Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Bulletin #77 – West Texas – Davis Mountains #1

David McDonald Photography
Friendswood Texas
May 6, 2009

Hello friends,

I had my first trip to west Texas. I went with Ed Arenson from Denver and we used Darrell Vollert as our guide. His web site is

We spent the first day and a half in the Davis Mountains near Alpine Texas. There were 2 areas we visited – Davis Mountains State Park and TNC Davis Mountain Preserve.

The state park is the premier location in the USA to see Montezuma Quail as they feed them. Unfortunately, despite about 8 hours there, we didn’t see it. However, with the food and water, many other species were close at hand.

The Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus) was there in all plumages. The male (left) has an all black head and rufous breast. The female has a streaked breast and striped face. The first year male with rufous breast but striped face.

The next bird was a lifer for me, the Scott’s Oriole (Icterus parisorum). This is a yellow and black oriole. Again, there were several plumages seen with male (solid black head – 2nd photo), female (a little black on throat) and first year male with a partial black head.

This Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens) was seen on the ground at the drip. It is unusual to find flycatchers on the ground. The yellow belly is quite pale on this bird compared to other USA myiarchus species.

The next bird is another flycatcher – Cassin’s Kingbird (Tyrannus vociferans). It has a dark gray breast and yellow belly. Of the similar species Tropical, Cassin’s, Western and Couch’s Kingbirds, the Cassin’s has the darkest gray on throat and breast.

The Rufous-crowned Sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps) is a western USA sparrow found on rocky hillsides. As the name implies, it has a bright rufous top of head. It is IDed by the white eye-ring and black whiskers at the border of the white throat. The breast is not streaked.

The last bird was another lifer for me, the Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus). This is a bird of the southwestern USA-Mexico border region. It is black with 2 white tail stripes, one wider than the other. A pair of these birds flew over and I was able to get this photo.

All comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Happy birding and photography,
David McDonald

photos copyright 2009 David McDonald
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