Welcome to my photo journal.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Orange Sunday

We did make it to the Hawk Watch this morning, there were only 6 of us today. Not much moving across the levey either, we saw more birds on the drive over, a small flock of Sandhill Cranes, Spoonbills, Egrets, Osprey, Harris Hawk and lots of doves. We were beginning to think our tallies were going to be low but 10 min. before 1:00 we see a large kettle of Broadwing Hawks high up in the sky they estimated over 300 hawks so that ended todays watch on a high note.
We made it back to the park for Sunday's ice cream social, not many there either as more and more of us are heading home. Don't know why the weather's not good yet. We had a report on one of the guys driving back to IA and he got snow bound in KS.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Yellow on Yellow

The weather back home doesn't look very good, sleet and snow. Is March going out like a lion?
We've been out enjoying the yellow colors, cactus flowers, butterflies, birds and blossoming trees. Friday was 98 with humidity, today much nicer 80 and low humidity. We haven't been out to the Hawk Watch, we plan on going tomorrow. This morning I was sitting out enjoying a cup of coffee and I noticed some birds in a small kettle up high and so I got out the binos. We had maybe 80 Broadwing Hawks fly over. Ken got out his camera tried to get photos but he wasn't satisfied with them, I thought they were OK for handholding his 500.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Another hawk watch day

We got out a little earlier this morning to join the hawk watchers, there weren't very many today. We saw several kettles of vultures and then later in the morning a kettle of 500 Broadwing Hawks. They were up very high but still it was cool to see so many hawks at once. We were there for 4 hours today, so we got to see alot of birds Plovers, Anhingas, Ibis and over 30 Scissortail Flycatchers, I caught these 4 in a nearby tree.
After stopping for lunch, we went to Ramsey to see if the Pauraque was still there and it was gone. The cactus are really blooming now and as we were walking around we spotted several Ribbon Snakes, I hope it wasn't one of them that got the Pauraque.

Birding can be hazardous to your lifestyle. It's a progressive addiction that can intensify from an amused observation to a knee jerk obsession in a matter of weeks. So be careful. This hobby may change you from being a sane, normal, predictable person into a bird book junkie who will leave home and loved ones at the mere jingle of a birder's hot line.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Who has control of your remote?

Around here it is usually Ken but this morning Tigger decided it made a good pillow.
We did go see the movie we headed out to yesterday, Last Chance Harvey, it was very good.
Today, it was $1 day, so we even saved a $1 as yesterday we paid 1.50.
Looks like a week of 90's or close to, so the air conditioner will be running this week.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A windy Monday

The wind is back today 50 mph gusts, hopefully not for long. We went down to the docks early this morning before it got windy. This Green Kingfisher stopped by, some Whistling Ducks visited a while as did the Great Egret. We have to remember we don't have to go far to go birding just take a walk down to the docks will do.

Ken wanted to see a movie today, we went in to the dollar cinema started to walk in to the theater and the lights went out, lights went out in the whole mall. So we got our money back and went to Walmart to pick up some milk and of course we find more than just milk we both had our arms full.

Happy Birthday Chloe

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Thursday we went to the Hawk Watch for a couple of hours. We did see a couple of kettles of vultures, a Swainson's Hawk fly over our heads, and two Grey Hawks fly close enough for me to see. There was an Grooved-billed Ani that came up close but it stayed in the bushes. When we arrived there were several more at the watch than what are shown here in my photo, this is close to 12:30 when not much is happening.Friday, we drove around and ended up stopping at the Palo Alto Battlefield National Park. It is where the war to gain the southwest territories from Mexico was started in 1845. The 15 min. movie was informative but the park is a little boring, it is on the birding map. We did see several birds, the most exciting one was the White-tailed Kite, too far for me to get a photo but Ken brought out his big lens and tried.
Later that afternoon we went to the RV park's happy hour, not many attend anymore since a lot of the people have gone home. We ended up learning and playing a new game with 3 other couples til 9:30, it was alot of fun. It reminded me of a game I used to play years ago call Aggravation only with cards instead of dice.

Today, we went to our favorite birding place, Ramsey, when we drove into the parking lot we wondered what's going on the lot is about full! We learned a bird tagging was going on by the Texas Fish and Wildlife, so we went and watched. It was about over but we got to see them release one bird and tag one bird. They had caught 20 birds this morning to tag. They use a really light weight net strung out amoung the trees and bushes.

