Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story

January 16 – The Other Side of Life, The Other Side of the Wetlands

Yesterday was a bad day. Not your ordinary, things aren’t going right, bad day – an especially bad day. I had gone to the bank to get our cash for the last half of the month when I got a text that my mother was being rushed to the hospital. I sent a text back to my sister that I was praying, and waited for the next teller. The phone rang and it was my sister telling me that my mom had just passed away. The phone call was brief, but devastating. I went back and waited for the same teller to finish what she was doing. When she finished she told me to have a nice day. I didn’t ruin hers by telling her why I probably wouldn’t.

My original plan had been to go take pictures after going to the bank. Obviously, those plans were derailed and I spent yesterday at home, mostly, dealing with the grief. As a Christian, while I grieve, I don’t grieve as those without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13), but I can rejoice that my mother is at home with the Lord. Yesterday was rough, but I made it through the day. Today has been a better day mentally and emotionally. I did get out to take pictures today. Last week I was on one side of the Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve, today I visited the other side.

 

We had rain most of the day yesterday and last night. I’ve always loved the pictures of water drops on leaves and as I entered the trail, I was able to get this picture. There’s probably nothing special about it to most people, but I enjoyed the chance to get this picture. There’s such a beauty when you see the raindrops on the leaves like that.

 

 

 

 

I’ve heard folklore about cardinals. I’m going to be honest with you and tell you that I don’t believe the stories. They don’t seem to have any biblical basis and it’s more of a superstition than fact. That being said, the first bird I was able to see and photograph was a cardinal. Superstition and folklore aside, I love cardinals. They’re beautiful birds. So, this first picture of the day set the tone for a good day, even though there weren’t many birds out today. Let’s face it…about the only time I don’t like cardinals are when they’re from St. Louis or Arizona.

 

 

 

 

Next along the trail was a white wing dove. We get a lot of these in South Texas. The white on the wing isn’t very distinctive on any of the pics I got, but as I debated on whether it was a white wing or a mourning dove, the eyes told the story. The blue circle around the eye makes this a white wing.

 

 

As I walked along, I saw, far off in the distance in the bay, these ducks. Given what I see most and the fact that I could barely see them, I figured they were northern shovelers. When I blew the pics up to 100%, though, they were a different type of duck. I had to look carefully, but they appear to be Northern Pintail ducks. That’s a new one for me, so that was exciting. I always love seeing the variety and beauty of the birds that God created.

 

 

 

 

 

Along the trail, I saw a bird do one of those things that kingbirds do when they sit on a tree, fly out to catch a snack, and then go back to the tree. I wasn’t able to get a real good picture of the bird. Google images says that it’s a house sparrow. I think it has too much yellow color for a house sparrow. I could be wrong, though. Any experts able to tell me what this is for sure?

 

 

 

There weren’t many birds out in the mud flats from the observation deck. I saw an egret, but it was so far away that I didn’t get a good picture. Then, two sandhill cranes came flying overhead. They’re apparently still working that cornfield where I saw them last week.

 

 

Heading back down the trail, I heard some beautiful singing I stalked the bird until I finally saw him. After discussion with one of the people in charge (later) and my own research, I believe it’s a long billed thrasher. They sing beautifully.

The Oso Bay Wetlands is a beautifully maintained park area and they have lots of learning activities for kids and adults. You can find information about this amazing place on their Facebook page

Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story

January 10 – About Bird Brain Chronicles…and Today’s Pics

So you may have noticed the #BirdBrainChronicles hashtag and the category for Bird Brain Chronicles. “What’s happening?” you ask. This is still the Bob James Author page and I’ll be sharing authory stuff with you when I have it to share. I just wanted a chance to share my hobby/passion for bird photography with people. And, to be honest, I’m looking at ways I can expand this in the future, but this will help me get my feet wet. If you have any questions about photography, the places I choose, or suggestions or ideas, etc. please feel free to note them in the comments. Also, feel free to share links with anyone who might be interested.

Today, I took the advice of a friend I used to teach with when looking for a spot. Only, I remembered part of where she said, not the whole thing, and ended up on the wrong side of the road. I didn’t see any birds I could snap, so after I checked her directions, I started heading back to the right end. Only, due to a military airfield, it wasn’t a straight shot. So, I tried to cut over on a different road. I did see this egret and the cormorant, although the egret was camera shy and flew away as I tried to take her picture.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I got to the suggested road, I could see how it would have lots of places for birds to hide, but today the places were too good and I couldn’t see any birds worth shooting. (With a camera of course!) So, quite disappointed, I turned towards home. While on the homeward path, I came across this flock of sandhill cranes. There were about a hundred of them in the field. At first I thought they were sheep, then I realized they were the cranes. I took lots of shots, but I’m going to give you a more panoramic view of them rather than pictures of the individual birds. This is what I first saw, but the pics don’t do justice to the birds.

