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April 2014 – Chris Llewellyn's "Birds Eye Views"
 

Month: April 2014

Emilie & Albert Friedrich Wilderness Park

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We awoke this day still high on adrenalin from birding Mitchell Lake the day before.  So…let’s go birding!  I had read and researched Friedrich Wilderness Park extensively.  I knew that that was going to be our best chance of getting the Golden Cheeked Warbler and the Black Capped Vireo, two endangered species.

I was lucky to get pretty good shots of the Golden Cheeked Warbler but, well, we shall return for the Black Capped Vireo!

PS:  Don’t dare ask Oly about his shots….  hee hee

Golden Cheeked Warbler
Golden Cheeked Warbler

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Black Capped Titmouse
Black Capped Titmouse
Golden Cheeked Warbler
Golden Cheeked Warbler
Golden Cheeked Warbler
Golden Cheeked Warbler
Golden Cheeked Warbler
Golden Cheeked Warbler

Mitchell Lake Audubon Center Birding

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I kept reading about Mitchell Lake Audubon Center.  Every time I see all the birds seen there that are posted on eBird, I got excited to get them!  We finally had the day and we went….with high expectations.  It really did deliver.

We are getting lots of new birds and some familiar ones too but they sure look different during spring migration!

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher
Scissor Tailed Flycatcher
Scissor Tailed Flycatcher
Scissor Tailed Flycatcher
Lesser Yellow Legs
Lesser Yellow Legs
Painted Bunting
Painted Bunting
Wilson's Phalarope
Wilson’s Phalarope
Snapping Turtle
Snapping Turtle
Northern Shoveler
Northern Shoveler
Nashville Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Scissor Tailed Flycatcher
Scissor Tailed Flycatcher

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Black Necked Stilt
Black Necked Stilt
Black Necked Stilt
Black Necked Stilt
Spotted Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Lesser Goldfinch
Lesser Goldfinch
Clay Colored Sparrow
Clay Colored Sparrow
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe
Tennessee Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Black Bellied Whistling Duck
Egyptian Geese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birding at the San Antonio KOA RV Park

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Gotta watch out for our Air Force low flyers!  BTW…thank you to all our military, past and present.  We do appreciate you.

 

The first night in San Antonio was not a good one.  I had done extensive research on which RV park to stay in and my choice was a bad one.  Beautiful park right on the Guadeloupe River but right below and between two highways.

Chris catching crawdads for bait.
OLy catching crawdads for bait.

No sleep for this girl and out we went in the morning!  Second and best choice by far IMHO was the San Antonio KOA.  Mature trees all around, grass and rock fairly level sites, paved streets, swimming pool, friendly staff that tries hard and a creek to boot!  But why are we smiling????  There’s also LOTS of birds!!!

Black Crested Titmouse
Black Crested Titmouse

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Black Crested Titmouse
Black Crested Titmouse
Black Crested Titmouse
Black Crested Titmouse
Red Shouldered Hawk
Red Shouldered Hawk
Red Shouldered Hawk
Red Shouldered Hawk
Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Chickadee
Red Shouldered Hawk
Red Shouldered Hawk
Red Shouldered Hawk
Red Shouldered Hawk
Red Shouldered Hawk
Red Shouldered Hawk

 

 

New bird for us, Black Crested Titmouse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can anyone identify this hummer for me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New bird, Carolina Chickadee!

 

 

 

 

This Red Shouldered Hawk has a nest nearby.  She just waded out in the creek and let us photograph her..awesome….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birding near Del Rio, TX

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We came away from Big Bend NP very happy after spending 10 days exploring her and getting many new species of birds.  The scenery was awesome as well. We did manage to come away with a Colima Warbler. but only on my t-shirt!

I had viewed many postings about sightings of the Scissor Tailed Flycatcher on Hwy 90.  We pulled out of BBNP, taking Hwy 90 towards San Antonio and were in high hopes of a siting and better yet, great photos. Heading East in the Kbago, we were diligently scouting the sides of the road and every fence post we could see.  Suddenly, echos of  “Scissor Tail”!!!, “Scissor Tail”!!!! filled the cabin.  We were smiling.

