Ever have one of those days in the field when you come up on a subject that just doesn’t want to cooperate with you no matter how hard you try. Perhaps you are initially elated to witness a bird for the first time and as the encounter plays out that early jubilation fades away leaving a soured feeling behind. Has that frustration embedded itself so deep in your psyche that you are willing to simply clear the digital record and forget the whole event?…
Yeah, me neither ha! When the feathered friend is already in the tin, then that may be different story. When it comes to +1’s you take what you can get, work it as much as it deserves in the digital darkroom and be happy you can make the little mark next to a new entry in the check list.
Hit the jump to learn about one such experience – warning, the images only get WORSE!
Our branch impaired subject comes to us from the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park located along our southern border in Mission, TX. A regular stop for us on our annual Texas birding trips. This one happens to be from the January 2020 excursion. This state park is always a bit of mystery for me as I never really know what I am going to get. Sure, the park does have its guarantees – namely, Green Jays (link here), Altamira Orioles (link here), Orange-Crowned Warblers (link here), Plain Chachalacas (link here), Inca Doves (link here) and Black-Crested Titmice (link here). All readily available and in most cases clear lines of sight thanks to well laid out feeding stations. The mystery parts comes in the secondary spottings.
One year the Kingfishers will be abundant, next year the Hawks will be everywhere you look followed by a Hummingbird eruption..then one year someone turns off the open sign and as Ruby Sue so pointedly stated “We didn’t do nothing wrong and we still got the shaft.” 2020 was a Hawk year with Harris and White-Tails gathered in the tall trees lining the paved roads throughout the park. In contrast, there were NO Hawks or Hummers in the park when we went down there this year.
Back to our featured subject. While heading back from a long day of birding the park, I looked up and spotted this unique looking Hawk. Not sure why it took so long for it to click that this was a target bird I had on my list for that trip – the Grey Hawk. I had missed it the year before thanks to being slow on the draw (more like startled) when one decided to launch from its concealed location directly behind me. I had pretty much given up on finding one that day – apparently the bird gods took pity on me and tossed me a morsel.
5 shots is all I got. I saw it, it had already seen me and decided it wanted no part of The Beast. Fumbled a bit to cut through the branches the best I could and got a burst in before it took to the skies. A hope and a prayer something made it to the sensor with enough definition to claim the +1. At least that criteria was met. Now that the pressure is off I can work on improving the shots on the subsequent encounters.
How about we get to some interesting tidbits. First off, this is one of those Hawks you will need to travel for if you are outside Baja or Central America beyond breeding season. As you know now, they will show up along the border at the tip of Texas, but they will also take a small hop into southern Arizona during breeding season. They are a Lizard’s worst nightmare and therefore get along quite well with Linda .. “enemy of my enemy is my friend”. I did notice this quote from Cornell’s website “They can be very inconspicuous as they sit perched in the forest canopy”. Whoever documented that trait was right on the money.
Will call it a post there and let you head on to better bird pictures. I’ll go take my check on the bird list while you continue being safe out there.