Birding days are here again……


Finally after several days of chilly, undesirable weather, today was a great one.  After a great breakfast with friends, and with Ann getting the grocery shopping done, we were off to the local parks to see what we have been missing for the past week.

We were not disappointed.  From the birding aspect, we saw some 40 species.  We added three to our “Big Year” list, getting up to a new total of 93.  As you know, our 2014 goal is 210.  Will we make it, only time will tell.  It really doesn’t matter, as the fun is in the hunt.

We got a message from another friend that said there was an American White Pelican in the Middle Concho River.  We saw actually about a dozen of them near the spillway at the Twin Buttes dam.  I got several good photos of them.

Northern Pelican

American White Pelican

American Pelicans being photo-bombed by a Ringed-bill Gull.

American White Pelicans being photo-bombed by a Ringed-bill Gull.

We also saw our first Greater Yellowlegs of the year.  I was surprised it took so long for us to see one of these.  Usually there are more of them around.  This one decided to pose on a pedestal of his choosing.

Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

Amidst all of the action, a pair of American Coots were taking a leisurely Saturday afternoon cruise.

American Coots

American Coots

So it was nice to have a nice warm, (75 degree) afternoon to go birding again.  The forecast is about the same for tomorrow, so we may go out again, because Monday brings another cold front.  But they say spring is just around the corner, so we will be checking the corners.

Big Year list additions:

#91  Inca Dove

#92  Greater Yellowlegs

#93  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Click on any image to see an enlargement, and enjoy.

The birds are coming! The birds are coming!!


We are finally starting to see some more birds arriving again.  Where we would see just empty waters at Middle Concho Park, here in San Angelo, Texas, we are seeing now a few more waterbirds, and other migratories.

Wood Ducks

Our latest trip allowed us to see some Least Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, and four Wood Ducks.  On that latter one, I got an improved photo over the one I showed in a previous post.  We also saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker, and possibly a second one.  I was unable to get a photo, but the red nape and center white feathers on it’s back were pretty distinctive.

Swainson’s Hawk

We also saw a flyover of about a dozen geese, but I was unable to identify them, as they were moving pretty fast.  I got a pretty good image of a Swainson’s Hawk, and also one of a Belted Kingfisher as he was intent on watching for a meal in the waters below him.

Belted Kingfisher

In the case of the Wood Ducks and the Belted Kingfisher, the birds were quite a distance away and I had to rely on some creative cropping to get these close-up images.  My old friend, the Great Egret, was still hanging around and I have a hard time resisting getting more images of him.

Great Egret

So that’s it for this post.  It is raining this morning, but later, if it clears out, I may make another run to see what is arriving today. 🙂

Just give a little whistle………..


We ran across a bunch of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, (Dendrocygna autumnalis), yesterday at Middle Concho Park.  There were probably about twenty-five of them, just sauntering along by the river.  They were whistling, too.  Really.  They seemed happy.  I got several shots of them before I went on my way.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Since I didn’t know how to whistle along with them, I decided to let them alone and continue downstream.  Or was it upstream.  Anyway, I was watching for the pair of Wood Ducks that I had seen a few days ago.  They were nowhere to be seen.  However, I got another image of a Great Egret to share with you.

Great Egret

More ducks and other water birds are starting to arrive from the north and I saw some Least Sandpipers and also I got this image of a Greater Yellowlegs, (Tringa melanoleuca).

Greater Yellowlegs

  Enjoy the photos and click on any of them to see enlargements.

MLK day at San Angelo State Park


In yesterday’s post I said that I hoped that the fog would lift.  Well, lift it did, a couple of hours later.  It turned out to be a wonderful day, with the temps somewhere in the mid-seventies, with plenty of sunshine.  Ann and I decided to spend a few hours at San Angelo State Park.  Where else would we be??  🙂  It is so nice to be retired, and have such a great park only three miles away.

