtta

Hummingbird--video clip 3-[Post note: probable Black-chinned]


[POST NOTE: I have requested and received feedback from several members of the Texbird listserve, including those with considerable experience and expertise, that all agreed this is not an Ann's Hummingbird. They all also agreed that it is, or it is suggestive of, a Black-chinned Hummingbird.]
This clip provides a good and close view of the hummingbird's back. SeEtta

Hummingbird: another video clip-[post note: prob Black-chinned]


[POST NOTE: I have requested and received feedback from several members of the Texbird listserve, including those with considerable experience and expertise, that all agreed this is not an Ann's Hummingbird. They all also agreed that it is, or it is suggestive of, a Black-chinned Hummingbird.]
Though this hummingbird holds it's tail still at times, at other times it pumps it as is shown in this clip. There are groups of feathers with color (that is not clear in this clip) on it's whitish breast that can be readily viewed when the video is stopped briefly. SeEtta

[Prob Black-chinned ] Hummingbird at Bentsen Palm Village RV Park in Mission,TX


[[POST NOTE: I have requested and received feedback from several members of the Texbird listserve, including those with considerable experience and expertise, that all agreed this is not an Ann's Hummingbird. They all also agreed that it is, or it is suggestive of, a Black-chinned Hummingbird.]
I videotaped this female/immature hummingbird in the Bentsen Palm RV Park in Mission,TX feeding in the same coral bean tree as the Black-vented Oriole (and while that rare vagrant was off somewhere else). Another birder said he believed this was an immature Anna's Hummingbird which would also be fairly rare for this area in the winter. Unfortunately I have very limited experience with Anna's Hummingbirds, including none with females and immatures. This bird looks more like a immature Black-chinned but I thought I should put this and more video clips up for feedback by those familiar with Anna's. SeEtta

Monday, January 10, 2011

75-80 Long-billed Curlews in one field--WOW

While searching for Aplomado Falcons I spotted several Long-billed Curlews in a field. When I stopped to look at them I saw there were actually about 50 birds scattered around. Then over the next 15-20 minutes more curlews flew in--again and again until there were at least 75 and likely closer to 80 curlews in this field. More may have come in after I left but I was still looking for the falcons and needed to move along. Though they were foraging, given that it was almost dusk I suspect they came in here to spend the night. The Laguna Madre is just a few hundred yards across the field. I was very impressed to see such a large number in one place. SeEtta

Aplomado Falcons!

Aplomado Falcons are a success story for reintroduction into So Texas after they were extirpated.
Today I birded areas near Brownsville including the Old Port Isabel Road which is the classic location for Aplomado Falcons as the USFWS has placed nest platforms up in this area for these birds. My pic is not great--hey, they were a good thousand feet away and it was late in the day with the sun going down. To even get this pic I had to use my 400 mm lens with 1.4 extender--with the 1.6 multiplier I get since the camera is not full frame, this gives me the equivalent of almost 900 mm. I saw one of the birds flying a little bit earlier but it was clearly on important business and moving fast. Both of these falcons are perched on one of the nest platforms for about 5 minutes while I scoped them so I got good views of their field marks before the sun went behind a cloud and the light decreased. SeEtta

Sabal Palm Santuary-Least Grebe

Though not the first waterfowl to return to the resaca that is being filled with water after being dry for some time, this Least Grebe was enjoying some tasty delights it found during dives. SeEtta

Sabal Palm Santuary-it has reopened (hurray!)

After being closed over 18 months ago, the Sabal Palm Sanctuary reopened last week. I visited yesterday and it looks wonderful. Thank goodness the Border Wall did not close off the entrance to the Sanctuary as was feared; instead, one of the many breaks in the Border Wall is right at the entrance to the Sanctuary as shown in the top two pics.
The trails have been cleared and are mostly in great shape. as shown in bottom two pics. Also shown is some of the wonderful tropical habitat, including a few of the fabulous sabal palms for which this Sanctuary was named, are shown. This habitat is essential for the birds, butterflies and other species we enjoy. SeEtta

Clapper Rail: So Padre Island resident

These cool rails are found mostly in salt marshes and mangroves including the marsh area along South Padre Island. The convention center boardwalk that provides wonderful access to the birds and other critters in this salt marsh is well known for providing great views of Clapper Rails. As these pics demonstrate I wasn't disappointed when I visited that island over the week-end. SeEtta
That said, I was very disappointed in the new "Birding and Nature" Center built and operated by the So Padre Economic Development Corporation. What a sad thing to waste this opportunity to showcase the ecosystems found on this island--instead, visitors are greeted "pretty" waterfalls (I have been told that the closest waterfalls are about 300 miles away in the hill country, a very different ecosystem, of central Texas). The very fancy building with 5 story observation tower cost $6.5 million according to Island Breeze news article--now they are having trouble making operating expenses while a smaller and more reasonable building would not have been as expensive to operate and at least some of the funds could have been used for habitat that is rapidly vanishing, first to tall buildings and now to sprawl.
I'm glad these Clapper Rails have some habitat and hopefully it will be protected and not sold for more development someday. SeEtta