Fall Migration Beginning


The temps here have finally dropped towards the low nineties.  The cool fronts are starting to bring a few winter and migrant birds.  We are excited about the activity as we have had a few somewhat boring birding trips recently.  Here are a few images that I captured the past few days.

This is the first Osprey that we have seen since spring.  It was across the water high in a tree, about 200 yards distant.  This is one of several poses that I was able to get.  It is heavily cropped, and sharpened with FocusMagic software.

Osprey

Osprey

This Green Heron was a welcome sight, too.  They have been around most of the summer, but I have had a hard time spotting one.  This one was across the water, but at a point where I much closer, maybe 150 yards.

Green Heron

Green Heron

Yesterday, we drove along the brushy fence line near Spring Creek Park.  A friend had seen a Wilson’s Warbler the day before and we were hoping to see it for ourselves.  We were not disappointed.  We saw two, but as they flit quickly through the brush, it was nearly impossible to get a good photo this time.  I managed to get this image before they disappeared farther into the woods.  Not a great shot, but recognizable.

Wilson's Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler

Along with the Wilson’s, there were a couple of Nashville Warblers.

Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Along the way, we also saw a Yellow Warbler and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, but was unsucessful in getting any photos of them.

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. 🙂

‘Tis the season for Warblers


Oh, the weather outside is…….nasty.  And getting colder by the minute as you can see by the snow falling on this blog.  Yes, a Siberian Clipper, or what is best known around these parts as a Blue Norther is going to come whistlin’ in.  I don’t think there is anything between San Angelo and the Canadian border except a snow fence.  And I’ll bet a dollar it is laying on the ground.

So, what about those warblers.  I don’t think I have ever written a post about them.  At least not collectively, anyway.  We have a few that winter around here, and I thought you might like to see some pictures of each.  So, not in any particular order I present………

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

The Yellow-rumped Warbler is probably the most seen here in the San Angelo area.

Black and White Warbler

Black and White Warbler

A neat story about the Black and White Warbler.  What an original name.  Anyway, I was at the bird blind at San Angelo State Park, sitting there watching to see what birds might fly in.  Suddenly, the Black and White flew in, perched on that twig.  Fifteen seconds later it was gone.  I had never seen one before, and I have never seen one since.  It is a very rare bird around here, and I was at the right place at the right time.

MacGillivray's Warbler

MacGillivray’s Warbler

The MacGillivray’s Warbler is very similar to the Nashville Warbler pictured below.  But check the eye.  The MacGillivray’s has the barred eye.

Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler

Without that black cap on the Wilson’s Warbler, it would be confused with the Yellow Warbler pictured below.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  Click on any of them to see some enlargements.