Ft. Davis and Davis Mountains Revisited


Well, after our aborted trip last month, we finally got it right this time.  We arrived at our destination, the Davis Mountains Inn Bed and Breakfast around 1:30 on Monday afternoon.  That’s our room behind the french doors on the right.

Davis Mountains Inn

Davis Mountains Inn

Since we had a couple of hours to kill before checking in, we decided to visit the Davis Mountains State Park, and have a look at the bird viewing center.  Within a short time we caught glimpses of the following.

Summer Tanager - female

Summer Tanager – female

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Western Scrub-Jay

Western Scrub-Jay

While all of that was going on, this squirrel decided to have a look, too.

Squirrel

Squirrel

After spending about an hour and a half there, it was time to go check in at the inn.  We had a nice room, with a king-sized bed.  It also had a jacuzzi which we didn’t use, mainly because of a previous experience with one, that we had at another place.  But that’s another funny story, for another time.  Remind me to tell you all it about sometime.

Because of a family emergency with the owners of the inn, they were unable to cook breakfast for us the following morning.  However, they also own the Fort Davis Drug Store in Fort Davis.  It doubles as a restaurant, so they paid for our meal there.

Following breakfast we decided to take the scenic loop that goes northwest towards the heart of the Davis Mountains, then circles south of them and eventually returns to the city of Fort Davis.  This loop goes to the McDonald Observatory atop Mt. Locke, elevation 6,791 feet, and about a mile above the desert below.

Approaching Mt. Locke and the McDonald Observatory

Approaching Mt. Locke and the McDonald Observatory

Atop Mt. Locke

Atop Mt. Locke

View from Mt. Locke

View from Mt. Locke

McDonald Observatory

McDonald Observatory

The last time we had visited the observatory a few years ago, we were accosted by a wintery blast as a blue norther blew in as we were atop the mountain.  We hastily made for the visitors center where we were forced to buy some warm jackets.  This time it was cool, but comfortable.

As we continued around the drive heading back towards to Fort Davis, we saw several birds, and added to our 2014 Big Year List, a Canyon Wren, Wilson’s Warbler, and the Acorn Woodpecker, bringing our current total to 185.  Another 15 to go, and we still have three months left.

We also saw this peculiar collection of boulders.  You have to use your imagination to wonder how these ended up in this position.  They are about 15 feet tall.  I wish I had posed Ann in the photo so you could see the size.

Boulders

Boulders

After getting back to the inn, we decided to take a well-deserved nap. Following that, we then went into Fort Davis, which was only a half mile away, and ate a patty melt at the drugstore slash restaurant.  Another filling meal, then relaxed on the patio before turning in for the evening.

On Wednesday, after a scrumptious breakfast of poached eggs and sausage, we went back to the Davis Mountains SP.  Here are a few of the highlights of that visit.

Lesser Goldfinch - juvenile male

Lesser Goldfinch – juvenile male

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker

Say's Phoebe

Say’s Phoebe

We then made a short trip to the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and it was humming with hummingbirds.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird or possibly a Black-chinned.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird or possibly a Black-chinned.

female Rufous Hummingbird

female Rufous Hummingbird

On Thursday morning, it was time to say goodbye to the Davis Mountains.  I am sure we will return soon.   In all we saw a grand total of 42 different species at various times of our journey.

Nighthawks – A Mother and Child


Today has been a drizzly day.  We started to the blind at San Angelo State Park, then thought better of it.  From the direction of the wind, I knew that the drizzly rain would be blowing right back into my lens.  Then, besides, we considered that the birds probably wouldn’t be very active.

So back to the house.  Rats!  Just couldn’t think of anything to write about so started browsing through my archives.  I came across these images that I had taken several years ago, long before I started shooting RAW.  The JPEG files looked good so I started editing them

But here is the story.  About 8:30AM one morning, I got a call from a lady that was opening up her store over near the Village Shopping Center.  She had parked in back of the building, and was going to enter her rear door.  As she walked up, she spotted to creatures on the ground near the structure.  She called me and asked me to come over and identify them.

