Oh joy! White-tailed Kites!!

Jan. 6:  The very nicest day we’ve had since we got here.  Very calm winds (which is the most important), partly cloudy with sunny breaks and high 19C!  Perfect.  Off to Estero Llano Grande!

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imageAnd after 4 years we’ve finally seen our 1st White-tailed Kites this trip!  How absolutely beautiful they are – n’est ce pas?  Not very close, but 1 was eating a meal in the 1st shot (and I thought they were worth 2 shots!).  These birds of prey are only 15″ long with nearly a 40″ wingspan!

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In juxtoposition, this has to be one of the ugliest birds in NA – Groove-billed Ani.  Nonetheless it is quite rare in this area, so we added it to our list and present it for your comments!!  And with a body length of 13 1/2″, its wingspan is only 17″!

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We added the Bronzed Cowbird (another not-so-pretty specimen) which had been seen here regularly, but we’ve missed it.  Actually I still missed it, but Bill saw it and this is the best  photo he managed.

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Back along the pond trails, we found a dozing Yellow-crowned Night-Heron with one leg (wink, wink).

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On alligator lake we finally got a front view of a male Green Kingfisher showing his lovely russet breast patch.

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This White Ibis is so cool with his huge decurved bill!

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Along Parauque trail we found the usual suspect – amazing how they’ve taken to staying in the same spot for years!  It is marked by dead branches along the path, preventing people from walking off the trail inadvertently and disturbing them since they are only a few feet away.  Such beautiful feathers!

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This teenaged mutant ninja turtle was obviously inspiring awe among his compatriots – see how they look up to him?

It was a wonderful morning!  New birds for our list and so pleasant to be out and about!

After a quick lunch, we headed back among the trees, hoping for some new birds.

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The little Buff-bellied Hummingbird was staking his claim on a feeder, but we captured him perched in a tree – just a glint from his irridescent feathers.

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Altamire Orioles were also evident, but not Hooded, as we hoped.  So after a stunning morning, the afternoon didn’t yield anything new – but what a gorgeous day to be out and about!

The next day was cloudy, but before the wind picked up, we headed off the the butterfly preserve down the road.

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Here Bill got a couple of nice shots of a female Black and White Warbler.

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And at last I saw my first Olive Sparrow, though Bill had seen them here before, but not gotten a photo.  It was very dark due to cloudy skies and the tree canopy, but you can see how “olive” it is.

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This N. Cardinal has laid down its crest – so funny looking eh?

We ran errands, then on the way home on the road, we saw people out looking at a hawk.  We stopped the car ourselves and Bill took a couple of photos.

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Later, after studying the photos, we decided this was a juvenile Zone-tailed Hawk.  This obviously looks like nothing but a silhouette, but we’ve zoomed in on a good computer screen, and along with observations on the road, we can confirm its identification.  We haven’t managed a very good photo yet, but will keep trying!

Jan. 7-10:  Brrrr!  This isn’t what we signed up for when we came down here!  Cloudy, rainy and cold.  Stayed in, did cleaning/laundry and Bill worked.  Also got our hair cut (and Jenny did a good job!).  Apparently this is one of the coldest winters on record in this area!  Ugh!

Jan. 11:  Cloudy this morning, then FINALLY, the sun came out in the afternoon!  So we took the opportunity to at least get out for a walk at Bentsen.  Everyone we saw was smiling – just for the joy of seeing the sun!

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Our first sighting was a juvenile Gray Hawk waiting for dinner to show up.

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We even found the wise old owl sunning himself in his tree.

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At the river you can see how calm the winds were with perfect reflections.

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At one of the bird blinds we viewed this Northern Cardinal in a feeder, glowing in the sun.

We talked a few times with another birder (from NY) who was trying to get birds for her 2015 list, including the Red-naped Sapsucker…and she got it!  She told us about another park nearby to try for some new birds, as well as a place for a burrowing owl!

Jan. 11:  So, off to Anzalduas Park.  Not a state nor national park, just a local area for picnics and play sets for kids.  However, we found lots of nice stuff.  It was foggy and 5C when we left, so took awhile for that to burn off.  So Bill didn’t have his camera for many of our sightings, including a lovely flock of Eastern Bluebirds.

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Nonetheless, here is a Ringed Kingfisher (twice the size of a Green).

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We have Lark Sparrows (one of the prettiest native sparrows, we think) around our trailer all the time.  Finally captured one here!

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We then headed off to try for the turrowing ow.   Along the road we got a new Egret for our list – Cattle.  See the bit of tan on the head?  It has black legs and feet (not yellow feet like the clown-like Snowy).

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With little idea of where to go, we were very lucky to find the Burrowing Owl!  Can you see it standing among the rocks?

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Right in the little town of Granjeno we saw a typical roman catholic graveyard – extremely colorful!

It was lunchtime, so we stopped for lunch then went back to another little park we saw along the way – mainly used by cyclists because it has a wide, paved pathway.

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Here is a juvenile Harris’s Hawk – isn’t he a beauty?  You can see when he flies that he has a prominent white rump and those beautiful russet shoulders.  One of the prettiest hawks.

The weather is set to become cloudy, rainy and cold again for a few days, so that’s it for now!

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2 Responses to Oh joy! White-tailed Kites!!

  1. I bet you that Groove-billed Ani’s Mama doesn’t think it ugly! Love the photos, especially liked the one along the river where the rushes are reflected. Love those texture shots Bill. Warmer week this week for us… yippie!

  2. birderspost says:

    Yup – I check Calgary weather every day, just so I know. We’re back in the cool, rain & clouds. HIgh 9C today. Oh well, the place will be spotless with all the laundry up-to-date! Lova you. XO Lo

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