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Thanksgiving sightings

December 6, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

The Thanksgiving time period was surprisingly productive bird-wise. On the drive back to Abilene, I spotted a flock of Anhingas or Cormorants (more likely) in a tree on the water’s edge at Bushy Creek Park. The tree is easily visible from Parmer Lane. I usually seem them when I go to Abilene at this time of year. I have attempted to photograph them before, but the trail doesn’t get close, and I haven’t been back to find a better location.

Closer to Abilene, I spotted a flock of American White Pelicans on Kirby Lake. This is not the first time I’ve seen them, but I usually don’t have time for more than a quick glance. I would guess there were about 20-30. There was an article in the Abilene Reporter-News (subscription required) a couple of weeks earlier about them, too. On my way back to Austin, I spotted two flocks flying in a leisurely west-southwest direction. One managed to get itself into a nice V-formation. The other, well, we can hope.

Shortly before Thanksgiving I created an eBird account. I decided to start keeping a “lifelist” and help out with observations when I can. Rather than explain it all, read Gillian’s fantastic post. The feature I am most interested in the moment is Alerts. Alerts for particular regions can be viewed without an account, but for e-mail alerts, you will need to signup. Most of the sites I frequent are covered by the Travis county. Once I checked that there actually were alerts (people do know about eBird!), I signed up.

The afternoon I got back, there was an eBird alert in my e-mail for a Belted Kingfisher and a Swan Goose at the Arboretum pond. (However the person who reported them, selected the ‘wrong’ location so they are not showing there. I need to make my own report.) The pond is small and I had some errands to run so I took my gear, including a new 2.0x III extender I just received from Canon’s refurbished store, that I wanted to try out. Light was quickly diminishing when I got there, so I am very glad I had my 6D instead of the 60D. Hearing the Kingfisher was easier than finding him. I only got as close as across the pond.

This was shot at ISO 6400 with the 2x, giving me 600mm.

Belted Kingfisher

This was shot at ISO 3200 with the 1.4x, giving me 420mm.

Belted Kingfisher

Sadly, these are still my best Kingfisher photos. The Swan Goose turned out to be of the domestic variety, so not so exciting.

Swan Goose (domestic)

More interesting were two Lesser Scaups also reported. Here’s one. I have much better photos, but it’s still nice to see them close to home.

Lesser Scaup

Finally, on Monday, Doris sent word of Crested Caracaras. Exciting! In the tree at our apartment complex! Very exciting!!

IMG_4741

These two look like an adult and a juvenile. There was a third that didn’t make Doris’ photoshoot. I don’t see Caracaras often and this is definitely better than any of my sightings. Wish I had been here.

The 2.0x extender did alright, considering the circumstances. My personal opinion is that extenders (and lenses really) work best with enlarging small objects close by. I think it will be much better in proper light and closer birds. I’m not sure when I will get to try it again. 3 days ago temperatures were in the 80s and now we won’t get above freezing until Sunday.

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Categories: Birding
  1. December 7, 2013 at 7:40 am

    Thanks for the mention, Jason! I usually subscribe to the alerts if I’m travelling or close to the end of the year to get those last few year birds. It’s very handy!

  2. December 7, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Nice work on the images, Jason. You have more (and better) Kingfisher images than I do at this point :) The weather down here has been nearly as crazy as what you’ve been getting–maybe north of freezing tomorrow (Sunday). There’s a bird walk that I want to do in San Antonio Sunday morning, but I don’t want to have to hunt down my thermals in the storage room to do it.

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