A Kingfisher, a Sandpiper, a Killdeer, and a Coopers Hawk….


All of them walked into a bar.

The bartender said, “What it this, a joke?”

Okay, so I have a hard time getting started on writing these posts.  I admit it.  But the above mentioned birds are the ones that Ann and I saw Friday morning on a drive around Middle Concho and Spring Creek Parks.  The water is still low there, down about 24 inches.  However there is hope that it will rise a bit soon, as water may flow again from Twin Buttes Reservoir.  Behind that dam, water is being pumped from the south pool, which is higher, to the lower south pool.  The south pool is where the gates are that release water downstream to Lake Nasworthy and these parks.

First up, we spotted a Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquatus) on a wire over the river, but before I could get set up for a shot, it flew to the other bank and perched in a tree. With the help of my Noodle on the window sill, I was able to train my Canon EOS 7D and 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-converter on it.  As the bird was quite tiny anyway, from that distance, and I couldn’t crop it as tight as I would have liked..  This image is the result.

Belted Kingfisher in tree

Driving further on, we came upon a small inlet that was nearly dry, but there was a Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) grazing in it.

Solitary Sandpiper

Sandpipers are one of my least favorite shorebirds to try and identify.  When we first spotted it, my first immediate thought was Greater Yellowlegs.  But then after getting several images, and consulting my Stokes Guide to birds of North America, I felt comfortable IDing it as the Solitary Sandpiper.

In the same area were a couple of Killdeers (Charadrius vociferus).  One was an adult, the other a juvenile.  The adult was nearer the open water.

Killdeer – juvenile

Killdeer – adult

Just before we decided to call it a day, we glanced toward a grassy picnic area, and there was a hawk in the shadows, walking in the grass.  He was about seventy-five feet away.  I got the camera and 500mm lens up on the Noodle and window sill again and snapped a few images before it flew off.  As I mentioned, the bird was in the shadows, but there was a bright background making exposure difficult.  I really wasn’t able to get a true identification as a Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) until I got it in the computer and was able to brighten the exposure.

Cooper’s Hawk

Click on any image to enjoy enlargements.

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32 thoughts on “A Kingfisher, a Sandpiper, a Killdeer, and a Coopers Hawk….

  1. Bob, I am so glad to see that even an expert birder like you can have trouble with identifying the shorebirds sometimes! I’m just home from Maine and I took lots of shorebird pictures, and I’m doing my best to sort through them and try to identify – pipers, plovers, piping plovers – ay yi yi! ;-)

    • I am far from being an expert, but I do try to be as accurate as possible. I am always poring over my guides. But when it comes to those birds you mentioned, holy cow, the almost all look alike. :-) Thanks for the comment, Karen.

  2. When the kids go back to school in a week’s time, and the dust settles for me with PTA must-do’s, I plan on taking a pool noodle and my camera equipment out for a day of shooting! I’m excited to learn this technique of spying from my car. I have several stops planned. Stay tuned.

  3. Oh the Kingfisher looks so beautiful, as do the other birds too! :) The leaves behind the Kingfisher makes the photograph very good. Loved them, Bob.

    • Thanks so much, David. I apprecite your comment. It keeps me busy going out daily and trying to come up with these images. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. :-)

    • I couldn’t get close either. This bird was about 125 yards away, need binoculars to spot it. I used my 500mm and tele-converter, then still had to crop it quite a bit to get this result. Thanks for the comment, Cindy

  4. Glad to see you’re still getting good use out of your Noodle Bob. I like mine so much I risked life and limb to retrieve it when it blew out of my window at 70mph on I-15 in Montana a few weeks ago. Good thing it was Montana and there wasn’t much traffic. I especially like the adult Killdeer you’ve presented here.

    • Yeah, it sure is getting a lot of use. You would love it here, we have the wide open spaces, our speed limits in west Texas on the Interstates is 80mph. Of course, we have the heat. Can’t do much about that. Just find a bush to crawl under. :-) Thanks for the comment, Ron. Always nice to hear from you.

  5. Hi, Bob, There seems to be a lot of variation in the markings of the Cooper’s Hawk…. Your photo gives a much clearer set of markings than I’ve seen. I wonder if it varies with age, or if it’s like the Red-tail which has a vast variety of markings too.

    Great photos as usual… Many thanks.

  6. I did not know that the same shorebirds would be up here and down there at the same time – I always think of Texas as a winter home only for many of our birds. Maybe some are a little lazier than others.

    • The Solitary Sandpiper leaves here, probably headed for your area, around the end of April. They return here around the end of July. This one may have been in your backyard last week. :-)

  7. Beautiful as always, Bob! I really like how you captured the belted kingfisher, he looks like an angry bird with that spiked hair (OK, feather :) )

  8. I love the Belted Kingfisher..what a great bird..the photos are awesome..I really enjoy the shore birds as we have so very few. The Cooper Hawk is quite stately handsome bird..good shots..I love your posts..especially when you add your special touch of humor..take care..look forward to new photos..

    • Thank you, Syl. I think the Belted Kingfisher is a real cutie. I love that his bill is nearly the size of his body, or in this case, her body. It is a female of the species. I appreciate your comments.

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