Suzanne and Sid Johnson reported that they had seen a Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens) on January 8, 2011 at San Angelo State Park. I have been watching for it since, but had believed that it had left the building. But this evening, Ann and I got lucky. We had been out at the park, doing a little TLC at the bird blind and were leaving the park. Just a little south of the gatehouse, there it was atop a mesquite tree, about 75 yards away.
I was wondering if I could be lucky enough to get a shot of it before it flew. First, I took a few exposures from the window of the van with my Canon 7d and 100-400mm lens. Then I grabbed my other 7d with a 500mm set-up and got out of the van, trying to get just a little closer. I managed to get a few shots hand-holding the 500mm. Well, I thought I am doing all right so Ann volunteered to run back to the van and get my 1.4 converter and tripod. I couldn’t believe my luck that the bird stayed in place for so long. In all, I shot 130 images, before finally a Northern Mockingbird decided to give chase, and drove off ths Phainopepla.
I have attached one of the better images. Lifer number 219 for me. If you click on it and enlarge it, you can make out the red eye.