A couple of weeks ago I had to go to Las Vegas, New Mexico, for work. I decided to take a little time to see what might be at the local refuge. It was a cold, windy day so I wasn’t too hopeful of much being around.
Most of the small birds were hiding from the wind. There were a few Western Meadowlarks about but definitely weren’t interested in getting their picture taken.
With the cold wind, the Canada and Cackling Geese were hiding out in a low-lying pond. You don’t usually see these two species hanging out with each other. While we have difficulty distinguishing the two species, they definitely know who’s who!
In the distance I saw several Northern Harrier’s searching for lunch.
What was out and not shy at all were Red-Tailed Hawks. They were all juveniles. Such beautiful birds! And they let me get close and take as many photos as I wanted. What could be better than that!?!
This particular hawk had already been successful getting something to eat as you can see dried blood on his feet.
While photographing that hawk, some Morning Dove came in looking all fearful of the hawk nearby.
Nothing much else at the refuge. But as I was driving down the country road back to Las Vegas, I came across one of the most beautiful bluebirds I’ve ever seen. His colors were glorious!
Then to my delight I saw a Ferruginous Hawk on a telephone pole. Such a beautiful bird!
One last bird I saw was a very large Common Raven. Fortunately the lighting was nice and I was able to get a nice photo of this all black bird.
As I was driving home I decided to stop in a Storrie Lake to see what might be about. There really weren’t any birds around. Most of them were out in the middle of the lake where I just couldn’t get a good visual.
Just as I was about to leave, a Rough-Legged Hawk came in and landed on a post right next to my car. How exciting! The daylight was waning, but I had enough light to get a few nice shots. These birds are rarely seen in New Mexico so I was delighted to get such an up close sighting.
All in all I had two great side trips during my busy work day!
Recently I had the privilege to take photographs of rescued raptors at 3 different events! It is a wonderful experience getting up close and personal with these beautiful birds. Plus! All fees associated with these events goes to help the rescued birds.
My first event was the 25th anniversary event of Hawks Aloft. They are a wonderful group of giving, loving people. They take wonderful care of the birds they receive through rescue. Gladly they get to rescue and release a lot of the birds they receive. But if they get a bird that cannot be released back to the wild, they take amazing care of these birds. And a few times a year, they allow the public the opportunity to photograph these amazing birds of prey.
The 25th anniversary event was a wonderful evening. We got to see and speak to many of the “behind the scenes” people of the organization. They had several birds there, but the photo opportunities weren’t that great. But I still had a wonderful time!
I manged to get a few photo ops of the stars.
Western Screech Owl – this photo gives you an idea of how small they are
They were going to have falconry demonstrations, but our unseasonably hot weather prohibited that event. Darnit! I was really looking forward to seeing that!
I did get a chance to photograph one of the participants – a beautiful Apomado Falcon. The coloring of this birds is superb!
The next event I attended was with Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico. They have an annual event known as “Breakfast with the Birds”. They held this year’s event at the Rio Grande Nature Center in one of the areas that you normally can’t see.
It was a wonderful morning! I got to see so many beautiful birds. Some of the birds were injured but some were “human imprinted”, which means they associated with humans to a level that they cannot survive in the wild on their own.
Here’s some of best photos I got that morning.
Western Screech Owl
Great Horned Owl
I liked the perspective of the next photo. I love getting their wings when they are outstretched.
My favorite photo of the event was of this Barn Owl. So beautiful! I think the coloring of the Barn Owl is so unique.
While photographing the raptors, an inquisitive Greater Roadrunner came through. He was very curious of us. You’d think he would have been terrified of all the bird of prey around him!!!
When the event was over, I took a stroll through the Rio Grande Nature Center. I was surprised to see some hummingbirds still hanging around. I really liked this photo I got of a Broad-tailed Hummingbird.
And any chance to photograph a warbler is always treat!
My 3rd event I attended was the annual Hawks Aloft Photo Event. They held it this year in a remote area of the Sandia Foothills. A wonderfully quiet place.
