Friday, January 17, 2014

Loggerhead Shrike: video of one singing

I was driving away from Anzulduas County Park in Hidalgo County,TX when I heard some vocalizations with which I wasn't familiar. When I turned around and went back I was very surprised to see it was a Loggerhead Shrike that was singing- making mostly calls that sounded like chirping (but could be called trilling) but also a few high clear notes. This is the first time I have heard a Loggerhead Shrike sing and from some research it appears it isn't heard often. From the information on Birds of North America online this singing appears consistent with the male's 'spring song' associated with breeding rather than the 'territory song' that is given by both males and females which they describe as follows: "...contains fewer high, clear notes and more notes rough in quality which resemble harsh screeches or begging notes." Given how far south this is it may not be unusual to have breeding behavior in mid-January. SeEtta

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Birds Edinburg Scenic Wetlands

I birded Edinburg Scenic Wetlands again today and again saw a Tropical Parula but didn't get a photo as I did on 12-31-13. There was two Canvasback ducks, a species found usually in one's and two's and usually only a few locations around the Lower Rio Grande Valley

A birder from Houston and I were talking when she spotted this Gray Catbird on about 75 feet away on the other side of the lagoon from where we were sitting. Due to our distance from it we could watch it as it went about foraging out in the open near the water. The only ebird sighting for it at this location was Jan 7 but with it could go long periods without being seen in the vegetation at this area.
In addition to the commonly found Orange-crowned Warblers I saw a Black-and-White (above), Nashville, and multiple Yellow-rumped Warblers.

I spotted the Long-billed Curlew (below) all by itself on the ballfield turf in the city park area in which Edinburg Scenic Wetlands are located. 

There were a number of American White Pelicans, a fairly common species there. I thought the lime green water of the lagoon made it look rather pretty.
These Black-necked Stilts were part of a flock of about 12 that also were in the city park.  I just like their bubblegum pink legs.
Among the more common waterfowl were several Blue-winged Teal.   SeEtta

Monday, January 13, 2014

Anzalduas County Park birding

I birded Anzalduas County Park, a Lower Rio Grande Valley birding hotspot, last Friday and I returned today to recheck one section that was quite birdie. Today I found this Nashville Warbler, a species that apparently winters in this area and that I saw at Edinburg wetlands two weeks ago, but I haven't heard of one reported at this location.

I was told by a birder from Canada that there were 2-3 Black-throated Gray Warblers there but I only saw this one that enjoyed a refreshing bath when the temps were in the 80's.

I saw this Brown Pelican there both on Friday and today--it has been reported for some time along the Rio Grande River that curves around this park.  As this is inland, this pelican is considered a rare sighting.

Today the winds got strong so the pelican sought a sheltered location around this old dock.

I was surprised to see the pelican feeding on some small food that it searched for around the pilings and near the surface of the water while it floated in this sheltered area.
This Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a species here, spread it's tail feathers for a nice view while bathing. SeEtta

Groove-billed Ani-finally some clean shots

Yesterday I refound the Groove-billed Anis in the Donna Reservoir area. They had moved from the taller vegetation adjacent to the fallow ag fields to the cattails and other plants in a ditch with a little water in it. I watched them for about 15 minutes as they flew mostly through the vegetation and vocalizing to each other. While I was watching 3 of them at least partially visible I could hear at least one more a little further down the ditch so there are at least 4 in this group.

The photo below is often the most I could see of these anis as stayed mostly inside the vegetation so I was really surprised when the bird above came out in the open and perched for a couple of minutes. Finally a shots that are clear of vegetation so they sharply focused. I think their scalloped-like plumage is quite handsome. SeEtta

Zone tailed Hawk perched: brief video

This is just a brief video clip of the adult Zone-tailed Hawk I photographed yesterday while it was perched in a tree. Not much action, just how this bird looked around and up to monitor it's surroundings. SeEtta

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Zone-tailed Hawk close-up photos

Yesterday I spotted a Zone-tailed Hawk perched at mid-day in the thicket at Frontera Audubon in Weslaco, TX. I did not get a usable photo as the hawk flushed right after I got a reasonable look at it. So when I returned at dusk to see if this hawk would return to roost I tried to be even more careful as I try hard to avoid flushing perching hawks and especially if they are likely going to roost. I didn't find it at Frontera but in the area. Darn this is a spooky bird--with a split second after I spotted it, this hawk spotted me and flushed again. Arggh.

Today I returned to the area around Frontera Audubon and again spotted a Zone-tailed Hawk perched. This time I was even more stealth and managed to get all of these photos and got to watch it for about 15 minutes. It really watched what was happening around it, looking around and up in the air repeatedly. Right after a vulture flew in close to it the Zone-tailed Hawk flew off, whether or not bothered by the close fly by or if it was ready to go back to hunting.
The close-ups shows the features of this species with blackish plumage that is right out of Brian Wheeler's Raptors of Western North America:
  •  "Black bill with small, pale bluish area on the basal part of both mandibles. Bright yellow cere. White lores and forehead. [Wheeler's bolding]  Dark brown irises." (p. 308)

I focused on the tail and feet in the next two photos. One broad white band at mid-tail shows best in the less enlarged photo right below-a distinctive field mark on a closed black tail for an adult bird. I thought the size of the toes and claws were pretty good sized

This lower body view also shows the long primaries that on an adult Zone-tailed Hawk extend beyond the tip of the tail when perched.

I was about 150 feet away from this hawk but I used a very long telephoto lens (1200 mm equivalent) then enlarged the photos additionally by cropping them severely to get these close-up views. FYI, I also found and photographed Zone-tailed Hawks, both adult and juvenile, in Hildado and Cameron counties of Texas last year, in Arizona and New Mexico this fall. SeEtta

Jan 13 addendum:

I had to do a lot of editing to get these added bottom photos to show the tail banding that, with the 5 fingers on the wings, the long yellow legs and the hawk type bill shown in these photos, these are of the Zone-tailed Hawk in flight. I have had difficulty in the past trying to get identifying field marks to show when photographing these hawks flying any distance away as this one was. After this hawk took off from it's perch I drove around some to try to refind it in the air and I did as it flew in large circles (this was more than 7 minutes after took off per my camera's date stamp on photos) . SeEtta