Dog Days and Birds

We’ve had a surprisingly mild summer in the Texas Panhandle this year.  The stretches of  38° C or hotter days have been pretty short, usually lasting less than a week and we’ve had several long periods of  much milder and surprisingly wet weather. Birding around here this time of year is not terribly exciting, but it really doesn’t take much to keep me happily sneaking around the ponds and pastures and canyons, one eye on the ground watching for snakes and the other scanning the trees and skies for movement, straining to locate the bird that is making whatever sound has caught my ear.

So here are a few photos I’ve taken in the last month.

Female Orchard Oriole (I think)orchard-oriole-female-5-1024x636

American Kestrelamerican-kestrel-59-1024x619

Northern Flicker (Yellow Shafted)northern-flicker-yellow-shafted-1024x660

Ladder-backed Woodpeckerladder-backed-woodpecker-130-1024x647


Painted Buntingpainted-bunting-42-1024x706

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and young.  This nest was on a low hanging branch overhanging the parking lot.  I parked about 15 meters away and took the shot with a 500mm

lens from the drivers seat of my truck.




Rock Wren.  I love these little birds; they are very bold, sing beautifully, their voice echoing through the canyon, and bob up and down as they sing.  The total package.rock-wren-116-1024x684

Solitary Sandpiper.  I’ve also seen lots of Western, Spotted, and Least Sandpipers out at Meredith, but I’ve not been able to get around to where they are so that I can get good photos of them.  I can see them through binoculars from the cliffs at Fritch Fortress, but they are still about 200 meters away.  Thinking about getting a kayak.


An interesting photo of Yellow-headed Blackbirds.  Unfortunately I had the aperture set too wide and didn’t get all the birds in focus.  Too bad, its a great set up-they almost look like they grew there.yellow-headed-blackbird-18-1024x698

Horned Lark.  Dozens of these birds in the plowed fields and pastures.horned-lark-10-1024x678

Mississippi Kite, small raptors that nest here in the summer.mississippi-kite-88-1024x655

This one is eating breakfast.mississippi-kite-82-1024x684

More Scissor-tailed Flycatchersscissor-tailed-flycatcher-144-1024x667

Blue Grosbeak.  Between these guys, the Painted Buntings, and the Common Yellowthroats (which are nearly impossible to get good pictures of) Spring Canyon is like a symphony hall in the mornings.


Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  This is the second sighting this summer and only the third sighting for me ever.  I saw one last year at Harbor Bay, one at Palo Duro Reservoir earlier this summer and this one at McBride Canyon.  They are close relatives of the Greater Roadrunner.yellow-billed-cuckoo-11-1024x655

Rufous-crowned Sparrowrufous-crowned-sparrow-49-1024x654

Lark Sparrowlark-sparrow-60-1024x689

Snowy Ploversnowy-plover-12-1024x683

Forster’s  Least TernLeast-tern 1024x655

One morning a week or so ago I was at Spring Canyon looking for birds to take photos of.  There is a boardwalk out over one the the smaller ponds that is surrounded by cattails.  It was very foggy and standing there in the still morning shortly after sunrise, cattails higher than my head, thick tendrils of fog snaking across the mirror-still ponds, I could hear buntings and grosbeaks and Red-winged Blackbirds and yellowthroats singing in the reeds.  I couldn’t see the birds but standing there listening to them was enough for me that morning; it was so still and peaceful, and I was completely cut off from the world by the fog, alone in the mist listening to sounds produced by millions of years of evolution.  As I stood there, immersed in the wonder of it all, I suddenly heard an odd clicking sound on the boardwalk.  I peeked around the bend and saw three raccoons trotting down the walk towards me.  We saw each other and all of us froze.  The raccoons turned tail and fled back to a small stand of mesquite and salt cedars and climbed one of the trees.  One of the photos turned out pretty good.  Enjoy.



2 thoughts on “Dog Days and Birds

  1. Hi, this is your friendly neighbourhood bird-guy. The bird you have posted as a Forster’s Tern is actually a Least Tern. The yellow bill with the black tip and the white forehead are both diagnostic. Least Tern (interior) is an endangered subspecies. Records in the panhandle are scarce (although they breed in some areas of the Canadian and Red river) and it is a very good find and great photo.


    • Cameron,
      I always cringe when I see an email from you. It usually means that I’ve screwed up on an ID and, sure enough, I did. This one’s not so bad though. Top be honest, I didn’t really even consider it to be anything other than a Forster’s. In over two years of birding that is the only species I’ve seen around here. I should have looked closer. Thanks for pointing that out. The Least Tern will be a new lifer for me.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s