Birding in the New Year

Well, like a lot of other bloggers have said in their posts, 2011 is over and we are all making plans for 2012.

My birding goal of species seen for 2011 had been 200.  The number of species that I had hoped to see in the year.  My actual total turned out to be 194.  I should have been paying closer attention and maybe I might have reached 200.  But I got slow in keeping up with my count, and if I had realized I was so close, I may have made a big push at the end.  So we start all over again, and my goal now for 2012 is 225,and the first one I saw Monday morning on our back patio, was a White-crowned Sparrow.

White-crowned Sparrow

Later in the day, I decided I didn’t want to sit and watch football games.  I got restless, thinking about my new goals, so I thought I better get off my butt and get started.  We drove to Middle Concho and Spring Creek Parks.  It was very quiet, as in no people around.  They’re all home watching football games.  We had the place practically to ourselves and we managed to pick up 32 more species, to give us a start of 33 on our goal.

Red-tailed Hawk

One of those 33 was this Red-tailed Hawk.  As we were leaving the park, he was sitting in the grass on the other side of a little slough that branched off of the river.  We were about 75 yards away, and I managed a few grab-shots.  Nothing to write home about, but then he took off and landed in a tree back on the other side back in the boundaries of the park.

I turned around, drove back 100 yards or so, and pulled off the road.  I picked up my Canon 7D with a Canon 100-400mm lens, got out of the car and started hiking.  I could see the tree that he was in but I needed to circle around so I had better light, as the the sun was starting to get lower in the sky.  As I circled I kept a distance of about 60 yards between me and the tree, so as not to startle the bird.  When I was in a good position, and I had a good line of sight through the tree branches, I started creeping closer.  I would take a shot or two, then advance another 10 yards or so.  This image was one of my final shots, taken from about 20 yards.

So with a nice hawk photo and some other good species seen, I felt we were off to a good start.  I got photos of a Cinnamon Teal and a Blue-winged Teal,  both of which I failed to get a good image of last year.  And how about this, they were swimming next to each other.  That in itself wouldn’t be unusual, but it was the only Blue-winged Teal on the river, and there was only one other Cinnamon as well.  This is one of the images that I captured of the two.  I don’t usually post photos of such poor quality, but I just wanted to show you the pair.  The sun was low and I was shooting almost into it making for exposure difficulty.

Blue-winged and Cinnamon Teals

Here is the list of our 33 species to start the year.

  1. White-crowned Sparrow  5
  2. Northern Mockingbird  4
  3. American Coots  50+
  4. Golden-fronted Woodpecker  4
  5. Great Egret  2
  6. Yellow-rumped Warbler  6
  7. Black-crested Titmouse  2
  8. House Finch  16
  9. Western Meadowlark  27
  10. Great Blue Heron  4
  11. Northern Shovelers  9
  12. White-winged Dove  11
  13. European Starling  12
  14. Pied-billed Grebe  2
  15. Double-crested Cormorants 10
  16. Cinnamon Teal  2
  17. Great-tailed Grackle  18
  18. Common Grackle  12
  19. Eastern Bluebird  15
  20. Red-tailed Hawk  1
  21. Black Vulture  2
  22. Ring-billed Gull  20+
  23. American Robin  7
  24. Cedar Waswing  18
  25. Northern Flicker  1
  26. Killdeer  1
  27. Curved-bill Thrasher  1
  28. Red-winged Blackbird  12
  29. Gadwall  4
  30. Belted Kingfisher  1
  31. Eared Grebe  1
  32. Song Sparrow 15
  33. Blue-winged Teal  1

So the year is off an running.  So stay tuned for new posts about photography, wildlife, birding, and of course more photographs