Saturday, March 29, 2014

Utopia

Yes, there is a town in Texas called Utopia.  It's in the hill country and it's badass.  I'm concerned that not many people around the United States are aware the the Texas Hill Country is amazing.  Seriously, it's completely gorgeous, even if you're not a birder.  You've all got to get Golden-cheeked Warbler at some time in your lives, so eventually, you'll see what I'm talking about.

Anyways, I went to Utopia last weekend to eat food and drink beers with friends.  Good times were had.  Birds were seen.  Here we go.

Bewick's Wren - Nothing crippling, but it was nice to have this bird singing while I was drinking coffee on the porch in the morning.  Helps with the hangover.
Black-tailed Jackrabbit - A rare mammal makes it on TMWB.
Northern Parula - this bird was singing some weird variation of its song that sounded like a Golden-cheeked Warbler.  If you're an uber nerd and want to hear it, hit me up.  
Black-and-white Warbler

Black-chinned Hummingbird - Unlike most birders in Texas, I didn't feel the need to post to Texbirds about my FOY Black-chinned.  Also, I saw this bird doing its display diving.  Badass.
Yellow-throated Warbler
Green Kingfisher

Golden-fronted Woodpecker - of note here is the all white rump, something not seen in Red-bellied Woodpeckers.
Chipping Sparrow - not exciting for most of you, but I don't get to see them looking this dapper too often in Texas.
One last thing that probably doesn't belong in this forum, but it's on my mind, and this blog sometimes helps me work through shit.  I knew this dude, Kyle.  Young guy, 25.  If you don't know that I don't like many people, you haven't been reading this blog very long.  Anyways, this dude Kyle was a solid fucking dude.  Big smile, great laugh, and would seriously never fail to make me stop being an asshole whenever I was with him.  He died last weekend.  I paid my respects last night, and it was heavy.  You know when some people die and everyone keeps saying, "Oh, what a great person they were.  Selfless, loving, blah blah blah" and you know they're full of shit because the dude was an asshole?  Well, Kyle is the exception to that rule.  He was a much better dude at 25 than I will probably ever be.  He'll be missed. 


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Undead Raven

Recently, the nefarious Seagull Steve had a frightening encounter with a Magnificent Frigatebird of the undead persuasion.  While I was quite envious of his close encounters with such a strange and frightening bird, I was also quite relieved that it was not me who had been invited into the shadowy Purgatory which these undead birds haunt.  Unfortunately, that relief was short lived, as this weekend, I had a horrific encounter with one of the more frightening of undead birds, a Common Raven.  What does that say about the direction my soul is headed?  Bad things, most likely, but there's nothing I can do about it now.  All I can do is report to you, the innocent and unjudged reader, the horrors and the omen of the undead avifauna.

This Common Raven is obviously in lack of a soul.  Many birds in the light world lack souls from crushings, however this bird never likely had a soul, as it is undead, and indeed, unborn.
The Undead Raven was sent to me as an omen of what is to come of my fate.
Sweet dreams, nerds.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Last Bit of Winter

In an attempt to squeeze out whatever I can, whenever I can, I think I've got one last batch of winterish birds to share with you.  New birds are starting to come in; I had my first Golden-cheeked Warbler of the year last Sunday (no pictures) and more vireos and warblers are arriving now.  That said, I'm not much on words today, so on with the birds.

Loggerhead Shrike
White-throated Sparrow - I've got a thing for back patterns.
Double-crested Cormorant 
Lincoln's Sparrow 

Cooper's Hawk - with full crop and parts of a mouse in its talons (I think). 
Cedar Waxwings will be gone soon, and I don't think I've posted a photo this winter.
Red-winged Blackbirds don't make it on TMWB too often, but this fucker is battle ready and I like it.
Fox Sparrow - I think this is a new bird here, hence the grainy shot.
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
An exciting bird! This wayward Townsend's Solitaire was a life bird.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow trying to get laid.
...and getting rejected.  Play it cool, brother.
Obliging year Eastern Screech-Owl in a parking lot. 
Canvasback - actually looking a little delicate for a change. 
Ruddy Duck - I am very appreciative of that tail.
That's it for today.  Many birds, few words.  Dig it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Más Aves de Laredo

I'm sitting here, avoiding the madness that South By Southwest has become, and finding myself wishing that my Laredo trip had fallen this weekend.  I honestly used to love SXSW; I'd take a few days off work, make a whole thing out of it.  Unfortunately, it appears that 2014 is the year that SouthBy died.  In addition to some dickhead running over a bunch of people in his car, every year the scene is getting more and more marketed and shittier people are showing up in droves.  Also, Justin Goddamn Bieber played a set at Bangers.  Just like Milo, SXSW is officially not cool anymore.

