Friday, May 8, 2009

Bulletin #78 – West Texas – Davis Mountains #2

David McDonald Photography
Friendswood Texas
May 8, 2009

Bulletin #78 – West Texas – Davis Mountains #2

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.

There were several species of warblers in the area. The most important is Grace’s Warbler (Dendroica graciae). This was a lifer for me. It is very similar to the Yellow-throated Warbler of the east, but has a yellow stripe over the eye rather than white. The Grace’s does not have the vertical white stripe behind the cheek that is seen on the Yellow-throated. Here is a second photo of the bird.

The Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata) exists in two forms that used to be considered separate species. The eastern (Myrtle) form has a white throat. The western (Audubon’s) has a yellow throat. Both these birds were at the feeding station in Davis Mountains State Park and allowed nice comparisons of the plumage distinction. Here are the 2 birds with Myrtle the first photo and Audubon’s the second.

A new bird photo for me was the Plumbeous Vireo (Vireo plumbeus). This is a bird of the western mountains. It is a split from the old Solitary Vireo and thus has the grayish head and white ‘spectacles’. They are generally mostly gray and may have a slight yellow wash on the flanks as does this bird. It was IDed by voice by our guide. The hooked upper mandible typical of vireos is plainly seen.

Here is a Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelecoma californica). This species may be split once again, according to Sibley, as the Pacific coast birds are quite different from the interior birds – voice and some plumage.

Here is the female Hepatic Tanager (Piranga flava). She is mostly yellow with grayish cheeks.

Next is a female Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens). This nifty looking bird is all gray with 2 wing bars, a bushy crest and a bright red eye. The male is all glossy black without any wing bars.

Here is a female Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena). She is grayish with pale rusty breast, 2 white wing bars and a faint blue wash on the wings and tail. Here is a second photo.

Lastly is an up close and personal look at a male Bronzed Cowbird (Molothrus aeneus). He was so close that I couldn’t get him all in the photo. He is all black with a bright red eye.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald


photos copyright 2009 David McDonald

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