I saved the most difficult category for last – miscellaneous birds. Specifically flycatchers. I am challenged when it comes to identifying flycatchers. Thankfully, there was a local birding expert nearby when I saw the flycatchers, and she was able to identify them for me. You can see why it’s challenging to identify them…they almost look identical!
Here’s the many variety of flycatchers I saw at Port Aransas. And they are all lifers!!!
While visiting there, I went out every morning before dawn. I saw some beautiful sights around the town. One morning I toured the marina and took a few pics.
Homes on the Port Aransas Marina
The beach at dawn is gorgeous. Very few people, calm winds, the sounds of the surf and birds.
Horace Caldwell Pier at sunrise
I found some sand sculptures one morning. They must have had a contest the day before that was sponsored by Crown Royal. I was pretty impressed with the sculptures, though I can’t figure out why the pig was the grand champion. Hmmmmmm…..
It’s always 5 o’clock somewhere
Grand Champion Pig
While walking Charlie’s Pasture I did encounter a few butterflies. They were difficult to find as the wind blew pretty good almost my entire trip. I found other fun stuff too while hiking the boardwalks.
A gorgeous passion flower
I believe this is a White Peacock that survived a close call!
Green Anole shedding its skin. I loved to catch these lizards when I was a little kid living in Houston!
A very fresh Pipevine Swallowtail
One morning at Charlie’s Pasture I came across a coyote. Just beautiful!
While visiting the Leonabelle Refuge I saw lots of Great-Tailed Grackles and a few other fun things.
The sightings of the day 🙂
Mullet – this fish was 2.5 feet long!
I had two birds I really wanted to see while visiting the Gulf Coast. The first was the Roseate Spoonbill, which I did see and posted about previously. The second bird was the Crested Caracara. I have looked for this bird for years. On this trip I finally saw it. Then like my blogging friend Aussiebirder who recently commented “it takes you forever to see that lifer bird, then it seems like once you see it, you see it everywhere!” I think I saw over 10 individuals while there this last trip.
Along with the Crested Caracara I saw these other two birds I scared off a dead coyote.
One day we visited Aransas Wildlife Refuge. It took about 1.5 hours to get there, but was well worth the trip. That particular day was extremely windy. The beach would have been miserable. But with all the trees at the refuge, it was a beautiful day. The very first thing we saw were 3 alligators!!! 🙂 That was awesome!
We drove around this large refuge and came across some fun stuff. There was this 80-foot high catwalk. It was so fun to walk that climbing, winding cawalk. At the top the views of the coastline were amazing!
Scarlett loved running up the path
My mom waving from further down the path. Such fun!
While hiking this catwalk, we spotted a huge butterfly. It landed very briefly for one photo.
And I got a beautiful shot of a dove.
We had a picnic in a lovely spot. A deer greeted us as we drove up. This would be one of several deer we would see that day.
Me and Scarlett
Beautiful picnic area
I love the oak trees in Texas
I took mom and dad out to a nice dinner for Dad’s birthday. The restaurant was small and intimate and the food was delicious.
My dad (Joe) at his birthday dinner
But our favorite place to eat was Trout Street. We ate there twice on the patio enjoying the marina view. After dinner on one visit, mom and I toured the docks. I really considered buying this yacht that was for sale (NOT!). 🙂
Mom and Dad (Dorothy and Joe)
Dad looking very nautical in his blue and white striped shirt 🙂
Me enjoying a lovely dinner on the marina
My beautiful mother!
Tempting to buy….. LOL!
One day visiting the beach we drove past a Jeep Rally. I was really wishing I was in my Jeep. But sadly we were in my dad’s Ford pickup. I need to see about Jeep Rallies in New Mexico!
Jeep Rally at the Beach
Lots of great Jeeps were there
It was a wonderful trip to the Gulf Coast!!! I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventures there.
Our third day in Southeastern Arizona brought us to Patagonia, AZ. A premier birding spot! I made big plans for some great birding opportunities.
We stayed at a B&B just outside of Patagonia. They had so many birds there. I could easily have spent a whole morning just sitting on the patio. I got a couple new birds there in just the few minutes I spent on the patio. I saw my first Broad-Billed Hummingbird – gorgeous! And I saw a very shy Hooded Oriole.
Here’s some of the other birds I saw that morning before we headed to our other destinations.
