Click any photo to enlarge

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tufted Flycatcher---- YES!

I coerced my husband into taking me to the park to see the bird. It's a 5 hour round trip from Alpine and we stayed there 30 minutes, but it was well worth it. Here is a photo of some of the birders spreading out looking just minutes before the Tufted Flycatcher was spotted by one of them. We all rushed to the tree it was foraging in and got great looks and photos. The location is to the right of the far back person (four people in all) in the photo. I'm taking it looking east from Daniel's Ranch and the river is to the far right if you could see it. You have to click to enlarge the photo to see the person in the background.

And of the 108 photos I took of the bird, this is one of the better ones.

Nov 30: I decided to add this one because it shows the wingbars. Originally I discarded it because the background was so busy, but now have retrieved it from my trash bin. It was taken at the same approximate time as the above photo.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rio Grande Village - BBNP

My second favorite birding spot in the world, after the oasis, is RGV in Big Bend National Park. It's such a long drive that I don't go there very often. But after hearing reports and seeing photos of a Tufted Flycatcher seen there several days ago, I dove  (actually drove) right in at daybreak today, then spent four fruitless hours searching for it. I suppose tomorrow someone will relocate it and get my juices going again. The last, and only other, time one was documented there it stayed from early November 1991 until sometime in January, so this one is probably still around. I've never seen one. I was the only looker today, and there are lots of birds and trees to sort through. I spent way too much time photographing a Gray Flycatcher (for practice).

Rio Grande River at dawn 

Gray Flycatcher

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Costa's final documentation photos

I think I've done about as good as I'm able to do at photographing the leg band (see previous Costa's posts). At least I documented that it is banded, and without a doubt, the one we banded at Bonnie's place October 2009. The band is covered by feathers, so further attempts at photographing the numbers on it seem futile. Look closely. The band appears to be in good shape, not too tight, not too loose, no debris under it, and the seam lined up perfectly. But then it was banded by the best (Kelly Bryan), so I wouldn't expect less.

Monday, November 22, 2010

White-crowned Sparrow subspecies

Activity has slowed down here. I haven't posted anything in over a week. When birders visit this time of year and things are slow at the oasis, I usually start pointing out the differences in the White-crowned Sparrow (WCSP) subspecies to my guests. That often keeps things from being too boring until a more interesting bird shows up.

The subject is subjective, to say the least. It depends on who you research on the subject. John Dunn wrote an article on WCSP subspecies for Birding magazine in June 1995. He goes into mind-boggling and confusing detail. According to him, as best I can ascertain, I have the oriantha subspecies (Zonotrichia leucophrys oriantha) at my oasis, as well as the gambelii (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii).

However, if you consult Sibley, he mentions neither, opting instead to refer to them as West Taiga, Interior West, and East Taiga. So whatever you call mine, here they are, as photographed today. They'll overwinter here, often staying until early May. The oriantha (Interior West or East Taiga?) are the least common here. Sometimes the bill looks pinkish but it always has this dark lore.

The gambelii (West Taiga), on the other hand, have pale lores and usually lighter, yellower bills, and are the most numerous here.

I can't leave out this photo of a juvenile. (The one in the background of the first photo doesn't count.)

Here is a photo of the Chinese Pistachio tree. It's unusually red this fall. It looks small on this photo, but any year now it's going to make some serious shade. I hope.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Costa's continuing saga

Again today, for about the fifth time (see posts of Oct 21 and Nov 9), I went to Bonnie Wunderlich's to try to get photos of the Costa's right leg in order to see the band that we assume is there. (We originally banded her Oct 29, 2009)

I started my vigil at 8:30 AM and didn't see her until 11:30. In spite of the raging wind that caused me to abandon my portable blind and sit out in the open, I got a decent shots, except they were of the wrong leg. Next time.

And here's Bonnie's very cooperative juvenile male Anna's. After we band it tomorrow it probably won't be so amenable.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Costa's Hummingbird revisited

This morning I went to see my friend, Bonnie Wunderlich, to again (see Oct 21 post) photograph her Costa's Hummingbird. After I got set up in my blind a Cactus Wren came right up to me, so I retracted my 400mm zoom lens all the way in to 100mm in order to get the whole bird in the frame. So far, so good.

But then I forgot to put it back out when the hummer came in, so all the shots I took were worthless. Bummer. It never came back to the feeder again, but did go to an ocotillo bloom where I got a couple of decent shots, but I had been hoping to photograph the leg while it was perched to see the band. Next time.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Today, November 8th, marks the wedding anniversary of my late husband, Sherwood Kolb, and me. We got married on my late mother's birthday to make the day double special. Sherwood worked very hard alongside me to create this oasis. After a hard day's work we enjoyed sitting beside our tiny caged trees and watching the sun disappear behind the mountains to the west, as it created an afterglow on the mountain to the east. It looked then much as it looked this evening, except now the trees are huge and the oasis is truly an oasis, ever thirsting for water.