Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Saturday: Best Day Ever: Part 3

After Salineno, I drove about 40 minutes out to Zapata, a small town along the Rio Grande. It's pretty far west from where I live, but it's famous for a single species of bird called the White Collared Seedeater that's been seen a lot lately in the city park. So, I went down to the city park. As soon as I got out of my car, I saw a older couple with binoculars. I asked them if they'd seen the seedeater and they said no, and that they were giving up. Undeterred, I started taking a look around the park. I saw plenty of familiar favorites including this ladder-backed woodpecker.
There were tons of ruby-crowned kinglets (no good photos, though) that kept popping up and making me think they were the seedeaters. Then, I got a flash of a little brown bird that was too stocky and too slow to be a kinglet. I ran back to my car to check the bird guide. Sure enough, seedeater. I went back out to the reeds to get a good photo. Alas, this one's the best I have:

A couple of other birders and I stalked these little guys (gals, actually) for awhile, but I never got a great picture. I was looking through the reeds at a bird and noticed that there were some ducks on the pond I'd been neglecting. I knew right away they were Scaups, but there are two types: Greater and Lesser. I snapped a ton of photos in hopes of getting someone to help me ID them later.

Turns out, they're Lesser Scaups. Thank you, WhatBird e-community!

There were a few other ducks as well, so I grabbed some more photos, including this one. This is a female ring-necked duck. They're everywhere at Estero Llano Grande (the park near my house), but it turned out to be a nice photo all the same.
I knew I had a long drive back to Weslaco, so I decided to get back in the car and get on my way. As I was walking toward the lot, I spotted this Vermillion Flycatcher on a tree. He was undeniably beautiful so I took a whole bunch of pictures of him. He stayed absolutely still for way, way longer than I felt like he should have. I owe this little guy part of the photo credit.

I decided to stop on my way home for hawks on telephone poles. The west valley is great for hawk-watching, and today was no exception. By Falcon Dam, I saw this Osprey having dinner on an electrical pole. If you look closely, you can see whatever nasty thing he's eating in his left talon:
I also managed to snap a slightly-out-of-focus but largely clear picture of a gray hawk, which is a valley specialty. This guy was posing:

So, after 8 hours, I'd managed to pick up 4 new birds for my life list as well as a whole batch of new photos. I was exhausted from the driving, but it was a day solidly spent :)


  1. I really like the Vermillion Flycatcher. Good work!

  2. Thanks, Jim! There's at least 10 more shots almost exactly like that one...I put the camera on "sports mode" in hopes of catching him actually flycatching. No luck, but he's beautiful all the same.