We Might Be Lost

So there are times when I’m out in the wild and something out of the ordinary happens. Maybe an unexpected bird decides to come out and pose for me or the light will hit a subject just right to reveal an awesome shot otherwise hidden in an overcast day. There are times when I’ve come face to face with a creature higher on the predator list than I was adequately prepared to deal with and wandered into areas where the daylight’s false sense of security relented to uncomfortable darkness. With all those experiences, I had really never experienced a “what the hell is that” followed quickly by the unsettling thought “where the hell am I !?!” .. that is until last December while on our birding trip down the Texas Gulf Coast. Linda had given me a Texas birding book that we were using to find places we had missed on our previous trips. One of the recommended places was at the end of Smith Point Road near Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. Since that was a planned stop anyway, we detoured slightly to check it out.

Plains Zebra found in Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge at end of Smith Point Road\

When we arrived, the road that followed shoreline was closed. That literally left us at the end of road right at the waterline. Linda turned the RV around and parked it off the road. I jumped out to see what I could fill the tin with. Not sure if it was the unseasonably cold weather they were having or the generally drab day, but there was very little moving about. Snapped a few shots of a Tern hunting quite a ways off the shore. Three Brown Pelicans then came flying by warranting some attention even though Brown Pelicans in Texas might as well be shooting Bison in Yellowstone – sure it’s exciting for the first 50 encounters, but soon after the thrill subsides. Eventually found myself trying to track a Sparrow through a nearby thicket. It is there I looked up and uttered those alarming words. There in front of me was a Zebra staring right at me. Somewhere Linda had apparently made a very wrong turn – last I checked those black and white beasts preferred the Serengeti, not a field on the Gulf of Texas. Even went over to tell Linda so she could check my sanity.. One thing for sure, this was a lot more interesting to shoot than a Sparrow.

Hit the jump to see a couple more shots of our mysterious friend.

Continue reading We Might Be Lost

When Red or Scarlet Isn’t Good Enough

If all goes well around here at Intrigued, the bird counter should pretty much be free spinning well into next month. Most of those additions will be coming from the Texas coastline. Pretty sure I already made posts from our first trip to Galveston Island back in November 2013. I recently completed processing all of the shots from our Christmas trip down to South Padre Island last year. Those shots will be featured for most of the posts over the next several weeks. I need to get through those by mid February in order to focus on all the new blog fodder put in the tin on our recent trip back to Padre and then over to the Mission region on the Rio Grande. Texas has become a biding nirvana for me – each trip has produced multitudes of +1’s. A surprising number of those being absolutely gorgeous birds.

Vermilion Flycatcher shot at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Texas in January 2017

One thing for sure, the Peterson Field Guide I use for my field reference does not do this bird justice. At the time I had no idea what kind of bird it was. It was definitely smaller than a Cardinal although it did sport a spiky tuft of a crown. I did not boost the saturation of this bird, although the overcast feel of the day did give it more of a natural pop against the duller background. The Summer Tanager was the next option, but even that species is pretty much duller red all over and seemed stockier than this specimen- see my previous reference (link here). Hmmm – staying in that arena, it did have a feel of Scarlet Tanager which is definitely closer to the red hue along with the darker wing coloring. The definite robber mask set this one apart from that. My previous Scarlet reference is of a water logged specimen, but you can see that here (link here). (Note, I do have a better Scarlet in the queue, just need to find some time to get it posted).

Vermilion Flycatcher shot at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Texas in January 2017

Hit the jump to see more images of this bird and, of course, learn what it is if you haven’t seen one before.

Continue reading When Red or Scarlet Isn’t Good Enough