Monday, December 12, 2016

Rainy Picture Day


When you make plans to visit the Valley, you can't always predict the weather, and it couldn't have been worse for photographer Bob Kerr and his wife Mary Ann from Austin!  For the first time in weeks a day of constant rain and cold temps descended on the Valley, and they only had a day and a half to spend here, so we decided to do the planned "half day" on this day, and save the full day for the next day, which would still be cold, but at least it wasn't forecast to rain!

We didn't have to be out at the crack of dawn, so I figured some road-birding up along Brushline Road and the La Sal area might yield some photo ops.  Unfortunately the Sandhill Cranes didn't cooperate, and a nice Red-shouldered Hawk took off the minute I slowed down, but a Loggerhead Shrike gave us the looking-over, and a couple of White-tailed Hawks were getting soaked on the telephone poles!  One of our signature birds of the route, a knock-down gorgeous Pyrrhuloxia, popped right up to pishing on Bob's side, so he was able to get cracking shots of that beauty!

Undignified view of a Loggerhead Shrike

Hazy view of a distant White-tailed Hawk

Delta Lake Park is always good for a rest stop, but in addition can have some interesting birds right from the car, and in this case, the wintering Vermilion Flycatcher didn't disappoint!  We also picked up Osprey here, as well as a fishing Great Egret, but nothing else much moved. 

From there we headed to Estero Llano Grande State Park and the relative dryness of the deck, which despite the weather yielded some nice photo ops:  a trio of Roseate Spoonbills greeted us right at the get-go, and the regular ducks (Shoveler, Mottled, and Blue-winged Teal) all showed well.  Even a puffy little Least Grebe entertained us!  A feral Muscovy Duck was my first for the park!

Feral Muscovy Duck

Roseate Spoonbill

Northern Shoveler

Mottled Duck showing off his purple speculum (above) and his yellow bill (below)

Bird List:

  Muscovy Duck                         
  American Wigeon                      
  Mottled Duck                         
  Blue-winged Teal                     
  Northern Shoveler                    
  Green-winged Teal                    
  Least Grebe                          
  Double-crested Cormorant             
  American White Pelican               
  Great Blue Heron                     
  Great Egret                          
  White Ibis                           
  Roseate Spoonbill                    
  Black Vulture                        
  Turkey Vulture                       
  White-tailed Kite                    
  White-tailed Hawk                    
  Red-shouldered Hawk                  
  American Coot                        
  Rock Pigeon                          
  Eurasian Collared-Dove               
  Mourning Dove                         
  Inca Dove                            
  Buff-bellied Hummingbird             
  Golden-fronted Woodpecker            
  American Kestrel                     
  Eastern Phoebe                       
  Vermilion Flycatcher                 
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Loggerhead Shrike                    
  Green Jay                             
  House Wren                           
  Northern Mockingbird                 
  European Starling                    
  Orange-crowned Warbler               
  Lark Sparrow                         
  Northern Cardinal                    
  Red-winged Blackbird                 
  Western Meadowlark                   
  Great-tailed Grackle                 

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