We are back from a fun week birding and photographing in Big Bend National Park. The weather was phenomenal for most of the week. On Thursday the wind got up quite a bit and Friday we had blowing dust in the morning, otherwise it was mild and sunny. We saw 46 different species during the trip, including an addition of the Gray Hawk to our life list. When we weren’t birding, we were sitting on the porch of our little cabin, enjoying the desert view, and sipping refreshments.
We met new friends, including another excellent bird photographer. What was amazing was that she has been photographing for only two years, but her work is outstanding. Meet Sheen Watkins by clicking here. Check out her website of beautiful photos of birds and wildlife.
When we stopped for a break at the store at Castelon, we met Ranger Ted Griffith, who happens to be another blogger and one of my readers. What a small world it is. It was early, and he was coming out of his office to raise the U.S. Flag on the nearby pole. Click here to see his outstanding photos of the Big Bend.
I promised you new photos so let’s get started. PLEASE click on the images to see some beautiful enlargements.
The above picture was taken early on our drive into Big Bend National Park. The ocotillo’s red blossoms covered the desert. All photos including this one, were taken with my Canon EOS 70D and Tamron 150-600mm lens.
We were at the Cottonwood Campground where the birding usually is very good. In the campgrounds itself, there was a lot activity with the maintenance people working, plus many campers so birding was a bit difficult, although we did see many birds including several Vermilion Flycatchers. However, when leaving the area, we saw this Gray Hawk atop a telephone pole. What a sight! We had never seen a Gray Hawk before so it was a treat to see him posing so nicely.
We were pulling into the parking lot at the Park Headquarters at Panther Junction, when we noticed two photographers out in the desert, with big lenses pointing at something. After we stopped the car, we scoped out the situation with our binoculars and saw the Scott’s Oriole. I took a few photos with the bird in the distance, then a few seconds later, it flew very close to us and perched in the ocotillo stem, where I got the above images.
A few minutes later, I got this stunning photo of the Ash-throated Flycatcher near the same location. There were several of these birds everywhere in the park.
This pair of Scaled Quail, also know as Blue Quail, were photographed outside our cabin right at sunset. I loved the warm glow of the light.
The Barton Warnock Nature Center is located outside of Lajitas. The nature trail and gardens usually have birds and various wildlife wandering around and this is where I photographed the above Rock Wren and the Curve-billed Thrasher. We are never disappointed when we stop there.
Another of our favorite bird areas is the campground area at Rio Grand Village. It is on the far eastern side of the national park near Boquillas Canyon. For the past few years there has been a pair of nesting of rare Common Black Hawks there. There are signs restricting getting too close, but with my long lens, I was able to get this and a few other photographs of the birds. Because of the dense trees, the lighting was a bit touchy, but I think this image portrays it nicely.
I hope you enjoyed these photos from our exciting trip to the desert. We stayed at the Casitas at Far Flung Outdoor Center. We strongly recommend them if you are making a trip to the area.
Of the 46 species that we saw during the trip, the Gray Hawk was a lifer, plus eight of them were additions to our 2014 Texas Big Year list. It is updated below, including with birds we saw before we left on the trip.
122. Lesser Yellowlegs
123. Cliff Swallow
124. Lark Bunting
125. Brown-headed Cowbird
126. Cave Swallow
127. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
128. Gray Hawk
129. Brown-crested Flycatcher
130. Common Black Hawk
131. Rock Wren
132. Scott’s Oriole
133. Purple Martin
135. Bank Swallow
136. Western Wood Pewee
137. Green Heron.