We pulled into our camp at Del Rio near the Amistad National Recreation Area, anxious for the next day to rise.  When it came, we were wide eyed and bushy tailed to get the Scissor Tailed Flycatcher and of course, anything else that crossed our paths.  We jumped into the JEEP and headed out.

Sure enough, right on cue, we got into the Scissor Tails.  We felt like we were in the center of the great migration, which we were!  I didn’t wait for Oly to put the JEEP into park.  I bailed out and started running up and down the highway with my Canon T2i equipped with 100-400 lens mounted on my mono pod, ready for action, with a big smile on my face.  Scissor Tails!!

Oly caught up to me shortly.  I’m not sure he ever did get the JEEP into park but it was still there when we returned, parked in the middle of the border patrol side road with my door wide open.  :))))  :))))

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher
Scissor Tailed Flycatcher

 

 

 

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher
Scissor Tailed Flycatcher

 

 

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Scissor Tailed Flycatcher

We were ecstatic!  Here are some photos of other birds we saw while birding near Del Rio, TX.

Purple Martin
Purple Martin
Cedar Waxwing.  Taken at Park Chalk Bluff
Cedar Waxwing. Taken at Park Chalk Bluff
Cliff Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Lesser Gold Finch
Lesser Gold Finch
Oly amongst the Cliff Swallows
Oly amongst the Cliff Swallows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were hundreds of these Cliff Swallows and they really swarmed if you got too close….we backed off.

On to some San Antonio Birding in my next post…..

Big Bend NP, Texas (Day 5)

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There’s a black bear in the area the Ranger told us as we started the decent to the Chisos Basin Sewer Ponds.  Just holler to let it know you are coming and it will just get back to eating the grass.  Oh great, I’m going to be looking around for black bear instead of birds!  Geesh!

We were on our 2nd quest and probably our last here for the Colima Warbler.  We did not get the Colima but as usual, had some surprises.  Did I see the black bear….??

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A flock of chipping sparrows.
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Debbie’s black bear
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Summer Tanager
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Acorn Woodpecker
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Chris was SO excited to find a Bull Snake in the road on the way up.

 

Big Bend NP, Texas (Days 4 and 6)

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The two birds I wanted to get the most in this area of Texas (southwest) were the Colima Warbler and the Scissor Tailed Flycatcher.  We tried twice for the Colima and twice for the Scissor Tailed, no luck.

Days 4 and 6

In checking BirdTrax on eBird.com, a program that people identify and show where they see birds, I saw that in Brewster County, there were a couple sightings for the Scissor Tailed below us, near Alpine, TX.  So….off we went to Alpine.  We hunted 1/2 the day, to no avail.  However, I did manage to get to get some other shots.

Red Tailed Hawk
Red Tailed Hawk
Red Tailed Hawk
Red Tailed Hawk
Gray Hawk
Gray Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
Barn Swallow
Barn Swallow
Lark Bunting
Lark Bunting

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Vesper Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow

 

Big Bend NP, Texas (Days 3 and 4)

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Day 3

If it’s a rockin’, don’t come a knockin’.  Heard that before?  Well, we were a rockin’ when we awoke this morning but it wasn’t from any inside activities!  hee hee  Winds had picked up again and the Kittybago was a rockin’ out.  The weather has been amazing to me.  We’ve had day time temps from the 50’s to the 90’s, slight rain a few days and the winds can come up with no warning and gust around 40-50 mph.

We had planned to hike Pine Canyon Trail this morning in search of the Colima Warbler.  Winds and poor visibility

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There IS a mountain range there somewhere!

 

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Look closely, you can hardly see the Chisos Mountains in the background.

from the swirling dust kept us in the Kbago in the AM.  Forecast was for winds dying down in the PM so off we went, it was about noon.  Pine Canyon Trail is about a 2 mile hike climbing 1000 feet in elevation.  We only saw three gents and a couple while out in the wilderness, was nice.

