It has been months since I have participated in the SkyWatch Friday meme, but last Friday's beautiful Texas sky just demanded to be shared.
Cowboy and I had arrived at the Cub Scout camping grounds with just enough light to help out a friend and then get our own tent set up and our gear unloaded from the truck. As we finished, I glanced up into the windy sky at the first real glimpse of blue that we'd seen all day. What a glorious sight!
We stood there for a while, soaking in the beautiful colors that played through the trees as the day — and a long and tiring work week — slowly came to an end. I really need to find more chances to stop and watch the sun set. It's been way too long.
As always, you can click any of the images above for a larger view. And for more intriguing images of the skies above our world, check out the SkyWatch Friday home page.
Pied-billed Grebes (Podilymbus podiceps) are becoming quite a favorite of mine. I don't remember ever having seen or even heard of grebes before I started seriously birding a couple of years back, but now I seem to see them everywhere!
Swimming in the split pea soup at Brazos Bend State Park
Enjoying clear waters and sunshine at San Bernard NWR
Pied-billed Grebes are commonly found in fresh water wetlands and small lakes and ponds with marsh grasses and reed vegetation, but they can also be seen in saltwater habitats. I was surprised to find a couple of grebes diving in the choppy waters of Galveston Bay near the Texas City dike last month, in addition to the pair I spotted in the marshy pond of Bay Street Park, just a block or two inland.
As always, you can click on any of the images above to see a larger version on Flickr, or see a quick slideshow of more of my grebe photos.
Spring fever is in the air all along the Texas Gulf Coast! And from what I hear, the rookery at High Island's Smith Oaks sanctuary is all aglow with the greens and pinks of happy egret pairs and spoonbill couples. (Can you say "twitterpated"?)
Unfortunately, I still have a week or two before I get to make that trek to High Island, so I'm biding my time by looking back at the shots from last year. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.
Hopefully I'll get some better ones later this month!
As always, you can click on any of the images above to see a larger version. Also, check out Bird Photography Weekly #128 for more great bird photos from around the world.
We saw our first Red-winged Blackbird of the year yesterday, perched in the oak tree in the middle of our front yard. Not exactly where you would expect to see RWBLs, but I'll take a new addition to my miniscule yard list any chance I get.
Unfortunately, yesterday's visitor didn't offer any good photographic opportunities, but it reminded of these shots that I got a few months ago.
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
As always, you can click any image to see a larger version. Enjoy!
Being still quite the amateur when it comes to shorebird identification (I'm about at the level of, "Hey, that's a shorebird!"), I had some trouble figuring out what this handful of birds were from the Texas City dike:
After searching through all of the plovers in several different reference books — and after getting more and more frustrated at not finding an acceptable identification — I finally picked up my brand new Crossley ID Guide. I have been enjoying the beautiful photographic compositions included in Mr. Crossley's guide book, but this was the first real chance I'd had to go to it for help with an ID problem.
Sure enough, as I scanned through the shorebirds — first the plovers again, then moving on to the sandpipers — I found the telltale signs in his flight photographs. Those distinctive patterns on the back and wings that only show up when the bird is in flight (and which were not shown in any of the illustrated references through which I had previously searched) helped me get a firm identification:
Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres)
It's definitely not a field guide you'd want to take on a bird hike with you, but I think I'm really going to like this new work!