It was an overcast morning yesterday, threatening rain and then later delivering; still, sister Mary and I got up before the sun and hit the birding trail. Also along was our niece Olivia, her first time birding. She was skeptical, but you know how it goes: first they mock, rolling their eyes dramatically, saying, "yeah, I GUESS I'll come along." Then they yawn and say, "this is gonna be soooo booorrrring!" Then you get to your destination, and they see their first non-House Sparrow. In our case, Olivia's first bird was a Yellow-crowned Night Heron who was VERY used to human presence. That was it; she was hooked. We watched its movements, laughed at its brazen disregard for our presence.
Now she wants her own binocs. SNAP!
Our first stop was a new location for us, Live Oak City Park, on the northeastern side of San Antonio. It's a great park, with huge grassy expanses, a nice-sized "lake," and good trails. We all got soaked and mosquito-bitten, but we had a great time with the birds, toads, grasshoppers, butterflies, and moths. Our list for this location:
Mallard, 5--One mallard was VERY blond; photos to follow
Blue-winged Teal, 2
duck sp., 2--One had a bluish bill but no stiff tail like a Ruddy, also had a whitish stripe down his forehead. Photos to follow.
Great Blue Heron, 1
Great Egret, 3--these birds were also used to humans all around
Little Blue Heron, 2-- one molting juvenile, white with a few blue streaks along his back. Photos below. The adult was all blue, no reddish neck or cresty feathers evident at all. However, the adult was on a small snag, watching the juvenile feed in the shallows.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, 1--Olivia's spark bird
Red-tailed Hawk, 2--The first was being harassed in-flight by a Great-tailed Grackle, the second by a Northern Mockingbird. Poor raptors!
Inca Dove, 2--Pair attempting cloacal kiss on the road just at the entrance to the park! We all respectfully averted our eyes.
Chimney Swift, 5
hummingbird sp., 2--mystery species. VERY buffy, no evident green or red coloring at all. Birds were together, feeding and buzzing around. Juveniles?
Couch's Kingbird, 1--ID'd by his call; photo below. LIFER!
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, 3--it's ridiculous how common these guys are.
Barn Swallow (thanks, Hap!)
Mexican Cliff Swallow (thanks, Hap and Curlygirl!)
Dickcissel, 1--LIFER! Singing in a treetop just for me. Photo to follow.
Sparrow spp.--too many to even ID. It was all I could do to handle the rest of the birds. Most looked like house sparrows, but I'd be willing to bet there were some others mixed in. Still, I just didn't have my sparrow-fu working yesterday.
Okay, now for the photos!
In the rear is the Muscovy Duck which I've decided, owing to the not-so-secretive behavior and his bright red knobby facial area, is probably just a domestic Muscovy, which means no lifer. Dangit. Apparently, the true "wild" Muscovy's knob would be "blackish to dark reddish;" it's "usually brighter red in domestic male"). So much for that. I guess I should've known a true wild Muscovy wouldn't be found at a city park in San Antonio, right? My field guide says that a "nest box program in northeastern Mexico helped spread of wild Muscovies to Rio Grande area..." (info courtesy of my National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America). Oh well. One of these days, I'll go birding in the Mexican jungles and see one of these guys for real.
Continuing with this same photograph, what do you think of the brownish duck in front? Note the white on the face and on the neck. For a second, I thought I had a female Wood Duck, but I quickly dismissed that notion based on the lack of prominence of that white ring around the eye. I'm guessing this duck is a mutt; no ducks in my guide have those white markings. What do you think?
Here's the brave little Yellow-crowned Night Heron, who came within ten feet of where I was standing and looking at swallows.
I finally saw a Dicksissel!
This was the only photo I got of the two buff-colored hummingbirds I saw:Juveniles? Lesbians?
Ah, the swallows. They were abundant and confusing! I think many of them were quite young, and I have no experience really studying or IDing them other than easy Tree and Barn Swallows, so I took about a million photos. The best shots I got were of these fellows and ladies sitting on a fence, being cool.I thought some of them were Cliff Swallows, some might be Cave Swallows.... uh.... UPDATE: Per Hap's and Curlygirl's comments, I checked out some more info on Cliff or Mexican Cliff Swallows, and I agree with them that the different-looking guy to the right of the post is a juvenile (Mexican) Cliff Swallow and the rest of these guys are just plain old Barn Swallows (though I didn't check their immigration status). So I don't think I got any lifers here.
Here's one in flight--I was lucky to get a camera on him at all. What the heck is this? I didn't see any banded tails in my field guide!
Here's one in isolation. Note the whitish on his back--young bird?
The whole gang, looking tough.
Just half of them, including one who is obviously aware of my presence.
The other half. Is that evidence of a gape I see on the the two on the right? And whitish. Like I said, juveniles, I suspect.
Couch's Kingbird, ID'd based on its call. Lifer!
Blue-winged Teal male
The blond Mallard with his friend? Mate? Brother?
A juvie Little Blue Heron. His mom/dad was also around, but she flew before I got a pic.
So that was two lifers. I took tons of other photos of butterflies, etc., but this post is already straining at its seams.