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.
Small catch but tasty!
There were a several other waterfowl on the lake.
Mottled Duck babies – so adorable!
Black-Bellied Whistling Duck
Black-Bellied Whistling Duck baby – beautiful markings!
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.