This is Mark Conway the tagger with a Long-billed Thrasher.

Here they are taking photos of a Orange-crowned Warbler before they release it.

We went and checked on the Pauraque and here it is with it's chick, can you see the little chick just in front of the mom.
We've had a beautiful week, lite winds perfect temps. Today, the winds came back and we have turned on our air conditioner.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Photo of a Pauraque

We've went out birding today, surprise ! surprise! We went to Ramsey and here is a Pauraque I think she is setting on a nest. We heard a couple of days ago there was a Pauraque and it was near the path, we must have walked passed it a couple of times Monday. A birding group was there this am and they pointed it out to us. The cactus are only a few days from being in full bloom.
We went to the park's St. Patrick's party last nite, I had corned beef and cabbage and we had a band to entertain us.

In green, is Sandra Bracher, our entertainment director, and next to her is Rebecca the owner of Hummingbird Cove and Diving Dolphins.
We did go Hawk counting Tues. for a couple of hours but I didn't take any photos. We saw just a few hawks and turkey vultures.

Monday, March 16, 2009

New Butterfly

We didn't go hawk counting today, we have time to go later. The weather turned out beautiful , the weatherman predicted another cloudy day, he was very wrong. It looks like it's going to be a beautiful week with lite winds for a change.
We did go to our favorite place, Ramsey Nature Park, and we saw some butterflies and scissortail flycatcher. Ken didn't take his camera the first trip in, so we went back and changed to cooler clothes, open the windows and got his camera. Then back in to Harlingen, on way in we saw another Scissortail flycatcher and Kingfisher on the telephone wires. We see alot of birds driving into town, Kestrels, Cooper Hawks, Ospreys, Harris's Hawks, Caracara's, Sandhill Cranes and Greater White Fronted Geese are just a few we have seen this winter. I always keep watch! At Ramsey we spotted this Tropical Leafwing and this Border Patch which is a new one for our list.
These Texas Bluebonnets are in the ditch entering Ramsey Park. The Prickly Pear cactus is starting to bloom so we will visiting often to try to catch it in full bloom.
We also saw a Ruby throated Hummingbird so they are on the way north.

I was getting ready to download today's photos and this guy visited our feeder. I don't remember the Golden-fronted Woodpecker coming to the feeder before, I wonder what else visits when we are gone.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Back at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

This isn't from the Refuge it's just a pretty intersection in McAllen taken last week, you can tell how windy it was by the palm trees. We've been attending a Hawk ID class the last 3 mornings at SANWR. The class was lead by Gene Welhelm the same instructor as last weekend. Ken is excited to join the Hawk Count next week.

This is the 19th year of the Hawk Count at SANWR. Volunteers show up any time between 8 am and 1 pm, March 15 thru April 15 to count the migrating Hawks. They will be counting Broadtail, Red-tail, Red Shoulder, Swainson's, Zone-tailed and White-tailed Hawks, (the Buteos), the Kestral, Merlin, Peregrine, Prairie and Aplomado, (the Falcons), then the Sharp-shin,and Coopers Hawk , (the Accipiters), and White-tailed Kite, Swallow-tail Kite, Hook-billed Kite and the Mississippi Kite, and then the others Vultures, Ospreys, Caracara, Northern Harrier, Anhinga and White Pelicans. So there is a lot to learn and remember.

The migration peaks the end of March to the 1st of April. I think Ken may extend our stay so he can try and see the big migration of thousands of Broadwing Hawks coming across the Mexican border.

All these classes started with a happenstance stop at SANWR one Monday when we drove over to see the Butterfly Park and it was closed.

The weather this weekend turned cold and drizzly, 55 degrees feels cold after 85 degrees. Monday the temp returns to the 80's so sitting out on a levey will be a nice way to enjoy the sun again.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Birding at LANWR

We've spent the last two days birding at Laguna Atascosa NWR, all day, I feel like I'm on a bird diet. We end up only having only one meal when we go there. This is the spot where our new birds were sighted. Ken spent over 6 hours over the two days waiting for birds. I just wonder around and around, I usually see different birds but with my point and shoot can't get a photo. Today I was lucky and got this photo of the Blue Bunting, yes Blue not Indigo Bunting, the female is a rust color I didn't get her and I don't think Ken did either. But he got a beautiful photo of the Blue Bunting and several of the other birds we saw.
I also got lucky and got this photo of the Grooved-billed Ani. I so wanted to see and hear this bird and today we got to see him and her. There was a pair.

