McAllen

McAllen
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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pic of the Day


Queen Butterfly, Danaus gilippus:  The National Butterfly Center; Mission, Texas
     The Queen Butterfly is a North and South American species of the Nymphalidae family that consist of some 6,000 different butterfly species.  They have colorful upperwings that lay flat when resting.  Their contrasty, dull  underwings look like dead leaves, which provides the Queen Butterfly with cryptic camouflauge.   Other species of the Nymphalidae family include emperors, Monarch butterfly, admirals, tortoiseshells, and fritillaries.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/2000 second @ f5

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pic of the Day

Gulf Fritillary, Agaulis vanillae:  National Butterfly Center; Mission, Texas

     On Friday the 15th of November, I spent the morning at Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park photographing the many tropical species that can be found in south Texas.  With a bit of time to spare before moving on to Santa Ana NWR, the group I was with stopped at the National Butterfly Center (less than a mile from Bentsen). 

     The weather was overcast and cold when we arrived, but we took a stroll along one of the centers trails hoping to see some of the butterflies that make the center so famous. 
     When we started the walk there were a lot of butterflies clinging to the grasses along the trail.  About half way through the walk the sun broke through the clouds, and the temperature warmed immediately.  The Butterflies soon took flight and began feeding on the numerous flowers at the center.   I shot this Gulf Fritillary as it was feeding on flower nectar.  I’ll post other butterflies in later post.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/1250sec. @ f4.5

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pic of the Day

 Common Pauraque, Nyctidromus albicollis:
Estero Llano Grande State Park; Weslaco, Texas

     Last Sunday morning I visited Estero Llano Grande State Park, a wetland in Weslaco, Texas.  Water is abundant in this park and it host a variety of water birds such as Snowy Egret, White-faced Ibis, Little Blue Heron, Black-necked Stilts, and others.  I saw five lifers in the 2 1/2 hours that I was in the park: Green Kingfisher, Tropical Kingbird, Groved-billed Ani, Ringed Kingfisher, and Common Pauraque.  I also saw a Least Grebe, a lifer I saw the day before at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. 
     Of all these lifers I saw at Estero Llano Grande, I only got photographs of one, the Common Pauraque.  This was an easy bird to photography.  It was roosting on the forest floor.  I was fortunate to have a park naturalist by my side who took me right to the bird.  The Common Pauraque is a Nightjar, like the Common Nighthawk, Chuck-will's-widow and Whip-poor-will which are commonly known in the eastern states.
     As this photo show, the Common Pauraque is a master of camouflage.  Its plumage is perfectly adapted to blend into the leaf litter on the forest floor.  Once found, the bird is easy to see, but finding the Common Pauraque as it sits motionless on the forest floor is a hard task.  Thankfully I was with a naturalist who knew exactly where this bird roosted during the day.  At dusk the Common Pauraque comes to life and takes to the sky as it flies through the air scooping-up insects in its large froglike mouth.
     Just in case you can't make out the bird.  Its head and body is on the right half of the image (facing right), and the tail to the left.  Its small beak is in the middle of the page (up and down), and only a couple of inches in, from the right side of the image. It took quite a bit of maneuvering to keep foreground branches out of the image.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pic of the Day

   Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Amazilia yucatanesnsis:  
Edinburg Scenic Wetlands; Edinburg, Texas

     The Buff-bellied Hummingbird is a Mexican species that crosses north of the Rio Grande River, and is fairly common on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande Valley.  I saw my first Buff-bellied Hummingbird last Friday at Quinta Mazatlan Birding Center in downtown McAllen.

     This Buff-bellied was photographed at Edinburg Scenic Wetlands in Edinburg, Texas.  Edinburg is just north of McAllen.  The morning was quite cold for the Rio Grande Valley.  An arctic front that paralyzed half of the lower forty-eight last week had extended its grip all the way to the Mexican border.  I saw this Buff-bellied, and another feeding, then both descended into the plant foliage where it was, no doubt, warmer.
     The Edinburg Scenic Wetlands is a forty-acre natural area that is traversed by winding paths with waterside observation platforms.  Green kingfishers are often seen in the wetlands, though I did not see one the day I was there.  Fortunately I did see the Green Kingfisher on Sunday morning when I visited Estero Llano Grande in Weslaco, Texas. 

Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/800 second @ f6.3