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. 🙂

A new day, more birds


After spend a few listless days with not many birds to show, Ann and I finally had an enjoyable morning today.  After breakfast, she, on the spur of the moment, said that we ought to make a run out by the Middle Concho Park to see if things had changed.

The morning was much cooler and I guess that made the difference as we saw a total of 29 species.  I even got a few more images to share.

juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron

We first saw the juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron across the river.  I maneuvered my Ford Edge close to the water so I could rest my big 500mm lens on my Noodle for the shot.

Next, down the little road a bit, I spotted the bright red Vermilion Flycatcher in a tree.  I started to move in with my car to a more comfortable position, but the bird moved.  So began a merry chase for about 15 minutes before I was successful in getting the shot.  I must mention that I didn’t actually “chase”, as in hassling the bird.  I guess “follow” is a better word for it.

Vermilion Flycatcher

After seeing what we could in that park, we decided to try Spring Creek Park while we were in the area.  We saw a two or three Yellow Warblers, but had no opportunity to get a photo.  Coming upon a shoal that was uncovered by the lowering water level, we saw a Spotted Sandpiper and a Green Heron.  Both gave me good photo opportunities, although they were pretty far from the bank.

I got my tripod out and set it up closer to the bank.  It was a shady area and I was confident that I wouldn’t disturb the birds as we were somewhat hidden in the low light the trees provided.  These photos are indeed a credit to my state of the art equipment.  Well, maybe I helped a little, too.  But I am proud of the images that I got after doing some tight cropping.

Spotted Sandpiper

Green Heron

Well, I hope you enjoyed these images as much as I enjoy getting them for you.  It appears that things are looking up a bit, and maybe we will get a few more migrant birds arriving in the near future.

Sandpipers – Shorebirds of of West Texas


In west Texas. when sandpipers are mentioned, it brings to mind little birds pecking around in the desert.  At least, that to the un-informed.  Meaning the non-birder.   Well, we out here do have rivers, albeit small in comparison of the giants waterways of the mid-west and the east.  We also have lakes, albeit all man-made, with the lone exception of Caddo Lake in east Texas.

Sandpipers are little skitterish little birds that scamper along the shorelines feeding in the shallow water.  There are many other shore birds besides the sandpipers but we’ll get into those another day.  The problem with these species is that all resemble one another, making identification difficult.  I have six photographs here, and I dearly hope that I haven’t got them mixed up or mis-identified.  It was good practice for me to write this.

First we have the Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus).  8.5 inches, weight 2 oz.  Wingspan 18 in. Long legs and a slightly drooping bill.

Stilt Sandpiper

 

Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca).  Similar to the sandpipes but a little larger.  14 inches, weight 6 oz. and 28 in. wingspan.  They forage after small fish, and bob their when alarmed.  It has a slghtly upturned bill.

Greater Yellowlegs

 

The Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) is smaller than the yelowlegs.  8.5 in.  1.8 oz and 22 inch wingspan.  It has a distinctive spectacle eye-ring.

Solitary Sandpiper

 

The Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri) is a tiny thing weighing less than an ounce.  6.5 inches tall with a wingspan of only 14 inches.  Has a bit mor rufous color.

Western Sandpiper

 

The Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia) 7.5 inches, 8 oz., and 26 inch wingspan.   It is a little larger and heavier, and has striking markings when seen in flight.

Spotted Sandpiper

 

And last and certainly the least is the Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla).  Only 6 inches tall, weighs .7 oz, and has wingspan of only 13 inches.  Has small head, thin pointed bill, and crouching posture.

Least Sandpiper

 

I hope you enjoyed these pictures of some of our popular sandpiper type birds.  More shorebirds will follow in another post.  Click on any photo to see an enlargement.

End of a week, Start of a month


Spotted Sandpiper

It’s the end of the week but starting a brand new month.  I’m going to show you a few highlights of the past week.

Yellow-headed Blackbird

On Tuesday Ann and I decided to take our friend Jodie Wolslager on a little birding trip.  We headed to Eldorado first to tour the water waste ponds there.  There are always a good selection of waterfowl there, and you never know when you might get surprised.  Suzanne Johnson had e-mailed us that there were about the thirty-seven White-faced Ibises there the previous day.  By the time we got there the count was down to nine.  But nevertheless I obtained some photos.

White-faced Ibises

We also saw some Yellow-headed Blackbirds, both adult and juvenile.  We saw Spotted Sandpipers and a few other sandpiper types that we were unable to identify for certain.  Also in attendance were probably one thousand Wilson’s Phalaropes.

Leaving there we headed to Christoval and back to our favorite place the Hummer House.  

Wilson's Phalaropes

A great collection of birds there, many more than than what we saw on a previous trip.  Our first Painted Buntings of the season, Summer Tanagers, Pine Siskins, Vermilion Flycatcher. Lesser Goldfinches, plus many others.

This morning Ann and I were out at the San Angelo State Park to give a little presentation on birds for a group of Girl Scouts.  I guess because of the cooler weather this morning, most of the birds stayed away.  However, we were treated to a young male Wild Turkey that entered stage left, and left stage right.  We did see a couple of Bullock’s Orioles though.

Upon leaving the park Ann and I spotted our firse Common Nighthawk of the season.  He was perched as always, parallel on a branch.  I got a few nice photos which I will post one here.  After I took the photos, another birding

Common Nighthawk

 friend of ours, Jimmy Villers, drove up with his wife.  She had never seen a nighthawk before, so she got quite thrill out of it.

Click on any photo to see an enlargement.

Happy Birding!!