On the way I couldn’t resist stopping to take a quick pic of this Curve-Billed Thrasher. I just love these birds!
I got to get some great photos of the raptors they brought. Here’s my favorites of that event.
Harlon Red-Tailed Hawk – such unusual coloring for a Red-Tailed Hawk
Near the end of the event they brought out “Beautiful”. Believe it or not! A Turkey Vulture can be beautiful!
Turkey Vulture – look at the size of that wingspan! 6 feet of total beauty!
Beautiful enjoying the attention. She is one of the birds that has been human imprinted.
My favorite photos of that event were of the Long-Eared Owl, the Great Horned Owl and again the Barn Owl. Beautiful!
Long-Eared Owl – I loved getting the fall foliage coloring in the background
Great Horned Owl with attitude
I captured a couple of photos of the handler with their birds. Wonderful people!
Handler with the Prairie Falcon. You can tell they adore each other!
One of the attendees getting an introduction. This photo gives you an idea of the size of Turkey Vultures.
Someone suggested the “two old buzzards” take a photo together 🙂 Larry and Beautiful
I hope you enjoyed the many photos I took during these events! It’s been awhile since I last posted. This summer and fall were busy times for me. It’s good to be back blogging!
This should be my last post from my trip to Texas last May/June. It’s taken awhile to get caught up on my blog.
Birding in Port Aransas this last time was bitter sweet in many ways. First off I knew it was most likely the last time I would be visiting there. I lived in Corpus Christi from 1982 to 1994. With my parents living in San Antonio, it was an easy drive for us to go to the beach whenever I visited them. The last time I posted about birding in Port Aransas, my dad was still alive and me and my parents had taken a 5-day trip to the beach. It was in May during spring migration. I had plenty of time there to explore all the bird sanctuaries. All the wonderful boardwalks into the marshes and estuaries were so much fun to explore.
Since that last visit, I had forgotten that Hurricane Harvey had come through and dealt a lot of damage to the coastal towns of Padre Island. So while I was excited to visit the beach, I was sad to know my dad wouldn’t be there to join us and that all the bird sanctuaries had been destroyed.
Demolition and construction was still ongoing while I visited. This restaurant still hadn’t been addressed.
Going to cost a pretty penny to get this boat fixed.
Birding this year was tough. I believe a lot of the birds did not linger during the spring migration because the usual areas they visited were completely destroyed. Also, I think a lot of the local birds had left and not returned. Needless to say, it took a lot of driving around to find any birds. But I did manage to find a few good spots.
The first evening we were there I drove to the ferry and the walkway along the intra-coastal channel. The damage from the hurricane was very evident here. Huge pieces of concrete were lifted like they weighed very little.
Destruction from Hurricane Harvey
While here I enjoyed the antics of several dolphin getting dinner. It was interesting to watch them herd fish toward the wall so they could catch them. I spotted a mother and her calf working the wall.
Mother dolphin with calf looking at me
The sunset was gorgeous!
The next morning was when I realized all the local birding hot spots were destroyed. Thankfully I saw signs saying they already had funding in place to repair all the boardwalks. It looked like their plans were even going to improve what was originally there. Someday if I make it back there I will have to see what they did.
I headed to the beach and jetty where I knew terns had gathered in the past. Thankfully, this spot was still favored by the terns. The surf was rough and the birds were gathered in big numbers fishing.
Terns and gulls fishing the rough surf at the jetty
I found an area where the birds were resting and grooming after tackling the rough waters. I was able to get several good pics of the terns resting.
Black Tern Juvenile
From there I headed down the road toward the big bridge going to Corpus Christi. There is a marina there. I’ve seen birds hanging out there in the past so had high hopes I would see some that morning.
Along the highway I saw a hawk looking for breakfast in the coastal grasslands. I had to take a second look as I realized it was a new bird for me! A White-Tailed Hawk. Gorgeous!!!
