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Pedernales Falls – Sep 7, 2015

January 20, 2016 1 comment

Distance-wise, my house is much closer to Pedernales Falls than my previous apartment. Because of the actual roads available, I’m only about 20 minutes closer, but that’s still a big improvement. Sadly, I have only been to Pedernales once since I moved. There’s been a million things to do and until recently, I was often not here on the weekends.

Black-chinned Hummingbird (male)

Black-chinned Hummingbird (male)

In late September of last year, I finally made it out. For the most part, it was the normal birds. There were several people there, which was unusual. It worked out quite well, since they were more birders than photographers. It helps me out immensely when people are watching with binoculars and either notice birds I don’t or when I’m busy taking photos. I perked my ears up when someone said they saw a White-eyed Vireo. I have been trying for years to catch one. This one was well in the back of the north blind, but it was definitely a Vireo. It was not easy to get photos, but I managed a couple and came away from the trip very happy.

White-eyed Vireo

White-eyed Vireo

 

White-eyed Vireo

White-eyed Vireo

Before I left, there was one more surprise. I looked down and was slightly terrified to see a small snake making its way across the blind, a little too close to me. I gathered my senses, and waited for it to come out from around the corner where it had darted. I have no idea what species it was, but I’m glad it was a cooperative and friendly one. According to my photos, I haven’t seen a snake since 2010!

Snake

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Triple Birding

July 13, 2014 Leave a comment

While going through the Marble Falls Christmas lights photos, I discovered a bunch of birding photos that I completely forgot about. I did three birding visits the day after seeing lights: Marble Falls, Pedernales Falls, and Hornsby Bend.

Marble Falls

After checking out of the hotel, I drove the short distance down to Lakeside Park, where the lights are. There were numerous waterfowl in the Colorado River, but most were far off. The ones near the shore swam away when I approached, but later returned. A Ring-billed Gull was present. Now I know gulls are present anywhere there’s alot of water, but I am always surprised to find them far from the coast. A flock of darker birds contained several Scaups, but I do not know if they are Greater or Lesser. I originally identified them as Greater, but given the location, they are likely Lesser.

Scaups

Scaups

Before leaving the lake, the Marble Falls bridge deserves a brief mention. The existing bridge is 78 years old and is being replaced by two bridges. The northbound bridge was already complete and is temporarily carrying all traffic. In March of 2013, the existing bridge was imploded. I picked a random video from YouTube if you would like to see it. It’s pretty neat. The southbound bridge is scheduled for completion this fall.

Pedernales Falls

Northern Cardinal (female)  - wet version

Northern Cardinal (female) – wet version

With nothing else within camera range, I drove the short 30 miles down to Pedernales Falls. The weather was bright and sunny at Pedernales. Not everyone likes sunny birding, but I do. Sun means low ISO and great autofocus!

Northern Cardinal (female)

Northern Cardinal (female) – dry version

As you can see in the list below, there was nothing out of the ordinary. But great light allowed me to get some good photos. Cardinals are everywhere, so for years I ignored them. But then I realized that I had few, if any, really great Cardinal photos, so I keep trying now.

  • Northern Cardinal
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Spotted Towhee
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow
  • Lesser Goldfinch
  • Orange-crowned Warbler
  • Bewick’s Wren
  • American Goldfinch (female)
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  • Lesser Goldfinch
  • Black Vulture
Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Always in search of better photos, I am pleased with this new one of a female American Goldfinch.

American Goldfinch (female)

American Goldfinch (female)

Hornsby Bend

Later that afternoon, I headed over to Hornsby Bend to find the Vermilion Flycatcher. I previously posted about this because it was very exciting, so I won’t rehash it again. Lately, the water levels at Hornsby have been too high for shorebirds. However, this time there actually were a few, but not many. This Spotted Sandpiper was in the right position so that his spots were actually visible.

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

Another shorebird I rarely see is the Least Sandpiper.

Least Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

Amongst the common Northern Shovelers was a Green-winged Teal. I’m not sure if this is the first one I’ve seen, but it’s the only photograph I have, so it’s probably a first!

Green-winged Teal

Green-winged Teal

Here’s the list for the day, based on my photos:

  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Killdeer
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Vermillion Flycatcher
  • Meadowlarks (unknown which)
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Least Sandpiper

And that’s a wrap for 2013! Took a long time to get through all these photos from the last two months of the year. There’s several other photos for this day in the gallery. Several are actually fairly good, so take a look!

Black-and-white Warbler

July 4, 2014 Leave a comment

On June 22, I drove down to Pedernales Falls State Park. It had been 7 months (!) since I had been birding. Other trips and house searching have been consuming my time. Even now, I only went because I needed to be in Bee Cave which put me relatively close to Pedernales. I don’t usually visit much during the summer and it was extremely overcast. Most of my photos were at ISO 800+. I didn’t have high expectations.

Deer

My first bird was sighted immediately after entering the park. A Greater Roadrunner was right by the road. Of course by the time I got the camera into position, it had gone into the trees. That was the second one I had seen in a month. On my way to the bird blind, I spotted a few deer on the side of the road. Seems unusual for them to have been out this late in the morning, but it’s not the first time I’ve seen them. I managed one photo (above). I have no idea why the camera was set at f/11. Probably from whatever I was shooting last time. The blurriness is caused by the car door being in the way.

2014-06-22_JD_0014

The north blind was not very exciting. This White-winged Dove was the most interesting thing so I spent a minute at the very active butterfly garden instead. There were dozens of Milkweed Butterflies about. It’s really great to see the garden work as intended.

Milkweed Butterfly

Milkweed Butterfly

Over in the south blind, not much was going on either. I stood around for awhile until a small, black and white bird appeared, darting around the back trees. I only managed a few pictures through the glass and with the dark skies, my photos came out pretty bad. But they were good enough to identify the newcomer as a Black-and-white Warbler! That’s the first time I’ve seen one and the other birders were excited as well.

Black-and-white Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

Summer always bring Painted Buntings and Hummingbirds. The PB’s are usually elusive and require patience. This visit was no different. There were only one or two males. I should have come away with better photos, but I was playing with my 2x extender which requires manual focus. My only decent photo was with the 1.4x.

Painted Bunting (male)

After more nothingness, I headed back to the north blind. A flycatcher was posing throughout the blind. I wasn’t quite sure what it was since I didn’t have my book with me, but Eastern Phoebe was my first guess, which I believe was right.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

I don’t pay much attention to the hummingbirds anymore, but with little else to look, I gave it a try. Good hummingbird photos are difficult: tiny and fast, they tend to be really close to you where the feeders are or perching in the branches a bit too far off. The changes to the south blind have made it difficult to photograph near the feeders, but the north blind was still workable.

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

I was running behind schedule now and only took a few minutes in the butterfly garden. Here’s a Hackberry Emperor to close out the day. With a proper butterfly book, I’m now able identify these little guys. There’s a few more photos in the gallery for this day. Fun fact. While checking up on the new house, I saw 3 Roadrunners. That’s 5 in less than one month which is likely more than I have seen in my lifetime. Maybe someday I’ll get a decent photo.

Hackberry Emperor

Hackberry Emperor

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