A Few Fourth of July Images


The Fourth of July holiday dawned cool with a high overcast.  Feeling lazy, I had a great Scrabble game going on with a dear friend in Houston when my iPad’s battery went down.   Alas!  What was I to do with no iPad or no Scrabble?  Well, I forgot my laziness and grabbed my cameras, after putting my iPad on the charger.  With the high overcast, the light was perfect with the sun’s light diffused and no harsh shadows.

This time of year, between the spring and fall migrations, the birding aspects aren’t too great.  I guess they call this the dog-days of summer.  Anyway, the temperature started warming, so we went to the bird blind at the San Angelo State Park.  There the water was trickling into the pond and there were a few birds around.  We sat on the bench and opened the large windows for easier viewing and photography.  Here are three images that I captured there.  Click on any of them to see enlargements.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

House Finch

House Finch

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

After leaving the bird blind, we took a quick drive around to see what else may be hanging around.  I caught this Greater Roadrunner in a tree.

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

Then who can refuse this bird that only a mother could love.  There is a certain beauty to the Turkey Vulture.  It’s not his fault that he appears to be, well, er, ugly.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Memorial Weekend Images


I am not going to go into a lot of detail for this post.  I know that many of you are celebrating this holiday weekend.  Maybe these photos will help brighten your days.  If you are traveling, be safe, drive carefully, and don’t text.   Please remember the holiday for what it is, to remember to thank the people that help keep our country free.  Click on any of the images to see some nice enlargements.

"On the Hunt" Great Blue Heron

“On the Hunt”
Great Blue Heron

Northern Bobwhite

Northern Bobwhite

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Bronzed Cowbird

Bronzed Cowbird

Adventures from the Big Bend – Tuesday – Day 2


After a good night’s sleep in our cozy casita at Far Flung Outdoor Center, we woke early to a pleasant, partly cloudy sky.  Actually, it was pitch-black out when we got up, so the partly-cloudiness came a bit after that.  We wanted to drive to the eastern side of the park near Boquillas Canyon.  The Rio Grande Village RV Site is located near there.  It is one of the prime birding areas in the park.

Vermilion Flycatcher

But I am getting ahead of myself.  First we needed to eat.  Our destination for that little endeavor was Frank Jones’ Roadrunner Deli.  We had eaten there on on our last trip to the Big Bend and were thrilled.  A little non-descript place with 4 tables inside and a few outside.  The is behind the counter and covers the wall, and I think a few little items are written in the margins.  And a large menu it is, as he is open for breakfast and lunch from 7:30 until 3:00PM.

I opted for a pair of eggs over medium with crispy bacon and toast.  Ann was still a bit under the weather and she just had hot tea and toast.  The price was great and we left there pretty well sated.

Sora

We left there to head for Rio Grande Village, a distance of about 65 miles from the western to the eastern side of the Big Bend NP.  That national park is one big place, covering around 750,000 acres.

Turkey Vulture

The Rio Grande Village RV Park was vacant.  No RVs or campers yet, as the “snowbirds” hadn’t started to arrive yet.  They are the people from the north that spend the winter in Texas.  We spent a couple of hours just driving slowly through the area.  The were birds galore.  We saw our first ever Sora, which is a little bird that lives in the reeds and marsh grasses.  There were hundreds of my favorite little bird, the Vermilion Flycatcher, plus assorted other species, finches, woodpeckers, warblers, sparrows, etc.  And, of course, we can’t leave out that ever-popular Turkey Vulture.

Javelina

On the way out we spotted this Javelina along with another, along the side of the road.

Threatening showers over Chichuahuan Desert

I hope you are enjoying this trip as much as Ann and I had.  Watch the next few posts for more from our adventure.  And of course, click on any image to see and enlargement.

The ever-popular Turkey Vulture


Turkey VultureCathartes aura.  If they gave it a Latin name, I guess that makes it an official species.  The name conjures up images of vultures soaring above the desert while some poor soul is crawling and looking for water.  (That reminds me of a joke, which I may or may not tell at the end of this post).  Anyway, we must be thankful for these creatures as they do much for us.  For example, they keep the highways clean.  They, the highways, are to the vultures, what fast-food places are to us.  I think they even have their own name, “Carrion Carry-out”.

I took this photo Monday morning, while driving through Spring Creek park.  There wasn’t much other bird activity.  Just several of these vultures, and this one was very cooperative to hang around for the camera.  Click image to see an enlargement.

Turkey Vulture

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3
  • ISO 1000
  • Lens focal distance  310mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Shutter priority

Okay, here’s the joke:

This guy is crawling across the vast, sandy, and dry desert looking for water to satisfy his thirst.  After several hours under the broiling sun, he comes upon a small tent.  A guy steps out and says, “Ya want to buy a tie?”

The thirsty one replies, “No, but I need a drink of water.  Do you have any?”

The guy in the tent says.  “I sure don’t.  But if you crawl over that big sand dune there, you will see a restaurant on the other side.  I think you can get a drink of water there.”

So off the man crawls, heading over the top of the sand dune.  About three hours he comes back to the guy in the tent.

He says, “That guy must be your brother.  He says I can’t get in without a tie”  🙂

Vultures Over West Texas


We, who live out here in west Texas, know who they are and where they live.  They are there in the skies, on the ground, and nesting in the trees.  Most of all they are most familiar when they are eating at their favorite fast food place, the “Carrion Carryout”, aka your nearby highway. 

Turkey Vulture

 

But to other folks, they are an amazement.  We had family visitors a couple of years ago from Northern Michigan.  Seeing Turkey Vultures was one of their highlights of their visit.  They were also enthralled with our numerous Jackrabbits.  As you can see, our relatives are easily entertained.

Juvenile Turkey Vulture

 

There are two types of vultures around here.  The Turkey Vulture (cathartes aura), and the Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus).  The most common is the Turkey Vulture, easily distinguished by the red head on the adule.  The juvenile’s head is more gray.  The Black Vulture is, of course, all black, except for the wrinkled grayish head.  The Turkey Vulture can find it’s food by smell.

Turkey Vulture Warming it's Wings

 

In the early mornings, the vultures can be seen sitting in the open, maybe on fences or trees, with their wings spread to the morning sun, warming them to take flight.  They have been known to show some intelligence, such as when feeding on their road-kill, they do have the sense to fly off to avoid being struck by on-coming traffic.  Ann and I once observed a vulture, who was eating in the traffic ahead of us, instead of flying, he actually dragged his kill off the highway to get it out of the way.

I’m sorry to say that I do not have an image of a Black Vulture on file.  To see these above enlarged, just click on each image.

Happy Birding!!