I saw a Roseate Spoonbill fishing the shallows not far from the marina. I pulled into a construction area to get closer for pics. I managed a few photos before I was run off by the foreman. 🙂
As I was driving into the marina I spotted a beautiful Osprey hanging out on the electric wire. He let me take a few pics before flying off.
The marina was not a disappointment. There were several birds hanging out hoping for a free meal.
Black-Crowned Night Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Black-Crowned Night Heron
Near the marina is an area that shorebirds have liked in the past. I drove over there to see if I could find anything. I was thrilled to see a pair of Willets with two young babies. I’d never seen Willet babies before. Adorable! I sat for some time just watching this little family. You can’t help but smile and enjoy new life.
Soon though the parents grew nervous and started telling me to move along.
Willet telling me to move along
There were also some Black-Necked Stilts and a Reddish Egret enjoying the shallows.
The next morning I decided to go the Horace Caldwell Fishing Pier. Not sure if I would see anything here, but it was fun to go there at sunrise.
Horace Caldwell Pier
Beach at Port Aransas, Texas
I came across these two children fast asleep on the pier. Their parent must have gotten them up really early to fish. 🙂
Too early of a morning for these kids
The only birds I saw were White-Winged Doves and Pigeons. What I found curious though, was a cross between these two species. Interesting bird.
The Rock Pigeons at the pier had very dark plumage. Doesn’t make sense at a hot beach!
Rock Pigeon and White-Winged Dove Cross Breed
After the pier I drove to the lone surviving boardwalk that overlooked a salt flat. Most of the birds were too far away for photos. I managed to see one bird closer to me. And to my surprise it was a lifer! A Black-Bellied Plover Juvenile. Too bad it wasn’t an adult. They are beautiful birds. Even better, this is a rare sighting for the area! I wouldn’t have believed I identified this bird correctly if it hadn’t been sighted by other birders on eBird.
Black-Bellied Plover – juvenile
I spotted a few birds flying over and managed to snap a couple of photos on the fly. 🙂
During this trip I decided to take a ride on the Red Dragon.
While waiting to start the boat ride, I saw the local offshore fishing tour boats had come in as well. They were hanging up the catch of the day. Lovely Red Snappers with a few other interesting fish mixed in.
Nice haul for the day
It’s was fun sailing with the pirates!
Kelly sailing on the Red Dragon
Arrrrrr…there be Pirates!
Beautiful boat ride
The Captain at his helm
I took the sunset tour. We boated along the intra-coastal and made it to the lighthouse. We got there just as the sun was setting. So lovely!
Sunset over the lighthouse
One day at the ferry I spotted a juvenile Laughing Gull trying to swallow a whole fish. He tried and tried to gulp that fish down.
Laughing Gull juvenile
I love people watching. I think most people do. While there I captured a few fun moments of people watching.
The waiting line for the ferry was so long and slow, this girl had time to get into the back of the car and get cold drinks for everyone. It was fun to watch her walk along with the car while digging in the cooler.
I saw lots of turtles about while birding. I had never really seen turtles there before so it was fun to see several on this trip.
Turtle moving along
I had a great time at the beach birding and spending time with my mother. We enjoyed sitting on the beach, enjoying the warm summer days. And we had fun shopping and eating delicious fish and shrimp dinners. I’m so glad we took the time off to relax after all the stresses.
At the end of May I drove my mom back to San Antonio so we could get her house cleaned up to sell. I stayed for about 2 weeks. Summertime in Texas is HOT and HUMID. Ugh! Because of this, there weren’t very many birds about during the dog days of summer. All of the migrants were gone leaving only the local birds.
In order not to die while birding, I got up at 6 am every morning to head out before it got to 100 degrees. Yikes! I drove to several locations during my stay. I found the best opportunities for birds was if I visited the small lakes all around San Antonio.
On of my favorite birding spots I discovered was Live Oak Lake in Live Oak, Texas. It was only about 7 miles from mom’s house. It had a nice path all the way around the lake. Believe me, you don’t want to wander off path into the grasses there. That lake was loaded with snakes!