We stopped at a local coffee shop before heading out. I just had to snap a quick pic of these beautiful black labs. 🙂
Our first stop was at the Paton Center for Hummingbirds. This was a former home of birding enthusiasts. Now it is managed by the Tucson Audubon Society. It has been opened to the public and designed for optimal hummingbird viewing. I had hoped to see the Violet-Crowned Hummingbird, but I guess I was a little early in the season for this sighting. I did see lots of Broad-Billed Hummingbirds.
There were a few other variety of hummingbirds present as well. However, they were females and I’m terrible at identifying most of the female hummingbird species.
One of my favorite photos I took there was of this Gambel’s Quail.
While I was photographing birds, Tim spotted this gopher busily cleaning out his den.
From there we headed to Patagonia Lake State Park.
Kelly and Tim
We stopped in at the visitor’s center first. Lots of birds on the feeders there!
While at the visitor’s center, we heard about a 1-hour boat birding tour. It was only $5! So of course Tim and I signed up! While waiting for the boat, I saw this Broad-Billed Hummingbird collecting tidbits for her nest.
I then followed her and saw where she landed. She found a good hiding spot. I had a lot of difficulty just getting this photo of her.
Soon we were on our boat ride. This was Scarlett’s first time on a boat! She wasn’t sure what to think of it, until we let her get right up front where she could see out. Then she loved it!
Lots of great bird sightings from the boat. It was difficult getting sharp photos while moving. But I’m pretty pleased with most of my photos.
Black-Crowned Night Heron
Great Egret with Neotropic and Double-Crested Cormorants
American Coot – looking warily at Scarlett 🙂
I was very excited to get a new bird on the boat ride. A Greater Scaup!
The bird guides were quite excited to spot a Hooded Merganser female. Evidently they are a rare visitor to the lake.
Coming back to the visitor’s center, I got this nice shot of a foot bridge in front of the marina. I really liked this bridge.
The bird guides told us of a path along the lake that is good for birding. So we quickly headed over there before the day grew too late. As we started the path, an Osprey flew overhead.
This was a fabulous path. Birds everywhere! Tim was a great spotter for me. He saw many more birds before me. I told him I was going to take him along more often! Here’s photos of the many birds we saw.
Black-Throated Gray Warbler
Tim spotted a Leopard Frog sunning himself in the shallows.
We saw lots of butterflies along the trail. Hopefully I named these correctly. Thanks to Joe on my previous post.
There was a bird feeder station set up on the trail. The feeders were getting quite a few visitors, including a big squirrel.
Just before getting in our car after walking the trail, we saw the Osprey fly over again. This time he had a fish!
It was a fabulous birding day! Lots of beautiful birds with a couple of lifers, a day spent at the lake and a wonderful time with my husband and dog. It doesn’t get much better than that!
While visiting my parents in San Antonio, we decided to take a short trip to the gulf coast. I hadn’t been to the beach in several years. The weather was perfect for a beach trip. We stayed in Port Aransas, which is at the northern end of Padre Island and at the opening of the shipping channel that leads to Corpus Christi.
We took the back way in to Port Aransas, so we got to ride the ferry across the channel. It’s a short ride on the ferry, just barely enough time to get out of your car and look for dolphins. We managed to see a couple in the distance before we had to return to our car.
Dolphin in shipping channel at Port Aransas, Texas
There are lots of Brown Pelicans in Port Aransas. They are so beautiful even in non-breeding plumage. They love to hang out at the piers.
We had to wait a few hours before we could check into our hotel, so we headed straight for the beach. To our astonishment, the place was packed!!! We learned later their was a Harvest Moon Regatta that had been held that day.
Crowded beach in Port Aransas, Texas
We managed to find a spot to park the car that wasn’t too close to other people on the beach. After sitting and having a snack and people watching, I decided to take a walk down the beach with Scarlett. This was her first ever visit to the beach. I figured since she loved water so much, she would love the ocean. She HATED it! LOL! To her it was hot, salty and the water chased her! She did enjoy the walk down the beach though. Lots of other dogs to see and everyone wanted to pet her. She was constantly told that she was beautiful. Of course, I had to agree.
I tried to get bird photos while walking Scarlett, but the beach was just too busy. I did manage to get this heron relaxing on a sign post in the dunes.
Great Blue Heron
We were finally able to check into the hotel and get ready for dinner. We had wanted to go to a place called Doc’s which is about 15 miles from our hotel. It is located on the intra-coastal channel further south on Padre Island. But when we got there, we saw the place was packed. The wait looked like it would easily be a couple hours and it was already well after 7 o’clock. So we turned around and headed back to Port Aransas. As we turned around, I told dad to stop the car. To my delight I got my first lifer bird of the beach trip – Black Skimmers!!!
