Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dec 7 (Day 341) - In a holding pattern on a rainy day....

I assumed that the big kite search that miraculously ended yesterday would almost certainly run into today. With kite ticked yesterday, today became an open day. It rained a ton here last night, so everything was really soggy this morning. Without have created a precise plan for today, I decided to just kick around Bentsen and Anzalduas again today. However, today I would have company in the form of resident LRGV birders Tiffany Kersten and Mary Gustafson. We were also joined by Bruce and Lynn Richardson, birders and friends visiting the LRGV from North Carolina. As Bruce and Lynn were desperately seeking Hook-billed kite for themselves, we bounced around Bentsen looking for it for a few hours this morning. The highlight of the morning was when we started clowning around with the panoramic picture function on the iPhone. We all had a good laugh trying to create the perfect panorama on the hawk watch platform. Yeah, the birding was that slow today! I rode a total of 28 miles today.

Birding antics.....

Bruce, Lynn, Tiffany, Mary

We broke for lunch with plans to reconvene at 2pm for more birding. However, a cold rain put pay to this idea as we all decided to fold the hand on the afternoon session. I decided to make at least a small amount of distance east towards Raymondville. Birding in the rain is generally un-fun, but riding in the rain really isn't that bad. I ended up ducking into the Alamo Inn B&B again. I am actually staying in the second building this time around. It is also really cool and has a very nice garden right outside. Over 100 species of butterflies have been found in this garden. It should be a good battle between the bird list and the butterfly lat moving forward!

Alamo Inn, again!

Courtyard outside my room - nice and quiet!

Tomorrow is also a bit of an open day. I do have to make it to Raymondville in the afternoon, but what happens before that is uncertain at this time. The weather in the morning is going to be crappy before clearing a bit in the afternoon. There will also be a north headwind for the better part of the day. I am thinking I will get a late start and make a midday stop at Estero Llano Grande SP. I can kick around there for a few hours before heading north to Raymondville in the afternoon. This will put me in position for the big pygmy-owl search on Tuesday. Once I know the result of this search, I'll be in a position to make decisions about what happens after that.

Here is a photo I took yesterday but did not post since I wanted to work with it a bit. One thing with which I struggle photographically is trying to capture and present the subject in its natural habitat. I find that many/most of my clean background shots do a great job of putting the spotlight on the bird, but they often lack appropriate context without sufficient habitat. My photos do, however, show a level of bird/feather detail beyond that often shown by some other photographers. This problem is that when too much or "busy" habitat is included, it muddles the frame and takes the viewer's focus off of the subject. I really like the balance between bird and habitat here. This is where you most often see roadrunners: skulking along weedy edges as they hunt for prey.

*click for bigger image*
Greater roadrunner
Canon 400 5.6 on EOS 7D - 1/1600 at f5.6, ISO 640


  1. So glad you have had the chance to meet John Yochum and Mary Gustofson, both of whom made their excellent birding reputations here in Ohio before moving on. Mary was very instrumental in completing the first Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas in the 1980's. John still holds the eBird records in some of Ohio's northwestern counties. These were two of the birders to whom I sent messages about your then-anticipated visit to LRGV, back in early November. BTW, there are worse places to be "stuck" than in the LRGV. In fact, I'd love to over-winter there sometime, when my obligations here in Ohio will permit me.

  2. Sharp shot of the Roadrunner. As you know, good bokeh is achieved with a long lens using a high aperture where the distance from the lens to the subject is close to the MFD (minimal focusing distance), and then background behind the subject is even further away. Birds have a funny way of not cooperating for me the way a model or bride does, and I'm too impatient for them to get off that man-made wire/post/object and land on a lonely twig with great lighting and a distant background. Bird photography takes way more patience that I'm willing to spend. Considering how much you've birded this year, you have a great inventory of quality shots of so many different birds. Do you know what the record for a "big photo year" is? I'm sure you've got to be close to that number as well.