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.
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.
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.
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.
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.