Ruddy Can’t Fail

Good news everyone, looks like you are in for a surprise with tonight’s post!  Unless you happen to live in southern Central America or a large swatch of South America, in which case I probably overplayed the hype for just a Dove. 

Ruddy Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission, TX in January 2021

However, if you are not from those specified places I get to introduce you to …well, a Dove which you probably deduced from the general shape of our featured feathered friend.  A relatively small rounded profile sitting atop a plump chest walking along the ground – yeah, definitely a Dove.  The shape may be similar to the local variety you may be used to, but maybe the colors are throwing you off a bit.

Ruddy Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission, TX in January 2021

Hit the jump to discover what kind of Dove this is!

Continue reading Ruddy Can’t Fail

WTiaT

I need to get on the stick with these posts.  Between the yard work, running, birding and ramping up the Halloween prop lab for this year’s haunted trail (link here), things have been getting a bit bunched up.  I was going to wait a bit on this one, but an encounter a few days ago while hitting the trails for some training felt like a sign.

Wild Turkey found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission, TX in January 2021

Yes folks, we have our next installment of the “in a Tree” series.  This one is not as odd as the previous Roadrunner in a Tree as I’ve witnessed a Wild Turkey in a Tree (WTiaT) a few time times in the past.  Admittedly, on the rarer side as typically they are wandering around the ground or trying to play Frogger with Linda’s vehicle.  As luck would have it, this is one of the few species Linda doesn’t have a silhouette of on her front fender – for the record she stands firm her bumper is the victim of animal suicides.  

Wild Turkey found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission, TX in January 2021

Hit the jump see a few more shots of our large bodied tree climber.

Continue reading WTiaT

GRiaT

We are finally back from our exploration part deux.  For those that didn’t already figure it out based on the recent comments, we headed down to the shores of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle for some migration birding.  Ron was able to join us down there making for a wonderful time.  We managed to hit the fallout while at Dauphin Island and had the best birding of our lives.  Ron and I are both in the +20s which means almost certain I’ll be hitting my 300 bird list goal by the end of the year .. assuming I can get those posts out by then.  More on the trip when I get to those posts. For now, going with what was previously the most recent trip – Texas in January.

Greater Roadrunner found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in Mission, Texas in January 2021

So, to set the stage for this featured feathered friend, I need to weave in one of my fellow bloggers. Timothy over at Off Center & Not Even (link here) is an Owl aficionado, purveyor of sunsets , accomplished musician, clever poet, Bird tinner, Cat nurturer and owns a slick looking red car… to highlight just a few facets of things he covers on his entertaining blog. 

Greater Roadrunner found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in Mission, Texas in January 2021

Hit the jump to see more of this new behavior.

Continue reading GRiaT

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.

Continue reading Ring ON the Tree

Bird Bullies

I think we are somehow cursed. Maybe that love of all things Halloween has finally overwhelmed my good karma or maybe it is all just a coincidence that bad weather tends stick to us like nettles on shoestrings. Regardless of the reason, we have once again brought a weather plague on the inhabitants of our exploration destination. On our southern Texas adventure we managed to bring unusually cold temps and rain to the natives and to further add in insult, managed to vacate the area just before the epic snow and ice storm hit them (please accept our apologies). Today we reached a primary destination and sure enough they are basically flooding out. Is it asking too much to have some “plain” weather !?!

Plain Chachalaca found at Bentsen Rio Grande State Park in January 2021

Ummmm, there you go Mother Nature, jinxing me again clearly I requested plain WEATHER and what do I get.. a Plain Chachalaca. Unless this is a play on raining cats and birds, we are not properly communicating. Might as well go with it as the birding is currently at a standstill until this downpour lets up. As we are past the older post days, going with something fresh.

Plain Chachalaca found at Bentsen Rio Grande State Park in January 2021

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of our featured bird.

Continue reading Bird Bullies

A Grey Day

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?…

Grey Hawk found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission, TX in January 2020

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!

Continue reading A Grey Day

Effortless Ladder-Backed

Had to take Linda in for her eye appointment today and since they only allow the patient into the building these days, I’m stuck sitting in the truck. Becoming a common theme lately as we’re trying to get all of our health appointments out of the way so we do not have to worry about them if we decide to hit the road early next year. Since there is not a whole lot to do sitting in a truck on a cold rainy day, opted to bring along the ol’ laptop and recall some warmer times. Fortunately – or maybe that is unfortunately for you – there is still a staggering amount of images from Texas sitting in the blog queue. I came upon this one first so Pecker it is.

