Great Surprises Await….If You Go

In her post, Mia McPherson talked abut not giving up on a trip if the weather doesn’t fit or if you think it is going to be a bad day.  If you don’t go, you will always wonder what you might have missed.  That bit of wisdom served Ann and I rightfully so on Monday morning.

The temperature was low 40s, very cloudy.  A glum day if ever there would be one.  We decided to go, even though we were thinking that there would be few birds and not very much excitement.  Boy, were we wrong.

We decided to go to Middle Concho Park.  We drove in the entrance and headed for the river area.  I looked to the left and said, “Hey, Ann, there’s a Great Egret!”  She answered, “No, that’s a Snowy!”  We did a double-take and saw there was one of each standing about four feet apart.  I turned down the road to the left, whipped a U-turn so I could photograph out my window.  I was able to get images of each one.

Snowy Egret

Great Egret

I started to drive straight ahead and Ann exclaimed, “Bob, up in that tree dead ahead!”  I looked and there was a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk staring down at us.  I turned the car to the right temporarily so I could again use my window and got a nice image of the hawk.

Red-tailed Hawk – juvenile

I straightened the car and we continued.  We immediately saw a Golden-fronted Woodpecker in a tree to our right, then saw eight American Coots in the water to our left.  At this point, we had been in the park only about five minutes.   Later I photographed another Great Blue Heron across the water.

Great Blue Heron

After turning at the end of the park and started coming back, we saw several vultures flying through the park.  At one point I thought I saw one land on a tree branch about forty feet to my left.  I looked at it again, and realized it wasn’t a vulture, but a Zone-tailed Hawk.  A certain rarity for this area as they don’t come around here hardly at all.  I couldn’t believe my good fortune, and I got some great images of it with my Canon 7D and 100-400mm lens.

Zone-tailed Hawk

Soon after that, I looked across the river about 200 yards away, and I said, “Ann, there’s that Kingfisher again.”  It seems that they are always far off and this was certainly no exception.  I used my 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-converter and rattled off a few shots.  Because of the extreme distance, I wasn’t able to crop as close as I did for the one in my prior post.

Belted Kingfisher

After that, we moved to Spring Creek Park and added more birds to our list of sightings for the day.  So it turned out to be an exciting morning.  We’re glad that we didn’t let the weather change our mind about going.  We were having so much fun that we didn’t notice how cool it was.  In all we saw twenty-seven species.  Not bad for about three hours.  Here is complete list.

  1. Northern Mockingbird   4
  2. White-winged Dove   5
  3. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher   2
  4. Turkey Vulture   11
  5. House Sparrow   9
  6. House Finch   5
  7. Eastern Bluebird   14
  8. Great Blue Heron   4
  9. Snowy Egret   1
  10. Great Egret   1
  11. Great-tailed Grackle   15
  12. Red-tailed Hawk   1
  13. Golden-fronted Woodpecker   3
  14. Pied-billed Grebe   4
  15. Belted Kingfisher   3
  16. Zone-tailed Hawk   1
  17. Black Vulture   3
  18. Barn Swallow   3
  19. American Coot   8
  20. Killdeer   1
  21. Mallard   4
  22. Northern Cardinal   2
  23. Red-winged Blackbird   30
  24. Yellow-rumped Warbler   1
  25. Black-crowned Heron   2
  26. Common Grackle   9
  27. Mute Swan   1

Enjoy the photos, and click any of them to see enlargements.  P.S. My Blurb publisher has offered a 20% discount on my book, “Birds, Beasts and Buttes”.  Click this link, Bob”s Book.  Use the code  FANS  at checkout.

36 thoughts on “Great Surprises Await….If You Go

  1. Great photos as always. I hate to comment on this old of a post, but I’m a firm believer that wildlife is more active in cool, low light conditions, if only because there is less human activity then.

  2. There’s not much point stopping for the weather around here, since it can change in a blink. 🙂 I, for one, am glad that you and Ann went out in spite of the weather because I enjoyed the images and the story in this post so much. (Of course, I always do, even if I don’t stop to comment.)

    • Thank you very much, Ron. That was only the second Zone-tailed that I had ever seen, and it took me by surprise that it landed so close to me. It stay only a few seconds, but that was all I needed.

  3. You have definitely proved your own point there, Bob – your superb photos are proof enough! We would do well to remember that here, too – we are often discouraged by cloudy skies.

  4. never let the weather get you down, that is my motto, glad that you went anyway, snowed on hawk ridge on saturday, but we got a closeup view of the songbird banding, kept most weekenders away, love your hawks, thanks MJ

  5. What a neat 3 hours!! I bet you and Ann just didn’t know which way to look. The egrets are so elegant and that BGH with one leg lifted-how cool is that! The Red tail Hawk is a beauty and that Zone tail Hawk made me think some of the turkey vultures I have seen soaring might now be what they appear! Glad the little kingfisher waited for you again. Such a great post – thanks for sharing!

    • You are right, for a little bit there was something going on all around us. I think we saw six species, got three great photos in the first seven minutes. It was only the second time I had ever seen a Zone-tailed. Thanks for the great comment, Beth. 🙂

  6. What a safari you two your dialogue..The Redtail Hawk looks as though he was spying on you!! Have a Terrific Tuesday..I am off to the studio for buffalos today..

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