They even had signs saying so!
I thought it was a joke until I saw this!
Needless to say, I tread carefully wherever I went. Yikes!
The resident Northern Mockingbird greeted me when I pulled into the parking lot. I have never found a shy Mockingbird.
Live Oak Lake is home to lots of herons and egrets. They are used to people walking around the lake, so they just seemed to ignore me and go about their business…as evidenced by this Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. He caught a monster crawdad!
Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
While I was photographing him, he quickly lunged and came up with the huge crawdad!
It’s like the size of a lobster!
There was a juvenile looking on with envy…
Juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
There lots of Green Herons about. In Albuquerque I’m lucky to come across one here and there. But at this lake, there were so many they constantly chased each other trying to keep a preferred fishing spot to themselves.
Checking me out 🙂
Needed a better look LOL!
The resident Great Egret was fishing along the edge of the lake. I saw him intent on something in front of him.
Then all of a sudden he lunged! Fortunately I managed to get a great pic of him diving for his prey. Sadly, he missed on that attempt and decided to move to a different part of the lake for better luck fishing.
Great Egret fishing
There was a pair of Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks watching all the goings on around the lake. I think they are beautiful waterfowl.
Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks
The Muscovy Ducks had some babies while I was gone for several weeks. I saw this one mother with a huge brood!
All the while I’m photographing birds, Scarlett was kicked back relaxing and watching all the people and birds.
And Squirrels!!! She was on high alert when she spotted the squirrels!
Scarlett keeping a sharp eye on the squirrel nearby.
The squirrels kept on eye on her as well.
Staring contest between the squirrel and Scarlett
There were some other small birds about. But overall it was pretty quiet for them. So I ventured over to Converse Lake. It’s a more wild lake. You pretty much can only walk along one edge of the lake. The rest of it is overgrown. Because of this, the smaller birds tend to hang out here more. I got 2 lifers at this lake!!! A Rusty Blackbird and a Couch’s Kingbird.
The Mute Swan I saw last time I visited was joined by his lady and their two new babies. Adorable! I’d never seen baby swans before.
Mute Swan male
Mute Swan female and babies
Here are some of the other small birds I saw around this lake.
Black-Crested Titmouse enjoying a bird drip fountain
Brown-Headed Cowbird female and male
While photographing the little birds, I heard a commotion behind me. I looked across the open field and saw a Red-Tailed Hawk had caught a White-Winged Dove. Surprisingly a Northern Mockingbird harassed the hawk until it took its breakfast elsewhere.
Red-Tailed Hawk being attacked by a Northern Mockingbird
One delight while visiting Converse Lake was that the water lilies were in full bloom. Just beautiful!
One of my favorite photos of the visit
One thing I noticed about San Antonio is that there is a huge population of Black Vultures. These birds are huge and were everywhere I went in great numbers.
Must be tasty as a squabble broke out over it
There are always lots of White-Tailed Deer around the San Antonio parks. I really liked this photo I took of a doe enjoying the wildflower field.
There were a few other blooming flowers about, but not many as San Antonio was experiencing a drought.
Honey bee enjoying the clover blooms
This squirrel appreciated the water put out for the birds.
While driving around, I came across this sign. I had to turn around to take a picture. Don’t you wonder how this creek was named???
One morning I arrived well before sunrise. I came across this Little Blue Heron fishing. I loved the colors and lighting of this photo.
Little Blue Heron
It was nice getting out early every morning and seeing some fun bird sightings. I actually got a 3rd lifer, but sadly my photo is just too poor to post. I saw a Brown Boobie. I never dreamed I would see this bird in San Antonio. It was a rare sighting indeed. Sadly, it was on the far side of a lake with no way to get closer. My lens just couldn’t get a clear pic, though the markings are clear enough to identify it for me. Someday I might see one to get a better photo! 🙂
This doe found a nice place to sit out the day’s heat
On my last day at Red River I drove to Eagle Nest, NM, to do some birding and photography around Eagle Nest Lake. It was a cool morning after evening showers. As I drove along the highway, I came across a small herd of elk. Always a welcome sight!