The sun was almost set so I didn’t have much light. And they were almost between me and the setting sun, so it was a challenge to get a photograph. But I was thrilled to see them. Such an unusual bird!
We ate at Virginia’s, which is a great restaurant right at the marina in Port Aransas. Their food is delicious and the scenery can’t be beat. By the time we got a table, it was dark outside. We saw lots of boats coming in the for the night. The one boat I had hoped to see was the Red Dragon Pirate Ship. It came sailing in to the marina while we were eating dinner. I had to reduce my shutter speed to very slow and had to take the photon while hand holding the camera – bad combination. Plus, I only had a few moments in which to get a photo before it disappeared behind other docked boats. I was surprised at how well my photo came out!
Red Dragon Pirate Ship
The next morning I woke up very early so I could go bird at a local wildlife refuge. What a wonderful location. They had built lots of boardwalks in the marsh area so you could get out in the cattails to look for birds and other delights.
Aransas Wildlife Refuge boardwalk
As soon as I stepped out onto the boardwalk, a heron jumped up on the railing squawking at me. I couldn’t be more excited. A lifer bird not 5 feet away!!! It was a Tri-Colored Heron who was more than happy to pose for some photos in the gorgeous early morning light.
As I progressed along the boardwalk, I saw an opening in the cattails ahead. I saw a high deck for viewing the extent of the marsh. Whoever designed this place did a fabulous job.
When I got to the clearing, I saw a Common Gallinule grooming itself. Gallinules have developed extra long toes so they can walk across the cattails with ease. You can see those long toes well in this photo.
There were several grebes enjoying the morning as well as cormorants.
Double-Crested Cormorant – love the feet! 🙂
At the end of the boardwalk I looked down into the cattails and was surprised to see an alligator! He was snoozing in the shallow water. It is difficult to grasp the size of this alligator in photos. But he’s easily 12 feet long! The locals call him Stinky.
There were lots of pelicans and avocets off in the distance. I had to push the extent of my lens to get any photos of them.
White Pelican with American Avocets in the background
Too soon it was time to head back so I could get some breakfast and go to the beach with my folks. The beach was almost deserted compared to the day before. It was great! The weather was perfect, a light breeze off the water to cool things off some.
I tried to get Scarlett to play in the water, but she just wasn’t happy…as you can see by her expression and body language here. I guess she’s a mountain girl through and through.
Scarlett was telling me she hated the beach
Mom tried to get her to play as well, but no luck.
Unhappy Scarlett with my mom
After playing in the water awhile, I decided to walk down the beach again. I figured I would have a lot better luck this day getting birds. And I was right. Lots of birds out enjoying the relatively quiet beach. I got several lifers!
Royal Tern in foreground – a lifer for me!
There was one cranky Royal Tern – you can see him in the middle of the photo
Piping Plover – another lifer!
Ruddy Turnstone – yet another lifer!!!
Willet – another lifer!!!
Dad flew his kites and there were other great kites flying along the beach as well.
Dad’s shark kite
Dad’s other kite
I loved this squid kite – it was easily 30 feet long
After a full day at the beach, we returned to the hotel for a swim in their pool. Dad decided to take a nap and mom and I swam. Mom found a lizard that had fallen in the pool. I was able to rescue it before it drowned. 🙂
Brown Anole – originally native of Cuba
After our swim, mom went to the room to clean up for dinner. I took advantage of this and ran back over to the refuge. It was such a great place!
When I arrived at the parking area, I saw about a dozen White Ibis feeding in the shallows. Just beautiful!
I saw some hummingbirds feeding on the Mexican Paradise bushes. I had a hard time getting a pic but managed one decent one. Yet another new bird for me – Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.
It was pretty quiet on the marsh that afternoon. But I ran into some people that said just down the road, there are more boardwalks and some whistling ducks there. I immediately jumped in the car and drove over there. As soon as I walked to the end of the boardwalk, I saw and heard a whole bunch of them. They actually whistle!
Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks – another lifer!
I looked around to see what else might be about. I saw one other duck sleeping in the shade. Otherwise, it was pretty quiet.
Cinnamon Teal – female
Time to go to get cleaned up for dinner. I was hungry!
This post has become way longer than I expected. So I will break it up into two parts. Lots more great photos to come!
You never know what tiny treasures you might find on the beach…