Two birding trips, three lifers--it's been a steady, if slow, procession of lifers here in San Antonio. I have to give credit to my kid sister Mary, who's been my taxi driver and fellow bird spotter, btw. Her contributions to the bloggy will be detailed below.
Sunday afternoon, my mom, Mary, and my nieces Bronte and Lilia, and I went to McAllister Park, a hard-scrabble area of mesquite, live oak, and brush. We didn't see a whole lot of birds, but Lil spotted a lifer of her own: a nine-banded armadillo! Here she is, making the spot:I only got a decent photo of his badonkadonk, as we stalked him through the brush: By the way, I'll mention that everyone in our party mentioned the "armadillos have leprosy!" factoid that you Flockers who've met me already heard... PURE FACT, you Doubting Thomases.
On our way to the car, I heard a familiar sound--a Tufted Titmouse. Eager to see if I could find a Black-crested Titmouse, a morph found only in Texas, I started looking and snapping.Got him! They sound just like TUTIs, but that black crest distinguishes them and made the ABA split them off as their own species. (I'm sure it's more complicated and genetic than that, but hey--I'm beginning to bird, not expert to bird.)
This morning, Mary was a total trooper--she got up with me at 6:30 and we were on the road at 6:45, headed to Comanche Lookout Park in northeastern SA. Sadly, not a whole lot of bird action at this historic location. We saw and heard dozens of cardinals and mockers, and that was about it. We also saw this little tower at the top of the peak, the "lookout" part of the park: We left after climbing the hill, in search of birdier places.
Next stop: El Dorado (aka "Golden") Pond, which is in a residential area near a dammed up creek. Some interesting interaction of domestic muscovy ducks and the local kitteh population:
It looks like the kitteh is stalking, but he's actually just chewing on some grass. The ducks and the kittehs coexist in peace. We also saw this cute pup, who did us a favor and ate the rest of our greasy breakfast tacos, purchased at a Texas Cafe drivethru (the "cafe" was worse than the tacos!)-- He seemed hungry and even ate the tortillas! Isn't he cute? I wanted to take him home but I knew he'd never fit in my bag.
We went to the "pond" which was little more than a few puddles. Still, we found many more birds here than the Comanche place, perhaps because of the residential feeders and such. I saw my first lifer of the day:Inca dove! Found only in the border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California! Mary spotted these guys, which I had kinda brushed off as MODOs. One peek through the binocs proved me wrong, however, and we got a lifer!
We also saw another lifer, a Golden-fronted Woodpecker! I had time to see him, spot him through my binocs, and touch my camera; then he flew off. Dangit! No photos, but he was bee-yoo-tiful, his bright yellow-orange nape flashing in the morning sun. Wow. Probably my favorite woody now, at least until I see an IBWO...
The rest of the birds we saw were interesting, if not lifebirds. We saw a mated pair of Black Vultures who were extremely interested in having us document their romance! They're kissing! He tried to mount her, but some neighborhood dogs started barking about fifty yards away and she got a little shy. They flew together into a nearby tree:
That's one intense gaze.
I think they were tiring of the papparazzi at this point: We saw some other birds, but try as I might, I can't figure out what they are! Here's the first one, a duck who was much larger than the mallards nearby:
There's some definite green on his head, but his back was very light buffy brown and rufous colors. Here's another one, though he's facing away: Any ideas?
UPDATE! Another lifer, a Blue-headed Vireo! Thanks, my birdy pals!
Here are some more photos:
He very obligingly gave us a badonkadonk shot: Again, thanks to the commenters for the positive ID!
Until next time, I'll be watching A&E's Horatio Hornblower miniseries on DVD with my mom....