January 17, 2018 Falcon Lake State Park, Texas

Female Cardinal and Prryhuloxia
Female Cardinal and Prryhuloxia

The Cold Catches Up with Me

Temperatures last night dropped into the mid twenties and daytime temps only climbed into the thirties, it even spit a tiny bit of snow for a few minutes. So I mostly stayed inside and worked on the computer and took a trip to Rio Grand City to have my monthly bloodwork done and pick up some birdseed at Tractor Supply.

Pyrrhuloxia Pair
Pyrrhuloxia Pair

I had no real desire to venture outside and do any bird photography, but I did feel sorry for the birds in this extreme cold ( for South Texas, not the rest of you suffering from REAL cold a little farther up north ), and so went out occasionally and filled two feeders. Looking out the window, I did observe a lot of activity around those two feeders, with much more concentrated action on my post feeder than I was getting in previous days when the birds had more choices of where to land and feed.

Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird

So, around three in the afternoon, I finally bundled up and grabbed the tripod and camera and set up to take advantage of the flurry of activity, hoping to be able to get some nice action shots.

Northern Cardinal and Red-winged Blackbird
Northern Cardinal and Red-winged Blackbird

Plenty of action, but unfortunately, because of the leaden gray skies, there was very limited light to shoot by and I was forced to use an extremely high ISO to be able to freeze any action at all resulting in very noisy images not suitable for enlargement or publication.

Northern Cardinal and Red-winged Blackbird
Northern Cardinal and Red-winged Blackbird

But the great interactions caught in this poor light might make for some good photo references for possible future paintings and I thought I might share them on the blog as well.

Green Jay and Red-winged Blackbird
Green Jay and Red-winged Blackbird

As I wasn’t outside fending off the blackbirds most of the day, they now felt entitled to come in even though I was out there. I absolutely despise these birds, that always arrive in huge numbers, because of all the food they consume and how they manage to drive off all the birds I am usually trying to shoot. But I will have to grudgingly admit that they did make a contribution to some of the better captures I managed today.

Female Northern Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinals

It is supposed to remain frigid tomorrow and then start to return to normal temps by the weekend, so there may be some decent, much sharper action shots  yet to be had.

Female Cardinal and Pyrrhuloxia
Female Cardinal and Pyrrhuloxia

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January 11, 2018 Falcon Lake State Park, Texas

Pyrhuloxia
Pyrhuloxia

 Back to the Birds Again

After getting settled in at Falcon Lake State Park, I took a short drive over to the Salineno Birding Area where I volunteered a couple winters ago to say hi to Lois and Merle and see what changes may have occurred over the the last couple of years.

Not much changed, still a premier spot to see lots of birds up close in comfort with a couple of knowledgeable hosts to help with identification. A few trees have drooped a bit more and that led to a relocation for the host’s fifth wheel and thus the seating area is now a bit farther away from the action, but the colorful orioles, kiskadees, and green jays are still there in abundance.

Falcon Lake State Park

I chose a campsite with water and electric only rather than one with full hookups since the full hookup section is more open and the sites are a little closer together than I like. My pull through site is surrounded by dense shrubs and trees providing nice privacy, but, more importantly, the same shrubs and trees provide cover and perches for my feathered friends.

I set out a hummingbird feeder, an oriole feeder, a couple of platform feeders, my old reliable fencepost for the lard/peanut butter/cornmeal concoction, then spread a little cracked corn and sunflower seed around the edges of my feeding area, sat back and waited to see who would arrive.

Curve-billed Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher
Long-billed Thrasher
Long-billed Thrasher

It didn’t take long for two types of thrashers to come scooting out from the edge cover to grab some corn and scurry back to cover to eat.

Curve-billed Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher

This thrashers seem quite reluctant to spent much time in the open, lurking just on the edge of the feeding area …

Curve-billed Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher

… then dashing out and grabbing a couple of kernels of corn before retreating to the shadows.

Curve-billed Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher

 

Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren

This cute little guy is all but impossible to keep up with, constantly on the move with herky jerky action, hopping from bush to bush, bush to ground, up and down the feeders, just never standing still.

Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren
Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren

 

Olive Sparrow
Olive Sparrow

The Olive Sparrow is one of the birds folks come here to add to their birding lists.

Olive Sparrow
Olive Sparrow

He’s another bird of the edges like the thrashers, reluctant to leave the cover of the bushes on the edges of the feeding area.

 

Pyrhuloxia
Pyrhuloxia

There are a couple of pairs of Pyrhuloxia coming in regularly and this is the first time I have been able to get some nice close shots of these guys.

Pyrhuloxia
Pyrhuloxia

 

Inca Dove
Inca Dove

So far, these small Inca Doves are the only doves that have shown up here.

Inca Dove
Inca Dove

 

Orange Crowned Warbler
Orange Crowned Warbler

Lots of Orange -crowned Warblers coming in.

 

Northern Bobwhite
Northern Bobwhite

I was pleasantly surprised when this lone male Northern Bobwhite came strolling in right next to my chair and began feeding on cracked corn, seemingly oblivious to my presence.

Northern Bobwhite
Northern Bobwhite

A little unusual to see a lone Bobwhite, but I assume the rest of the flock must be somewhere near by and hope they will eventually all come in.

 

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

So far at least two pair of Northern Cardinals have made an appearance.

Female Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

 

Black Crested Titmouse
Black Crested Titmouse

Black-crested Titmice come and grab their single seed and hop off to the bushes to break them open.

Black Crested Titmouse
Black Crested Titmouse

 

Green Jay
Green Jay

One of my all-time favorite birds, the colorful Green Jay, is here in abundance.

Green Jay
Green Jay

As you can see above, they are not shy about helping themselves to plenty of my offerings.

 

Female Great-tailed Grackle
Female Great-tailed Grackle

Great-tailed Grackles arrive in large flocks, along with the ever present scourge of Red-winged Blackbirds. These pests I have to actively discourage to keep the food available for the birds I am looking to photograph. They do get to clean up the area ( along with the javelinas ) in late afternoon when I quit shooting for the day.

An Agility Test

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

I put out an old two liter Coke bottle that I had crudely cut up to make a hanging feeder, more to show my presence than to actually have birds use it since the platform feeders are much, much easier to access.

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

But here, a few birds have mastered the ability to land on this feeder and have unfettered access to some sunflower seeds without having to share with other birds.

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

Watching them land and then try to hang on as the feeder blows around in the stiff breeze is quite interesting.

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal
Green Jay
Green Jay
Green Jay
Green Jay
Green Jay
Green Jay
Pyrhuloxia
Pyrhuloxia

The weather here since my arrival has been absolutely perfect, sunny 70 degree days and clear starlit skies with night time temps in the lower 50’s. Not real sure how long I will stay here before heading up the coast to shoot Whooping Cranes and ducks, as well as check out the hurricane damage around Port Aransas and Lockport.

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March 10, 2015 Sierra Vista, Arizona

Red-shafted Northern Flicker
Red-shafted Northern Flicker

A Morning with the Birds at the Ash Canyon B & B

Got up and was out the door at 7 AM, driving south down Route 92 to Turkey Track Road to visit the Ash Canyon B & B and do some bird photography. Several years ago I found several types of orioles as well as hummingbirds here, including the rare Lucifer Hummingbird. Mary Jo, the owner of the B & B has been tending several bird feeding stations here in the foothills for many years, and as such attracts huge numbers of resident birds as well as migrating species, without a doubt one of the best spots to see birds in the Sierra Vista area. There are many comfortable chairs arranged around the feeding area as well as under the veranda and Mary Jo is often out there with you sighting and identifying birds as they fly in and out in fairly large numbers. She also has laid out a variety of birding books by her door to help folks with ID’s. Without a doubt, a must visit spot for anyone visiting southeast Arizona !

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

Red-shafted Northern Flicker
Red-shafted Northern Flicker
Red-shafted Northern Flicker
Red-shafted Northern Flicker

This Red-shafted Northern Flicker was a first for me, and alone would have made my day, but although it is still too early for hummingbirds and orioles to be arriving, there was more than enough action to keep me entertained.

Rufous Crowned Sparrow
Rufous Crowned Sparrow
White Breasted Nuthatch
White Breasted Nuthatch
White Breasted Nuthatch
White Breasted Nuthatch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small guys like the White-breasted nuthatch and the Rufous-crowned sparrow plus …

Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren
Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren
Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren

 

 

 

 

 

… really tiny guys like the Bewick’s Wren.LadderbackWoodpeckerVert

Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker
Ladderback Woodpecker
Ladderback Woodpecker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker

Ladderback and Acorn Woodpeckers we’re there as well as several Gila Woodpeckers.

Mexican Jay
Mexican Jay
Mexican Jay
Mexican Jay
Mexican Jay
Mexican Jay

These rather large Mexican Jays were a constant presence.

Audubon Warbler pair
Audubon Warbler pair

Large numbers of Audubon Warblers were here with an equal number of House Finches, several types of sparrows, spotted and canyon towhees, and yet more species that I did not get any good shots of.

Pyrrhuloxia
Male Pyrrhuloxia
Pyrrhuloxia
Female Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia were represented there as well as some interesting Yellow-nosed Cotton Rats, along with Arizona Gray Squirrels and Rock Squirrels. Very early in the morning there were a couple of deer that nosed up to the fence surrounding the property.

Mary Jo says she has two pair of Gray Hawks that nest on her property and she pointed out their calls a couple of times while I was there and I did get a quick glimpse of one drifting far above the property.

So, even though the stars of the show have yet to arrive, I spent a very rewarding 4 hours there today, and will return again next week to check on the orioles and hummingbirds.

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