Ring ON the Tree

Finally back on the keyboard. All I can really say at this point is the days have gotten a bit crazy since we embarked on our second exploration of the year. First week was a bit tiring as that was primarily travel days. Last week ended up being a birder’s paradise thanks to a bit of luck on the weather front. We really tried not to continue our long history of tugging bad Midwest weather down wherever we go – unfortunately, it continued as horrible rains raced us to our destination. Even hopped over us and pounded our first main stopping point so everything was nice and soaked for our arrival. A bit bummed, we headed to the recommended birding spots expecting the worst. Wow, were we wrong – imagine hundreds of birders standing on the roads, standing on the trails, standing under the trees, hell, hanging from the trees. Appears we managed to experience our first fallout! Will post more on that when we finally return, however, as a teaser I am at LEAST +22 for the trip so far. Now to more pressing matters – getting to the end of the month and the post production is a bit light. All hail the King of Kings.

As we are in the early part of the week, the promise is to deliver the fresher posts.  Thankfully, I worked up a number of newer images before we departed.  Today’s featured feathered friend comes to you from the first exploration trip of the season back in January.  Seems like a lot longer than a mere three months ago.  That excursion took us to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park and to a new location called Edinburg Scenic Wetlands. 

Hit to read a bit more about our rather stout Kingfisher or is it a scissors with feathers.

Managed to spot a Ringed Kingfisher while we were at both of those spots. Ron and I had found one at Bentsen two years ago so I was hoping to tin one again on this trip. Sure enough, went to the same oxbow overlook there and found it almost in the exact same spot. If only all birding outings were that easy ha! The first encounter was more like a drive-by as the specimen that year basically spotted us right when we noticed it. Seeing Ron, the Ringed dive-bombed and took off leaving us with whiplash and just a few shots in each of our tins. I have yet to figure out what it is about Ron that agitates the birds so much – quite the quandary.

This year it basically just hung out in a distant tree at the edge of the water (obviously due to not seeing Ron!). The Beast was straining to close the gap as best it could – needed a lot more digital darkroom zoom to get the images you are seeing. True to course, it was drizzling all day forcing the ISO to dizzying heights. Kept the background in a dreary slate grey to compliment the colors of the Ringed Kingfisher. For those not familiar with Kingfishers, take note that they have a “false eye”. The white spot you see is not their eye, it sits back from that and in my shots quite dark so practically invisible.

The shots with the vegetation in the background comes courtesy of the new location Edinburg Scenic Wetlands.  Each trip down to Texas we try to find one or two new spots to check out.  There are so many good birding places down there you have to really struggle with what sites you are willing to skip (or at least limit your time at) in order to add the new places.  One of our standard places ended up being a bust this year so we had some cycles to catch the Wetlands. 

Based on our good experience there, we will have to find a way to make this a standard stop on future trips. At $3/person, this is a good investment. They have multiple habitats ranging from heavy tree/shrubs to a large body of water that looked like a canal or a stream. They also had two large ponds in the middle of the site. Oddly enough… not a lot of true wetlands based on my expectation of it having a swamp or marsh based on the name – might have missed it, but we did try to explore the entire area. While standing next to a small pond getting a lecture from Linda about how bad I give directions when she is trying to find me, a Ringed flew right by us and landed on a nearby tree. Luckily, I wasn’t paying any attention to Linda’s clearly wrong analysis or I would have missed it hehehe. Whipped the camera up and managed to snap about 5 shots before it left, never to be found again.

I’ll end the last of the images with the back perspective to give you the full experience of the largest Kingfisher we have access to in NA. These Rings are BIG compared to their counterparts the Belted (link here) and especially the Green (link here). These Rings hang around Central America and only push up to the Rio Grande Valley area. Cornell doesn’t even consider them a North American bird and thus do not provide any details on their standard website. That forced me to use Audubon’s crappy website which can give you 20 ways to Sunday how they will supposedly be impacted by climate change, but can’t bother to give a curious birder the dimensions of the bird. Hopefully Cornell will get it added by the next time I feature this bird so I have something more interesting to tell you beyond .. it’s BIG.

Hope you enjoyed another official +1 on my bird list – take care everyone and see you again soon!

