May 14, 2016 Clayton Lake State Park, New Mexico

Abandoned Building
Abandoned Building

On to Clayton Lake State Park

Clayton Lake State Park Campsite
Clayton Lake State Park Campsite

After a ten day stay at Ute Lake State Park where I was able to get caught up on a lot on internet based work, thanks to the park’s great WiFi, I headed out Monday for Clayton Lake State park, just a couple hours northeast of Logan but a couple thousand feet higher in elevation.
I arrived at Clayton mid-afternoon and got settled in on my reserved Site E3, a level site just large enough to accomodate my rig and tow dolly. This is a site with water and 30 amp electric, no sewer, and, be aware, the park does not have a dump station. There is a nice sheltered picnic table on a concrete pad, along with a metal grill. Decent separation between sites, but there really is no privacy. A couple dings, to me anyhow, are the way too bright presence of a tall street light at the bottom of the hill that casts a strong beam up the hill and makes enjoying the clear starlit skies impossible. The other is the absolute lack of any Verizon signal. You can drive about six miles back towards Clayton and pick up a useable signal.

Clayton Lake State Park Primitive Campsite
Clayton Lake State Park Primitive Campsite

If I were to stay here again, I would take one of two or three primitive sites that are large enough to handle my rig and get away from the bright light in the electric section of the campground.

Clayton Lake State Park Primitive Campsite
Clayton Lake State Park Primitive Campsite

Exploring the Wide Open Spaces

New Mexico Grasslands
New Mexico Grasslands

I have been driving the back roads in the area looking for abandoned ranches and wildlife and have had a little success in that regard.

Abandoned Ranch House
Abandoned Ranch House

For the most part, this is a flat, wide open, mostly featureless grasslands landscape, yet on a blue sky day, especially one with puffy cumulous clouds, it still holds a lot of appeal to me.
Have to cover a lot of ground out here in this sparsely populated region to find these abandoned buildings.

Abandoned Building
Abandoned Building
Abandoned Ranch House
Abandoned Ranch House
Abandoned Ranch House
Abandoned Ranch House
Abandoned Ranch House
Abandoned Ranch House
Abandoned Ranch
Abandoned Ranch
Grasslands Pronghorn
Grasslands Pronghorn

I have been delighted to find small groups of pronghorns everywhere out here, even saw one doe with a new fawn, but didn’t have time to get a shot of them. Many of the does look quite close to delivering, so I hope I am able to see a few newborns before I leave, something I have not come across with pronghorns before.

New Mexico Grasslands Pronghorn
New Mexico Grasslands Pronghorn
Pronghorn on the Plains
Pronghorn on the Plains
Pronghorn
Pronghorn
Pronghorn
Pronghorn
Prairie Dog Community
Prairie Dog Community

Along the gravel back roads, I also am seeing a lot of prarie dog towns, but they always scurry down their burrows whenever I stop to get a shot. They seem pretty scared of any vehicle stopping which leads me to believe that perhaps they are used as target practice by the area ranchers?

Lots of Birds

Western Kingbird
Western Kingbird

And of course, I am finding new birds to shoot. It really is pretty amazing the number of birds inhabiting this featureless landscape. Literally hundreds of them all along the dusty back roads, perched on the barbed wire fences that line both sides of the many miles of back roads here.
Although new to me, most of these guys are very common birds on the open plains. The one thing I have not seen, not a single one, is any form of raptor, no hawks at all, wonder if I am just missing them, or if there is a reason for their absence.

Horned Lark
Horned Lark
Lark Bunting
Lark Bunting
Red-shafted Flicker
Red-shafted Flicker
Lark Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Cliff Swallows
Cliff Swallows
Western Kingbird
Western Kingbird
Red-shafted Flicker
Red-shafted Flicker

I am not going to be doing many posts over the next several weeks, as the lack of a Verizon signal in the areas I am staying, and will be traveling in, makes uploading posts a bit of a challenge. Really enjoying the moderate temperatures and the dry air, cool nights, and unlimited visibility in these higher elevations, just a perfect spring climate for my tastes. I am at an elevation of about 6000′ here and will continue climbing upwards for the next few months. And unfortunately, Verizon signals will be hard to find.

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March 20, 2016 Salineno Birding Area, Texas

Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals

End of the Season, Time to Move On

Worked the final shift today and closed the gates at 4 PM for the last time this season.

This week I am heading a little north to the Texas Hill Country to hopefully catch the spring wildflower bloom. Anyone out there with any suggestions for where to go and where to stay? I would love to hear from you!

Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals

Male Cardinals continue their mating season animosities. There are as many as a dozen males in the yard at a time all winter and there are very few squabbles, but, with spring in the air, in the last week that has all changed.

Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals

And so, now, the last of the Salineno small bird shots … I promise.

Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Altamira Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Female Northern Cardinals
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Female Northern Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinal
Female Northern Cardinal

FemalePostLookDown

Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Green Jay
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Green Jay
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Red-winged Blackbird
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Red-winged Blackbird

GoldenFrontGrJayAndBlkBirdPost

Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Green Jay
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Green Jay
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Great Kiskadee
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Great Kiskadee
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Great Kiskadee
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Great Kiskadee
Green Jay
Green Jay

GJiLandingPostDark

A Gathering of Green Jays
A Gathering of Green Jays
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Great Kiskadee
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Great Kiskadee
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinal and Long-billed Thrasher
Northern Cardinal and Long-billed Thrasher
Female Northern Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinals

All my small bird images have been processed and most of the decent ones have been posted, so now (finally) on to new subject matter! Thanks for bearing with me.

