Thursday, January 30, 2014

Perching Birds at Santa Ana

All photos were taken at Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge 
7 miles south of Alamo, Texas. It is our closest birding park.

                                                                      Black-crested Titmouse
Minnesota has the Tufted Titmouse                                                     

                   Eastern Phoebe, a MN backyard bird

                                             Ani, a visitor from Mexico
                                                           Kiskadee a southern regular

                 Sparrow Hawk / American Kestrel


                                        Olive Sparrow
is a very common warbler like         sparrow in the Valley.

Vermilion Flycatcher Female, Male is Red and hard to photo.
Brown Thrasher

                              The cardinals here are very red compared to our backyard cardinals.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Lucky Morning at Santa Ana

    The photos are not the best because of lighting. Birds don't always cooperate and 
sit with the sun on your right shoulder as is recommended in the photography class. 

   The Brown Thrasher was a surprise to see 12 feet above us. They are usually on the
ground thrashing the leaf litter looking for insects. They have nested in our yard in past years. They are lovely birds with their subtle rust/brown coloring.

A Harris's Hawk was sitting high in a close tree as we hiked. 
 It was hard keeping the camera still trying to capture it.

The female Vermilion Flycatcher was the highlight of the morning. She drew a crowd as she flight out to catch her lunch and come back to the highest snag. A Tropical Kingbird would chase it off occasionally.
At first we thought it was a Says Phoebe but then we had to admit it was not a first but a female.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Belted Kingfisher at Santa Ana

We finally saw our first Belted Kingfisher this winter. It is a familiar backyard bird for us. It is a common but secretive bird. Last year in Minnesota the kingfisher stayed 20 feet ahead of me on many occasions. I did not get a good photo since he keep twigs and other clutter between him and me. The Rio Grande Valley has three Kingfishers during the winter. This  mid-size Kingfisher only resides here in the winter. We are still in pursuit of the largest, Ringed. Edinburgh was where we spotted the smaller Green Kingfisher. We are looking for the Ringed Kingfisher. So far none of our friends have spotted it. 

No fish but he caught a water-bug. 

   He did eventually swallow the beetle.  The female has a rust/red belt across the breast.

Male Green Kingfisher
                                                                     That is all, folks!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Photo Safari at Estero Llano Grande

The photography safari and class the next day was helpful.  Here are some photos from Sunday, January 19th. Both days were warm/hot sunny day. Most photos were taken near Alligator Lake. Gunnar stayed at the apartment since he was under the weather.

Orange crowned Warbler, most common warbler in the RGV

 My Cannon Powershot SX50 could take in this owl in the shadow of his house which has seen its best day.

 Immature Red tail Hawk

Great Egret 


Yellow Crown Night Heron

Immature Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Common Paraque, night moth hunters asleep during the day.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Santa Ana's Grooved Ani(s)

The sighting of 5 Ani(s) is the goal of most birders in the Valley. This is a first for us, novice TX birders. They look like blackbirds but have a large thick bill. We saw 2 and heard 3 last week but yesterday 2 were in plain sight by the Pintail Lakes. We went out early 8am in deep fog and 50 degrees. By 11 the sun was out but the wind was blowing hard, I could not keep my camera still at times.

One of the five flew up after a hawk flew over on a very windy day a week later.  We saw all five after an hour of hiking.

The others popped up and joined the first.

Here's looking at you!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Full Moon in Texas

Last night, January 15, was a clear cool night at Estero Lando Grande State Park in Weslaco, TX.  There were not many critters out including moths and other insects. We heard many shore birds such as killdeer, stilts and avocets and also frogs and toads. The only mammal we spotted were two rabbits, but we came upon bobcat scat and tracks. The guide said she has tracked 3 javelinas and 5 bobcats.