They have mostly lost their winter coat.
When I arrived at the lake, it had a layer of fog over the water. I thought it made for a picturesque scene.
Eagle Nest Lake
A lone boat of fishermen was on the lake.
Fisherman on Eagle Nest Lake
There wasn’t much bird activity out over or on the water. Just a few Canadian Geese flying by.
There was a lot of bird activity around the lake. Most notably swallows. There are very few trees around this lake. So a house nearby was a top pick for the swallows nests.
Swallows coming and going from their nests in the eaves.
As all birders know, swallows are fast! Trying to get a pic of one on the wing is very difficult. But once I realized one of the species of swallows was a Tree Swallow, I was determined to get a pic. This was a lifer bird for me!
There were other birds along the shore of the lake. Most of them were shy so it was difficult getting very close for any photos. But I managed a few.
Western Bluebird female
Red-Winged Blackbird female
While walking along the lake shore, I came across a half eaten jalapeno. Where else but New Mexico would you see that?!? 🙂
Only in New Mexico…
After spending some time around the lake, I decided to go exploring around Eagle Nest to see some of the sights for photos. I came across the ruins of the old lodge. I wish I could have gotten closer, but it was gated inside private property.
Old Eagle Nest Lodge
There was a unique gate post nearby that looks like live hawks and eagles use it frequently for a perch 🙂
While driving around I came across a Turkey Vulture enjoying a deer carcass. Not much left, but still enough for a small meal.
I then decided to visit the old ghost town of Elizabethtown. Not much left but a couple of buildings and a few old vehicles. My creative spirit just couldn’t seem to do much with the buildings….
So I moved on to the old vehicles. I loved this old car.
This used to be a high end car back in the 30s
Of course, I had to get a pic of the old and the new 🙂
But my favorite vehicle was this really cool old truck! Isn’t it great!?!
Of course, I just had to get Scarlett to pose next to it. Her picture didn’t come out so great as she was distracted by the horses nearby.
The horses were right across the street enjoying a lush pasture. This Palomino was a real beauty.
Enjoying spring in the mountains.
Sadly it was time to head back home. The road back to Red River is very scenic. This particular day had awesome clouds with New Mexico’s signature blue sky.
Highway to Red River
Memorial Day weekend was coming up. As I was driving home I passed by this very moving Memorial Day tribute. It was very emotional seeing our American Flag blowing in the wind with signs saying how many of our countrymen had passed in our country’s wars. Their lives have paid for our freedom in this wonderful country of ours.
Memorial Day Tribute
Coming back through Taos, I stopped at a place where there’s a couple more cool trucks. One of them I’ve posted before, but I can never resist photographing this vehicle.
I love this truck!
Beautiful Taos country!
I had a great time visiting Red River. It had been years since I had been there last. It’s always a joy getting out and exploring God’s beautiful country.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had a chance to get out and bird a time or two. I mostly went out to see some rare sightings that have shown up around town. I missed several, but managed to see a couple to add to my life list.
I visited Valle de Oro a couple times. I had heard there were a number of warblers there. It’s always fun to go find warblers, though my neck complains by the end of the day LOL!
When I arrived at Valle de Oro I saw a pair of coyotes out hunting. One disappeared right away, but the other stayed out long enough to let me get a few good pics.
As always, I saw several Western Meadowlarks out singing. I love their beautiful voice.
I walked along the main drainage ditch hoping to see some good birds. A scrub jay announced his presence.
Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay
Then almost right away I heard a lot of birds singing. I just started taking pics of everything that moved. As you know, songbirds are small and fast!!! When I looked at the pics I was surprised to see a several birds I don’t see often. Mainly my nemesis, the Lazuli Bunting. Try my hardest, I can’t get a good pic of this bird.
