Birding Big Bend Again March 2011 – Part I


Back from our favorite haunts again.  Our stay at the Lajitas House was just great.  Large, spacious, quiet and comfortable.  We sat and watched birds and quail come up on our patio.  At night the stars were so bright it was almost blinding.

Scaled Quail on the patio

The first day, Tuesday, we went into Big Bend NP to check out some birding places.  We stopped at the ruins of Sam Neal’s house that stood over 100 years ago.  The vegetation and trees are all grown up, but there is a little shaded area that is frequented by birds of all types.  Thrashers, thrushers, sparrows, towhees. 

Common Black-hawk

While there we visited with another birder/photographer, Cindy McIntyre,  (http://cindymcintyre.blogspot.com) from Maine.  She is a Big Bend NP ranger.  She had been to Rio Grande Village, an RV camping area on the on eastern side of the park.  She told us about two rare Common Black-hawks that were nesting there.  She said the site was easy to see, as the park service had the area marked with signage, to protect the birds.

Vermilion Flycatcher

So as you would guess, on Wednesday we headed over there.  Sure enough.  We spotted one hawk almost immediately.  It was sitting on a branch in plain sight.  A great photo opportunity, and I took advantage of it.  It was also another lifer for me, number 222.  Previously, I thought I had already reached 222 but found that I had erroneously added a Purple Finch to my list, when I have actually never seen that bird.

In a nearby area, we saw several Vermilion Flycatchers moving around.  They are tiny, flighty, creatures that can’t sit one spot more than a couple of seconds, and also dificult to get close to.  However, I was able to get my 500mm with a tele-converter, mounted on a tripod, about 35 yards away.

Click on any photo so see an enlargement.

Coming soon, Part II.  I will tell you some more about the trip and our experiences.

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14 thoughts on “Birding Big Bend Again March 2011 – Part I

  1. Hello, Bob!
    I learned of you from a lady I work with, and have been enjoying your blog. I’ve identified several birds I’ve been wondering about, just from your wonderful pictures! I am fascinated by all manner of Texas’ critters and plantlife. I see many varieties during the course of my job, with takes me on a 400 mile drive down toward Comstock and up near Robert Lee. Which brings me to the reason for my post on this page! Yesterday, my crew and I stopped for a break on Highway 163 south, in the Hudspeth River Ranch area. We had been watching the vultures circles high above, but were surprised by a loud, close hawk cry. I knew vultures could not make that noise, but sorting out what I believe to be a Common Black-hawk from them was a challenge! She came fairly close in one dive at us, so I did get a pretty good look!

    • Hi Pam, thanks for writing. I’m glad you are enjoying my blog. That’s great, your sighting of the Common Black-hawk. Please visit and write again. If you get to the San Angelo area look us up and we’ll give you the “tour”.

      Bob

  2. Another vicarious adventure for me. So glad to hear you enjoyed yourself and you came back with some wonderful images. I often wonder about scientists’ predilection for using the word ‘common’ in nomenclature. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read “rare Common Black-hawk”. Seems like a bit of an oxymoron! 🙂

  3. Love the Vermilion Flycatcher. Back in 1989 I just moved to Wickenburg AZ and we had stopped at the rest area south of town and that is where I saw my first one. I went back on numerous occasions and ultimately painted him on canvas. They are delightful birds.

  4. Hi Bob – glad you got a good view (and image) of the Common Black Hawk at RGV. I found out that afternoon that I saw you at Sam Nail Ranch that there was a pair of Gray Hawks at Cottonwood Campground at a nest – I guess it was their 3rd year. I will post my blog pix soon. Nice job on the other bird pix, too!

    • Rats! Now I gotta make another trip back to check out the Gray Hawks. 🙂 A good excuse to go back, right?? Thanks for the kind words. I have added you to my blogroll. Thanks, Cindy.

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