Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bulletin #101 – Misc Texas birds

David McDonald Photography
Friendswood Texas

January 31, 2010

Bulletin #101 – Misc Texas birds

Hello friends,

Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR produced some other birds as well as the Sprague's Pipits that I showed in Bulletin 100. It was a very cold morning (18 degrees F) and many birds were quite sluggish and just content to get out of the wind and into the sunshine.

Here is an Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe). He sat on a branch along an embankment. He was unfazed that I drove up right beside him and took his photo out the car window from 15' away. Notice he is hunched down and has his feathers fluffed out for warmth.

There was also a large hawk in a tree, that was facing away from me. He was all brown and I couldn't ID him until I got home and looked closely at the photos. There are really no marks. However, the important finding that IDs the bird is the long primary wing extensions beyond the tail. This is a 1st year White-tailed Hawk (Buteo albicaudatus). The other unusual characteristic I have found with this species is that they are very trusting and one can approach them closer than other species of raptors.

Most of the water on the refuge had frozen. It led to some interesting sights. Here is a White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi) standing on a sheet of ice.

The few areas that had open water had huge numbers of ducks. When they flew up, there were so many that one could hear the noise from thousands of wings.

Many of you know that the shrikes are called butcher birds. They catch insects and small reptiles and then impale them on a thorn or barbed wire to store them. I have seen photos of these shrike pantries, but never seen it. This was my lucky day. I saw a Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) sitting on a barbed wire fence. I noticed something glistening beside him. When I looked at it, it was a large grasshopper impaled on a barb. These large grasshoppers were the only insects that I saw moving that cold morning. Afterwards I found a second grasshopper on the fence in a different area of the preserve. Sort of a gruesome photo, but part of nature.

At LaFitte's Cove in Galveston, I found a pair of Roseate Spoonbills (Ajaia ajaja) feeding along the edge of the marsh. As I watched them and took photos, one bit the other on the leg as seen in the second photo.

There was an Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata) that was at arm's length away from the camera. They are among the plainest of the warblers with an overall olive coloration. However, some of them have gray heads like this one and the faint breast streaking can be clearly seen.

Yesterday I drove down to Beeville, Texas near Corpus Christi to see a female Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe). This Eurasian species is found in Alaska and Canada's arctic islands in the summer and is supposed to winter in Africa. How this bird ended up in central Texas is a mystery. But that is one of the interesting thing about birding, is that you just never know what bird will show up. This is only the second record for Texas. In the field guides, it is in the same section as the thrush family (turdidae). In fact it is a member of the chats and old world flycatcher family (muscicapidae). It is a small (5.75") plump gray bird with white breast and faint rusty wash on the throat. This was a lifer for me.

Now some exciting news for all you birding/photography enthusiasts. I will be leading a 9 day bird photography tour to Costa Rica in conjunction with Lillian Scott-Baer of Baer Travel in March 2011. We have worked out an itinerary to visit La Selva Preserve, Savegre Mountain Hotel in the central mountains for Resplendant Quetzal and other montane species and Wilson Botanical Gardens (Las Cruces). We have also retained the services of local guide, Rudy Zamora, to accompany us and locate and ID the birds for us to photograph. We will also have beautiful flowers and hopefully some mammals - tamanduas, monkeys etc as well.

The price will be $1960 double to $2380 single. This includes hotels, all meals, guide, transportation in Costa Rica etc. The only other cost will be airfare to Costa Rica, items of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, souvenirs etc), tips for guide and driver and $26 Costa Rica departure tax . Space is limited to 10 persons to maximize our opportunity to see and photograph the birds. I will have more details and the complete itinerary in February. I have birded in Costa Rica previously. It is a wonderful country to visit and the bird life is exceptional. I hope that you can join us.

All comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.
Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald


photos copyright 2010 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask for subscribe.

No comments: