December 18, 2013 Falcon Lake, Texas

Full moon over Texas
Full moon over Texas

Another nice day at Falcon State Park in Texas, sunny with temps in the 70’s. Spent a few hours in the morning in my blind at the campsite without a lot of luck. The clouds of blackbirds and grackles descending on the feeders are driving most of the desirable birds away, and my efforts at discouraging them also seem to have a negative impact on the birds I am trying to attract, I may just have to give up.

Eurasian collared dove with white winged dove
Eurasian collared dove with white winged dove
Eurasian collared doves
Eurasian collared doves

 

 

 

 

 

Discouraged, I took a trip over to the Salineno feeding station to see what the action looked like there. While there I had a nice conversation with the volunteer couple and got their help identifying my two small mystery birds. They had a couple of Altimira orioles and an Audubon oriole show up while I was there, along with a ladder backed woodpecker, all birds I had not seen at my site. The problem at this spot is that the action is just too far away for my getting any good images. It is set up as a great spot to sit back and observe the birds fairly close up, maybe with some binos or a small scope, but it just isn’t set up for taking quality images of these small birds.

I feel like I am being watched by a cardinal on my RV mirror
I feel like I am being watched!

Back home while working on the computer, the male cardinal that has been coming to the feeders all week took up a new home on my mirrors and windshield wipers, seemingly very interested in what was going on inside my motorhome.

Northern bobwhite quail
Northern bobwhite quail

Got a quick shot of some northern bobwhites ( quail ) through my window as they were scratching around under my feeder for scattered seeds. These are new birds for me and quite attractive, I guess I will have to delay my departure tomorrow morning ( heading for the beach in Port Aransas ) and see if I can entice them back in here and get some good shots of them from the blind.

 

Mockingbird
Mockingbird
White winged dove
White winged dove
Eurasian collared dove
Eurasian collared dove

 

 

 

 

 

Pyrrhuloxia
Pyrrhuloxia

 

 

 

 

December 12, 2013 Falcon Lake, Texas

Inca doves huddling for warmth
Inca doves huddling for warmth

Another interesting day at the bird feeding station

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

Yet another dull, grey day spitting a little drizzle now and then, gets me starting to wonder if the sun will ever make another appearance here in south Texas. Yet I am very happy with the blind and feeder setup here, right next to the motorhome. I am able to draw in quite a few birds, with new varieties showing up each day. The Salineno bird feeding site I visited last week was where I figured I would be spending all my time while here, yet I have not even thought about going back down there since I really don’t see how I could do any better than what I am getting right here. Plus this is a heck of a lot more convenient and also more comfortable, what a great campsite!

Prryhuloxia
Prryhuloxia

My only serious drawbacks here, in addition to no decent light since the sun refuses to cooperate, are the clouds of red wing blackbirds that hover around the campsite waiting for me to drop my attention so they can come in and clean out the feeders, and the campgrounds’ resident gang of javelinas. When I was here a few years back, I remember the birders at the Salineno site would use a slingshot to scare the blackbirds off when they would descend, sometimes by the hundreds, to clean out their feeders, so far here, I only have to clap my hands or bang on the side of the motorhome to get them to leave… but, they do always return.

The javelinas are another story! They are not easily discouraged and will only leave if I physically chase them out, and, of course, they return the instant I get back in the blind. They completely ignore my yelling or clapping from inside the blind or the motorhome, even though they are only 15 feet away, and my attempts to throw rocks at them from inside the confines of the blind are a little pathetic and produce no results. Today, while I took a lunch break, they somehow managed to once again rip down my platform feeder and devour a day’s worth of seed and lard/peanut butter mix, along with a couple of oranges, all in a manner of just minutes. They are really starting to annoy me.

Help! I don't know what this mystery bird is
Help! I don’t know what this is
Female Nashville warbler, maybe?
Female Nashville warbler, maybe?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newcomers today were two birds I really do not know what they are, if anyone out there can help me identify these two, I would really appreciate it! I am only guessing when I label this one a female Nashville warbler and I can find nothing in my bird books to identify the other, even though you would think the striped head would make identification quite easy.

Eurasian-collared Dove
Eurasian-collared Dove
Eurasian-collared Dove
Eurasian-collared Dove

 

 

 

 

 

Inca dove
Inca dove

The Inca doves were new to me and the Eurasian-collared dove also. I am a little confused about the collared dove ID, since the Eurasian-collared dove and the Collared turtle dove are both present in Texas and, to me, look quite similar, and I do see a slight difference in the two photos of these collared doves, so who knows? Again. if anyone out there can help out, I would appreciate it!

Northern cardinal
Northern cardinal
Green jay
Green jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green jay
Green jay
Green jay
Green jay
Female hooded oriole, I think!
Female hooded oriole, I think!

 

 

 

 

 

Green jay
Green jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 10, 2013 Falcon Lake, Texas

Brown thrasher
Brown thrasher

This morning started to show some signs of the overcast skies breaking a little and the forecast called for it to warm up a little, so, seeing that my feeder setup was attracting some attention, I guess today would be a good day to start getting serious about getting some decent bird shots. For the first time on this trip, today I will set up the photo blind!

My bird photo studio
My bird photo studio

 

 

The blind allows me to get closer to these small birds than I otherwise could and also gets me closer to the ground resulting a in a better perspective than when shooting from a standing position, kind of getting down to their level.

 

 

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

 

Pyrrhuloxia
Pyrrhuloxia
Mockingbird
Mockingbird

 

 

 

 

 

Prryhuloxia portrait
Prryhuloxia portrait
Brown thrasher portrait
Brown thrasher portrait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Javelinas
Here comes trouble
Prryhuloxia
Prryhuloxia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green jay
Green jay
Pyrrhuloxia
Pyrrhuloxia
Green jay
Green jay
Prryhuloxia
Prryhuloxia

 

 

 

 

 

Green jay
Green jay
Prryhuloxia female
Prryhuloxia female
Prryhuloxia
Prryhuloxia

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 8, 2013 Falcon Lake, Texas

Green jay
Green jay
Pyrrhuloxia
Pyrrhuloxia

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got birdseed and some lard/peanut butter/cornmeal paste out in my platform feeder, along with seed in the new feeder, plus some jam for the orioles, and got them all positioned on the brush surrounding my campsite and they have already attracted several green jays and a pair of pyrrhuloxia. Hopefully I can figure out a way to get some nice shots of these colorful birds as soon as the weather decides to cooperate. Yes, it still is cold, wet, and dreary.

Click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Drove down the road to Salineno where the feeding station by the river used to be several years ago when I was last here. I was told the station, located just 100 feet or so from the Rio Grande River had been discontinued due to safety concerns because of it’s proximity to the border. Imagine my pleasant surprise to find that it has been reopened! In speaking to the couple who were tending the site today, they told me that the site was closed last year, but had been reopened for this season and staffed by a new volunteer group. Last time I was here, a volunteer actually had their 5th wheel set up under the trees onsite, that is not the case anymore, but the site is open from 8 – 4 daily as on right now.

In my brief stay there today, there really wasn’t much bird activity going on and the volunteer there told me it still was a little early in the season and the fact that there were substantial rains late in the fall means that there is still plenty of natural feed in the surrounding fields and shrub land to satisfy the birds hunger for now.