Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Signs of Spring: Yellow-Rumped Warblers

I'm beginning to see more and more of these little fellows all over town. We must be getting closer to spring.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - 4/16/2010

Yellow-rumped Warbler - 4/16/2010
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata)

Taken last spring at the Smith Oaks sanctuary in High Island, Texas.

As always, you can click on any image to see a larger version. Also, check out Bird Photography Weekly #127 for more great bird photos from around the world.

Bird Photography Weekly

Friday, January 28, 2011


Last Saturday was an odd day, with nothing on the calendar until late morning. So I took advantage of the free morning, sneaked out of the house before the sun came up and headed for Bear Creek Park. My mission: the Rusty Blackbirds and Purple Finches that had been reported there for the past two weeks.

I arrived not long after the park gates were opened and began checking the reported hot spots. Maybe it was the temperature (I know 28F is nothing compared to what many of you tolerate every winter, but down here that's almost unheard of!), or maybe the recent lack of rain, or maybe just the luck of the draw, but there was not a single rusty or finch to be found.

Not that the morning was completely birdless. There were handfuls of crows and pine warblers, a couple of Caroline Chickadees, a little Downy Woodpecker and several Red-bellieds. I even watched as several dozen robins flew over, some lighting briefly in the treetops far above and filling the otherwise quiet morning with bursts of sound. But none of the stars, the celebrities that I had ventured out into the frozen morning in hopes of seeing.

As it neared my predetermined cut-off time — when I absolutely had to leave in order to make it home and shower before the kids' basketball games — I decided to make one last pass around the inner loop of the park. Coming upon a couple of birders with a scope, my hopes began inching up. Had they found the Rusty Blackbirds I had been seeking all morning? But no, their scope was trained on a tree full of starlings and grackles; it appeared my slow morning was being shared by all. But then ... "Oh, did you see the Merlin perched on the snag at Brandt Road?"

"Waitaminit. So you guys are standing here in the cold looking at starlings when there's a freaking Merlin a half mile away?!?" This of course was kept to myself as I sprinted back to my truck and headed across the park. And there she was, just as they had said. Life list #200, and what a beauty!

Merlin - 1/22/2011

Merlin - 1/22/2011
Merlin (Falco columbarius)

What can I say? Some days life gives you lemons, other days it send you Merlins!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Daily Bird: Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe - 3/16/2009
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)

Pied-billed-Grebe - 3/16/2009

Pied-billed Grebe - 3/16/2009

Taken last spring at the San Bernard National Wildlife Reserve near Lake Jackson, Texas.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hazy Morning Sunrise

Our friends often ask why we live "so far away" from town and the center of life as we know it. Here's one reason:

Early Morning Haze

No, it's not our land — that life is still just a dream for now — but there's nothing like being able to drive five minutes from home to see sights like this.

As always, you can click the image for a larger view. And for more intriguing images of the skies above our world, check out the SkyWatch Friday home page.

SkyWatch Friday

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Daily Bird: Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow - 4/16/2010
Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana)

Taken last spring at Boy Scout Woods in High Island, Texas.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Little Lark on the Prairie

Not the greatest shots, but the best I have been able to manage so far from the roadside out on the Katy Prairie.

Western Meadowlark - 1/20/2009

Western Meadowlark - 1/20/2009
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Daily Bird: Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal - 3/16/2009
Blue-winged Teal male (Anas discors)

Blue-winged Teal - 3/16/2009
... and the female

Blue-winged Teal - 3/16/2009

Blue-winged Teals - 3/16/2009

Blue-winged Teals - 3/16/2009

Pictures taken at the San Bernard National Wildlife Reserve near Lake Jackson, Texas. Click any image to see a larger version.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Avocets on Bolivar Peninsula

In a return to last year's spring migration, I took an afternoon one day and trawled along the mudflats and beaches of Bolivar Peninsula — just across the channel from Galveston Island — searching for shorebirds, terns and gulls. The weather was nice and a strong southerly wind was blowing in from the gulf, so most of the migrating birds were high above, taking full advantage of the wind currents. However, I did happen on a small group of avocets taking a break from their long journey to hunt for food in the Texas surf.

American Avocets - 4/16/2010
American Avocets (Recurvirostra americana)

American Avocets - 4/16/2010

American Avocet - 4/16/2010

This is actually the only time I've found these beautiful shorebirds in the area, and it was an exciting addition to my life list.

As always, you can click on any image to see a larger version. Also, check out Bird Photography Weekly #123 for more great bird photos from around the world.

Bird Photography Weekly

Saturday, January 1, 2011