Sunday, December 30, 2007

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

I should probably not start this segment off with a snake picture -- but this was one of the first things we saw when we stopped at Jones Lake at ANWR. This is not your typical "snake in the grass" -- this is a water snake (Marc thinks this is a Florida Green Water snake). It's also curled up among old Cattail leaves. It had a friend stretched out nearby.

These ducks were also on Jones Lake -- I am almost sure they are Lesser Scaup -- a new one for the life list!

Heading up the path to the lake, I tried to get a picture of a little bird that was flitting all over the place. I was never able to get a picture, but on the way out I saw it well enough for an identification. It was a Ruby Crowned Kinglett. I've seen one before (at home!), but wasn't able to photo that one either. Instead, I caught this "white" butterfly, and my white balance went out the window! [Thanks to American Woman who identified this as a Great Southern White.]

We went up to the viewing platform, and saw lots of wading birds: Herons, Egrets, Spoonbills, and a family of Whoopers -- but the distance was way too great for pictures. So we headed out on the Auto Loop Tour.

We saw this duck in a little pond (probably a flooded hog- wallow) by the side of the road. It kept diving -- so I think it's pretty safe to say it was a "diving duck". However, when I looked at all the pictures in Sibley's it really looks like a "dabbler" (maybe Mottled or a Gadwall?).

Here's a close-up of the head. (Sorry, it's a really bad picture). If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. I'm leaning more toward a Gadwall, even if that is a dabbling duck instead of a diving duck.

Along the way, I caught this Eastern King Bird. Again, not a really great shot -- I apologize. I guess I'm just out of practice getting clear shots (that blow up well).

And finally, a Loggerhead Shrike. We have a lot in our area, and I don't normally photograph them, but this one was really posing, and I couldn't resist.

Day 3 - Parting shots of Fulton

Of course, before we could leave Fulton, we had to feed the Seagulls one more time. I see a lot of injured birds when we feed -- mostly missing feet, but this little guy, with only half a beak, caught my heart. Most sea birds are carnivores, and I suspect this little guy received his injury from another bird while he was still in the nest. That's a guess of course. He was smaller than the other birds, and I don't hold out good chances for a long and prosperous life for him, but you never know...

Of all the pictures I took on this trip, I think this one might be the best. ...and of course, I love pelicans! He almost looks like he's just laying out on the air currents.

Another sharp looking fellow, hanging out on the bulkhead next door to the convention center. With the coloring on the adult brown pelican, I think they are so much prettier than the larger, white pelicans.

OK... off to ANWR

Wind-Blown Heron

On the way back from the boat trip, we drove around some and saw this wind-blown Great Blue Heron at the edge of someone's yard. At first, I thought it was some sort of yard ornament.

But of course, you can see that he looked at me while I was taking his picture. He doesn't look too happy. :-)

Day 2 - The Skimmer

This is the second time we've taken the Skimmer bird-watching boat tour of Aransas. It's also the second time we've gotten great sights of Whooping Cranes. But the cool thing about this tour is that Captain Tommy Moore is a real birder -- and he points out a lot of other birds along the way. I only have a few pictures, but a lot of birds. Those displayed in the photos are highlighted in Bold Red print.

While I don't have pictures of all the birds we saw, and I tried to check only those I saw, my list included: Eared Grebe,

White and Brown Pelicans, Great Blue Heron and Great Egret, White and White-faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Black and Turkey Vultures, Gadwall and Mottled Duck, Northern Pintail, Common Goldeneye,

an Osprey,

Crested Caracara, Sanhill Crane, Whooping Crane, Black Bellied Plover, American Oyster- catcher, Long-billed Cerlew, Ruddy Turnstone, Laughing Gulls (of course), and Forster's Tern.

After Christmas Birding

As you've seen by Marc's great Whooper pics below, we made a trip to Rockport-Fulton and the Aransas Natural Wildlife Area. It was a great trip for birds, but less great for me. I was feeling a bit off all week, and now that I review my photos, I'm really disappointed in the outcome. However, there were a few good shots -- and I'm sharing them here.

On Wednesday, when we arrived, we started out by feeding the gulls as usual. The interesting thing about the gulls that gathered at our usual spot was the large juvenile bird, which I am pretty sure is a herring gull.

While feeding the gulls is a lot of fun, and I enjoy taking pictures, they all tend to turn out the same. So here's a couple of Laughing Gull portraits.

You'll notice that they have lost most of the black coloring on their heads -- this is their non- breeding plumage.

And of course -- one of my favorite sea-birds is the Brown Pelican. Here is one sitting in the classic perched pelican pose on a piling.

And here's another in flight -- this particularly shows some of the focus problems I'm having -- maybe I need to adjust my eye piece.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Aransas-ANWR Birds


Year end trip was a success! We watched Whooping Cranes! Lots more too.

Another of this close pair.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Catching Up

I apologize for not posting much lately. Things have been very busy and somewhat stressful at work, and that effects what I do at home (like blogging, or not...). Add to that, I have been both disappointed with most of the shots I've taken over the last few months, and somewhat lazy with working on the good ones (it takes a while to convert to something I can put on the blog).

In November, we took a trip to visit friends in Hunt, Tx. We drove from Hunt to Bandera, but saw very few birds of note. The few I have were taken at my friends' birdfeeder.

I was not particularly happy with this picture as it blurred when I zoomed in. In the very center is a black crested titmouse -- a new one for the life list. We have tufted titmice here at home. The black crested is a "Texas only" variation -- mostly West Texas, I guess, because we don't have them around the cabin.

This is a House Finch (on a house). I remember seeing these when we visited our friends when they lived on a ranch in the same area. I have actually seen a House Finch in Katy, Tx., but I don't think they're really common to our area.

And finally, I kept looking at the birds that seemed to be Goldfinches (and still gold!), but there was something not quite right. These are Lesser Goldfinches (another one for the life list) and different from the American Goldfinches we see at home (and only in their winter plumage).