Sunday, November 15, 2009

More from the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival

Late on Saturday, I picked up another life bird in the Rio Grande Valley - a Bronzed Cowbird. I know, cowbirds are not people's favorite bird, and yes, behind the bronzie you can also see a Brown-headed Cowbird. What can I say? We tend to overlook the blackbirds, but there can occasionally be a different one mixed in. BTW, remember that orioles and meadowlarks are also blackbirds.


We took the bird festival trip to Laguna Atascosa NWR on Saturday - a day of exceptional birding, even though we did miss the Alpomado Falcon. One of the dramas we watched was this Caspian Tern with a fish in its beak being chased by another tern, probably a youngster looking to steal or be fed.

There were large flocks of Long-billed Curlews, along with many other shorebird species and most of the waders.

The Great-tailed Grackle is hardly anybodies' favorite bird, but it is a southern species, and abundant. A bird may not have flashy colors, or the perilous circumstance of being rare or lost, but that doesn't mean that it should not be photographed or even appreciated from time to time.

The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival has been a treat, with exceptional leaders on every trip. They confirm what I have occasionally said or written - that there are more exceptionally skilled birders alive today than there have ever been in history. Even the icon of birding, John James Audubon, could not hold a candle to the skill of today's field birders. In part that is because his only equipment was a shotgun. The optical equipment of modern birding, combined with knowledge, experience, and skill in visual and auditory identification, has seldom been matched in the past, and then by only a handful. Today there are many handfuls of these talented birders, and we have had the chance to bird the last three days with a few of them.

Sunday we will be on our own. Good birding wherever you may be.

7 comments:

Wilma said...

Great photos, Chris; seems you are using your new (not so new any longer) camera very well. The great-tailed grackles are, well, great birds. I like how smart and entertaining grackles can be. Enjoy the rest of your trip; I'm looking forward to more photos.

cheers,
Wilma

babbler said...

You have introduced to me the greatest bird I have ever seen, the Great Tailed Grackle! What a great name! Good looking bird too. I have a new favorite, thanks to you! I wonder if this bird eats slugs???? Hmmmm. I shall stay at least a tails length away whilst viewing this fine bird!
With love, Mrs. Slug

Tina said...

I am so glad you got to spend some time with other expert birders..what a thrill that would be for me!! You really caught some interesting birds in your lens..I would love to see a few of these creatures some day!! Thanks! ;-)

Chris said...

Hi Chris,
I guess it is better to go out with other birders as it is then easier to spot a bird, and then to get close to it... It has worked all the time for me over here! Combining the skills is the best thing to do. You got indeed beautiful shots of birds I've never even heard of! Excellent, sir!

dAwN said...

Oh i am so jealous..I am seeing all the posts and tweets from the festival..Sounds like a fun filled amazing time..with great birders and birds.

Kelly said...

...all the bird photos are wonderful. This looks like a festival I'd like to go to. It sounds like a lot of fun, and a great way to learn more about birds.

Leigh said...

Hi Chris! sounds like an awesome trip. I love birding in the RGV =)

I just moved to VT recently, so I'm now birding in your neck of the woods too.

Happy Birding,
Leigh Johnson
Vermont Law Student

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