IMG_0342The winds stayed strong and it was very cold, around mid 50’s.  It was a pretty steep ascent butIMG_7939 we really wanted that Colima Warbler.

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Vesper Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow

 

 

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Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren

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Dark Eyed Junco
Dark Eyed Junco a real surprise to find him here
Canyon Towhee
Canyon Towhee
Wilson's Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler
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Chris on the Pine Canyon Trail
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Road to Pine Canyon

 

Western Kingbird
Western Kingbird

Again, the weather tried to defeat us as the birds huddled inside the shrubs and trees, trying to get out of the persistent winds, so we did not get any shots with the exception of the birds at the beginning of the trail.  And guess what….we ended up with a new bird.  The Vesper Sparrow!  Lots of pretty scenery, everywhere you look too.

Day 4

With the dawn came a beautiful day.  Calm winds and much better visibility.  Off to Boquillas Canyon, Daniels Ranch and the Rio Grande.  And another new bird, the Elf Owl!

Female Vermillion Flycatcher
Female Vermillion Flycatcher

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Terapin
Terapin
Black Chinned Hummingbird
Black Chinned Hummingbird
Black Chinned Hummingbird
Black Chinned Hummingbird
Terapin
Terapin
Elf Owl
Elf Owl
Gray Hawk
Gray Hawk
Gray Hawk
Gray Hawk
On the Mexican border
On the Mexican border

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Rio Grande River Walk
Rio Grande River Walk
Rio Grande River Walk
Rio Grande River Walk
Boquillas Canyon
Boquillas Canyon
Crossing over to Mexico
Crossing over to Mexico
Bell's Vireo
Bell’s Vireo
Elf Owl
Elf Owl
Fish in the Rio Grande
Fish in the Rio Grande

Big Bend NP, Texas (Day 2)

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The morning started out with a cool 77 degrees after a windy dusty night.  Daytime temperatures have been in the 90’s.  The wind really kicks up the dust at Big Bend Adventures RV Park in Study Butte/Terlingua Texas.  The RV park is about 15 minutes or so from the Study Butte entrance to the BBNP.  We found it to be a great place to stay to traverse the interior of the Park.  The wireless works very well, better than in most RV parks we’ve stayed.

We had a plan today and pretty much stuck to it, unusual for us.  We took the East Route over Old Maverick Road (dirt) stopping at several places to shoot.  We were rewarded with lots of birds in Cottonwood Campground and the scenery everywhere is gorgeous in this NP.  Always something to look at and the layout and facilities are superb.  We have also found the Rangers to be most helpful.

We got another new bird for us today, the Golden Fronted Woodpecker so here are my photos I would like to share with you.

 

 

Big Bend NP, Texas (Day 1)

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Got to the big state of Texas and the big National Park, Big Bend.  This was supposed to be a day of rest and to just familiarize ourselves with the park, where we wanted to hunt for certain birds, where I could get a Big Bend NP visor, etc.  But…NOOOOooooo…we started birding as the JEEP pulled us off the 3rd gravel road we came to off the pavement.  I knew we were going to be a while when the sign reads:  Be sure to fill your gas tank, 4×4 only, you know…subtle little things like that.

Oly wanted to go so…away we went!  And, guess what…we got a new bird!

 I wanted to record some of the beauty we saw to share with you as well.  Couldn’t resist this blooming cactus.

 The Chisos Mountains.  You will hear more about these mountains later.

 There were quite a few of these Greater Roadrunner‘s running across the roads (ha ha, no pun intended) but couldn’t resist this pose, even though it was very bad light.

 Couldn’t resist this guy posing for me either.  Red-Tailed Hawk.

 And, here’s the new bird for us!  YAY!!  Lark Bunting.  There were several flocks.

 The geology was very interesting as well.

 And I end with another cactus in full bloom.  Amazing.

It was a great day of rest.  Never did get that visor!  Maybe tomorrow…  We are going for another newbie for our files!