As I drove up then, at first I couldn’t make out what they were from the car.  As I walked up, though, I recognized them immediately.  They were an adult Common Nighthawk and a young one. Nighthawks don’t nest in the usual sense.  They lay there eggs on the bare ground, usually in some pebbles, etc.  I suspect the nesting area of these two were nearby, at the base of the building wall somewhere.  But there was no way of knowing for sure.

I got my cameras out of the car and commenced trying to get photos.  At first, the chick skittered away from the mom.  I tried to keep a reasonable distance, as I could see he/she was getting stressed.  Finally, the mother moved back closer.  These are two of the many exposures I was to get.

Adult Common Nighthawk with chick

Adult Common Nighthawk with chick

Common Nighthawk chick

Common Nighthawk chick

I hope you enjoy this post and photos.  Ann and I are leaving Monday morning to go back to Fort Davis.  As you know, we tried this trip a couple of weeks ago, but had to return home after I had a medical problem.  Looking back, I believe that I had got bitten by some spider, etc., and had an allergic reaction.  But all is well now, and I hope to have success in getting some new photos of the birds from that area.  So I won’t be blogging until later in the week, probably around next Friday.

Happy Anniversary To Me!


WordPress notified me that today was my fifth year anniversary of my blog.  I didn’t see that coming or I would have opened a bottle of champagne.  It seems like only yesterday, well, maybe the day before.

In those five years, I have had 153,529 views.  That’s the count as I begin to write this.  I have 1,848 subscribed readers in 156 countries, not to mention all of the readers that I have that are not subscribers.  As I write this, which is, by the way, my 789th post, I ponder how in the world was I ever able to think of something to write – 789 times.

Anyway, I wish to thank all of you readers that continue to read my posts.  Some of you make comments and I have gotten to know you.  I wish some others would comment, also, as it is so reassuring to know that there are so many more readers out there, that I don’t know.  If I hadn’t ever gotten any comments, I would probably have terminated this blog long ago.  But as long as I know that someone out there is listening, I will try to continue.

Here are a few photos from the past few days.  Ann and I have taken a few short forays into the local parks to see if anything new has arrived.  Hope you enjoy them.  Click on any of them to see enlargements.

Here is the first Yellow Warbler of the new season.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

A rare Zoned-Hawk making an appearance.  I photographed this one this morning.  Actually, I saw him the first time a few days ago.

Zone-tailed Hawk

Zone-tailed Hawk

This Green Heron was in a tree contemplating the world.

Green Heron

Green Heron

A familiar Eastern Phoebe.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Ann and I are again, going back to the Fort Davis and the Davis Mountains, leaving Monday for three days.  We had to cut our previous attempt short because of a medical problem.  This time we hope to get it right.

If some of you readers would like to subscribe, click on “Sign Me Up”, on the right side of this page.  You will be notified by e-mail whenever I publish a new post.

Good day for birding on Friday


I had gotten an e-mail from a friend, saying that he had seen some Mississippi Kites along the Concho River downtown.  So after eating an early breakfast at Stango’s in town, we decided to prowl along the river to see if we could see one of the kites.  We got more than we expected.

First of all, we spotted a Coopers’s Hawk across the river.  I almost missed him as he was partly hidden from branches, but enough of him showed up in the early morning light.  Although a long way across, I tried to get him in my viewfinder and snapped of a few shots.  Fortuntely I was using my new Tamron 150-600mm lens.  I was at the extreme end at 600mm, and this is the result I got.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

We saw a Green Heron fly by us and settle down by the water, so we followed it and stopped along the road.  I got out of the car and walked closer to the shore.  It was across the water about 100 yards away.  Again, the Tamron lens came through for me.

Green Heron

Green Heron

We saw a couple of Great Blue Herons, but I didn’t like the images.  They were too contrasty in the light.  Oh yes, we did see a couple of Mississippi Kites, but they were too far away, even for my long lens.

We then decided to head to Spring Creek Park, where we had previously seen the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.  They had decided to fly elsewhere, but we saw another Eastern Phoebe.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Then we came across another bird, that we thought was another phoebe.  I took several photos of it, and only after we got home and I was able to enlarge the image for a closer look, did I discover it was an Eastern Wood Pewee.  You can see the similarities.

