Friday, 29 May 2015

Night Heron at St Clements, Truro

After five visits to my local patch at St Clements, I eventually saw the adult Night Heron last night.  After spending countless hours waiting at Tresemple Pool, John Chapple and me returned to the car park only to be told by the owner of the vicarage it was in the garden pond!.  The photo below was taken in near darkness at 9.30 pm last night.  ISO was set to 6400.  I got to say I was pretty impressed with the camera (Nikon D800e).

I also saw two Red Kites though Bob Bosisto had five others an hour earlier.

Back from Texas, fairly dry

We got back from Texas last week.  Just in time by the looks of things as there has been huge amounts of rain and serious flooding in areas we have just visited.  It was also a fairly dry fortnight as the majority of diners and burger joints don't sell beer in Texas.  The upshot is I lost 2 kg in weight.  Maybe it was the serious humidity as well.

Anyway, I'm now sifting through 3000 or so images.  Its looking good for about 200 nice presentation shots and around ten competition standard images.  I notice that the tour guide brochures now include a statement saying "Photo Opportunities:  Moderate to good".  I can say that Texas was very good, especially the waders and marsh birds.

In summary, we saw a shade under 200 species, had 30 ticks, travelled 2070 miles in 16 days, stopped twice by US border control bods, had about 200 mossie bites, caught heat rash, one minor disagreement with the Mrs over access to a Tropical Parula site, lost 2kgs in weight and wasted one night on South Padre Island. All in all, a pretty successful trip.

A small part of a flock of mixed terns, skimmers and gulls.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Anuhuac Reserve, High Island

We have returned to the giant size Anuhuac Reseve, which is close to High Island.  This is a drive-round reserve where a lot of the birding is done American-style, ie from your car, just like everything else in Texas.  We have even experienced a drive-thru donut store, and wait for it, a drive-thru slot machine store...Anyway back to the birding and today's highlight has been an influx of Common Nighthawks. They have been everywhere and easy to see, mainly on fence posts at eye level.  Here's a couple from today plus some shots of other notables from nearby:

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, a common roadside bird

Red-winged Blackbird, male, one of the noisiest characters around.

Eastern Kingbird, fairly common in the correct habitat.

Common Nighthawk today.

Common Nighthawk, a different bird to above and below.

Common Nighthawk.  All images taken with Nikon D4, 500mm F4 and 1.4x TC.  (Kingbird image by Patsy Rogers).

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Waders at Port Aransas, near Corpus Christi

Today we revisited the stunning wader site at Port Aransas,  Its four hours drive north from the Rio Grande and still another four hours or so back to Houston.  This is the second time we have visited Port Aransas for good reason - its stunning and perfect for some photography.  The highlight was once again several hundred Stilt Sandpiper but also some Wilsons Phalaropes and various other waders including Short-billed Dowitcher, Semi-palmated and White-rumped Sandpiper, Dunlin (alpina), American Avocet, Roseate Spoonbill, Snowy Plover and Least Sandpiper.  We also found a pair of Horned Larks on the sand bank and a Frigatebird in the bay.

Tomorrow we head for the High Island area for the last couple nights of our trip.

Stilt Sandpiper

Adult male Horned Lark

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Sabal Palm Sanctuary, Brownsville

Today has been a big disappointment as we travelled to two reserves which were a complete waste of time.  Firstly Boca Chica at the mouth of the Rio Grande gave us very little and then the world birding centre at South Padre was even worse. To be honest the place looked mismanaged, a bit like an out of season resort - we left there pretty quick and made our way to Sabal Palm. This was a stunning private reserve and our three hours there could easily have been six.  We managed two trip ticks in Wood Stork and Gull billed Tern today, but Sabal offered great views of Green Jay, Magnolia Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler and American Redstart (all first year males), Altamira Oriole, Long-billed Thrasher, Yellow-billed Cuckoos and yet more quantities of summer pluamge Stilt Sandpipers.

We travel back north tomorrow and we revisit Port Aransas for more waders.

Magnolia Warbler, 1st summer male

Buff-bellied Hummingbird