Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ringed Kingfisher, also at Anzalduas County Park

I also photographed this male Ringed Kingfisher at Anzalduas County Park today. Fortunately the sun had come out for awhile so some of the bird's feathers are highlighted, at least those parts not in the shade. There was also a Green Kingfisher that came fairly close but it cloudy at the time so I didn't even try to get a photo (these long telephotos need a lot of light). SeEtta

Another Zone-tailed Hawk: adult I spotted at Anzalduas

Since the rainy weather was ending at the west side of the Lower Rio Grande Valley this afternoon, I drove out to Anzalduas County Park. Since there had been a lot of rain the birds in the park were still in their cover so I scanned the trees on the other side of the Rio Grande River with my spotting scope. I soon spotted this Zone-tailed Hawk perched in a tree along the shore. It was pretty distant, about 600 feet across but I got good views in my spotting scope. I saw it's bright yellow cere, black head and body. When it turned to face in my direction I could see at least two white tail bands, one quite wide and one at end of tail. It is clearly an adult.
I expected the hawk as well as other birds of prey and vultures had soaked wings so I figured it would remain on the perch for awhile, especially since it continued to be cloudy and cool so it would take longer for the feathers to dry. So I called one birder who had previously emailed me asking me to call if I saw the Frontera Zone-tailed Hawk; unfortunately he was already driving home to San Antonio. I also posted the sighting on the Texbirds Facebook site in any of the many birders who were trying to see one of the Frontera hawks might check facebook and be close enough to come over. No one came but I did let a birding couple who drove by know and helped them see it. The hawk stayed on that perch from about 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. I wasn't sure if it's location was on land in Mexico or the U.S. so I walked over to some Border Patrol officers and they explained that that piece of land was in the U.S.

I included this not so good photo at the bottom because it shows an additional white tail band though I suspect it is still insufficient for identifying it's sex. SeEtta

Green Kingfisher: close views at Edinburg Wetlands

I really enjoy the Edinburg Wetlands and World Birding Center--it has fantastic native habitat and enjoyable birding. Sadly many birders miss out because they follow reports of rare birds and this lovely area doesn't get as many rarities as some other areas in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. So they miss out on the intimate opportunities I had yesterday to view and photograph this Green Kingfisher up close.

Green (and other) Kingfishers usually avoid perching close to people and flush when people try to get close. This bird came in to the small 'Dragonfly Pond' at Edinburg Wetlands to fish. It perched as close as about 25 feet from me and stayed at various perches around me for more than 15 minutes providing wonderful views. Naturally it was overcast with drizzly clouds during that time so with my very long telephoto lens outfit (that needs a lot of light) I wasn't able to get the great photos this closeness could have provided to show off the wonderful colors of this male bird. I did try using flash on the bottom pic. As can be seen in changed the coloration (it's color appeared blue-green as in the top pic due to lighting conditions) and shows the flash reflection in it's eye--I am a fan of natural light and don't like flash photos for just these reasons (as well as it can disturb birds, though this one didn't seem to be effected). SeEtta

Monday, January 7, 2013

Adult Zone-tailed on roost early tonight

I got done with some things a little early so stopped at Frontera Audubon early tonight and found the adult Zone-tailed apparently already on it's roost. It was cloudy but since it was earlier there was more light for pics--good thing as I had to photograph the hawk from a more distant location (as on other occasions I could have gotten closer but did not want to risk disturbing it).

This is another location from where I found the adult Zone-tailed Hawk roosting last night so apparently it is not going to be possible to provide a roost location, especially one that is not going to disturb the roosting hawk, for the many other birders who are interested in seeing this rare hawk. I will discontinuing posting about sightings of this hawk on Texbirds sites. SeEtta

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Common Pauraque, in the sun

Common Pauraques, in the same family of birds as the more well known Whip-poor-wills, are one of the specialty birds found in the United States only in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Since they are nocturnal, they are found roosting during the day and staff at Estero Llano Grande usually know where several are located. This is the first time I have been able to photograph them with some sunlight on them, providing much better photos than in their usual shady haunts. Though very cryptic plumaged I think they have beautiful patterns on their feathers. (Note: as with most of my photos I am using my very long telephoto lens combo. I was standing about 25 feet away. It is important to not disturb these roosting birds) SeEtta

Found the adult Zone-tailed Hawk on roost

After days of cloudy and frequently mist-rainy skies, the sun was out when I got to Frontera Audubon this morning so all the vultures and (presumably, as I saw no raptors perched in the trees) the Zone-tailed Hawk were up flying and searching for food. So I decided to return around 6 pm to see if I could find either the adult or juvenile on their evening roost.

When I returned I first spotted a Gray Hawk perched in a tree near Frontera Audubon Center, the first I have seen around there in the past 2 weeks. Then, just before 6:15 p.m. I spotted this adult Zone-tailed Hawk perched. I took photos and just watched the hawk for about 15 minutes until it was too dark to see it. It was very attentive as some vultures flew in nearby and turned it's head to watch them. I could still make out is silhouette when I left in full darkness. SeEtta