Thursday, July 2, 2009

Quintana Concluded

Besides the enthralling hummingbirds and abundance of wildflowers featured in my two previous posts, there were plenty of other wonders to enjoy at the Quintana Neotropical Bird Sanctuary.

Northern Cardinal - 5/29/2009
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

There were cardinals and mockingbirds, ever present and always enjoyable.

Northern Mockingbird - 5/29/2009
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)

There was a surprising number of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in and around the area — surprising to me anyway, since I'd never seen them in the area before.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - 5/29/2009
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus)

This was my first opportunity to photograph these slender beauties or even to observe them close up, and I was amazed both at how graceful they were in the hard winds blowing in from the gulf and at how quickly they moved in flight. I've decided that I'll need quite a bit more practice and familiarity with these tyrant flycatchers (or a good helping of luck) if I want to capture any shareable pictures of them in flight.

Another treat of the morning's trip was the opportunity to watch five Common Nighthawks wheeling and diving overhead. I climbed to the top of the sanctuary's observation tower and spent a good twenty minutes trailing them as they moved down the island until they finally passed beyond the range of my binoculars. New addition to my life list!

Common Nighthawk - 5/29/2009
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)

There were also plenty of dragonflies and butterflies on hand, busily enjoying the bounty of this small paradise.

Butterfly - 5/29/2009

Giant Swallowtail - 5/29/2009
Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)

I ended the day with a quick drive down the road to nearby Bryan Beach, where the tidal pools hiding behind the dunes often attract a variety of shorebirds, herons and such. This particular morning, two lonesome Willets comprised the total count of shorebirds and no waders were in sight, but the sandbars and the far edges of the water were teeming with Laughing Gulls and terns, including Caspians, Royals and even a couple of Sandwich Terns.

Laughing Gulls - 5/29/2009
Juvenile Laughing Gulls (Larus atricilla)

However, these three young gulls seemed to be the only ones not taking a midday siesta; they were busy cackling and playing in the water like their human counterparts just on the other side of the dunes, enjoying the beautiful weather while the grown-ups lazily soaked up the early summer sun.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - 5/29/2009
"What, you're still here?"


Kelly said...

Loved your Common Nighthawk photo. I've only been able to photograph them at dusk and from underneath with horrible results. Your shot is fantastic! (Also love that Red!) The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is so nice. I've never seen one...beautiful long tail!

Bob and Cynthia Kaufman said...

I, too, loved the Nighthawk photo. I have yet to see this bird.

dAwN said...

Great shots! That scissortail was kind to hang around! What great birds you saw...very cool photo of the nighthawk..

l said...

Awesome birding day for you Kyle! The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is gorgeous and would be yet another lifer for me (I need to get out to other parts of the country). Great capture of the Common Nighthawk in flight! They are always a neat bird to see on the wing.

Amber Coakley said...

Hi Kyle, this is my first visit to your blog. I enjoyed your post and photos, and I agree with you that cardinals and mockingbirds are always present and enjoyable. Your nighthawk photo is great - I have never seen one. And the Scissor-tailed just never get tired of watching them!