We just had a good time driving around, not only watching birds, but just enjoying watching other people enjoy it, too.  There were hikers, bikers, walkers, and we came across this fisherman that was just bringing his catch in from the shore.  A huge catch that it was.  Look at all the big Yellow Catfish, probably near 100 lbs worth, judging from the effort that it took the young man to lift them.  He even had to use a wheelbarrow to carry them in from the lake.  There is some fine eatin’ somewhere in town this evening. 🙂

Catch of the Day

We had a great day of birding, also.  Check out the list at the end of this post.  In addition to the usual suspects, we were joined by a Rock Wren, A Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and six Northern Bobwhites.  And a nice surprise.  We spotted the Phainopepla again that has been hanging around.  After chasing him through the mesquites, I came up with this photograph.  I think it is quite an improvement over my original image that I captured a few days ago.

Phainopepla

Click on either photo to see an enlargement.  Here is the list of birds that we saw on Monday, January 17, 2011

Number of species:     26

Northern Shoveler     6
Northern Bobwhite     6
American White Pelican     20
Great Blue Heron     2
American Coot     6
Killdeer     2
Greater Yellowlegs     4
Least Sandpiper     20
Long-billed Dowitcher     6
Ring-billed Gull     20
Herring Gull     2
White-winged Dove     4
Mourning Dove     2
Golden-fronted Woodpecker     1
Tufted Titmouse     0
Black-crested Titmouse     2
Rock Wren     1
Northern Mockingbird     10
Curve-billed Thrasher     2
Phainopepla     1
White-crowned Sparrow     12
Northern Cardinal     6
Pyrrhuloxia     5
Red-winged Blackbird     12
House Finch     6
House Sparrow     4

Happy birding!!

The Mysteries of Bird Identification


I photographed this Greater Yellowlegs last winter sometime.  I don’t remember the exact date.  I do remember it was in “K-mart  Creek” doing some foraging.  I edited and filed it away, printing myself an 8×10 before doing so.  I claimed it was a Greater Yellowlegs and I still do.  Click image to enlarge.

Greater Yellowlegs

My previous post was about identifying Sandpiper type birds.  So before publishing that post, I carefully went over each of the six images that I had culled to put in the article.  I compared all the markings, colors, etc., with the information  in my Sibley’s guide book.

I checked out the Greater Yellowlegs.  Everything went fine, until I noticed that according to Sibley, the bill should be slightly upturned.  Oops!  The bird in my picture showed a straight bill, and matter of fact, there is a slight downturn on the tip of the bill..  Hmmmm.  Must be a trick of light.   I pondered a bit, didn’t think much of it.  After all, I am a novice birder and I probably wasn’t looking at the picture right. 

Then I noticed a little note at the bottom of the next page.  It said that the Greater Yellow legs rarely had bright orange legs.  Oops again!  My bird has bright oraange legs.   I then started looking through all of the sandpiper pages and couldn’t find any thing else that resembled my picture until – uh oh!  What is this??  A Spotted Redshank.  Right on the next page to the Greater Yellow Legs.  Bright yellow legs – check.  Straight bill with a tiny downturn on the tip – check.   But no!  It simply cannot be.  Spotted Redshanks are thousands of miles away.  Not a chance that this was one. 

What to do.  What to do.  After all, I am a novice birder.  Us novices simply don’t have the knowledge about these things, so it had to be something else.  I have embarrassed myself a few other time by jumping to conclusions and I am not jumping to conclusions here.  But I also didn’t want to mis-identify any picture in my post.  So, I simply swallowed my pride, and even though I KNEW it was a Greater Yellowlegs (what else could it be?) I opted to confirm it with the experts. 

