A studio for bird study

Tag: texas

Migrating Wood Storks in South Texas

by Bryce W. Robinson

A few weeks ago I was in South Texas for the Raptor Research Foundations annual conference. Corpus Christi in the fall is a mecca for those into raptor migration, and likewise the whole of south Texas is a mecca for those interested in the bird world. While I was visiting the hawk watch platform, run by Hawkwatch International, I saw many birds in large numbers. Of course the Broad-winged Hawk migration was flowing well, but I was able to see something unexpected that was equally satisfying. Large numbers of Wood Stork – Mycteria americana were streaming through in kettles. The kettles were in the same fashion as the migrating raptors, and the numbers were extremely large as well. I captured some video of the spectacle to share and spread the awe of the movement of these large North American Storks.

Beatnik Birding: Finding Ardeids; the Tricolored Heron

by Bryce W. Robinson

IMG_8649 copyAs a child, I poured over bird books, spending a substantial amount of time looking at the worlds herons. When looking through North America’s herons, I began developing favorites of the birds I dreamed to see. The Tricolored Heron was very near the top of the list. The bird has an aesthetic seemingly otherworldly. The colors and textures dazzle the eye. I was fascinated by illustrations and photos of this bird as a child.

Finally I have seen this bird, in its element, conducting its business, in all its glory. Every Tricolored Heron I have encountered since my first a few weeks back has afforded me first hand looks at characteristics that enlighten my understanding of this bird and the family to which it belongs. My time with this bird has been insightful and delightful. It conducts its business in its own style, with movements and techniques all its own. These techniques and behaviors are subject of a discussion which is to come. Oh the Ardeids; For whatever the reason, I find myself enraptured in their world.

 

Beatnik Birding: Sabel Palms

by Bryce W. Robinson

Female Crimson-collared Grosbeak-  Rhodothraupis celaeno.

Female Crimson-collared Grosbeak- Rhodothraupis celaeno.

South of Brownsville, along the Rio Grande, sits an Audubon sanctuary named Sabel Palms. It is one of my favorite places thus far. The trails feel very tropical, the birds are spectacular, and the other visitors are characters. I am odd in the world of birding, especially in the special places such as Sabel Palms. I am odd because I am young.

I came to Sabel Palms with one bird on my mind, the Crimson-collared Grosbeak. To see this bird would be a personal first, a treat to expound upon the bounty of fortunate birding experienced thus far. Asking around, I discovered that a female had been hanging about that day, so I posted up to patiently wait. And sure enough, the beauty revealed herself. Only birders understand the thrill of a life bird, of an exotic life bird, of a quest fulfilled. I’ll tell you as much as this, and let you the reader understand that this bird was special. I felt the purity and love of birding in the moment while experiencing this bird. A highlight, to be understated.

Clay-colored Thrush- Turdis grayi

Clay-colored Thrush- Turdis grayi

Another bird that was busy about the forest that morning was the Clay-colored Thrush. This bird is a new favorite. They are a very large Turdis, much larger than the American Robin of the north. I was fascinated by their habits, and fell in love with their song. They, along with a host of others, provided some music that helped build the experience of traveling about Sabel Palms. I council the birder, the reader, the adventurer, the inquisitive, I council you, to travel to the valley of the Rio Grande, and visit the Sabel Palm Audubon Sanctuary. A place for birds, aged birders, and beatniks indeed.

Clay-colored Thrush- Turdis grayi

Clay-colored Thrush- Turdis grayi

 

 

Beatnik Birding: Flycatchers of Anzalduas County Park

by Bryce W. Robinson

Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet- Camptostoma imberbe

Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet- Camptostoma imberbe

The Rio Grande Valley! This valley is the most incredible location for the beatnik birder. The area is a treasure trove of new birds, new scenery, new habitats, and specialties that have been on my mind for some time. The first spot I birded, Anzalduas County Park, sat along the Rio Grande some forty miles inland. It proved an incredible introduction to the area. I’d like to highlight three flycatchers that inhabit this park.

Caitlin Davis and I began early at the park. We were tasked with taking some video clips of Hook-billed Kite. We spent the morning on the dike watching the forested areas of the river for surfacing Kite. We never saw the bird. Around mid-day we abandoned our kite search to bird the park. The Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet was one of the first birds we saw.

I cannot describe how adorable this bird is. We watched a pair foraging in the trees for a few minutes, as they called to each other in the most delicate of bird voices. The poses of the birds, and their raised crest, reminded me of small soldiers. The birds are characters, and characters are what I celebrate. I’ve stored these birds away in my book of favorites.

Couch's Kingbird- Tyrannus couchii

Couch’s Kingbird- Tyrannus couchii

The Couch’s Kingbird is prolific in the park. You hear and see them everywhere. I was aware of the increasing presences of Tropical Kingbird in south Texas, so I kept a keen ear out for any unusual calls. The two are virtually indistinguishable by sight, and can only be reliably separated when a vocalization is heard. It is this instance that I can study the song, and then learn to distinguish the two. I love these challenges. No Tropical’s were in the park, to my knowledge, but I was able to get to know the calls of the Couch’s.

Great Kiskadee- Pitangus sulphuratus

Great Kiskadee- Pitangus sulphuratus

The Great Kiskadee is a bird I have wanted to see for long. They are characters for certain. The birds are highly vocal, and their calls are wonderful. The call is why the kiskadee’s has its strange name. It call is loud and full, with multiple syllables, phonetically sounding kiskadee. I really enjoyed the bird on all levels. Visually, it is striking, standing out amidst trees and sky. Its call is distinctive, and can be heard above any other. Its habits are in line with those of other large flycatchers, but something about the bird causes me to watch it a bit longer, and enjoy it a bit more.

I’ve really enjoyed flycatchers lately. I love when your study takes a focused fascination to a particular group. It helps facilitate deep learning. Perhaps my recent focus on flycatchers will continue further into discovering more about their lifestyles and habits.