McAllen

McAllen
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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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pic of the Day

Clay-colored Robin, Turdus grayi:  Quinta Mazatlan; McAllen, Texas
     Quinta Mazatlan is a historica Adobe mansion, and most importantly a birding center in the heart of McAllen, Texas.  I visited Quinta Mazatlan last Thursday where I added this Clay-colored Robin to my life list.  Also known as the Clay-colored Thrush, it is the national bird of Costa Rica.  McAllen, Texas is at the northern end of its range where it is rapidly expanding. I found this bird, with another of its kind, skulking in the underbrush at this manmade watering hole.

Quinta Mazatlan; McAllen, Texas


Top:  Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/80 second @ f4.5
Bottom: Nikon D800, Nikkor 35mm f2.8, 1/400 second @ f5

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pic of the Day

Green Jay, Cyanocorax yncas;  Bentsen State Park; McAllen, Texas
     I spent the last three days in McAllen, Texas birding in the Rio Grande Valley; the number one birding destination in the USA.  There are thirty-nine species on the ABA (American Birding Association) check list that can only be found in the valley.  On my short, fast paced stint I saw at least a dozen or more of those specialty species.   Ten of those specialties were lifers that I saw.  The Green Jay is not only an exotic, but it is also the official bird of McAllen.  I shot this Green Jay at Bentsen State Park, just southeast of the center of town.  McAllen is a birder's paradise, and a "must," destination for any birder, or those who just love to watching birds. 

Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/160 sec. @ f7.1

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Update

     I have been in South Texas for the last few day.  I have had a great time, and have seen at least seven new species.  I have taken a lot of photos and should have some of the new work posted by Monday.  Thanks for visiting the blog.   Bobby

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Quote

I found this great quote today In, "The Fauna of Shorpshire," by Edward Forrest, published in 1899.

"Happy indeed is the naturalist:  To him the seasons come round like old friends; to him the birds sing:  as he walks along, the flowers stretch out from the hedges, or look up from the ground; and as each year fades away, he looks back on a fresh store of happy memories."

                                                                                                Sir John Lubbock
                                                                "The Beauties of Nature"

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pic of the Day

Warbling Verio, Vireo gilvus:  Magee Marsh, Ohio

     It seems that this Warbling Verio was just as curious about me, as I was about him.  This was shot on the west end of the Magee Marsh boardwalk.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/500 sec. @ f7.1

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pic of the Day


Red-eyed Vireo, Vireo olivaceus:  Magee Marsh, Ohio

     This Red-eyed Vireo was shot at the west end of the boardwalk at Magee Marsh.  It is common to see verios and other migrants within easy shooting distance.  

Both Images:  Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f8, 1/125 second @ f8

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pic of the Day

Autumn Color in Horse Cove; Gurley, Alabama

     It is a beautiful autumn day here in Horse Cove.  I shot this just outside my front door this afternoon.  I expect that within the week, all the leaves will be gone.  The color has been beautiful over the last week or so.  To bad it dosen't last longer.   

Nikon D300, AF-S Nikkor  24-85mm 3.5-4.5G, 1/30second @ f10, handheld

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pic of the Day


Autumn at Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary;
Huntsville, Alabama

Nikon D300, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/640 second @ f7.1

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pic of the Day

Greater Scaup, Aythya marila: 
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge; near Titusville, Florida

     I found this Greater Scaup while traveling the back roads in Merritt Island NWR.  The scaup was illuminated with late afternoon light that caused the iridescent feathers in its head to shine.  There is also a Lesser Scaup.  Lesser scaup are smaller and have a peaked crown.  Separating the two different scaup species in the field is not always easy.

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/400 sec. @ f8, shoot from van window using kirk window mount