Monday, April 29, 2013

Late April Catchup

What with our trek to the Frio, the posting of local pics went wanting, though the abundance of pics did not! Enjoy the variety of Spring visitors, newbies, babies, and varmints!

I arrived at the office one morning and was concentrating on the bird activity in the brush below the deck. I walked over and this caught my eye, and I almost had to run back home for a change of underwear! This raccoon obviously likes sleeping tucked into the beam trim underneath the office.

Another one of our favorite varmints, the black-headed squirrel. We call him 'Kirby', 'cause he vacuums up the trail mix.

 This curious fellow had me intrigued. A young Goldfinch all puffed up and moving slow around the deck. Even his flight seemed slow.

 He was preening and begging, and his mama came to give him a hard time.

She almost bit his tail before he took flight again.

Same day, different variety. A young Lesser Goldfinch, all puffed up and moving slow. The new life of Spring!

 This section is a continuation of our Thistle Wars theme. As long as the Pine Siskins are here, we'll have plenty of photo ops of the action around the feeder.

 Oh yeah?!!!!!

 Go find your own perch!

 That fellow on the lower right is quite acrobatic!

 Nice group picture. I have learned that the ones with a little bit of green on the back are the 'Green-back' variety! Well who woulda thought?

I have yet to catch much color on my hummingbirds, but I know it's all about 'time spent'.

A House Finch enjoying the water dish at the office deck.

One afternoon leaving the office, I heard the call of the Summer Tanager, something I rarely hear in our area. I followed it up the drive and was able to get this distant shot.

Some days later he showed up at the deck area, so I was able to get a little closer. His mate is nearby as well, so I'm hoping for more pics.

 This day was the first sighting of the Painted Bunting, and offered me the best lighting I've ever had to catch the colors of this bird.

Since then we've seen him just about every day at the office deck.

 The next day I spied my first at the house, and now have seen two males in my yard at the same time. This one is lookin' fluffy!

 The female Painted Bunting has been visiting the office deck as well.

She is really showing off her green!

 I saved these for last, because I have never seen an American Goldfinch in his full yellow glory at the office deck. He came one morning, the window was open, and the coffee went cold.

I can only agree with the Psalmist, God's glory is revealed in His Creation!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Annual Frio Pilgrimage

Last weekend we made our annual Spring pilgrimage to the Frio to enjoy a refreshing time on the river, and see how many birds we can spy that we don't usually get to see. Enjoy this week's offering.

To set the background, we'll start at the 'sanctuary' on the East Frio north of Leakey at Camp Live Oak. I guess it would be appropriate to call it 'holy ground', even though it is a river!

 And when I first walked up on this spot, I was greeted by the Green Kingfisher. He was perched nearby and watching the river. Another Kingfisher flew by, and he gave a chatter to voice his warning. He then flew up river a bit to do some fishing.

This is what he looks like perched above the river looking for fish.

 This Eastern Bluebird was perched high in a tree near the river, overlooking a meadow.

 His mate was nearby.

 Sparrows are so many and varied, I have to really hunt them down in the book to get a proper i.d. I'll stick my neck out that this is a Lark Sparrow, seen in the brush at Camp Live Oak.

 I heard the distinctive call of a Tanager, but thought I was hearing a Summer Tanager. Turns out to be a Western Tanager, red head, yellow body.

 Later I spied a male and female Summer Tanager.

 I have actually heard this guy already this year at my office on Lake Travis. But on the Frio, just listen for their unique call.

Female Summer Tanager

 Back at the feeders at Butch and Joyce's, the hummingbirds provide a constant aerial ballet. Note that the Black-chinned male at the left is showing a little purple.

This Indigo Bunting was a regular visitor to the feeders at Camp Live Oak. I have also seen his cousin at the office at Lake Travis.

 Butch told me this guy would come and get a long drink; a Golden-fronted Woodpecker.

 First time encounter with a Yellow-breasted Chat. I had to read about him to figure it out, 'cause he is a large warbler that sings like a Mockingbird. Here his throat is puffed out as he sounds out his raucous, mechanical song.

 He was very elusive, staying on the other side of whatever bush I was approaching. But then he flew up to the top to sing his song.

 When I walk out into the pecan grove at Seven Bluff Cabins, I can count on seeing a Vermilion Flycatcher. I was not disappointed.

 He did make me chase him around a bit. 

 First time to spy an American Goldfinch at Seven Bluff.

 Some activity above drew my eye to this nest. It was about 15-20 feet off the ground, and mama was diligently sitting.

If I hadn't waited to hear her sing, I probably would not have been able to identify her. This is a Yellow-breasted Vireo, and her song gives her away. She ends each round with the word 'vireo'.
What a treat it was to spend time on the Frio, relaxing, visiting, and enjoying God's creation.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ruby's Back in Town

One of my favorite annual postings, when the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is first seen in the yard. We have added some feeders, and done some re-arranging. The activity is up, but it also seems to have increased the tenacious guarding of the feeders. Ruby has been illusive, but you can be assured I will continue to seek quality shots of the jeweled throat. We are also pleased to offer our first picture of a Nashville Warbler, and a pretty good shot of another illusive bird, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Enjoy.

This cool Spring morning the air was especially still, so the pond was as well. What caught my eye this morning other than the mirror-like quality of the pond, was the Red-shouldered Hawk that you can't quite see in the upper left hand.

Upon examining the shots, it appears his right claw is either hurt or deformed. All I can say is that it does not appear to have hurt his ability to provide for himself!

This morning I was hurrying out the door, paused once to look at the pond, and spied the Great Egret doing a little fishing. The light was poor for a shot, but he got his fish!

Well, we thought the ducks were all gone for the season, but this female Gadwall still shows up every once in a while.

 Back at the office thistle feeder, we are still enjoying some warfare between the Lesser Goldfinches and the Pine Siskins.

 Whoa! Got a little sideways there.

  A moment of calm.

This Sunday afternoon at the porch, I heard the distinctive call of the Lesser Goldfinch. Here came a couple, male and female. The female paused long enough at the Carolina Jessamine for a shot.

 The Black-chinned Hummingbird has been active on the porch, and at the office.

 I would like to know where he's picking up that golden pollen on his snout!

 Another photo-op at the Jessamine.

And he turns and gives me a little of that purple.

 It's poor quality, but still proof that Ruby really is back in town!

I don't think you've been introduced to the Mrs. Here is the female White-crowned Sparrow, joining the others in foraging on the ground below the feeder.

 The illusive Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was hunting in the live oak near the office deck. His wheezy call is unmistakable, so I was hoping he would come up really close.

He was obliging, so I got a few good looks at a nervous, quick-moving subject.

Same day, same trees, same behavior. The quiet Nashville Warbler paused just long enough for me to get a few shots.