Monday, April 26, 2010

They've Arrived....

First goslings of the season...
Aren't they cute?
(all photos are cropped)

click on photos to embiggen

Friday, April 16, 2010

One Last Laguna Atascosa NWR Post

Going to, finally, wind up the Texas posts.

One of the more fascinating birds I saw at Laguna Atascosa NWR was the Plain Chachalaca. They are large birds, 22 inches long. They seem equally at home on the ground and in tree tops. I saw them in fairly large numbers chattering away in the tree tops. Unfortunately, it was an overcast day when I attempted to take pictures of them there. These pictures were taken in the bird feeding area outside the Visitor Center. The nail you see in the pictures usually held an orange, but was empty when they checked out the area.

The chachalaca has a patch of bare skin on their throats which is gray to light pink. During breeding season that patch becomes bright pinkish red on the males. The red patch is evident on the bird in front.

Another neat bird was the Long-billed thrasher. They are very similar to the Brown thrashers that are common in this part of the world.

There are of course many pictures that were taken in New Mexico and Texas that I haven't posted here.

They can be found as follows:

The scenery of Bosque del Apache NWR
Sandhill Cranes at Bosque del Apache NWR
The other birds of Bosque del Apache
Scenery in Texas, January 2010
Scenery in Texas, February 2010
Birds of the Texas coast
Goose Island State Park
Aransas NWR
Padre Island National Seashore
San Bernard NWR
Laguna Atascosa NWR
Whooping Cranes

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sunken Gardens Flowers

Stopped by Sunken Gardens this afternoon.

This pale yellow Magnolia is stunning in person.

The tulips are really starting to wow us.

Isn't spring grand?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

More Laguna Atascosa NWR

At Laguna Atascosa there is a stretch of beach where the Osprey gather with their "catch of the day". Sometimes there would be between twelve and twenty Osprey at a time. I don't think I have ever seen that many Osprey together, at one time, anywhere else. Most of the time they were out of the reach of my camera, but one day I got lucky and this guy was fairly close to the road.

When one has food, one has lots of friends! Getting help from a Ring-billed gull and a Ruddy turnstone

Further up the road this guy wasn't having to share.

One of the times I drove this section of the refuge tour, there was an Osprey flying with his catch. I thought if I sped up I might be able to get far enough ahead of him to catch a photo of him flying. I was doing 20mph and not keeping up. The speed limit on the refuge is 15mph so I gave up the chase. sigh

Friday, April 9, 2010

More Laguna Atascosa NWR

Before I get to the birds of Laguna Atascosa....

Mosquitoes love me. If there's one within a mile, it will find me. I've never been a big fan of any mosquito repellent, but have used it out of necessity. Last fall a friend told me that she had read somewhere that putting a fabric softener dryer sheet in your pocket would repel mosquitoes. I was sceptical. When I was packing up stuff, getting ready to leave Rockport/Fulton I put the box of dryer sheets in the front of the car so I could try it, if the occasion presented itself. There were mosquitoes at Laguna Atascosa, so I put one in the pocket of my tee shirt and used no mosquito repellent. My scepticism was not warranted. Over a three day period, I got no bites. And there were mosquitoes in the area, and in the car. I will continue to use this method of repellant and see if it works elsewhere. If they love you too...well give it a try. Anything is better than that awful slimy stuff they sell as repellant!

This is a White-tipped dove. Like the Green jay in the post immediately below, the bird books show their range as barely getting into Texas from Mexico. So it's not a bird one can see just anywhere!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Laguna Atascosa NWR

At the beginning of March I headed down to South Padre Island. While in the Rockport/Fulton area I was told by several people that Laguna Astascosa NWR was a place I would really enjoy. The folks that told me that, well, they were right.

Right outside the visitor area is a bird feeding area. Lots of trees, and a little stream runs through the area. They put out orange and grapefruit halves to attract the birds. If you should happen to go, the refuge staff/volunteers gladly accept donations of oranges.

The Green jay of one of the birds frequently seen there. They are really quite handsome.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spring Flowers

Stopped by Maxwell Arboretum earlier today. Last weeks blooming crocus are a memory, the daffodils are in full bloom, the white magnolias are blooming, the pink magnolias are budding, and the tulips are getting there.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Whooping Cranes In Nebraska and Kansas

(photo taken in Texas)

From today's Lincoln Journal-Star
Nebraskans planning a weekend crane trip will have a good chance of glimpsing one of the rarest birds in North America.

As of Thursday, at least 11 whooping cranes had stopped in Nebraska during the spring migration, said Karine Gil, crane population ecologist with the Crane Trust near Alda. The birds belong to a flock of 247 wild whoopers that migrate from wintering grounds in Texas to breeding territory in northwestern Canada.

A check of the website of Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in cental Kansas shows that as of yesterday, there were 76 whooping cranes on the refuge.

In my meandering around the internet I found another interesting article in the Washington Post.
This year for the first time, the movements of a few birds are being monitored in real time through miniaturized leg-band Global Positioning System devices.

This research project took six years of meeting, discussing and permit-getting in two countries. It is finally underway, at a propitious time.

Lots of information in that article, it's well worth a read.

I tried to find out more about the monitoring, and have been unable to find anything. When I find it, I'll post it...