Wednesday, March 18, 2015


I am a patient boy. I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait.

It's almost here. New birds. Different birds. Almost. I can fucking taste it. I heard my first Golden-cheeked the other day. I didn't see it; it was just a taste, and it left me wanting more.

Despite having seen way more Gambel's Quail in my life than I should for someone living in central Texas, this is the first picture of one I've taken that I like.
Gray Flycatcher, an unexceptional empid. Are any ABA breeding empids exceptional, with the exception of Buff-breasted Flycatcher?
There is nothing new to see here, at least nothing new in town, and I can't get out of town right now. I've tried to find stuff, but it's just not that time of year. For lack of a general concept, I'm cleaning out the junk drawer of shit that wouldn't fit nicely and squarely in other recent posts. This happens every once in a while. I will not apologize.

Every once in a while, you stumble across a Sharp-shinned Hawk eating the shit out of something. These are good days.
Ring-billed Gulls are often not appreciated because they are on the wrong side of the 1000:1 ratio of gulls you are looking for. But when you can't find the 1, these dapper fuckers are what you are left to deal with.
Brown Pelicans are not often considered sexy, perhaps because they are often not sporting the bright red "plowing" pouch.
Laughing Gull; another under-appreciated bird, at least on the central and eastern coasts.
This Little Blue Heron was the most confiding of its kind that I've ever encountered. 
I'm pretty sure that I've photographed this same Osprey on at least 20 other occasions. Always the same, when I'm waiting for something more interesting to turn up. That said, it's still a welcome sight.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Target Ammodramus at 5000 ISO

It's not a secret that I'm a big fan of ammodramus sparrows. They have a lot of shit going for them: they're secretive, generally low density, delicate, and richly and intricately colored and patterned. In short, they're fucking gorgeous birds that are difficult to see. Individually, both of those qualities increase the level of stoke upon seeing a bird. Together, they create something of a synergistic effect. I even get excited about seeing Grasshopper Sparrows. I've seen most ammodramus, and had killer looks at almost all of them. Baird's has yet to be seen, and qualifies as a grail bird for me. The other "yet to be seen" bird was Henslow's, so when the opportunity arose to see one staked out near Houston, I jumped at that shit.

The olive coloration to the head is not something I normally associate with sparrows. I had wondered how apparent that quality would be; it was pretty fucking apparent.
This is a freshly molted bird; every feather appeared to be in pristine condition, and let's be honest. Who wants to see a ratty Henslow's Sparrow? Look at those tertials. Fuck. 

In a random clearing, behind a random hospital in northwest Houston, a Henslow's Sparrow has been hanging out for the last month or so. Many have seen this bird. Some have dipped, but most have been successful. I have yearned for this bird, and as busy as I currently am at home, I could not pass up the chance to look at this fascinating creature. Light was low, weather was overcast, and the bird was skulky as fuck, so these pictures are not crushes; they were shot through dense brush at a very high ISO and a very slow shutter speed and I hesitate to display them here if not for the fact that it's a fucking Henslow's Sparrow. is a fucking Henslow's Sparrow. 

It takes a good bird for me to dedicate an entire post to one species. To me, this bird qualifies. Honestly, I looked at it for quite some time before even wanting to take a picture. Just fucking gorgeous.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

High Montane

If you're a regular visitor to the bird blogosphere, you may already know that I recently participated in some montane Arizona birding with The Laurence. You may also already know what was seen. Fair enough, there's a tradeoff in this bird blog buddy thing; we both get to see cool shit that we may not have seen had we been solo, but we end up both posting the same birds. I'm okay with this, if for no other reason than many of these are new birds for This Machine, and those that aren't are seen infrequently at best. I'll spare the narration, as The Laurence has done so more eloquently than I could and I have no philosophical insight to expound from this experience. That said... Mountains are badass. Birds that reside in mountains are badass. Looking at birds that reside in mountains is exponentially badass.

This American Dipper is a bird that I suspected I may not see for several years. It is a clutch bird, through and through, a long shot that rose like a phoenix from the dying embers of hope.
Lewis's Woodpecker was much, much easier to the point of bordering on "trash" bird status, if not for it's aesthetic qualities. Although I could have chased this bird in west-ish Texas, the exhilaration of seeing it in its natural habitat was invigorating and life-affirming. 
Okay, so it's a Canada Goose. Fuck off. I don't get to see many Canada Geese in Texas, so I'm stoked. Moving on. 
I do get to see my share of Common Ravens, but never close enough to count the rictal bristles.
This was the second Townsend's Solitaire I had ever seen in my life. It was ridiculously accommodating, to the point of costing me potential Williamson's Sapsucker crushes.
Mountain Chickadee is better than Carolina Chickadee, although it does not seem to be nearly as ubiquitous. 

Evening Grosbeak, or longshot bird number two. Another bird I was at peace with not seeing for several more years, I understand that I may never get looks like this again in my life.