Ladder=Backed Woodpecker found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in Texas in January 2018

Our featured feathered friend comes to us primarily from the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. This state park is located in Mission Texas directly on the US-Mexico border. For my international followers, that puts you directly on the traditionally understood northern banks of the Rio Grande River. Note the word “traditionally” there. As the border between the two countries is defined by a meandering river, at any given spot you may find yourself looking at Mexico to the south, east west and not until my last trip down there did I realize that in some points you can actually look north to Mexico. At the time the latter happened to us, we were a little concerned that we had made a seriously wrong turn or the GPS thought it would be fun to play a trick on us. A quick check of the map set us at ease we were still on US soil. Put that little tidbit in our memory banks.

Ladder=Backed Woodpecker found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in Texas in January 2018

Hit the jump to catch a few more shots of our small Woodpecker.

Continue reading Effortless Ladder-Backed

A Hummer Quandary

Well, our trip to Mayo was successful. Linda checked out fine and we were able to get all of our questions fully answered with positive dispositions so SUCCESS on that front. Now we just need to take some precautions to make sure we didn’t inadvertently get exposed to COVID or any other rare transmittable disease. As Linda was verifying her tests/appointments before we left, she noticed that 1/3 of their total staff across all their medical facilities were sick or quarantined with COVID-19. We followed all protocols so not too concerned, but clearly it has made its rounds through the medical fields. I also thought of two more positives out of the pandemic (planting a lemon tree). First, from personal experience I can inform all married males that it takes roughly 8 months before the “ring dent” disappears. Linda and I have an agreement – I only have to wear my ring when out in public and Linda only has to wear her ring all the time. As our public engagements have been limited, my ring has sat proudly on my dresser for most of the year. Hoping for your wife’s sake that information won’t prove too useful. Secondly, if you happen to go into a cold environment (like Minnesota), my preferred mask, the gator, provides a nice extra bit of warmth to the neck and face. Now to take a sip from my glass of lemonade. Okay, now for a call for help from all my birder friends.

Black-Chinned Hummingbird found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Texas January 2018

What we have here is a Hummingbird. That is the part of the identification I am absolutely sure about. No question about it, tiny bird, long pointy bill and often located near containers full of sugar water. It gets increasingly harder from there. Now, when it comes to Hummers, you can usually start eliminating a number of the species based on region alone.

Black-Chinned Hummingbird found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Texas January 2018

Hit the jump for my super-useful Illinois Hummer identification algorithm and see my plea for help! Continue reading A Hummer Quandary

Another Lamb Chop Murder

Howdy everyone! It feels like it has been ages since I have had the chance to take a quick break and spend time putting up a post. Just in case you were wondering, Linda is progressing very rapidly. The first week or so was a bit rough adjusting to the recovery protocol – Linda doesn’t take well to just relaxing requiring me to continually remind her she just went through major surgery and needs to give her body time to mend. She started cardio rehab this week which I think is helping her a lot, if nothing else freeing her from the confines of the house. If that wasn’t enough, the calendar turned over resulting in a “holy crap it’s time for the annual Halloween Trail event” panic. It seems like it is so far away and worry free until wham, you have only weeks to go with sooooo many props still to build. When the opportunity to post between all the training (two halfs in next 7 days), taking care of Linda and now Halloween prep.. you take it. Going to be long on pictures today and short on text – luckily today’s featured feathered friend is quite spectacular.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park in December 2017

Nor is this bird camera shy. When you got it, you might as well flaunt it. This beautifully colored bird is called the Great Kiskadee and is right up there in my top 10 attractive birds that I have been able to get in the tin. The Painted Bunting (link here) still holds the top spot, but the Kiskadee is not far behind. It may not have the diversity of palette the Painted does, but the whites, blacks, yellows and chestnut are perfectly coordinated and a testament to the skills of Mother Nature’s interior decorator. There are also some secret colorings I didn’t even notice until several encounters later. They are a bit selective when they show that.. but more on that later.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park in December 2017

Hit the jump to view a lot more pictures of our Bentsen-Rio find.

Continue reading Another Lamb Chop Murder

Guess I’ll Cave Too

Okay, time to get this post out of the way. It has been staring up at me from the drafts folder for about 6 months now, taunting me every time post day came. “Come on Bri, you gotta feature me eventually if you want that +1”. “No one will notice how crappy these shots of me are, they won’t ridicule you and mock your talents nope, no way hehehehe!” Sigh, the bird’s right, I have to get it featured or I will not be able to claim the check per RB Birding Rule #20. Ron and I have established birding rules born out of someone (name rhymes with con) who has a habit of creatively applying guidelines (link here). Since this represents the 10th post of the month, we are technically in bonus time, let’s go ahead and (cringe) get this out of the way.

Cave Swallow found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park January 2018, Texas

Prepare yourself, this is going to be a rough set. If you squint real hard, you just might be able to make out a bird – maybe take a few steps back and let the eyes float a bit like with those magic eye pictures that used to be the rage a decade back. Hopefully you will be able to make it out. If so, you are squinting at a Cave Swallow.

Hit the jump, but prepare yourself, the images do NOT get any better.

Continue reading Guess I’ll Cave Too