I led a trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas November 16-23 for Wildside Nature Tours. We had a very chilly start but ended up with a nice list of birds. Here’s my trip report. If you are stuck inside on a cold evening, this will probably warm you up a little. Texas birds are pretty magical. I bet you’ll sleep better.
Nothing like a little shooting at the local mall to keep me indoors long enough to complete a trip report on the most phenomenal birding adventure I have ever experienced. Ecuador. It is a fantastic place full of thousands of orchids, fresh fruit all year (no seasons), deliciously strong, dark coffee, 16,000-foot mountains with cloud forests in the West, the Amazon Basin rainforests in the East, many wonderful people, and bird diversity like nowhere else in the Western Hemisphere (and arguably, the World).
At the end of February I went to Southeastern Colorado for the High Plains Snow Goose Festival. And there were thousands of Snow Geese. For me, the raptors were a treat. This Prairie Falcon is one cool camper! And ther are Red-tailed Hawks of all different colorations. Below is a “Western” Red-tailed Hawk.
And a beautiful light morph Ferruginous Hawk.
After a few short days at home I drove to Louisville KY to speak to the Beckham Bird Club. We had a great time during my quick visit. Below is one of the Red-necked Grebes on the Ohio River.
In the next day-and-a-half I drove 1,000 miles to reach LaBelle FL for the tail end of the Big “O” Birding Festival. I birded Devil's Garden during the day and gave a slide presentation that evening. The next day I got to bird Stormwater Treatment Area 5 (STA5). Here are a few highlights.
After the Big O, I traveled north to Spring Hill FL for the Nature Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. It was cool to bird this area of Florida–an area I had only birded once before. I visited lots of cool places. And the Saturday keynote went very well. I had a great time. Highlights of Naure Coast are below.
After a fun-filled schedule at Nature Coast I drove north to Tallahassee FL for a couple days of recovery and also to wait out the snowstorm in West Virginia. While in Tallahassee I got to visit Maclay Gardens–an awesomely beautiful place to visit at this time of year. Enjoy the pics!
I've finally waded through 8,000+ photos. My amateur strategy for good photos=volume. When shooting, it's easy to say “It's digital” and shoot away. What is harder is going through the results of that “digital” logic. Volume takes a lot of time. But I have to say that I like taking photos. And lots of them. In the end, I ended up with a number of decent photos that were very satisfying to me.
I have to say that I enjoy photography enough that I actually am willing to put some work into becoming better. Why? Well. Because I want to. Here are few of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them, too.
Yes. It has been forever since my last post. I just returned from a 10-day trip to Florida for the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival and a Florida Birds Photo Workshop with Wildside Nature Tours. I am going through my 8,000+ photos while occasionally glancing up at possibly the most boring of Super Bowl games ever. Even the commercial are mediocre. Well. Here is something new. I will try inserting an animated picture here. It is not a video. And I am sure it will not work in the email form of this blog (sorry). I will have plenty to post in the coming days.
Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory celebrated its 25th anniversary on October 5, 2013. A nice crowd showed up for the event. Above, folks gathered to hear some guy talk about being a bird consultant for a Hollywood movie, The Big Year, and his experiences meeting Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson.
We had a good turn out for a very chilly early morning bird walk. This is a phone-scoped picture of the morning sun beginning to light up a very distant Long's Peak. It was taken handheld with my iPhone through my Swarovski ATX 80 telescope at 25x.
An American Kestrel posed long enough for everyone to get a scope view and fortunately, long enough for me to capture a quick phone-scoped picture (same set up as above).
And as all my readers know by now, I love visiting local restaurants and trying out new dishes. This is a “regular” sized bowl of Pho (noodle soup) at a Vietnamese restaurant in Brighton, Colorado. It was gargantuan! I didn't even make a significant dent in this Goliath-sized bowl of soup. I think it must be half a gallon. Haha. Check out that quarter beside the glass of water for a size reference! The portion I ate was delicious, too.
Wow! What is not to like about aspens in the fall? I am here in Colorado for Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory’s BBQ with the Birds tomorrow, October 5, 2013. Check out the RMBO website for more information. And of course, if you are in the area why not come and join me for the day’s festivities!
MBS & OFO? What is that, you say? Midwest Birding Symposium and Ontario Field Ornithologists. MBS was a week ago already and OFO was this past weekend. I'm writing from a hotel in Lexington, Nebraska on my way to Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory in Brighton, Colorado.
I'm always thrilled to see young birders' enthusiasm. Nathan already has a keen eye (OFO at Pt. Pelee).
The banquet Saturday night at OFO. Over 240 participants!
We had a large group for a field trip to the tip at Pt. Pelee. That's me in jeans and a light shirt with the green Biggest Week in American Birding backpack about half way. (Photo by Steve Pike)
This is a Blackpoll Warbler at Magee Marsh during MBS. Note that it is showing off the pale soles of its feet…just to taunt birders with the difficult identification.
Golly. This looks delicious. (The berry silly–not the Ring-billed Gull)
Nom-Nom-Nom. Looks so good I think I'll swallow it whole.
Oofah. That was larger than I thought.
Ewww. Gonna have to walk this one off!
Funny sequence of a Ring-billed Gull with a large “snack” at East Harbor State Park during MBS.
Throngs of birders came to Northwest Ohio to catch a glimpse of the magical spectacle of birds on their epic journey from as far away as South America on their way to their breeding grounds in Canada. Birders here are on the famed boardwalk at Magee Marsh near Oak Harbor, Ohio.
The last day of Biggest Week was chilly with winds out if the North–not prime migration conditions. But, the cold wind kept the insect-eating warblers low and conditions for photography were excellent. This Cape May Warbler looks like it could have used an extra layer of clothing. Continue reading 2013 Biggest Week in American Birding – part 4