Thursday, February 25, 2016

Last Week on the Prairie

As well as some early morning trips in search of Sandhill Cranes, I also managed a very quick lunchtime trip on the Katy Prairie last week. 

Midday is hardly the best time for birds but there were a few around. This Eastern Meadowlark was nice enough to pose for a couple of photos.

So, too, was this Eurasian Collared Dove, although I wished it had chosen a more photogenic perch.

A Loggerhead Shrike struck a watchful pose for me.

This Crested Caracara stayed just long enough for me to grab a quick shot.

A large flock of Cedar Waxwings was in trees on Sharp Road.

Most of the birds were just hanging out.

However, a few were busy eating breakfast.

So while my brief trip didn't turn up anything special, I did get to see some beautiful birds.

A Weekend Away
So far this year what little birding I have done has been restricted to Harris County but now it's time to go (a little) further afield. On Saturday we're heading out for a weekend trip to Anahuac, High Island, Bolivar and Galveston. With any luck, I'll get in several hours of birding and will see a good range of species. I may even get to see the now-famous Burrowing Owl at Anahuac NWR!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Dawn Patrol

Friday morning I left for work before 6:00 a.m. because I wanted to drive in via the Katy Prairie. I'd heard that large numbers of Sandhill Cranes roost there and I was hoping to see some of them as they left their roosting site to go out foraging.

I got to Hebert Road before dawn.

Although I could hear many Cranes in the distance, I didn't see any birds until the sun appeared.

First up were some flights of Snow Geese.

Then a Crested Caracara cruised by, with just one wingtip illuminated.

As the sun cleared the horizon, the Cranes started fly. 




I came close to sensory overload as I stood and watched wave after wave of these magnificent birds pass noisily overhead in the dawn light.

Here are a few more of the pictures that I took.



Friday, February 19, 2016

Just Down the Road

Grabbed an hour on Sunday morning to check out the birds around the Longwood detention pond on Huffmeister Road.  I was particularly keen to see how the nesting Bald Eagles were getting on.

A Double-crested Cormorant was looking very regal on a perch out in the water. Or was it looking very lonely?

If it was lonely, it wasn't for long, as seven more Cormorants soon flew in.

The fence by the side of the trail was hopping with Field Sparrows. I think I've seen more of these sparrows this winter than in all my previous winters here together.

The only other sparrow I got a good look at as a soitary Lincoln's Sparrow skulking in the bushes.

The resident Great Blue Heron looked splendid in the morning light.

It moved to the other side of the pond when an angler got too close.

When another fisherman  turned up, it flew back to its original location.

As I approached the best viewpoint for the Eagles' nest, one of the nesting pair flew past overhead, much too high to photograph. 

A couple of minutes later, the Eagle flew by again, this time much lower. Only it had now morphed into a juvenile Crested Caracara.

The Eagles' current nest is in a much less visible site than their old one, which blew down in November. So this is the best photo I could get. 

Although the photo shows the two adult birds, I also briefly saw the head of a young bird.So it looks like this pair is once more enjoying a productive breeding season. In each previous year they have successfully raised two young. It will be interesting to see whether they have two young in the nest again this time.

Back near the parking area, a Northern Mockingbird was singing like crazy and doing his jump-up-and-flutter-down display.

A few feet away a European Starling was watching the Mockingbird's antics.

As usual at this location, my final sighting was of a Red-tailed Hawk perched on a utility pole by the road.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Kleb Woods - and Our Backyard

I set out on Saturday morning to drive up to the weekend birdwalk at Kleb Woods. However, I'd only gone a couple of hundred yards before I had to pull over to admire a Red-tailed Hawk perched by the road side. Although I already have many - too many - pictures of Red-tailed Hawks, I still feel obliged to stop and try to photograph every one I see! 

Most of the birds I see during the birdwalk were common residents, like this female Northern Cardinal.

There were several less common birds, though. Two Brown-headed Nuthatches were a pleasant surprise, as was a Dark-eyed Junco. While I dipped on photographing those, I had better luck with one of three Pine Siskins hanging out with scores of American Goldfinches.

Back at home the birds were busy visiting our feeders and birdbath.

A couple of Blue Jays kept flying in to grab peanuts and then to drink from the birdbath. What magnificent birds they are!

Several Northern Cardinals regularly visit our yards. This is one of the males.

Several House Finches come to our feeders every day. One of the males is an orange variant.

This winter more than any other, Yellow-rumped have been frequent visitors to our feeders. I don't usually think of Yellow-rumps as being feeder birds but this year's crop seem to be very fond of our suet.

It's easy to see why Texans call these dainty little birds "butterbutts".


Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Fotos

Except in our backyard, I don't normally spend much time watching Northern Cardinals. However, the other day at the college I just had to stop and watch a male Cardinal as he delicately picked food from a nearby tree.