Eastern Wood Pewee

Eastern Wood Pewee

After that we drove down near where the river gets wider.  Ann saw this larger heron type bird fly across us and land near the the opposite shore.  At first, I thought it was another Great Blue Heron, when it flew over the car.  An illusion of course, as it turned out to be a smaller juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron.  Unfortunately, it was right next to a piece of trash, and it wasn’t going to walk around it.  Neither could I figure out how to remove such a large portion of the photo, so I just decided to leave it as.

1st year Yellow-crowned Night Heron

1st year Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Leaving that park, we headed over to Middle Concho Park, actually just on the other side of the river.  There wasn’t much going on there, except this little Black-crested Titmouse in a small tree.

Black-crested Titmouse

Black-crested Titmouse

We will be going out this weekend for more fun and birding so stay tuned for whatever we may come across.  Click on any image to see enlargements.

Catching a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher


It has been about four years since I had seen a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.  That was on a trip to the Big Bend National Park.  On our local Tom Green County Bird Checklist, it is listed as “rare, very hard to find, not present every year”.  So it was a thrill when Ann and I saw a pair of them Wednesday morning.  We were at Spring Creek Park, prowling along the perimeter, driving slowly by the thick brush and vegetation.  It was very quiet when some movement in the thicket caught our attention.  I stopped the car about 20 feet away.  We saw a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, then a Bewick’s Wren.

We were thinking that was the complete show, when we saw a blueish flash fluttering in the bushes.  They were the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.  They left the brush and flew into a nearby pecan tree, but quickly returned to the thick brush.  We could see them but not very distinctly.  Then we got lucky.  One of them hopped out onto the wire fence that ran along the brush line.  I was able to get the following images  before we lost them again.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

I hope you enjoyed these photos as much as I did obtaining them.  Click on any of  them to see enlargements.

All About Hummingbirds


I have discovered that I have never, in my years of posting on this blog, did a post exclusively about hummingbirds.  I don’t know why that is, but one possibility is that I have a hard time with the identification of the different birds.  Another possible reason is that in my area there is only one dominant hummer; the Black-chinned Hummingbird.  And of course, most of them are the dull, unattractive females.  So I guess I ignored them most of the time.  Oh, did I forget to mention that they are danged hard to photograph, too.

But going back through my photos, I found that I did in fact photograph a few individuals in my travels over the years.  I noticed that I did a pretty good job when I decided to give it a try.  I am not going to try to tell you that I am an expert on these things.  The following photos are for your enjoyment, and if I mis-identified any of them let me know.

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird - singing in the rain

Black-chinned Hummingbird – singing in the rain

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbirds

Sub-adult Rufous Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

And finally an Anna’s Hummingbird resting on Ann’s hand after being banded by Kelly Bryan at Far Flung Outdoor Center, during a banding event.  Seconds later it flew off.  Ann said she could feel the bird’s little heart beating through her hand.

Anna's Hummingbird resting in a comfortable place.

Anna’s Hummingbird resting in a comfortable place.

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  Perhaps, in the near future, I may decide to photograph a few more of these species.  Stay tuned…..

Click on any image to see an enlargement.

 

 

 

 

Special Note to my Readers


SPECIAL NOTE TO MY READERS:  You may have noticed that my blog posts were slow in coming the approximately four months.  You may have also seen my many references to my health.  It started about four months ago when my testosterone got too high and it caused my red cells to produce to a high rate.  That lead to reverse transfusions to drain off blood.  About the same time I had problems with my blood pressure raising out of sight.  That lead to having my blood pressure meds changed.  That new med, with a bunch of side effects was what caused me the many problems.  Constant light-headedness, disorientation, to feeling like I could pass out any minute.  I could never trust myself to walk very far.  I would have a day that I thought I was back to normal, then the following day it was reversed again.  The doctors would change the doses frequently, assuring me that I would get used to them and the side effects would be gone.

So, finally, after four months of ER visits, changing or adjusting meds, and many doctor visits, I feel like a normal human being.  But there were costs.  One was that I had to discourage a dear friend to not visit as she had planned back in mid-July.  I was unable to help Ann with the yard work, but she carried on without me.  I never knew on any given day, which Bob would show up.  I was not a happy person.  I was bothered with depression at times, having crying jags for no reason.

But that is all over now, and wish to thank all of you readers for your continued support and your get well wishes throughout my ordeal.

So now I am happy to be back to happy birding and blogging!!