Thursday, November 22, 2012
Rio Costero Ranch, near Laguna Atascosa NWR in south Texas, offered us killer looks at a bird little-known to me: the gull-billed tern Geochelidon nilotica. It gives the impression of a very slender-winged gull. The heavy bill enhances its gull-like appearance. It's distributed worldwide, from both coasts of North America, the east coast of South America to southern Europe, temperate Asia, and even Australia!
Oh what a beautiful and welcome sight. I drank it in and took many souvenirs.
These birds were eating the bug du jour: dragonflies. More specifically, large green darners, perhaps Anax junius? Not sure. But they were big, and there were a lot of them. Anax is a migrant, and it travels in large flocks. I would imagine that our Ohio darners have been in Texas for some time by now.
The gull-billed terns were dipping down and snagging the darners in flight. Which has to be tricky. Dragonflies are wicked fast and can change direction in a nanosecond. I admired the aerobatic skill of these beautiful birds as they made their meal on darners. And delighted in seeing the prey, revealed by the lens. Which is a Canon 70-300 IS L telephoto on a Canon 7D body. Oh, just get yourself one. Click on the link.
Glider wings, sweeping up.
Other birds came by in perfect light, like these young white ibises. Ibii? I love this shot. Such harmony of pose and purpose.
But my favorite shot of the day was an Audubon's caracara, flaring overhead. Ahhh. After awhile, your photographer's eye just knows when you've nailed it without even looking at the result. Strong morning light, blue sky, AV central dot focus, go. And you've got every darn feather delineated. Oh, I love my new rig. Hard to believe I'll have had it a year in February. It's had a workout!
This odd tropical raptor takes carrion, insects, eggs, snakes, lizards, rodents...small prey, anything it can subdue with its short toes and long legs. They often walk around and hunt, sort of Dinornis style. In fact they remind me very much of dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs flying just overhead.
Bill Thompson III and Al Batt, who had them rolling in the aisles Friday night, puzzle over a pair of white-tailed hawks. It was a good morning's birding at Rio Costero Ranch and the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival.