Monday, March 25, 2013

Snowy Egret at South Padre Island

Snowy Egrets are a foot smaller than the Egrets that are commonly seen in Minnesota. The most prominent features are the snowy white plumage and yellow feet. The last photo shows his stylish feet. This male is starting to show his mating plums. Are these birds called waiters or waders? They wade in the water and wait for fish.

Great Blue Herons at South Padre Island

Silhouette of a Great Blue  
Usually Great blue Herons are seen from afar, but at South Padre Island they are up close and personal. The photos were taken Wednesday, March 6th from 10 am until 4 pm. The birders were few but those that were there had grand viewing. A week later Texas Week, the Island was filled with many college age tourists but I bet the Birding Center was filled with birds not kids.

The three photos were of a Great Blue Heron posturing in front of other Blues out in the Laguna.

    The Great Blue Heron is the most photographed bird in the world. 
They hold their postures well or their hunting skills depend on slow and steady.

On the Hunt 

At low tide with the wind blowing as the sun was leaving
Great Blue on the sign Common Shorebirds saying farewell.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My Last Butterfly Walk at Estero

It was an extremely windy day at Estero, but it was Friday, the scheduled Butterfly Walk. I made it to all the Butterfly Walks there after I became interested in butterflying.  Some walks there were 15 people and over 40 different species of butterflies. Only a few of us that gathered but their were 3 expert naturalist. I came early so Dave identified a few butterflies but not moth photos. At the end of the walk  we took tram near Alligator Lake and I got my Pygmy Blue. Next year the photos will be better.

Geometric MOTH not Butterfly (inchworm) 
Geometric MOTH (1.5") No ID
Western Pygmy Blue  (0.75)

Western Pygmy-Blue (0.75")
Western Pygmy-Blue (0.75")
Julia"s Skipper  (1")
White Checkered-Skipper (1")
Laviana White-Skipper (1.5")
Common Mestra   (1.5")
Common Mestra (1.5")

Aransas Wildlife

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge looks like it is close to Goose Island State Park which is six miles from Fulton/Rockport. It is really a 30 mile drive to the Visitor Center. The Refuge is located along the Gulf Coast of Texas but to access it in a car is a long drive. Both Goose Island and Aransas have large wonderful trees in large wooded areas and are greener. That might sound strange but it is unlike LRGV which is drier and without the large trees. Some trees were leafed out and others were not. There is potential for many  warblers and other migrating songbirds, but not on this trip. We saw firsts: wild hogs in the swampy low lands, Pyrrhuloxia, a large cardinal like finch and two Whooping Cranes.  The cranes were far away but we could ID them with our scope. A treat for me was watching two Yellow Legs running, chasing and dancing/fighting.  It was either a mating ritual or two males determining who would mate.

Greater Yellowlegs Fighting or Mating Ritual
Part of the Ritual, Both were repeated at least twice.
Saw gators in a pond near where the wild hogs were running.
The photo is more scary than I remember.
The Whooping Crane looks like a white Big Bird. 
The only 2 Whooping Cranes in site that day.  There is a 40 foot tower which is a
series of gradual ramps.  The look out is over low wetlands and a long length of
shore. In the distance we saw hundreds of cormorants flying just about the ocean.
With the cormorants were white pelicans, just like in their breeding grounds in MN.
Grazing Whooping Cranes

Monday, March 18, 2013

NABA National Butterfly Center - Mission

We arrived at NABA at noon, had a picnic in the shade watching the birds at the feeders. There was one photographer with a huge full frame camera with 18" lens, filters, intense lighting and a huge tripod. She plunked her equipment and husband in the front of everyone else. So lunch was not as pleasant as we hoped but the butterflies were waiting. Actually no butterflies were at the 6 bait logs, (blended overripe fruit with some beer to ferment it) and few were flying since it was quite windy.  The sun was very intense and it was a real work out, but I did catch a few beauties. (March 9th)
Mexican Fritillary (2.5")
Mexican Fritillary (2.5")
Gulf Fritillary  (underside 3.5")
Gulf Fritillary      (3.5")
Black Swallowtail (3.75")
Black Swallowtail (3.75")  I chased this butterfly and finally caught him when he was not moving so fast. 
Black Swallowtail (3.75")

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Edinburg Butterflies

It was a pleasant sunny late morning, the butterfliers and photographers were out at Edinburg. By chance I met Jim & Judy again. We were on at least three guided Butterfly Walks together. They are waiting to get their Pentex Papillo Binoculars 0.5 like mine.  I shared with them with others on Butterfly Walks at Estero and Santa Ana. The binoculars can focus to 18 inches. The binoculars are wonderful but when you have a good camera that you can enlarge, they are not as essential. (March 9th)  If I have miss identified any butterflies, please let me know. I am a novice butterflier and there are many that are so similar.
Marine Blue is gray & white with 2 jewel insets.

Two Marine Blue Butterflies
My small butterfly binoculars: Pentax Papillio 0.5m
Sorry this photo is in the middle of the butterflies. 
Marine Blue male more solid blue & female with gray edges
Marine Blue female higher & male lower
Skipper Un-ID-ed 
Little Yellow

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Fulvous Ducks at Edinburg

     Four Fulvous Whistling Ducks were hiding out on Pintail Lakes at Santa Ana most of February. It was a good day to locate them.  In early March six could be viewed from the enclosed blinds. On March 9th a small flock were in full sight with the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at the ponds at Edinburg Scenic Wetlands. Both the Black-bellied and the Fulvous  make whistling sounds. It seemed too easy to photograph them after spending hours hiking the trails to spot them.