Black-Throated Gray Warbler
I heard several Summer Tanagers singing. It’s amazing how a bright red bird can hide among green leaves. But they can just disappear! I only got a few pics and they weren’t very good. But I did see a Western Tanager female closer to me.
Western Tanager Female
I had been told where a Common Black Hawk’s nest was near the Valle de Oro. So I went on a 2-mile hike to find this beautiful bird. Once I was in the general location, I looked for the nest. I found it way up high in a cottonwood tree. There was no seeing if anything was in the nest. I waited around for a while and eventually heard the hawk calling from a distance. Then to my delight the bird flew in and landed near the nest. A lifer for me! At first I barely saw him as he was deep in the leaves.
Common Black Hawk
Eventually he moved to a better location for photos. This is a magnificent bird. From what I understand there are only about 250 breeding pairs in the US. They are easily disturbed by humans and are known to abandon nests if bothered too much. So after getting a few pics, I quietly left the area to let them raise their young undisturbed.
Common Black Hawk
On my way back I saw a flycatcher along the ditch. I believe it’s a Hammond’s Flycatcher.
Then I heard another bird calling that I only rarely hear – a Gray Catbird. Always a treat to see and hear! I only managed one pic and that was from behind.
While hiking along he ditch, I enjoyed the wild irises blooming.
While hiking at Valle de Oro I came across this interesting insect. I tried looking it up, but I can’t figure out what it is.
Not sure what this cute guy is….
I had heard about a very rare sighting in the East Mountain area that I just had to go find. There was a Golden-Winged Warbler sighted and it was practically in my back yard. After much searching I was rewarded with a short view of this bird. I took several photos before he disappeared into the deep brush. I managed to get a few decent pics. Another lifer!
While hiking there I was treated to some beautiful wild apple blossoms.
Wild apple tree blossoms
I visited the Rio Grande Nature Center. I hadn’t been there in a while, so it was a treat to see it in the springtime. Right away I heard a Yellow-Breasted Chat singing. I managed to find it in a tree on the island in the pond. So it was quite a distance away.
I also saw the resident roadrunners in the parking lot. Always fun to photograph!
While walking the paths, I heard some Summer Tanagers talking back and forth amongst each other. This time I had more success getting photos of the pair.
Summer Tanager male
Summer Tanager female
There were several Black-Chinned Hummingbirds visiting the feeders. Whenever there are several hummingbirds at a feeder, there’s always fights defending their food. For a tiny bird, they are fierce!
Uh oh! He sees another hummer coming for him!
Defending the feeder!
Here are some of the other birds I saw on my visit.
The gardens were beginning to bloom. The bees were happily gathering pollen.
Giant black bee
I was entertained by a resident White-Winged Dove that has become very tame. The gardeners told me his name was Lonesome Larry. He was so tame, he would take see from your hand. He stayed so close to me, that I barely got photos because my zoom lens had a hard time focusing on such a close subject. 🙂
Such beautiful coloring
I’ve been keeping an eye on a Red-Tailed Hawk’s nest not far from my house. When I visited recently, I saw the eggs have finally hatched. When I first looked, I thought there was only one baby. But the mother flew off the nest and I saw two babies!
Red-Tailed Hawk with babies
It’s been great getting out birding. It was nice to see all the summer birds returning to Albuquerque.
In mid-April I went to visit my parents in San Antonio, Texas. My dad had been getting weaker and weaker. I knew I needed to go see him sooner rather than later. Sadly, two days after I arrived he passed away. I’m so thankful I was able to visit him before he passed.
One of my favorite photos of me and my dad. My wedding day on October 18, 1996.
I wanted to dedicate this post to my dad. He always looked forward to reading about my adventures and looking at my photos.
I had taken Scarlett with me. She was upset when dad died at the house. And she was upset that mom and I were grieving. So to help her and me both cope with the loss, I got up early every morning to walk and bird. When I am out in nature, I find it a balm to my soul and a time to talk with the Lord.
