Birding Uvalde – Return trip


We first made a trip to Uvalde back in October of 2014.  Since then we have always wanted to return, as we felt that there were many birds that we missed seeing and also missed getting good photographs.

Ann recently had a birthday on January 10, so she decided a trip back to Uvalde would be her birthday present.  Not that we needed an excuse to go back.  I was ready.

We left early Monday morning the 12th.  A usual two and half hour trip, it took us about two hours longer.  Of course, we had a breakfast stop in Sonora, but when you are also birding along the way………need I say more?

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

We got into the Live Oaks Bed & Breakfast around 1:00, then called our good friends, Bob and Anna Shackleford, and told them we were in town and on the way over to their place.  Not only does Bob has his own bird blind, he is also well informed about birding in the area.  The afternoon was beautiful so we spent some time in the blind, then sat on the porch of their home, visited, and took photos of birds in the yard.  One of them was this Great Kiskadee.  A new lifer for us as we had never seen one before.

Great Kiskadee

Great Kiskadee

From inside his Chicken Coop Blind, I got these images of a Long-billed Thrasher and a Green Jay.

Long-billed Thrasher

Long-billed Thrasher

Green Jay

Green Jay

As we were leaving Bob’s home he mentioned that there were two Couch’s Kingbirds hanging around his neighbor’s yard.  We drove down the road about 100 yards, and sure enough there was one of them.  I maneuvered my car so I could shoot a photo.  By then he had turned an had his back to me, and as I got him in the viewfinder he flew.  He was another lifer as again, it was another new bird for us.  I was disappointed in not getting the photo, but there is always a next time.

We made plans to meet again at Bob’s and Anna’s place to spend the day birding on Tuesday.  We woke that morning to a very cold day.  But after breakfast, we headed over, determined to make the best of it.  Since we decided it was too cold to sit in the blind, Bob suggested he take us out on some ranch land that he knew of, saying there was a good chance of seeing some Sandhill Cranes.

We we were warm and comfy in our little Ford Escape.  It has high clearance and we drove all over that ranch.  If Bob hadn’t been with us, I would surely have gotten lost.  Of course, if he hadn’t been with us, we probably wouldn’t have gotten on the ranch to begin with.  Anyway, I did get some images of the Sandhill Cranes, albeit very distant ones.  They were at a distance of nearly 300 yards.  Both of these image are heavily cropped.

Flyover of some Sandhill Cranes

Flyover of some Sandhill Cranes

Pair of Sandhill Cranes

Pair of Sandhill Cranes

After we decided that I couldn’t get any closer to the cranes we continued driving through various pastures and and other areas of the ranch.  As we drove, I was able to get a few more photos of other birds.

Crested Caracara

Crested Caracara

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Leaving the ranch, Bob took us down some other back roads that look promising.  Along there we saw a couple of raptors.

Harris's Hawk

Harris’s Hawk

Then this magnificent Red-tail Hawk took off from another nearby tree.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

We had planned on getting together again on Wednesday, but not only was it still cold, it was very drizzly.  Bob called us in our room and told us that Anna was feeling ill and we felt it was not in our best interests to try to get out in the weather.  Ann and I spent the rest of the day in our room, watching the Cardinals, Thrashers, and Cactus Wrens cavort outside our window.  We left the following morning, Thursday, and headed back to San Angelo.  Despite the weather, we felt that we really had a great time anyway.  We saw a total of 47 bird species for the trip, 25 of which were to be added to our 2015 Big Year list.  We also added those two lifers.  My life list total is now at 280.  As for our 2015 Big Year list, since we got back we added a couple more and we have a total of 80 as of this writing.  As I mentioned before, our new goal is 210 for this year.  Piece of cake.  Right?  Yeah, sure. 🙂

Harris's Hawk

Harris’s Hawk

I hope you enjoyed this post and the photos.  By the way, I have my 2015 calendar for sale.  Twelve gorgeous, knock-em dead, photos suitable for framing if you should desire.  If you are interested in buying one contact me, or mail a check for 25.00 that also covers all taxes and shipping to Bob Zeller, 4401 White Ash Ln., San Angelo, TX 76904-4528.  You will not be disappointed.

Happy Birding!

