February 1, 2014 Lacassine NWR, Louisiana

Gadwalls in flight
Gadwalls in flight

Satellite System Fixed !

Finally, the great Winegard crisis of 2014 is successfully resolved! Well. it was sort of important to me, now I get to watch the Superbowl!

Turns out the ominous error message I got yesterday “ El Home Motor Failure “ did not mean the motor had failed, but that the elevation motor failed to find it’s home location, thus couldn’t begin it’s search sequence. My 4th call to tech help at Winegard this AM proved to be the charm, as I got a knowledgeable, friendly guy who guided me through the recalibration of the interface box that resulted in a fully functioning satellite system once again.

Overall, mostly because of this last tech rep, plus the fact that English was the first language of all the reps I dealt with, plus the fact that Winegard did promptly return all 4 calls I had to make to them, I would have to say that the company did a pretty good job of resolving my system failure. Three of the four reps I dealt with were courteous and helpful and, I suppose, the shipping error was probably just one of those things that happen sometimes, even to the best of companies, and their willingness to overnight the correct item was the right thing to do.

Gadwalls in flight
Gadwalls in flight

Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge

With that behind me, and with intermittant sun poking through the cloud cover, I decided to take off and revisit Lacassine NWR this afternoon. The fairly heavy cloud cover interrupted by brief moments of bright sun made exposure setting kind of tricky this afternoon, but I managed to get a few decent shots out of many taken.

Click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Black=bellied Whistling duck
Black=bellied Whistling duck

 

Black=bellied Whistling duck
Black=bellied Whistling duck
Black=bellied Whistling duck
Black=bellied Whistling duck

 

 

 

 

 

 

I came across a lone Black-bellied Whistling duck, a stunning bird when caught in flight, but, unfortunately, this one was content to just feed along the canal and wasn’t about to take off though I waited a long time for him to do so.

Moorhen
Big Foot

There are lots of these colorful moorhens around but this was the first one I found out of the water showcasing his truly weird oversized feet.

Gadwall takeoff
Gadwall takeoff

I spend the largest portion of the afternoon trying to get some decent flight shots of the numerous Gadwalls that were spread out all over the refuge. Unlike other ducks, Gadwalls don’t seem to flock up and I was only finding isolated pairs, and they were very, very skittish. As a result, I got a lot of nice sharp shots of Gadwall butts flying away and precious few useable shots, but here are some of the better ones.

Gadwall takeoff
Gadwall takeoff
Gadwall takeoff
Gadwall takeoff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gadwall takeoff
Gadwall takeoff
Gadwall takeoff
Gadwall takeoff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gadwalls takeoff
Gadwalls takeoff
Mallard pair takeoff
Mallard pair takeoff

A Mallard pair taking flight. Coming from up north and having lived on a lake in New Hampshire, I take mallards for granted as they are as common as pigeons back there, so I am surprised at how few Mallards I encounter on all the refuges down here in the south.

Yellow rumped warbler
Yellow rumped warbler

It took me a while to ID just who this little guy was as I am not accustomed to seeing warblers out on the surface of the water. The next shot looks more like where I would normally see one of these guys.

Yellow rumped warbler
Yellow rumped warbler

 

PossumPossum

And lastly, when this guy poked his head out of the reeds and started up the bank, for an instant I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. I guess I am more accustomed to seeing these guys as roadkill, not with the ability to actually move.

 

 

 

 

 

January 30, 2014 Moving Day

Roseate spoonbills feeding
Roseate spoonbills

Moving day  Bolivar Peninsula, Texas to Iowa, Louisiana

 

Headed up Route 87 to High Island then inland on Route 124 to Winnie where I joined up with I-10 East. Got off I-10 east at Orange, Texas exit and filled up at the Pilot truck stop right on the exit. Plenty of room on an actual RV gas island!

Called the Wingard shop down the road to see if they could help me with my satellite dish problem and turns out they can’t because their tech’s car won’t start so he won’t be in today. The owner said he thought it probably was a problem with the DirecTv box, of course, shift the blame.

Stopping and letting the dogs out at the truck stop proved to be a wise move because when I checked the tires while out with the dogs, I noticed the curbside tire on the tow dolly was completely flat. 5 minutes before, while I was filling up, it appeared fine. So, I unloaded the Toyota scissor jack and found that it wouldn’t even begin lifting the car, absolutely useless. Fortunately, I had my old small hydraulic jack in the RV and, even though it had once again leaked fluid all over the storage box, it did lift the dolly up enough so I could work it with the scissor jack to finish the change

… with the help of a young Spanish speaking trucker who was parked nearby and insisted on helping, though he spoke no English. He dove right in, so accepted the help, it was appreciated, and I figured I would give him a twenty for the 10 minutes help, so no big deal, even though I could have finished up by myself. With the job completed, I took my wallet out and grabbed a bill, but he absolutely refused to take anything, simply shook my hand, smiled, and walked away.Once in a while, my tenuous faith in humanity gets shored up a bit by the kindness of strangers.

