Friday, February 29, 2008

Texas: Day 2. Second day, first lifer!

It seems we've been here for a long time and it's only been 2 days! My first life bird came in the form of a tyrant flycatcher...COUCH'S KINGBIRD at Estero Llano Grande State Park (where Jim Booker resides as Park Naturalist). This cooperative individual allowed fairly close approach and preened for us. Also in the area was a female Vermillion Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Cinnamon Teal, Blue-winged Teal, and Green Kingfisher.

We also looked for Groove-billed Ani among the reeds across Llano Grande with no luck. There were lots of BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING DUCKS, AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS, 2 ROSEATE SPOONBILLS, and a PEREGRINE FALCON but the gale force winds beat us into submission quickly and we had to retreat off the levee and back to the trails.

At Santa Ana NWR there was a brief look at what may have been Hook-billed Kite but neither of us are comfortable with the sighting to call it. At the headquarters feeder there was this female YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER that is quite unusual in that it has an entirely black cap. Typically there would be some red in there. Allegedly, Ken Kaufmann was here yesterday and said that he's only seen one other like it in his life.

Other highlights of the day included:

OLIVE SPARROWS were ubiquitous in the undergrowth.

Gotta post another GREEN JAY from'd think they'd be orange with all the citrus they eat!

A couple of life odonates...BAND-WINGED DRAGONLET flutters in a jewelwing-inspired way. Very different flight behavior than I've seen.

This emerald beauty had me thinking "darner" it was so big. It turns out to be a GREAT PONDHAWK...very different from Western Pondhawks in California.

Finally, there was this QUEEN stopping for a moment to allow a photo.

Despite the high winds and lack of Hook-billed Kites and Groove-billed Anis, we had a good day with many nice birds and bugs.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Texas: Day 1

It was a very windy day searching for Aplomado Falcon in the vicinity of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge on the southern coast of Texas. Although we dipped on the falcon we had some nice distractions to keep us busy. I saw my first armadillo and we had brief looks (and I got a couple poor photos) of a bobcat.

We started the day with a trio of calling TROPICAL KINGBIRDS outside the motel. I need the very similar Couch's Kingbird so this was a bit of an exciting start...thinking that they may not be Tropicals...but, alas.

There were a few odonates braving the winds of the day including this RED SADDLEBAGS.

LOGGERHEAD SHRIKES are common here.

The feeders at the visitor center in Laguna Atascosa NWR had a pair of ALTAMIRA ORIOLES coming in to orange halves.

Also at the visitor center were several GREEN JAYS. 3 Javelinas (a wild pig also known as Collared Peccary) were feeding on fallen bird seed and the jays were actually landing on their backs...perhaps picking off insects(?).

Despite the winds, many Turkey Vultures and a few BLACK VULTURES proved their wares as aerialists.

Also on the wing a lot were CRESTED CARACARAS. These are one of my favorite raptors...they got pers'nality!

WHITE-TAILED HAWKS were a treat.

All in all a good first to Santa Ana tomorrow to search for Hook-billed Kite and Couch's Kingbird!

New Tenant in Cottonwood!

I was heading to work one morning last week and, as always checked the Red-tailed Hawk nest (see posting below) for new activity. Well, there was certainly some new activity! This GREAT-HORNED OWL has taken up residence and has been sitting on eggs for about 2 weeks now. Can't wait to see the young soon!