 

Birding fun in Uvalde, Texas


Okay, boys and girls, hang on to your hats.  I have a brazilion photos to show you from our two day trip to Uvalde, Texas.  At only about 195 miles south of San Angelo, it has much to offer in the way of birding.

Green Jay

Green Jay

First, I would like to mention that we arrived Wednesday afternoon at the Live Oaks Bed and Breakfast.  Owned and operated by Pat and Gaye Morris, it is a perfect way to spend a few days.  All the amenities that you would expect, plus a great breakfast.  Four rooms inside the main house, and three individual casitas of which we stayed in one called “Treehouse”.  No, silly people, we weren’t in a tree, but a wonderful little comfy cabin.  Click the above link for more information.

We decided to come to Uvalde when a Facebook friend, Bob Shackleford mentioned that his place was nearly overrun with Green Jays.  That really got my attention, as that was one bird that have dreamed of seeing and photographing for years.  I contacted him and invited myself to visit him when we came to Uvalde.  He has this delightful little bird blind, and sure enough there were more than enough Green Jays to satisfy any photographer.

Bob Shackleford's bird blind

Bob Shackleford’s bird blind

We were able to check in early Wednesday afternoon, so I called Bob and we decided to pay him and his wife, Marianne, a visit.  He wanted us to try out the blind immediately, and for a few minutes, I was rewarded with photo opportunities right away.

Green Jay

Green Jay

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

We didn’t stay in the blind very long since it was very hot, and we wanted to visit with Bob and Anne (pronounced Anna) a bit longer, before we had to go check in to our little casita.  Before we left, we made arrangements to return the following day which was my birthday, and spend the day.  Anne, had already baked a cake for my birthday.  How great is that?

Green Jay

Green Jay

The following morning, after a sumptuous breakfast, cooked by Gaye, we headed back to the Shacklefords.  We headed right for Bob’s “Chicken House Bird Blind”.  Of course, I first photographed another Green Jay, then a few others.  Here are a few highlights.

Green Jay

Green Jay

Northern Cardinal, female

Northern Cardinal, female

Yellow-rumped Warbler - Audubon variety

Yellow-rumped Warbler – Audubon variety

Black-crested Titmouse

Black-crested Titmouse

Later, after going back to our room for a brief nap, we returned to have supper with the Shacklefords.  Wow!  That man knows how to use a barbeque grill.  He grilled some chicken breasts along with a bunch of veggies.  Then to top it off we had some of Anne’s pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting and pecans.  Fantastic!

After that, Bob mentioned that we should drive out along the highway, as we could probably find some various hawks.  So we all piled into our little Ford Escape and headed out.  Here are some of the highlights of that drive.  There are many.  I forgot to mention, click on any of the photos in this post and you will see beautiful enlargements.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk in flight

Red-tailed Hawk in flight

Forgive the clipped wings in the above photo, but I thought it was too beautiful to leave out of this post.

Scaled Quail - in late afternoon light.

Scaled Quail – in late afternoon light.

Harris's Hawk

Harris’s Hawk

Two Crested Caracaras share a utility pole crossbar.

Two Crested Caracaras share a utility pole crossbar.

Swainson's Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk

A drive along a country drive wouldn’t be complete with seeing one of these vultures.

Black Vulture surveys the landscape.

Black Vulture surveys the landscape.

After saying goodbye to the Shacklefords, and promising to return in a few months we headed to our room, feeling great about our birding and photographic adventures.  We had hoped to see a Great Kiskadee, but that will have to wait until the next time.

The next morning after another great breakfast, I began my first day as an eighty-year old, and we headed back to San Angelo.  We were making good time, so we made a brief stop at the South Llano River State Park.  They have wonderful bird blinds there so we had time to check out one of them.

Nashville Warbler photographed at South Llano State Park

Nashville Warbler photographed at South Llano River State Park

For the trip, we saw a total of 40 species of birds.  We added two to my life list: Green Jay and Long-billed Thrasher.  That life list now stands at 275.  Maybe I can get to 300 before I turn 90.

For my 2014 Birding Big Year list, I added those two plus the Crested Caracara and the Harris’s Hawk, bring the total to 189.  Only eleven to go to make my goal of at least 200 species seen this year.

I feel great and I think it is going to be fun being an 80 year-old.  That is as long as I stay away from those senior centers and not let those old people influence me. 🙂