First I e-mailed the picture to three local people that I knowwould know, and they probably wouldn’t laugh too hard at me for asking such a preposterous question.  Then for good measure, I e-mailed Mark Lockwood, with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, and is a darned good bird expert.  I got a prompt back from Mark, who confirmed that it was a Greater Yellowlegs.  Of course, I should have known that!  Before I heard from the other three, I promptly e-mailed and thanked them for their time.  Therefore, I didn’t have to read their e-mails, telling me that  I erred again and were stifling their snickers. 🙂

So I KNOW that it is a Greater Yellowlegs.  How do I know??  Because the experts told me so, and by the way, I am not trying to discredit these people.  They are all friends of mine and they are experts in their field.  And it is too far-fetched to believe a Spotted Redshank would ever show up here.  I am definitely not saying it is one of those.  I would be laughed out of town and not get asked to the Annual Birders Ball.  🙂

But how do they know it is a Greater Yellowlegs?   No slightly upturned bill that I can see.  Bright yellow legs.  The mystery deepens.  (cue eerie music here)  What have I missed??  Danged if I know.  So the mystery is, how in heck do they know??  🙂

Birding at K-mart Creek


There is a wet area along the frontage road by the old K-Mart building off of Loop 306.  It is part of Red Arroyo and usually has a little stream of water in it.  Since it just a few blocks from our home, Ann and I check it out every time we go by there, which is to say nearly every day.  We have gotten used to calling it K-Mart Creek.

Cedar Waxwings

Over the past year, we have seen and/or photographed a veritable host of avian species.  All either in the creek, which bends around behind the Fireston Store, or in trees or on utility poles in and around the K-Mark parking lot.  Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Black-crowned Night Herons, Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Greater Yellowlegs, Belted Kingfishers, a Prairie Falcon, Wilson’s Snipe and a flock of Cedar Waxwings.

Now you won’t see these species all at once, and a lot of the time you won’t see any, but if you frequent it enough you will be rewarded.

Yesterday, we cruised through the parking lot, first checking the creek, then as we were leaving to turn on to Oak Grove Blvd. we saw the flock of Cedar Waxwings.  We was in our mini-van only about 10 feet away, so I came away with some very nice photos.  One of them is posted here.

Then, this morning, driving through again, we saw this Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

 pictured here.  It was also there yesterday morning, but I think I got the better photograph today.  I have it here for your enjoyment.  By the way, it is safest to do your birding from the parking lot.  If you do it from the frontage road, the traffic may may be a distraction, and the life you save might be your own. 🙂

Enjoy the photos, click on either one to see an enlargement.  For more of my photos check www.zellertexasphotos.com

Happy Birding!!

Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)


Greater Yellowlegs are larger than the Lesser Yellowlegs with a longer bill.  Likes to hang around shallow water or mud-flats.  Will forage for vertabrae or chase after small fish. 

I photographed these in the drainage ditch that runs in front of the old K-mart building here in San Angelo.

Greater Yellowlegs

 

Greater Yellowlegs

Lake Colorado City State Park


Ann, Jodie, and I made a trip to Lake Colorado City State Park yesterday to check out the birding.  It is located about five miles west of Colorado City.  A neat little park, with a lot of nice campsite sites, and picnic areas.  Most are located near the lake.  It was a little windy but the temperature was near 85, so it was a pleasant experience.

I didn’t think we were seeing a lot of birds, but totaling it up we came up with twenty-two species.  The fact that I didn’t get many photographs made we think that there weren’t that many.  I did get a few photos that I will picture here below.  Not aesthecally beautiful, but good enough to show you what I got.  The Osprey was atop a light pole.  Jodie got a great photo of it as it was flying off.  I missed that one.  I think I am teaching her too well.  LOL

As for shore birds we spotted numerous Cormorants, Coots, Blue Herons, and one Great Egret.  Only the one Greater Yellowlegs.  On the way up there we saw numerous Meadowlarks and Hawk species.  I think this place will be a nice place to bird in the summer/spring.  Just find a nice little area, and sit and watch.

Happy Birding!

_8x10_killdeer

Killdeer

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1947_osprey

Osprey

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1972_yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs