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Archive for the ‘Texas Birds’ Category

Roadrunner with eye patch clearly visible

Roadrunner with eye patch clearly visible

What do I know about the Roadrunner that I did not know yesterday?  Quite a bit … as seen in these photos this bird has a bare patch of skin behind each eye. I knew that … and usually the bit I have seen is bright blue. In these pic’s you can actually see that the patch is shaded blue anterior to red posterior.  Never saw that before!!

Close up

Close up

We had the treat of varied weather with short spells of pelting rain: light, misty rain, blinding sunshine and foggy horizons as we drove to Falcon Lake in Texas. Once there we saw a dozen or more Roadrunners.  They had their feathers fluffed up because it had rained but were out in full force in the sunshine seeking breakfast. Getting out to get a good shot i noticed the X tracks in the wet sand … with four toes they have two facing forward and two facing backward. It is called zygodactyl … who knew?

Eyepatch is visible even from this view

Eyepatch is visible even from this view

They live in arid scrub land and mate for life which is why we saw them in pairs searching for grasshoppers in the wet grass.

Roadrunner hunting for lunch

Roadrunner hunting for lunch

What a treat they were as they sped away from us. It was a stormy day harking back to my childhood when every day we lived WITH the weather not running indoors to escape it. Blessed rain to be appreciated and enjoyed.

Cattail Toothpick Grasshopper

Cattail Toothpick Grasshopper

This may be what the roadrunner will find to munch on! I was hunting an elusive butterfly when touching a leaf caused a strange insect to cautiously climb up a stalk of grass and stop … so I took his picture instead of the splendid butterfly I was chasing.  Then he suddenly hopped … UP! … and OVER! a full 4 feet away. What an incredible distance for such a little guy.  We chased him and every hop was 4 to 6 feet at a hop. WOW!  I looked him up and he is a Cattail Toothpick Grasshopper found in the deep South around ponds and wet areas. He turned out to be a she as males are brown and females are green.

Cattail Toothpick Grasshopper

Cattail Toothpick Grasshopper

Here my friend holds the blade of grass she was perched on. You can see she’s about as big as a toothpick and shaped just like one!

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PUSH ME                                                                           PULL ME

The Inside                                                                          The Outside

What are the attractions of the world inside the South Padre Island Convention Center? The people, the booths of pottery, painting, note cards and unusual items. The hustle, the bustle, the opinions of the attendees about your paintings.

On the other hand, there are the attractions of the world outside on the beach. The birds, the butterflies, and the vast open reaches of sky and sea. The soothing sound of wind, the kites floating gently in the sky, and the flocks of Royal Terns and Black Skimmers huddled, facing the wind, on a sandy beach.

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Reading the Japanese poet Issa

A good world —
dew drops fall
by ones, by twos

Our Rose Throated Becard reflects the morning of January 20, 2017. He is fluffed up in the gray fog at Estero Llano and is obscured by drifting clouds of mist, yet his patch of rosy feathers shines out at us. We get a brief glimpse and then he is gone to find his breakfast. A poem written in the 1700-1800’s by Issa perfectly describes the park in Texas where we see him. The trees and bushes all have dew drops lined up along their stems and we hear their quiet drip as the mist begins to clear. Lovely morning.

Rose Breasted Becard

Rose Throated Becard

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We begin the New Year, 2016, with a trip to the overgrown, mysterious, Frontera Thicket. It is quiet as we wend our way down the path to sit at a bird feeding station. Soon several people rush by us and we shout, “What are you looking for? What have you seen?” One person turns, cup her hands around her mouth, and calls back “It’s the female Crimson-collared Grosbeak!”

We leap to our feet and follow them to a fence where a Brazilian Peppertree is loaded with red berries and two dozen pairs of binoculars are trained on the tree. “Oh, the Grosbeak must have flown away,” one person says with disgust. Everyone dribbles down the muddy path looking right and left. I stay, hoping the bird will return to the luscious berries.

And then she does! She teases me by perching in the backside of the tree so I struggle to focus through the tree branches, I get a lucky shot of her with her plain, greenish-yellow body and black head. Five years earlier I succeeded in recording a male Grosbeak with his splendid red (crimson) collar and now I have a matching pair of photos of this rare bird. Rare to the United States that is … it is more common in eastern Mexico.

A disconsolate group comes back up the path and are overjoyed to hear I saw the prize at her favored spot. They settle down for another try.

Home we go with happy hearts as the light rain stops and the sun breaks through the drifting clouds. A wonderful start to a New Year.

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South Padre Island has a boardwalk extending out into the ocean where access to shore birds is easy.

Skimmers

Skimmers

Carrina took this photo of the Black Skimmer.   A flock of approx 200 flew in to land next to us. All birds faced into the wind in unison.  Note the lower part of the beak is longer than the upper part. This is because they actually SKIM the top of the water with their beak open, scooping up tiny organisms. The neon orange color on their beaks was astonishing.

Brown Jay, next to the robin-sized Kisskadee

Brown Jay, next to the robin-sized Kisskadee

And then the Brown Jay, a rare visitor to the U.S., appearing this year after a 4 year absence.  He is quite a lot larger than our Calif. jays but still has the sassy ways of our Stellar jays … stealing food from other birds and fussing loudly if all is not pleasing him. He was seen at Salineno refuge, near Falcon Lake.

Hooded Oriole

Hooded Oriole

Also seen there was the exquisite Hooded Oriole … a deeper orange than most orioles and smaller.

Green Jay

Green Jay

Our visit at Salineno gave us views of 3 kinds of Orioles and the Green Jay.  What more can one ask of Texas??

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Crested Cara Cara

Crested Cara Cara

The land of the Crested Cara Cara … This powerful hunter ( 4 foot wingspan ) is in the Falcon family and appears in a few Texas locations and down into Central and South America.  Last night we had a seminar on the ancient art of Peru. The Cara Cara seems the perfect symbol for that culture …he is strong, (look at those feet!),  and has that piercing stare seen on pottery of Inca and Maya warriors … Our Prof., Bob Bradley, gave us a PowerPoint presentation of his research trips to Peru filled with amazing images of their art and artifacts.
Inca Pottery

Inca Pottery

Looks like Art History is going to cover all kinds of stimulating subjects!

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Black-vented Oriole

Black-vented Oriole

The Black-vented Oriole !!  Texas has several kinds of oriole … they come up from Mexico to build their nests.
The Black-vented is unusual for the Rio Grande Valley.   It is my hope to see him once more this autumn/winter.
The coral bean tree he feeds on will be in bloom in winter.  Celebrate the nectar!  Celebrate the color of the bloom!
Celebrate the swooping swiftness of his flight … as he alights in the early morning to sing! to sing!

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