31 March 2010


With the onset of spring, my field season starts in just a couple of weeks. I'll be heading out to western Nebraska to study LONG-BILLED CURLEWS for one last summer.

But that doesn't happen for a couple weeks! In the meantime, I thought I'd share some photos of CEDAR WAXWINGS I took a couple days ago. I had never put any time into taking pics of waxwings before but after my experience that afternoon, I must admit, they're pretty amazing!


23 March 2010

TX Butterflies

On our recent trip to south Texas, I also kept an eye on the butterflies. Although I was looking for birds more than butterflies on the trip as a whole, I still managed a few lifers.

DAINTY SULPHURS were fairly common throughout our trip:

Yes, I took this pic from probably a mile away. Oh well. Still, no doubt it's a CHECKERED WHITE:

This LITTLE YELLOW didn't mind me:

Check out the schnoz on this AMERICAN SNOUT:

I didn't manage an open-wing picture, but this bland (only from below) beauty is the MEXICAN BLUEWING:

I was happy to find this MAZANS SCALLOPWING at Estero Llano Grande State Park:

I was looking forward to seeing a couple of longtails. In fact, I did manage a couple species, both at Estero Llano Grande State Park. This is the TELEUS LONGTAIL:

... and I believe this is the BROWN LONGTAIL:

CAROLINA SATYRS were common throughout the trip. Here is one in the shade in Roma:

A terrible shot, this GULF FRITILLARY was in Roma:

Skippers are always a challenge. I believe the next two are FIERY SKIPPERS:

Pretty striking as far as skippers go, this NYSA ROADSIDE-SKIPPER was fairly findable during our trip:

When you're close to the border, watch for the BORDERED PATCH:


I believe this to be a PHAON CRESCENT. I'm not certain so if you think I'm wrong, let me know!

Likewise, I think this was a THEONA CHECKERSPOT:

Of course, a post wouldn't be complete unless I had a mystery skipper. Any ideas????

19 March 2010

Birding Texas

Getting out of Iowa for a couple days, Ashley and I flew to south Texas for a quick birding trip.

In all, it was productive ordeal with nearly 200 species tallied. There is no way that I can post all the photos from the trip... but I thought I'd mention some of the highlights.

The first highlight of the trip was the continuing NORTHERN WHEATEAR near Beeville. This bird represents the 2nd state record for Texas:

The next highlight was finding RED-BILLED PIGEONS north of Zapata. Here is a picture of 4 of the 8:

Salineno and Falcon State Park had the usual suspects including this PYRRHULOXIA:

... and this AUDUBON'S ORIOLE:


Spending a morning up on the hawk platform at Santa Anna NWR, we were able to see several great birds. Perhaps my biggest highlight was a female HOOK-BILLED KITE. Another great find was a SWALLOW-TAILED KITE. Other raptors we saw throughout the trip included:

Gray Hawk:

Swainson's Hawk:

Zone-tailed Hawk:

White-tailed Hawk:

Also from the hawk platform:


Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (including a flock of 6):

Bronzed Cowbird:

Couch's Kingbird:

Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco was another productive location. Highlights included:

Least Grebe:

Mottled Duck:

A Buff-bellied Hummingbird on its nest:

This winter has seemingly been pretty good for CLAY-COLORED THRUSHES. We first found 2 in Roma and then another 2 in Estero Llano Grande SP. I don't know why I can never get a decent shot of these guys:

Let's play a game called "can you spot the pauraque?":

This Common Pauraque was easier to see:

Just north of Estero Llando Grande SP, we found a flock of about 50 RED-CROWNED PARROTS:

Of course, when you're in south Texas, you can't forget the PLAIN CHACHALACAS:

I will admit, I had fun with the SPRAGUE'S PIPITS this trip. Of course, the reliable spot is at Anzalduas County Park. We had at least 4 there including this one:

But a surprise came on Padre Island where we found this one walking along a paved road! Oh, and thanks to the biker who permanently flushed this thing:

Speaking of Padre Island, there was some decent activity (if you managed to escape the crowds). For example, we found a couple of WILSON'S PLOVERS:

Royal Terns:

The ubiquitous LAUGHING GULL:

Ring-billed Gull:

Of course, where ever I go, I get hunted down by LONG-BILLED CURLEWS:

Speaking of terns though, we enjoyed the variety down in south Texas. We ended up with 5 species: Forster's, Royal, Caspian, Sandwich, and a couple of GULL-BILLED TERNS:

Lastly, in Friedrich Wilderness Park, in the suburbs of San Antonio, we found this GOLDEN-CHEEKED WARBLER: