Texas Day Two

Yellow-breasted Chat, in a class by itself

It seems a good time to go back to my Texas trip photo memories before I lose track of it entirely. Day Two was a travel day from Del Rio, where we had spent the night, to Big Bend National Park where we stayed three days. Of course we birded along the way.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Yesterday I turned on the reluctant travel laptop to see if it was in any mood to let me look at my Texas pictures. Lo and behold I found more images, and the amazing thing is that I was allowed to process them, so here is everything from that travel day, including the domestic waterfowl below which adorned the first stop.

Northern Shoveler and Blue-winged Teal

Travel notes from my cell phone… I love the rugged terrain of Southwest Texas.

A view of the Rio Grande along the way

It was nice to revisit species I have seen before. Some I saw much better than on previous occasions, while others like the Rufous-Crowned Sparrow below, eluded the camera, even though fairly common. And then there were the life birds.

Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Brown-headed Cowbirds
Olive Sparrow – a lifer which looked much better than the lighting allowed

The Morelet’s Seedeater is not exactly new, if I can believe I have seen a White-Collared Seedeater before. Anyway, it’s been split into its own species, so that makes it a life bird. We searched for this guy for a while and then he practically followed us around for the next quarter hour or more.

Lesser Goldfinch I have seen before, maybe not so well.
Orchard Oriole we get in the Chicago area, though not as common as Baltimore Oriole.
House Finch (of the original population!), not the ones that crowd my backyard.

It would have been nice to see a Western Meadowlark but this Eastern Meadowlark posed nicely for us.

Eastern Meadowlark

I’ve glimpsed Ladder-backed Woodpeckers in New Mexico but have never seen them so well as on this trip.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Then to see some old friends really well…

Golden-fronted Woodpecker (female) with White-Winged Dove
Lark Sparrow
Hepatic Tanager
Blue Grosbeak

We arrived at the Chisos Mountain Lodge in Big Bend National Park, checked into our rooms and witnessed this sunset outside the dining hall that evening.

Chisos Mountains sunset

Meanwhile back home, it’s intermittent thunderstorms and cooler weather. I am fond of rain, but not so much.

Texas Day One

Western Kingbird

We were warming up in Chicago, finally, it seemed, and then last night with the rain the temperatures dropped and now we are cold, windy and rainy again. So even though Spring Migration will continue to distract me when I am capable of paying attention to it, I want to revisit memories of the southwest Texas trip before they become too distant. Here’s a brief recap of one stop on our first travel day.

Driving to Del Rio from the San Antonio airport for our first night, we pulled off the road at a rest stop and found it to be quite birdy. It also became the comparison stop for tyrannus flycatchers. In addition to the Western Kingbird at the top of this post, we had Couch’s Kingbirds and Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers. This was a perfect introduction because we would continue to run into these birds again and again. The Couch’s was a new one for me. Sorry he’s got his back to us, I’ll see if anything turns up later a bit more representative of the whole bird.

Couch’s Kingbird
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Also at that stop was my first look at a Bullock’s Oriole.

Bullock’s Oriole

In addition to the birds, we encountered Leaf-Cutter Ants which are some of my favorite creatures.

I expected to see plenty of Great-tailed Grackles but there’s always the first one…

A few more of the Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher. Better pictures will follow. They were consistently the most cooperative, photogenic birds of the trip.

Reluctantly I keep trying to face the present… The high for today in Chicago is 49 degrees Fahrenheit, which is where we are now, raining with thunderstorms possible. My phone app predicts tomorrow’s high will be 83 and cloudy. What to wear?

One more Western Kingbird… I have so many photos and not much time this weekend but my goal is to move on to the pictures from the next day in Texas. As my attention to warbler-and-others migration keeps getting interrupted…

Nicaragua V – This Is It

Volcano 02-26-2016-4470Now that I have run out of pictures I feel like I should go back to Nicaragua the next chance I get and take more.

Our last day and a half was spent on Ometepe, a large volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua. The approach is by ferry. So some of these pictures were taken on the water and others were on land.

The day before we were staying in Granada and it seemed both evenings over the square a large flock of Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers would come in to roost in the trees. I finally got a picture or two of one, albeit far away, on Ometepe.

White-Winged Doves are perhaps unspectacular but I don’t get to see them at home so I find them worth noting.

On the ferry…and a Laughing Gull or two…

Just as this Magnificent Frigatebird came into view, there was a rainbow.

More views of a Laughing Gull…and the beach, with waves, and a Great Egret below.

On land, and there’s nothing I love more than seeing Cattle Egrets, they always remind me of Edward Hicks’ Peaceable Kingdom.

Cattle Egret 02-26-2016-4755Below, fruiting cashews, the sign at the entrance to Ometepe, and a fascinating petroglyph left by indigenous peoples.

Hoffmann’s Woodpecker…

Groove-Billed Anis hanging out on a fence…

Groove-Billed Anis 02-26-2016-4745and a Great-Tailed Grackle.

Great-Tailed Grackle 02-26-2016-4656But perhaps no bird left a bigger impression on me than these White-Throated Magpie-Jays.

Whte-Fronted Magpie-Jay 02-27-2016-4828We finally have spring weather and I have already begun to see migrants, so stay tuned.Cloud Forest 02-26-2016-4721

Birds, Birds, Birds in Costa Rica – Part I

Roadside Hawk

Roadside Hawk

This will be a collection of some photographs of birds seen out of the hand. Light conditions were not always optimum. Birds were often hiding behind leaves or branches. Sometimes they were ridiculously far away. There weren’t that many species seen, compared to “birding” trips. And yet I don’t think I can manage to do this in one post.

American Dipper

American Dipper

American Dipper 11-13-14-7204I have been hoping to see an American Dipper for years. I saw the European version of this bird several years ago, but have never seen an American Dipper well, to my knowledge, until now.

Common Tody Flycatcher 11-12-14-6670

Common Tody Flycatcher

Common Tody Flycatcher

Common Tody Flycatcher is a favorite of mine. We saw perhaps three or four individuals over the course of the week, and this is the only one I could manage to get to even half-cooperate.

Tropical Kingbird

Tropical Kingbird

Tropical Kingbirds are ubiquitous but not always easy to capture. This one embodies my perception of this species as The Bird on the Wire.

Keel-Billed Toucan

Keel-Billed Toucan

Keel-Billed Toucan 11-12-14-5916

I have seen Keel-Billed Toucans much closer but the challenge of capturing the one above makes me glad I tried.

Broad-Winged Hawk

Broad-Winged Hawk

BW Hawk Species 11-12-14-5868

I almost never see Broad-Winged Hawks at home, but they were plentiful in Costa Rica. We saw one every day.

Great-Tailed Grackle

Great-Tailed Grackle

Great-Tailed Grackles are so common you soon forget about how beautiful they can be. This one picked the perfect spot to be photographed.

I will be back very soon with the second half of this post. I am also trying to get some photographs on my flickr page.