I post a lot about Palo Duro Reservoir, a small man-made lake in Hansford Co.,about an hour north of my home. It has a pretty good ratio of birds to people–lots of birds and very few people, just the way I like it. It’s probably more crowded on weekends, but I work weekends for that very reason.
There’s another Palo Duro about an hour south of me, Palo Duro Canyon; it’s much more famous and popular and crowded, and because of that I rarely go there. People that have never visited the Texas panhandle think of it as nothing but flat, treeless, farms and pastures. A lot of it is, but as you drive along marveling at the openness of the country it suddenly drops out from under you into some amazing canyons. The Canadian River cuts across the northern panhandle on its journey from the New Mexican Rockies to the Arkansas River over 1400 kilometers away with a wide river valley that is over 60 meters deep in places. Horse Creek and Palo Duro Creek have cut a smaller canyon in Hansford County and Rita Blanca Creek has done the same in Dallam and Hartley Co.
Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the US, nearly 100 kilometers long and averaging just less than 10 kilometers wide. In some places it is 32 kilometers wide and its average depth is 250 meters, but reaches 304 meters in places. It is formed by the Prairie Dog Town Branch of the Red River as it cuts through the Caprock Escarpment on it’s way to the Mississippi. It’s a beautiful place with lots of birds, but there are almost always hundreds of people there and so is not my kind of place. I took a chance the morning after Labor Day and got out there just as the park opened. Just as I had hoped, the crowds had dissipated and for nearly an hour I had the bird blind to myself. Birder showed up and turned out to be an experienced birder and we spent another hour enjoying each other’s quiet company, occasionally pointing out a bird to each other.
The good news I referred to in the title of this post is that I was able to add a couple of lifers to my list, a Black-crested Titmouse and a Gray Catbird.
The bad news is that as I was driving down the canyon wall I went to get my camera out of the bag. I changed my mind because the road was getting kinda a twisty and neglected to zip the back pack back up. A few minutes later I got out of the truck in the parking lot near the bird blind and grabbed the backpack and my 500mm lens fell out of the bag onto the asphalt parking lot. Nothing cracked, but the auto-focus or the stabilizer or something is jacked up and when you try to take a photo the image jumps around inside the viewfinder. I was devastated. If anyone has any suggestions on where to send it to get it fixed I’d love to hear them. It’s a Sigma lens and although it’s not as expensive as some, it’s all I have.
I was able to get a few pics with it, but most of them are blurry. Here’s the ones I was able to keep.
A juvenile Yellow Warbler.
Unfortunately all the photos of the titmouse were blurred.