 

 

Then, just as I got to the bridge, I spied this osprey. He was so far away I thought he was on top of his kill. When I looked at his pic, I realized that he was on an old tire. While I’m happy that made it possible to see him, I continue to be appalled at the blatant disregard for our world. I look at the beauty of God’s creation in the birds and in the land and the plants. Then, that joy is jarred when I see the litter people leave thoughtlessly: not caring about God’s creatures, the land, or other people who seek to enjoy the land. I’m typing this while out of town right now, but I’m planning to bring along a small sack to pick up trash along the way in the future. I can’t clean the whole area, but I can clean my part.

And that fits in with the Bird Brain concept. While it’s been an insult in the past, science has shown that birds are great problem solvers. While my actions aren’t a permanent solution, they’re a start. God created a beautiful world for us, and we’re called to be his stewards.

Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story

January 4 – Along Oso Creek

Today I revisited a walk that I took last Saturday with William Mays who wrote a book that included pictures he took along this walkway: The View From Oso Creek. While I didn’t remember all the pathways he took me on, I remembered enough and had a good day. Last Saturday, the only exciting capture was this Anhinga. The rest of the day we saw nothing. Today was much better, as was the weather!

 

 

Today when I went to the same area, I startled a pair of Tri-Colored Herons (I believe) and they took off before I could get any pics, except of them flying away. I started walking a little bit down river to see if I could spy anything along the way, but saw a couple of people sitting right where I wanted to go. They were either fishing or enjoying each other’s company, and i didn’t want to intrude. So, I headed back up the hill. As I headed up the hill, I started hearing some bird singing merrily at the top of his lungs. I walked as quietly as I could to avoid spooking him. I needn’t have worried. I did scan the area, making sure he wasn’t in one of the bushes, and then I saw him, at the top of a tall tree. When I first saw him, I took a long distance picture. It wasn’t very clear, but you could tell he had caught an insect and was chowing down. I had a different idea as to what kind of bird it was, but I was set straight.

 

 

This is a Couch’s Kingbird. I took numerous pictures of him. I was proud of the way that I caught his eye. One of the ways I judge my own pictures is how well you can see the eyes. On most of these, the eyes were sharp and clear. Interestingly, I’m in a Photo a Day challenge and today’s challenge was “Yellow.” I used this picture!

 

After getting my fill of pics of this bird (I had lots) I turned and saw this bird off at a distance. I took the long distance shot just in case I didn’t get anything else, hoping I’d be able to identify it later in Photoshop. I approached her cautiously, but without too much worry because she was so far away. Then, she took off. While this picture is a bit fuzzy, it’s her flying away. I was a bit disappointed.

 

 

My disappointment turned to smiles though when I realized that she had been answering the call of her potential mate. I didn’t get too close because they looked like they were still feeling each other out, but the bird on the left is the same Couch’s Kingbird you saw earlier.

 

 

 

Then, I headed towards the area I had been looking forward to since I decided to take this route. We had seen an owl there on Saturday, as it flew through the brush and Mr. Mays had noted that he had taken lots of owl pics there. I haven’t seen many owls in real life and I definitely hadn’t taken any pictures of them. I was anticipating a great owl shot. Alas, there were none. I think I found the reason though. 

This is the rare and dangerous Wild Plastic Flamingo. She was sitting in the trees guarding her territory. She can sit that way, motionless for hours, ready to strike at a moment’s notice. This was not a tame domesticated plastic flamingo. This was a wild one. When threatened, they can destroy dinosaurs! I plan on going back in the future, but will show extra caution when approaching this area.

While walking a little farther on, I saw a Mockingbird less than five feet from me. She stared at me with an attitude, wondering who let me walk in her area but she let me take numerous pictures. (I think it was 6 for $5.00.) Her beak seems to have a malformation. You can’t see it in this photo, but her top beak is two times as long as her bottom beak.

 

I saw another Couch’s Kingbird a little later. Mr. Mays had told me that the insect eaters will sit on the tree where I saw the Kingbird, zip out after the insect, and return to the tree to munch their lunch. I’ll probably get better pics later in the year. I also aw a beautiful egret flying around there. Again, I’ll have plenty of egret pics later, so I’m not gonna add them now. Later I walked down to an area that has a flat sandy area and was surprised by two sandhill cranes! I had just talked to a couple who was asking about this pair of birds that I thought were pelicans. Was I ever wrong! When I saw these cranes, I realized she saw them flying around. They are such beautiful birds! I’ll sign off tonight with that picture. It was wonderful to get out in nice weather with the sun shining.

 

 

 

 

Bird Brain Chronicles, Daily Work

This One’s For the Birds! January 1-3 Pictures

One of my passions/hobbies is bird photography. As I looked at my work last year, I didn’t take much time for that. There’s nothing more relaxing to me than walking with a camera and finding a good bird to photograph. (Unless it disappears before I get the camera up…but we won’t go there.)

Since I live in Corpus Christi, which is the birdiest city in North America, or so I’ve heard. I though I would spend a little time each day taking bird pics and then telling you a little bit about them and the places I go to take them. After a while you may get some repeat info, but that’s ok. You can skip those parts. I’m hoping others will see these pics and want to follow my journey as well.

Since I didn’t start this on January 1, I’ll give a recap of those days.

January 1 was cold (for Corpus Christi) and overcast. This is the kind of day that the birds normally stay inside, huddled underneath a blanket, reading a good book while sipping a cup of hot cocoa. As I tried to think of where to go, I remembered that one place that there are always birds is the People’s Street T-Head. Shrimpers come into the docks there and sell off the boat. The birds are always around to help eat the culls from the shrimpers. So, I headed downtown. While we didn’t have an overwhelming number of birds, there was a good variety.

One bird you’ll generally see there is a brown pelican. Those guys are amazing flyers. I think they were the inspiration for the pterodactyls in Jurassic Park. I’m showing two pics here because I started chuckling, thinking we had the pelican version of Laurel and Hardy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another common bird on the bayfront is the seagull. Here’s a note, if it really needs to be said, is don’t feed the seagulls. I had a great laugh at the seagull in the picture below. We have a local restaurant chain called Boat ‘n Net. This seagull was on the back of a boat, tugging at a fish that was stuck in a net…so I accused him of eating at Boat ‘n Net.

 

 

 

 

 

Grackles are common birds in South Texas, and they tend to hang out around the bayfront as well. One thing you’ll never forget about a grackle is his eye. The eyes are beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another bird I’ve come to love is the cormorant. I think this one is double crested. I’m still learning. These beautiful birds look like the Loch Ness Monster when they’re swimming on the water. Then they dive for food and come up 30-40 yards away. Here’s Nessie.

 

 

 

 

 

January 1 wasn’t a bad day, but it wasn’t a great day. January 2, though, was cold and rainy. I stopped short of my original plan and went to Lakeview Park. There’s always something around there. On the second, there wasn’t much, but we still saw domesticated ducks, which I didn’t really take pics of, Northern Shovelers and American Coots. My children think the Coot should be my spirit animal. I’m not gonna overload you with pics, since they were both swimming together.

 

 

 

 

 

January 3 started off cold and damp like the first two days of the year. After I got back from my picture taking expedition, the sun came out and would have been much better for shots of birds flying. (Faster shutter speed.) But, I finally got some good pics of Sandhill cranes! The first time I saw them, I stumbled on them by accident and they flew away before I could get the shots. The second time, they were too far away to get any good shots. Today they were within 100 yards of the path I was taking in the Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve. I was told that they’d plowed the field the other day and the sandhills descended on it. There were probably about a hundred cranes there. (Hard to count because of the intervening trees. They are beautiful, majestic birds and I loved looking at them and shooting them…on camera that is. This pic has an adult and a juvenile. (I coulda used about 20 others.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

I saw a few turkey vultures and a caracara flying around, but didn’t get any shots of them. I did see what looked like Roseate Spoonbills teaching a Snowy Egret (I hope that’s the right ID) how to eat. Two Roseates and the Egret were palling around and sticking closer than brothers! Here’s one of those pics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later, a godwit (again, I hope it’s the right ID) came by and sat down next to them.

 

 

 

 

 

I saw a group of black birds and almost turned away when a couple of ladies who were bird watching also noted that they were Groove Billed Anis and not grackles like I supposed. I don’t know that I ever saw them in the wild and I know I didn’t have any pics of them, so I was happy to get a few pics. Here’s one where you can see the grooves in the bill that give it its name.

 

 

 

 

 

Even in a group of slow days I saw almost 20 different bird types. Corpus Christi is an amazing place to go bird watching. Stay tuned for more!