I arrived at Cypress Bend RV Park in Iowa, LA right at noon, and when I went to check in and they had 2 packages waiting for me, my replacement lens foot from Really Right Stuff for my new camera lens ( that is on backorder from Adorama ) and a replacement LNB unit from the Winegard Satellite people. They said they were shipping out a coax cable that goes from the dish base to the LNB unit, but must have changed their diagnosis of my problem. Hope this is the problem, have to give Winegard some credit though, they responded quickly.

With a little sun popping through around 1 PM, I decided to forego the satellite dish repair and head down to Cameron NWR to take advantage of a day with sunlight. On the way, I stopped at the Lake Charles Toyota dealership to see if they can get my speed sensor ordered and installed while I am in the area. I showed their service people the documentation from Galveston Toyota showing the need for a new speed sensor to resolve my cruise control and warning lights situation. The Galveston dealer had told me it would take at least a week to get the part in ( from California he said ) and so I had to forego getting it fixed in Galveston a couple of weeks ago. Turns out there are four different speed sensors and the documentation from Galveston did not specify which one needed replacement so I had to hang around while the two dealerships got that straightened out. Here’s where I again start to lose faith… the Lake Charles dealership made me an appointment for first thing Monday morning to do the work and said that the part would be in overnight and it would come from Houston, so obviously I was getting a song and dance number in Galveston, don’t know why, unless they have an aversion to doing warranty work for people they haven’t sold to.

Cameron NWR

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

I have visited this wildlife refuge twice in the past and have had mixed results, but it always is worth a look see.

Glossy ibis
Glossy ibis

One of my favorite challenges is capturing the iridescent feathers of the Glossy ( or it could be a White-faced ) Ibis, most often appearing as a drab bronze-brown feathered bird. But if you   capture the sunlight at just the right angle you have a good chance of some seeing some amazing colors on that drab brown body.

Glossy ibis
Glossy ibis
Glossy ibis
Glossy ibis
Glossy ibis
Glossy ibis

 

Glossy ibis
Glossy ibis

 

Gadwall pair
Gadwall pair
Gadwall drake
Gadwall drake

 

 

 

 

 

I managed to add a new duck species to my photo catalog! The Gadwall is a not quite so common, nor colorful, duck that can be found here at the refuge most times.

Pintail pair
Pintail pair

I could hear shotgun blasts in the distance so I assume that might be why these pintails and most of the other birds were very skittish about my approach.

Cinnamon teal
Cinnamon teal

Seemed odd to encounter a single Cinammon Teal drake, not even any other teal nearby.

Black necked stilt
Black necked stilt

A feeding black-necked stilt.

Great blue heron
Great blue heron
Great blue heron
Great blue heron

 

 

 

 

 

There is no shortage of Great Blue Herons at the refuge.

Redtail hawk in flight
Redtail hawk in flight

 

Redtail hawk in flight
Redtail hawk in flight

And there are usually more raptors around than just this single Red-tailed Hawk I encountered today.

Moorhen on the run
Moorhen on the run

Lastly, a Common Moorhen doing what all birds today seemed inclined to do, running away!

January 25, 2014 (a second post) Anahuac NWR

Redtail hawk
Redtail hawk

Sun melted all the ice away by 10 AM and I decided to return to Anahuac NWR to check on birds and see if some nice weather might have brought some in. It did!

As always, click on any image to get a larger, sharper version.

There appears to be a lot more water in Anahuac than I remember there being in the past, perhaps they got a little relief from their long drought this summer? Anyhow, lots of snow geese and greater white-fronted geese in the fields and more ducks than I have seen here before, all of these birds are staying out of range though.

Common moorhen
Common moorhen
Common moorhen
Common moorhen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tons of coots and some common moorhens mixed in with them in the canals. I like the colorful matching beak and legs on these guys.

Snowy egret
Snowy egret
Great blue heron in flight before sunrise
Great blue heron in flight
Snowy egret landing
Snowy egret landing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great blue herons, great egrets, and snowy egrets abound.

Saw a male northern harrier on two occasions but just couldn’t react quick enough to get a good shot. Someday!

Redtail hawk liftoff !
Redtail hawk liftoff !

I did manage a couple of nice flight shots of an immature red tail hawk ( I think that is what this is, I am not very good with my hawk ID’s, especially youngsters )

Krider's redtail hawk in flight
Krider’s redtail hawk in flight

and one nice flight shot of what I was told is a Krider’s red tail hawk, that one is not even in my bird book!

White ibis landing
White ibis landing

A few white ibis rounded out a good day at Anahuac NWR.

Brown pelican head on
Brown pelican head on
White ibis landing
White ibis landing
Snowy egret
Snowy egret

 

 

 

 

 

Snowy egret
Snowy egret
Snowy egret
Snowy egret
Snowy egret
Snowy egret