So over the two days we added 7 new birds to our list:
Blue Bunting
Grooved-billed Ani
Wilson Warbler
Northern Parula
White-eyed Vireo
Winter Wren
Black and White Warbler (did see one in Watkins Mill last spring)
So we've had some luck these last two days.
I have been keeping track of the birds we've seen and where, so far, we have added 47 new birds to our list this winter. The butterflies I haven't been identifying as well so really haven't totaled them up, will need Ken's help to do that.
I bought this really nice coloring book at the Valley Nature Center, Learn About ...Texas Birds it has all kinds of interesting facts. There are 9300 different bird species in the world, 900 different bird species in North America and 600 different bird species in Texas. I think we have alot of watching and learning to do!! I haven't totaled our life bird list yet.
These are the speciality birds of the Lower Rio grande Valley:
Plain Chachalaca
Altamira Oriole
Green Jay
Great Kiskadee
Olive Sparrow
Long-billed Thrasher
We have seen and photographed them all, most have been shown on my blog.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Birding Class

We made it though our three day birding class. We did learn alot and saw a couple of new birds for us. The first day was in the class room going over the basics. Our instructor is Gene Wilhelm an expert who has edited birding books. Each class ran from 8:15 to 12:30.

After the first day we stayed at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and rode their tram around the refuge and learned the history of the Refuge and some of the plants etc.

The second day of the class we went out birding.

They have a nest with a baby Great Horned Owl, it is in an old hawks nest as the owls don't make their own nest. This nest is in a very public area right over the paved road that runs through the park. The public is only allowed to drive thru the park in the fall other wise you walk, ride your bike or ride the tram.

Today the last day of class we also went out birding, we didn't see as many birds today but a few lucky people got to see a bobcat. In the two days out we saw 58 species of birds and 4 were new to us Sharp-shin hawk, Forrester Tern, Gadwell and Ringneck duck.

Friday after class we went over and visited the Watersons they are leaving the valley Sunday.

Today after class we went to Valley Nature Center (we got 2 for 1 ticket when we rode the tram at SANWR) and we saw 5 Yellow crown night herons there. We then stopped at the Outlet Mall on our way home we bought some birthday gifts at the Disney Outlet store.

We have had a busy 3 days and are pretty wore out, Ken is napping at this moment.

Next Thur - Sat Ken signed us up for the raptor count at Santa Ana. We enjoyed our time spent with other birders, the serious birders are quite helpful to us beginners. Maybe someday I will be able to just hear a bird and tell what it is like I do now with the easy and common ones. I learned from Gene that we have been hearing the Pauraque at night.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A new butterfly

We went for a long drive today over to Mission to check out the NABA International Butterfly Park, finally. It was a good thing it was breezy, the mosquitoes were bad there. We are able to add a new butterfly species to our list, the Crimson Patch, isn't it pretty. It was hard to get a photo, it was hard to get any photos, the butterflies didn't lite very long. This passion flower is blooming at Ramsey Nature Park, two days ago there were 3, today only one. I think passion flowers are so different I really like them, so do several caterpillars but I haven't seen any on this plant yet.
Are you getting tired of all these butterflies, flowers and birds? I can't wait for the cactus to start blooming, at least they don't move.

Happy Birthday Mom!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Texas Independence Day

Remember the Alamo!! It is Texas Independence Day today, not a very big celebration any where, Sat. there was the 1st Parade and reenactment in San Benito. I didn't know anything about it until we read the Sunday paper. We did happen to see the horses and covered wagon and police escort when we went to Walmart.
It was a beautiful day today, very little wind, temp in the lower 70's. We just wished the Butterfly park in Mission wasn't closed on Monday's it would have been a perfect day to go there. The rest of the week is to be windy again.
We did walk Ramsey Nature Park this morning then we went back to Santa Ana NWR. I finally got a decent photo of the Double Barred Flasher. We visited with one of the volunteers at Santa Ana and he told us of a nest with a Great Horn Owl baby, so we went out and found it. My pic is not good just too far away. Maybe Ken got a better photo. Ken signed us up for a bird watching class at Santa Ana Thurs thru Sat. at 8:15 am and it takes us over an hour to drive there, what was he thinking! Well, we'll see how it goes.

I caught this damsel fly at Hugh Ramsey.