Great Surprises Await….If You Go

In her post, Mia McPherson talked abut not giving up on a trip if the weather doesn’t fit or if you think it is going to be a bad day.  If you don’t go, you will always wonder what you might have missed.  That bit of wisdom served Ann and I rightfully so on Monday morning.

The temperature was low 40s, very cloudy.  A glum day if ever there would be one.  We decided to go, even though we were thinking that there would be few birds and not very much excitement.  Boy, were we wrong.

We decided to go to Middle Concho Park.  We drove in the entrance and headed for the river area.  I looked to the left and said, “Hey, Ann, there’s a Great Egret!”  She answered, “No, that’s a Snowy!”  We did a double-take and saw there was one of each standing about four feet apart.  I turned down the road to the left, whipped a U-turn so I could photograph out my window.  I was able to get images of each one.

Snowy Egret

Great Egret

I started to drive straight ahead and Ann exclaimed, “Bob, up in that tree dead ahead!”  I looked and there was a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk staring down at us.  I turned the car to the right temporarily so I could again use my window and got a nice image of the hawk.

Red-tailed Hawk – juvenile

I straightened the car and we continued.  We immediately saw a Golden-fronted Woodpecker in a tree to our right, then saw eight American Coots in the water to our left.  At this point, we had been in the park only about five minutes.   Later I photographed another Great Blue Heron across the water.

Great Blue Heron

After turning at the end of the park and started coming back, we saw several vultures flying through the park.  At one point I thought I saw one land on a tree branch about forty feet to my left.  I looked at it again, and realized it wasn’t a vulture, but a Zone-tailed Hawk.  A certain rarity for this area as they don’t come around here hardly at all.  I couldn’t believe my good fortune, and I got some great images of it with my Canon 7D and 100-400mm lens.

Zone-tailed Hawk

Soon after that, I looked across the river about 200 yards away, and I said, “Ann, there’s that Kingfisher again.”  It seems that they are always far off and this was certainly no exception.  I used my 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-converter and rattled off a few shots.  Because of the extreme distance, I wasn’t able to crop as close as I did for the one in my prior post.

Belted Kingfisher

After that, we moved to Spring Creek Park and added more birds to our list of sightings for the day.  So it turned out to be an exciting morning.  We’re glad that we didn’t let the weather change our mind about going.  We were having so much fun that we didn’t notice how cool it was.  In all we saw twenty-seven species.  Not bad for about three hours.  Here is complete list.

  1. Northern Mockingbird   4
  2. White-winged Dove   5
  3. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher   2
  4. Turkey Vulture   11
  5. House Sparrow   9
  6. House Finch   5
  7. Eastern Bluebird   14
  8. Great Blue Heron   4
  9. Snowy Egret   1
  10. Great Egret   1
  11. Great-tailed Grackle   15
  12. Red-tailed Hawk   1
  13. Golden-fronted Woodpecker   3
  14. Pied-billed Grebe   4
  15. Belted Kingfisher   3
  16. Zone-tailed Hawk   1
  17. Black Vulture   3
  18. Barn Swallow   3
  19. American Coot   8
  20. Killdeer   1
  21. Mallard   4
  22. Northern Cardinal   2
  23. Red-winged Blackbird   30
  24. Yellow-rumped Warbler   1
  25. Black-crowned Heron   2
  26. Common Grackle   9
  27. Mute Swan   1

Enjoy the photos, and click any of them to see enlargements.  P.S. My Blurb publisher has offered a 20% discount on my book, “Birds, Beasts and Buttes”.  Click this link, Bob”s Book.  Use the code  FANS  at checkout.

Hawks, Hawks, Hawks!

To me  there is hardly anything more beautiful than a hawk soaring through the air, on the hunt for prey.  I love to photograph them on the wing whenever possible.  But I take what I can get.  For example the Zone-tailed Hawk pictured here was perched in the rain, getting soaking wet.  That was the first one I had ever seen and that, of course, is the only photograph that I have, and I was lucky to get it, as it flew away seconds after I took the shot.  The Zone-tailed Hawk is often mistaken for a vulture because of it’s slouching posture when perching and it’s similar flying habits.

wet Zone-tailed Hawk

I have something new for my blog posts now.  When I am discussing subjects, such as  birds, animals, flowers, etc., I can assign a link, if one is available, to them as in the paragraph above.  If you click on any of those links, they will take to you to more in-depth articles.  So today I am going to show you some of my hawk photographs. 

First up is a Red-shouldered Hawk that I photographed at the Hummer House near Christoval, Texas.  Dan Brown, the owner, had put some meat out for it, and after devouring it, the bird perched in the tree.

Red-shouldered Hawk

 The following is a Northern Harrier that I photographed at San Angelo StatePark.  It was doing it’s usual thing, of flying low over the mesquite and brush.  Again it didn’t come close enough to me to get a great picture, but the image that I did get shows the distinct white wide stripe on the lower back and tail.

Northern Harrier

The Cooper’s Hawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk are very similar in appearance except that the Coopers is about 5 inches taller.  Other than that, they both are long-tailed and short-winged, and are agile in maneuvering to catch their prey. These two photos were both taken at San Angelo State Park.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

One of the larger buteo hawks is the Swainson’s Hawk.  This one was perched on the cross-bar of a utility pole outside the entrance to San Angelo State Park.

Swainson's Hawk

The buteo to which all other hawks are compared is the Red-tailed Hawk.  Similar in size to the Swainson’s hawk but very conspicuous with the red tail.  This is one that I was lucky enough to catch in flight, and one of my personal favorites.

Red-tailed Hawk

I hope you have enjoyed todays photos.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.