There is a greenbelt near my parent’s home that I walk whenever I visit. The first morning I was there, I took a walk on the familiar trail. Since it was April, there were still a few Texas Bluebonnets blooming.
Scarlett walking in the greenbelt.
It was quiet for the most part, but I did find a couple of good birds. One bird was singing his heart out and it took me awhile to find him. Eventually I located him and was happy to see a White-Eyed Vireo.
A further ways down the trail, I saw a movement in a tree. To my delight it was a Red-Shouldered Hawk. He didn’t seem to mind me watching him hunt for breakfast. So I got lots of beautiful shots of this gorgeous bird.
Red-Shouldered Hawk as I first saw him.
He then moved to this great perch and posed nicely for me.
I love the beautiful color and pattern of the feathers on his wings.
Success getting some breakfast.
The next morning I went to a newly found spot called Lake Converse in Converse, Texas. It’s a pretty little park with a semi-wild lake. One of the first things I saw was a pair of Egyptian Geese with 10 goslings. I think they had hatched within 48 hours.
Egyptian Geese with 10 goslings
One of my favorite shots was of a Mute Swan. Such an elegant bird.
A lot of the birds preferred to stay on the far shore of the lake – really testing the limits of my long lens. I had hoped to get closer to the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, but no such luck.
This is the best photo I got of a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
As I walked around the lake, I saw quite a variety of birds. The air was filled with birdsong.
Clay-Colored Sparrow in the foreground and a Chipping Sparrow in the back.
Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
Northern Cardinal with an inchworm
One special treat was a Martin House that was in use. Purple Martins were occupying most of the holes.
As I was leaving one day, I watched this Northern Mockingbird busy looking for insects. I watched him use his wings to try and flush out bugs.
Northern Mockingbird flushing out bugs
Another lake nearby called Live Oak Lake was another treasure for birds. It had a more park-like feel to it. It didn’t have as many birds, but was still a great place to visit. I got there very early one beautiful morning.
Black-Bellied Whistling Duck at dawn
Lake Converse at sunrise
There was a very tame Great Egret hoping for a free breakfast from a fisherman.
One a later visit that Great Egret was fishing along the lake shore. I thought it made for a beautiful photo op.
I watched a Green Heron hunt for fish. He didn’t care that I was only a few feet away. He got so close that I couldn’t focus my long lens on him. I had to keep backing up!
While walking around this lake, I briefly saw a Cooper’s Hawk try to catch some Blue Jays. I heard the Jays squawking about it, but never got any photos.
There were some other birds around the lake that allowed me to take their photos.
One of the highlights for me at this lake was a very sociable Spotted Sandpiper. He let me get within a few feet and take a number of photos while he groomed. In the past when I’ve seen these birds, they fly away before you can get a decent shot. So this was a real treat for me!
One morning I walked along Mud Creek. It’s only about a mile from my parent’s house, so I got there at sunrise without much effort. I loved this sunrise shot with Texas Bluebonnets in the foreground.
Texas Bluebonnet Sunrise
The foliage was thick in this area, but I managed to get a few bird shots here. Mostly there were Northern Cardinals and Carolina Wrens. But a Black-Crested Titmouse was busy singing from the tree tops.
On my last day in San Antonio, I visited McAllister Park. What a wonderful place. Miles of trails in a park consisting of over 750 acres in the heart of San Antonio. There were lots of birds but very difficult to spot them. What I saw the most was White-Tailed Deer. They were everywhere!
Scarlett just couldn’t believe her eyes!! 🙂
Look mom! A deer is right there!!!!
While hiking along a road in the park, I was passed by a man riding a bike. He stopped in front of me and threw out grain for the deer. I think he does this often, as they seemed to recognize him. One in particular let him pet her. When he rode off, several of them followed him for awhile. What a wonderful connection with nature!
How sweet this deer trusts this man and calls him friend.
At the southern end of the park is where I got most of my sightings and photographs. A beautiful Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher posed for me then flew and showed off his seldom seen red feathers under his wings.