28 thoughts on “Ring ON the Tree”

  1. Kingfishers are super sassy, punk-like birds with their Mohawks. Along with their relatives, the Kookaburras, they seem like the original “angry birds” with all their sass. Excellent photos.

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    1. Couldn’t agree more! I have not had their privilege to see a Kookaburra in the wild yet, but from the images I’ve seen you are dead on with the angry bird comparison. Although if one of these were hurling towards me with that dagger of a bill I’d be high-tailing it out of there ha. Appreciate you dropping in Timothy – ink wasn’t even dry yet on the post.

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    1. Thank you Rudi. Conditions were not the best while we were down there as most of the days came with a drizzle which impacted how crispy the shots ended up being. Can’t complain too much about it as they were hit with the snow/ice storm less than a week after we left. Appreciate you dropping by!

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      1. Hmmmmm B. is on to something here. Need to send you out into the tall weeds first. Maybe that Red-Shouldered Hawk we recently tinned was really dive-bombing you and not really going for that snake!

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      2. In fact I do sacrifice myself often so that Brian can get a picture: warding off snakes and squirrels (don’t ask), shooing away pheasants blasting out of the brush, falling down a hill, enduring massive numbers of mosquitoes and ticks in grass over my head, dodging a lightning storm, and so forth. In Alabama last week I was shin-deep in water at one point and later almost stepped off a trail into a river (which was full of snakes). At least I remember those were for Brian’s sake…

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      3. Umm, where those specific items are in fact both TRUE and HILARIOUS only ONE of those was actually directly for me – not telling which one hehehe.

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    1. Actually not a huge fan of Wiki based on their propensity for revisionist history to fit biased narratives. In this particular case it wouldn’t be that much of an issue as animal dimensions don’t tend to fluctuate based on the current party in power. On the bait front.. SHHHHHHH – Ron thinks I take him out on trips to boost his count when in reality it is to draw the birds out into the open ha! Appreciate you dropping in B, we were thinking about you when we were out and put some Butters and Dragons in the tin in your honor.

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    1. True words. With such a distinctive call, we tend to hear them a lot more than we actually see them. Of the two encounters chronicled here there was probably a sum total of a minute to get them in the tin. Then when they launch you think you can get glass on them and they go and fold their wings tight to their body and go into hypersonic speed – crazy. Appreciate you coming by Sherry and enjoyed your recent bird and plant posts.

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      1. Hahaha, most likely catching or stealing one off my line as I haul it in!😳 We are also happy to be out and about again, not in my nature to be locked up in a small un natural space. Safe travels to you both.

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    1. Admission here, Linda and and I had to do a little research to get that reference (possibly due to not having children). Wasn’t familiar with that diddy, however, now thanks to YouTube it is playing nonstop in my head. Normally I have to sing it out loud to free myself from its yoke, but with all the campers around me too embarrassed to do it right now hehehe. Congrats on stumping the author.

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  2. Okay, that song is in my head to stay! Loved these shots of the Ringed Kingfisher, nice feather detail. I’ve never seen one. I’ve added Edinburg to my growing list of southern destinations… I’m gonna have to grow wings just to cover them all!

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    1. As I noted Brad above, we were not familiar with that song – now thanks to YouTube it’s on continuous play ugh. Hopefully you will come upon one of these Fishers – warning though, they are far larger than the more common Belted. Definitely add Edinburg to your list as long as you don’t skip Estero Llano to do that. We usually dedicate at least a day or two at Estero to really explore the different habitats. We also went to the Edinburg Pumphouse while were in the area. We will skip that in future trips, just not enough there. Appreciate you coming by Sam and excited to see you hit the recent fallout as well – you got some gorgeous shots.

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  3. You do give bad directions, but I found you regardless (insert eye roll here.) But, wait, there was a river full of snakes in Alabama last week??? You didn’t tell me that!

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    1. Wait now, we went through this in explicit detail after the Ringed flew off. In fact, if I remember correctly we traced the exact steps in the expertly provided directions and proved without a doubt I was completely right. Now, how you managed to end up by the Black Diamond Snake habitat… I have no idea… funny… but no idea hehehe. Now with regards to the river full of snakes comment … I am sure he is a victim of autocorrect – sure he meant to say river full of RAKES – so odd as you usually don’t see that many garden utensils in a river!

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