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

52 thoughts on “Birding in the New Year

  1. Good grief, Bob! It almost takes longer to get to the box at the bottom of all your super comments than to read your post! I particularly like the photograph of the White-crowned sparrow! It’s a ‘hum-dinger’!

    Take care


      • Bob,

        I’m glad to know that I’m in good company, not being the first to make the nomination. But once you receive it, you have to blog about the award using the following criteria. You have to thank the nominator. You have to list seven things people don’t know about you and you need to list up to 15 other bloggers for the same award. That’s why I put my link in so you could see it. If you haven’t read it, I was nominated last March and finally got around to fulfilling the requirements.

        Have at it, Bob. You deserve it.


  2. Pingback: Better late than not at all: Humbly accepting the Versatile Blogger Award | Roadkill Crossing, and other tales from Amish Country

  3. only seen a couple of Cinnamon Teals but they are unforgettable-so brilliant! Neat to see it with a blue winged teal. i think it is hard to get cose to a Red-tailed hawk-they usually take off. Nice shot.

    • I thought that was a neat co-incidence too, to see them together like that. When it comes to Red-tails, or any hawk for that matter, you have to move stealthly and make no sudden moves. 🙂 Thanks for the comment, Jane.

    • It is easy the first few days of the year to add species because I’m starting all over. But it feels good to get a little momentum. Thanks for your comments and compliments, David. I really appreciate it. 🙂

  4. Love the sparrow..and especially the flowers budding..Redtail is fabulous, but I really like your ducks..the photo may not be what you call great, but I love the back lighting and the water with its glow under the ducks completes the scene. I am impressed by your bird count for the year..Have a great day..I am painting a herd of buffalos am off to the wild wild west of Wyoming..

    • The White-crowned Sparrow was photographed in the summer and that is a Red-blossoming Yucca that he is sitting on. Painting those buffalo sounds exciting. Thanks for the comment, Syl.

  5. 33 birds in one day is amazing! I’ve seen about five different species so far this year – all from the kitchen window as the weather’s too awful to go out. Love the sparrow pic especially.

  6. Such an amazing adventure, Bob. You didn’t just think, but got up and did. Great, Bob. You inspire me. 🙂 I’m in love with the first photo. The bird is cute and has chosen a beautiful blossoming place to sit. It is perfect. 🙂

    • Yes, it certainly is. All of my photos are available in print. Just tell me what size you like, 8×10, 11×14 or other size. Tell me where you live also, and I can quote you a price. Oh, also, let me know if you want me to frame or if you plan on having the framing done. 🙂 Thanks, Lynda.

  7. That hawk shot is great, and its sharpness is outstanding. I have great difficulty achieving such results while hiking with my 100-400mm lens, even with its Image Stabilization. You got a very sharp image with a relatively long exposure time of 1/500 sec. How did you support the camera and lens for that shot? If it was handheld, I can only say, “Wow!”

  8. 194 is nothing to sneeze at – it’s great! Love the first shot, the flowers are a nice touch! GREAT shot of the hawk – I like how you are able to capture these birds in many non-typical poses, but always being able to see their eyes!

    • Thanks, Holly. When photographing wildlife, it is important be able to show the eyes if possible. And if the eyes are not sharp the whole photo will be poor. If the eyes are sharp, everything falls into place. Thanks for the great comment, Holly. 🙂

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