Monday, January 16, 2012

The Importance of Taking Note

A couple of trips to Choke Canyon over the past few weeks have been incredible -- not just for the birds, but for the myriad of other wildlife we've seen on or along the road. I've been negligent in reporting, so I'm going to take a brief moment to share some highlights.

A few weeks ago, Avi and I mistook a mostly drab bird with blue highlights for an immature Eastern Bluebird, since the Choke Canyon Bird List has them as the only likely one in the park. We were a little insecure, not totally convinced the call was correct.

Today I went out with a woman from Birdingpal who wanted to go out birding during her visit to San Antonio. The bird was still there. We scoped it and moved on. Well, when I got home I found out many Western species are having an irruptive year, moving east in Texas. So -- what we really saw was a Mountain Bluebird.

The lesson here? Never take anything for granted.

So, now for some of the other highlights of the trip and, luckily, this time I remembered my camera.

The Green Jay is a fixture in the park. It's always a pleasure to see them. It's even more of a pleasure to get good photos. Happily, today the "Birding Sanctuary" by the RV Campground at the Calliham Unit was very birdy, so we were able to get great shots.

Green Jay
There were also several Audubon's Orioles in the Park. A few years ago we were questioned when we reported them in February. Now they seem to be regulars.

Audubon's Oriole
It's even better when you can get two fabulous birds in a single frame:

Green Jay and Audubon's Oriole
A Long-billed Thrasher was snacking on one of the grapefruits that had fallen onto the ground (as was a Golden-fronted Woodpecker, though I didn't get her photo).

Long-billed Thrasher
Just a photo of one of our non-bird critters as well:

All in all it was a great day birding. We might not have gotten a large number of species (gulls and ducks were conspicuously absent); but we certainly made up for it in quality.

The list:
Northern Shoveler 
Ruddy Duck 
Wild Turkey 
Least Grebe 
Neotropic Cormorant 
American White Pelican 
Great Blue Heron 
Snowy Egret 
Black Vulture 
Turkey Vulture 
Harris's Hawk 
Red-shouldered Hawk 
Red-tailed Hawk 
Crested Caracara 
American Kestrel 
American Coot 
Golden-fronted Woodpecker 
Eastern Phoebe 
Vermilion Flycatcher 
Great Kiskadee
White-eyed Vireo
Green Jay 
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 
Mountain Bluebird 
Northern Mockingbird 
Long-billed Thrasher 
Orange-crowned Warbler 
Yellow-rumped Warbler 
Olive Sparrow 
Chipping Sparrow 
Song Sparrow 
White-throated Sparrow 
White-crowned Sparrow 
Northern Cardinal 
Red-winged Blackbird 
Meadowlark sp. 
Great-tailed Grackle
Audubon's Oriole  

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