Friday, March 16, 2012

Hill Country Trip: Part 1

.Our trip didn't start well, as we had to drive the first 150 miles towards San Antonio in torrential rain. However, the rain stopped and the sun emerged before we reached Mitchell Lake, the Audubon-maintained birding area south of San Antonio.

The Bird Pond had a nice range of ducks, including Gadwall, Ruddy, Bufflehead, Ring-necked, American Wigeon, Blue Winged Teal and Northern Shoveler (below).




The trail by the pond was lovely but the only birds we saw were a Red-shouldered Hawk and some Turkey Vultures (below).


After half-an-hour we got back in the car and continued to Uvalde, where we were going to spend two nights. As it was only mid-afternoon, we drove past the motel and along to Cook's Slough, the town's premier birding site.

On our previous trips the area around the slough was clearly semi-arid land. This time, because of the recent rains, it was mainly covered in thick vegetation, making some of the trails impassable.




We were greeted by about 100 Black Vultures circling overhead and perching on utility poles.


Other birds were few and far between. A couple of Eastern Bluebirds and Verdins were too quick for me to photograph. I did better with a pair of Great Kiskadees.


We were entertained by two Black-bellied Whistling Ducks which were taking a late afternoon bath.






Rather disappointed by the low number of birds, we were walking back to the car when there was a sudden flurry of activity. Several White-crowned Sparrows accompanied by a Field Sparrow popped up in a nearby bush, while Red-winged Blackbirds flew over the road. Just ahead of us a male Vermilion Flycatcher perched on a utility wire. As always, the red of the plumage was almost too intense for my camera to handle.


As we reached the car, a bird flew onto the trunk of a tree at the side of the road. A Ladder-backed Woodpecker, one of our target birds for the trip and a good sighting with which to end the day.




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5 comments:

Birdwoman said...

My, that Shoveler is a handsome guy! Enjoy your Hill Country visit - one of my favorite places.

Texas Wildflowers said...

Great photos as usual. I agree with Birdwoman about that Shoveler. I shot my first one last month at Cattail Marsh in Beaumont.

Texas Wildflowers said...
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Jeff said...

Shovelers are wonderful. Unfortunately, though, they and other ducks tend to keep well away from watchers and photographers!

Texas Wildflowers said...

I found that out a couple of months ago when I decided to start photographing birds. After my first trip I had to upgrade my camera because I just couldn't get close enough. One note about my last comment. I said I shot my first Shoveler last month, that was with a camera not a gun.