But I still have Laredo, and that's what we're here for now.  The chase was a day trip, and the birding was contained to two spots, Lake Casa Blanca State Park and Zacate Creek on the Las Palmas trail.  Here are the non-Code 3 birds I saw.

Pyrrhuloxia - Fuck, who doesn't think this is a sharp looking bird?

I think the red on the lower bill is a nice touch.
Cactus Wren with a fucked up upper mandible.
Cactus Wren nest.
Lark Sparrow - Year Bird.
Cooper's Hawk - Under an overpass. 
Great Kiskadee
Diamondback Water Snake? Blotched Water Snake?  I don't know herps.
Black Phoebe - surveying the trash floating in Zacate Creek from trash sitting in Zacate Creek.
Chihuahuan Raven - This was previously a BVD bird.
So, that's the rest of Laredo.  I need to get out tomorrow and drum up some content for my next post.  Later, nerds.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Shitty Pictures of Good Birds

Sure, I woke up at 2:45 Saturday morning.  And yea, I had to drive 3 and a half hours to Laredo.  That's right, Laredo.  And you don't even have to say it; all of the pictures in this post are horrible.  I know.  But, fuck man.  Good birds.  Damn good birds.  Fucking amazing birds.

Bird #1.  Slaty-backed Gull.  Big fucking deal.  According to my badass new TOS Handbook of Texas Birds, this is the 7th record of this Asian bird for Texas.  So, we were originally going to leave at 4am, but I got nervous and pushed it to 3:15am, which would put us at Lake Casa Blanca at sunup.  We rolled in at 7 and the bird was perched with two other people looking at it.  We watched it for 20 minutes before it flew off, never to be seen again all day.  We birded around for an hour or so and came back to the car to find 20 plus nerders standing around.  Brutal.  The 2:45am wake up was rough, but we would've missed it if we'd left any later.

I told you they were shitty pictures.



Bird #2.  White-collared Seedeater.  So the very, very top of this birds natural range crosses over the Rio Grande into the United States near Laredo.  When I say "crosses the Rio Grande" I mean the birds we saw were on the US side of the Rio Grande.  Border Patrol kept a bead on us most of the time we were looking for the bird and we could hear a random Ice Cream truck speaker on the Mexican side playing Woody Woodpecker.  It was weird.  But we got it, male and female, and decent looks.

This is the first Seedeater we saw, a rather obliging lady.

And then there was this dude.
So yea, normally I'll make apologies for posting shitty pictures, but I really have no idea when I'm going to see these birds again, so that's kind of just how this post goes.  Dig it.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Port A Mega Post!

Life in the doldrums gets rough. Same birds, day after day after day. Ring-necked Duck...Yellow-rumped Warbler...Least Sandpiper. You've got to break that shit up, you know? Fortunately, the times they are a changin'. Golden-cheeked Warblers should be here by Sunday. Migrant shorebirds are arriving. Shit's about to get real.

But what to do before this shit goes down?  What about these times when you are no longer stimulated by Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Orange-crowned Warblers?  Your flaccid binoculars dangle around your neck, while you dare not dream of what lies beyond.  Well, you've got to get out there.  Mix that shit up.  And what is the birding equivalent to Viagra?  Port. Fucking. Aransas. Fuck man, down there, a mere three and a half hours away, you'll get into some shit that will never turn up back at home.  Trust me...


Clapper Rail - Recommended by 5 out of 5 nerders to break the winter birding doldrums.
The less often seen "skinny" dimension.  They're as thin as a...fuck, how's that go?
Rails are not comfortable being vulnerable and visible.  They must know that they look awkward as fuck.
Black-bellied Plover - Why would I put this relatively unimpressive photo here?  Well, those black armpits (axillaries) are distinctive.  Fun field mark.
Long-billed Dowitchers - And the reason for this study in brown and gray?  Because I've never photographed Dowitchers before.   I'm jazzed.
Merlin
American Coot - so I saw Scott Carpenter post an image of coot feet on his blog, and I had to get that shot.  Unoriginal?  Most definitely.  But those feet are fucking crazy.
First Green Heron of the year. It's a refreshing bird to have back in my life. 
Closeup of a Green-winged Teal.  Fucking finally.

Smorgasbord of birds. 10 points if you can name the one above the Black-necked Stilt on the right.
Cooper's Hawk
American White Pelican - That horn mean it's almost time to plow. 
Mottled Duck - Yea, that's about it. 
Willet
Ruddy Turnstone - I never get used to how fucking weird this bird looks.

Great Blue Heron
Peregrine Falcon - taken from a moving car.  I reckon that lunch is a Mourning Dove.
And of course...alligators.
The soundtrack for the writing of this post has been The Antlers - Hospice.  I forgot how heartbreaking and beautiful this record is.

That's it for now, nerds.  Slaty-backed Gull chase this weekend.  Huzzah!