Beautiful coloring under the wings.
Here are the other treasures I got at the southern end of the park.
Summer Tanager Female
The highlight of my bird sightings during my visit was at McAllister Park. While trying to photograph a Carolina Chickadee, I heard a noise behind me. When I looked, I saw a Barred Owl sunning himself in the top of a tree. A lifer sighting for me!!! And so beautiful!!!
My last birding opportunity of my trip was a stop in Clovis, New Mexico, to check on the Great Horned Owls in Ned Houk Park. They had successfully raised two young ones, and they were far enough along to leave the nest. They kept a sharp eye on us.
Great Horned Owletts
Just before leaving I managed to find one of the parents. Such wonderful birds owls are.
Great Horned Owl
A Lark Sparrow and a Western Meadowlark were singing happily for us.
Scarlett enjoyed her visit at the park. 🙂
My sweet Scarlett
So while it was a sad visit to San Antonio, I found solace walking among the beauty God has created and seeing so many of his wonderful creatures. I know my dad would have loved to see these photos. The Texas Bluebonnets were always a personal favorite. I know he is at peace now and waiting for me in Heaven.
In memory of my dad:
Joseph Mathew Welch, Jr. Born April 28, 1935. Died April 18, 2018.
Saturday, March 24, was Scarlett’s 3rd birthday! So of course, to celebrate we had to do something new and different!
On Friday my husband’s band played in Lamy, NM. It’s a little town that is basically a small railroad stop. A few of the residents recently set up an historic train car and turned it into a bar. The quarters were tight for the band, but it was a fun experience.
Vintage train car
My handsome husband Tim
Brad the drummer
And Bill is on base
Reverend E and the Vagrants
While watching the band, one of the locals told me about a hike nearby. They told me about a trail that followed the train tracks that led to a trestle bridge over a waterfall. Of course, I just had to go see that! What a great way to celebrate Scarlett’s birthday!
On the way there, I had to drive through Stanley. So I took the time drive down my favorite road there: Valley Irrigation Road. Since it’s between times for migrating birds, it was pretty quiet. But I did see a few local birds that hang out year round.
Northern Flicker female
Curve-Billed Thrasher – the breeze was ruffling his feathers
Look at the talons on this Swainson’s Hawk
I came across a Say’s Phoebe busily looking for bugs.
And he’s off to get a bug!
I saw some cute prairie dogs and some beautiful antelope too.
Prong Horn Antelope – female in the background
The clouds were just beautiful behind this granary. I just love New Mexico skies!
Granary in Stanley.
My next town was Galisteo. I drove past a Red-Tailed Hawk hanging out on the power lines next to the highway. I turned around and managed to get a couple pics before he flew off.
Hmmm…looks like he learned from the Say’s Phoebe
And he’s outta here! Showing off that red tail.
Finally we made it to Lamy. It’s about an hour drive from my home. I followed the directions I was given and eventually came to an area where I couldn’t drive any further. Time to get out and hike!
My beautiful Scarlett ready to go!
We followed along the tracks for a while.
Following the tracks
I love the old glass insulators that used to be used on electric lines.
Old railroad bolt
I heard lots of birds, but only managed to photograph a couple of them.
The terrain started narrowing from a wide valley. I’d never hiked next to a train track before. I kept wondering when a train might come through.
Soon we came to a narrow canyon. If the train came through now, there was nowhere to go! Yikes!
Scarlett is standing where the waterfall is below. You can see there’s nowhere to go if the train comes around the corner.
I looked down below and saw a beautiful sight. A sweet little waterfall with a beautiful pool.
Looking down to the waterfall and pool from the trestle
We checked out both sides of the trestle. A wonderful part of Galisteo Creek. I didn’t know until later that this area is called Apache Canyon Railroad Bridge Historic Site. There’s not a lot of information available about this area, but I did find out the bridge was built in 1908 by American Bridge Company of New York. It is also known as Spider Leg Bridge.