Home > Birding > Hornsby Bend – Oct. 6

Hornsby Bend – Oct. 6

October 12, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

This was one of my better days at Hornsby and also one of the worst. Our first major cold front of the season arrived on Friday night. So Saturday morning I dutifully trekked out to Hornsby to see what blew in. I was on too tight of a schedule to visit Pedernales.

As I usually do now, I visited Platt Lane first. It was pretty empty on the way in. But turning around to leave was a different story. Up in the trees were 4 raptors! Too far away to determine what they were, I put the new 60D on a tripod attempted some LiveView photos. I crept close enough to see they were Crested Caracaras! That’s only the second time I’ve seen them, both this times were this year. They flew off before I could get close enough to get decent photos.

There were hundreds of cowbirds enjoying the fields now that most of the hay has been rolled up into bales. I stopped to take some photos of several well-perched Scissor-tailed Flycatchers at the entrance/exit, but a woodpecker caught my eye. I assumed it was a Ladder-backed at first, since that’s about all we have around here, but quickly figured out it was something new due to the white patch on the back. After I got home and flipped through the bird book, I deduced it was a Downy Woodpecker!

Downy Woodpecker (male)

Downy Woodpecker (male)

Very exciting find for me. He didn’t mind me at all, but it was difficult to get a good photo since he kept changing branches and is relatively small. At Hornsby proper were quite a few birders. The most exciting thing was a having a raptor catch a blackbird right in front of me. I think it was a Peregrine Falcon. It completely vanished in the few seconds it took to bring my camera around.

The duck count has increased since my last visit but is still low. A few grebes were the highlights, most likely Pied-billed. Pond 1 West was where the action was this visit, specifically the northwest corner. Where we are not allowed :P Several White-faced Ibis have arrived along with more Snowy Egrets. Less than a handful of shorebirds. I spotted a Yellowlegs (type unknown) and someone saw a dowitcher.

As you might can tell from the lack of photos, it was a poor photo day. The skies were deeply overcast and most everything was very far away. I even stacked two 1.4x teleconverters to give me 600mm. Most of my photos came out pretty noisy, even the low ISO ones. I think that shooting so much LiveView overheated the sensor, but that’s just a guess. The 60D screen is an absolute delight to use. The aspect ratio of the screen now matches the photos. The flipout feature is great for tripod use. The increased resolution makes it possible to check focus on photos. Manual focus with LiveView is actually pretty good now. I had high hopes for LiveView autofocus, but it was just too windy and my tripod is not exact enough. I see the appeal of a geared head now, which would allow for small adjustments. Obviously such things don’t come cheap :P

Tomorrow should find me at Pedernales. I’m expecting more overcast conditions, but not as bad as this. I’m going more to play with the camera than to find birds this time.

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Categories: Birding
  1. October 13, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Yep, definitely a Downy Woodpecker. Hairy Woodpeckers look the same but have a much longer bill. We have both here in Ottawa, so I get used to seeing one or the other in every woodlot I visit. It’s interesting hearing your perspective since it sounds like you don’t get them very often! I had one land on my hand once looking for food. Apparently she was as tame as the chickadees that do the same!

  2. October 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Nice grab on the Downy. I had missed the fact that you had picked up a 60D. Awesome camera. Will be curious to hear more about how the ball head is treating you.

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