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March 19, 2016 Salineno Birding Area, Texas

Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove

Tomorrow it all Ends

Hard to believe that five months here have passed so quickly, but with the recent heat, I would have to say, I am ready to head for cooler climes.

Salineno Birding Area
Salineno Birding Area

It dawned on me that I had never shown you the bird feeding yard here at Salineno, the scene of all these small birds in flight shots. So the image above shows you where all the action takes place and where 80 % of all the shots shown on this blog were taken.

Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove

The other 20% were taken next to where my motorhome is parked, just a hundred feet or so from the the feeding yard shown above.

Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove

On many of my two days off, I haul my portable post (feeding) prop over to my site and set up a small feeding area of my own.

Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove

Here I have no overhanging branches and shadows to contend with, as I do in the main yard. Also have a completely different type of background where I can get some nice soft pastel colors to show as a backdrop for the birds.

Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove

You can probably tell I kind of liked the interaction of this White-tipped Dove and the Great Kiskadee, set against that wonderful watercolor wash background.

Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Long-billed Thrasher and Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher and Great Kiskadee

The Dove was not the only other bird to contest the Kiskadee for the peanutbutter/lard/cornmeal mix concealed in the top of the post.

Long-billed Thrasher and Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher and Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher and Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher and Great Kiskadee
Great Kiskadee and Green jay
Great Kiskadee and Green jay
Long-billed Thrasher and Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher and Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher and Green Jay
Long-billed Thrasher and Green Jay
Great Kiskadee and Green jay
Great Kiskadee and Green jay
Great Kiskadee and Green jays
Great Kiskadee and Green jays
Great Kiskadee and Green Jay
Great Kiskadee and Green Jay
Great Kiskadee and Green Jay
Great Kiskadee and Green Jay
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals

It’s that time of year and the males are fighting.

Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Audubon Oriole and Green Jay
Audubon Oriole and Green Jay

” What you doing down there, Shorty !”

Northern Cardinals and Green Jay
Northern Cardinals and Green Jay
Northern Cardinals and Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Northern Cardinals and Golden-fronted Woodpecker

A Couple New Closeups

Female Northern Bobwhite
Female Northern Bobwhite

We have two coveys of Northern Bobwhites that come in several times a day so I thought I ought to make some effort to get a couple nice ground level shots of these neat little birds. Above a female and below the male.

Male Northern Bobwhite
Male Northern Bobwhite
Ladder-backed Woodpeck
Ladder-backed Woodpecker

A male Ladder-backed Woodpecker with a nice soft green background. The background, up until this last week, would have been bare branches with bright sky holes, but now the mesquite trees are displaying their spring green finery.

Female Black-headed Grosbeak
Female Black-headed Grosbeak

And finally, a rare South Texas visitor, one female Black-headed Grosbeak, visiting us regularly over the past three weeks.

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March 12, 2016 Salineno Birding Area, Texas

Audubon Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Audubon Oriole and Northern Cardinal

Eight Days to Go !

Northern Cardinal and Long-billed Thrasher
Northern Cardinal and Long-billed Thrasher

We have had our first serious rainfall over the past two days, the first in four plus months to be exact. So that allowed me to catch up with some image processing, thus, yes, still more bird shots from Salineno.

Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Altamira Oriole and Female Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Female Cardinal
Audubon Oriole and Green Jay
Audubon Oriole and Green Jay
Audubon Oriole and Great Kiskadee
Audubon Oriole and Great Kiskadee
Green jays
Green jays
Green jays
Green jays
Green jay and Great Kiskadee
Green jay and Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher and Female Northern Cardinal
Long-billed Thrasher and Female Northern Cardinal
Long-billed Thrasher
Long-billed Thrasher

Red-winged Blackbirds

Red-winged Blackbird Harassing Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird Harassing Northern Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbirds are a very real problem here as elsewhere that birds are being fed, they want their share of the handouts, and obviously feel that their share is about 99% of the food put out.

Red-winged Blackbird Harassing Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Red-winged Blackbird Harassing Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Their constant, relentless attempts to mob the feeding area have admittedly gotten to me over the four months of attempting to keep them at bay. Their shrill trilling from the treetops around the yard and from their hidden perches in the bushes within the yard are like nails on a chalkboard to me.

Red-winged Blackbird and Green jay
Red-winged Blackbird and Green jay
Red-winged Blackbird and Green jays
Red-winged Blackbird and Green jays

My absolute disgust with these birds has made me reluctant to include images of them on this blog, or anywhere else for that matter. But they most certainly are part of the “action” shots I have been taking, for they are the central characters in most of the conflicts over food here.

Red-winged Blackbirds and Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds and Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole

They arrive in numbers the second I turn my back or whenever I have my eyes locked to the back of my camera, driving off the birds we are trying to attract through sheer force of numbers.

Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole

The Altamira Oriole is normally the yards dominant bird, not really backing down to any other bird when challenged, but even they are eventually forced to yield when the Blackbirds descend in numbers.

An Unusual Red-winged Blackbird
An Unusual Red-winged Blackbird

Lastly, this rather different Red-winged Blackbird showed up a couple of weeks ago and I have no explanation for the odd coloring. Anybody seen anything like this or know the reason for it?

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