Monday, December 17, 2007

Bulletin #23 - Texas Hill Country #2

David McDonald Photography
Friendswood Texas
December 17, 2007

Bulletin #23 – Texas Hill Country - part 2
Hello friends,

I was in the Hill Country, west of Austin for a weekend in early November. I visited Pedernales Falls State Park on a Friday morning. They have a very nice bird blind. They put out multiple feeders of all types as well as food on logs etc to attract as wide an assortment of birds as possible. They also have a bird bath and water drip. In addition there was a very nice couple of volunteers who live in the park over the winter and restock the feeders twice a day. The volunteers know all the birds and are happy to help the visitors with ID problems, as well as anecdotes etc.

The sun was directly behind the feeders in the morning when I was there, so it was difficult to get photos except when the birds got into the shadows of trees etc. Otherwise the birds were all backlit. Next time, I would go in the afternoon and hopefully the light would be better.

Here is the Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Picoides scalaris).The male has the red crown, horizontal striped back and 2 narrow facial stripes.

The female is similar but without the red crown.

The beautiful Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculates) was very shy. He would dart out from a brush pile to get some seed and then quickly return to the brush and out of sight. However, I eventually got a photo of him. This is the first time I have seen this bird outside California.

Another member of the New World Sparrow family was the Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melanospiza lincolnii). He has a striped chest with caramel colored band across the chest. Here are 2 photos – on the ground and in the bird bath. click ‘next’ once

The only warbler that day was an Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata). This drab bird has almost no markings. There is a hint of an eyestripe, but no wing bars. It is gray to olive to a little yellow depending on subspecies. The most distinguishing feature is the slight streaking on the breast. It is another bird named for its field mark that is seldom seen. The volunteers stated that the orange crown is only visible when the bird is wet and the feathers on the head stand up a little. I have seen pictures in magazines that have demonstrated that feature, but I had never seen the orange crown. Fortunately with the bird bath, he eventually went in and played around in the water. In this case, the backlit sunlight actually was helpful, as the orange crown lit up from behind. The first photo shows the streaked breast and the second shows his orange crown. click ‘next’ once

Other birds seen that morning that I didn’t get good photos due to the lighting were Northern Cardinal, Common Ground Dove, Black-crested Titmouse, House Finch, Western Scrub-Jay and White-crowned Sparrow.

On the way out, I saw this butterfly. It is a Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta).

I spent about 2 hours at the blind and it was birdy and most enjoyable. Another time, I would try and go in the afternoon when hopefully the sun would be in a better location. So if any of you are photographers and plan on visiting this site, you might keep that advice in mind.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

All comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Happy Birding,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2007 David McDonald

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