Archive for the 'Fieldnotes' Category

Anoles

Anolis carolinensisThe Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis).Anolis carolinensisAs you might infer from its binomial name, a native of the south. In fact, the only anole native to the continental U.S. There are at least half a dozen non-native species in Florida. The southern-most tip of Texas also has the introduced Brown Anole (A. sagrei), who don’t observe any genus-loyalty and eat the Greens. Anolis carolinensisI tried to get a shot with the pink throat fan extended, as here, but from the side to best show off this mating and territorial marker (males have bigger ones, yadda-yadda).Anolis carolinensisAnother was flashing until I got the zoom on him.

Owl in the Hole

Bentsen State ParkTwilight. We were in Bentsen State Park, looking for Elf Owls (Micrathene whitneyi). These are our smallest owls, 1.4oz (compare with House Sparrow, .98oz, and Great Horned Owl, 3.1lb). There was a nest in a snag, perhaps originally carved out by a woodpecker. An owl was periodically poking out as the sun set. Micrathene whitneyi“Owl in the hole!” The distinctive “eyebrows” are visible even in this long-shot in low light. The other half of the pair showed up just as our human vision began to fail in the dark. We heard the birds calling as they prepared to hunt through the night.

Lesser Nighthawks were also in the air, zooming after insects. These southwestern nighthawks have more rounded wings and a white wing bar nearer the wingtip than the slightly larger Common Nighthawk. We heard the yip of coyotes in the distance and the onomatopoeic call of a Chuck-will’s-widow, very near. We were also on the look-out for Common Pauraques, another night-flying insectivore, found only in the southeastern tip of Texas (in the U.S., anyway). One did fly over our heads, heading downwards to the road, but we would have better views another day. Bentsen doesn’t allow cars (there’s a large golf cart type of tram during the day), giving us the freedom of the night road. There were a few fireflies. We heard the distinctive tremolo of an Eastern Screech Owl, which came to investigate us.

A magical night, with only a few mosquitoes and Ninja-garbed La Migra agents (as omnipresent in the Rio Grande Valley as Great-tailed Grackles). We had been accidentally locked out of our van; as we waited for the lock-popper, we looked at all four Galilean moons of Jupiter through a spotting scope.

Rio Grande Valley

Egretta tricolorA Tricolor Heron (Egretta tricolor) prowling the Laguna Madre off Padre Island.

I’ve returned from more than a week in south Texas and I have many pictures to sort though. Stay tuned for news of the 68 new-to-me bird species I saw and other excitements.Quiscalus mexicanusGreat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus, omnipresent throughout the trip.

Turtleneck

Trachemys scripta

Turkey

Meleagris gallopavoDo you know how many times I’ve kept my eye out for this semi-wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) in Battery Park over the years? She has bee there for some time now — their mini-farm is even roughly turkey-shaped — but this is the first I’ve ever run across her. You’d think, considering the size the of the beast…Meleagris gallopavoAnyway, voilà! Turkey.

They, whoever they are, have presumed to have given her a name, but you won’t hear it repeated by me.

Portrait

Agelaius phoeniceusA female Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus). An example of one of the most extreme sexual differences found among species in our area.

Zygodactylism

Picoides pubescensThat tap-tap-tapping coming from the Phragmites is usually a Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens). Note those long toenail claws. Woodpeckers have zygodactyl toes, two pointing forward, two back. Most birds, the Passerines, or song birds, have three forward, one back. Picoides pubescens

New Nest

Columba liviaRock Pigeon (Columba livia) nesting under the bridge. The bird was still working on the nest, using her body to shape these freshly collected twigs. The red-eyes are natural, not from a flash.

Reflection

reflection

Revisions

tf1A feathered turtle. tf2This is going to keep the taxonomists up late.


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