Backyard Birding Report – Aug. 9th, 2009

I was sleeping in on a Sunday. Cynthia was kind enough to close the bedroom door while she worked around the house and I was snoozing quite soundly when the bedroom door was flung open and Cynthia ran in, urgently telling me to get out of bed and saying “come quickly for birdage!”

There’s a tone Cynthia gets when it’s important. I respond on a very subconscious level to this tone. I knew something was up and it was important so I jumped out of bed and followed Cynthia to breakfast room.

She pointed to the window saying “It’s an Eagle or something!!”

I looked and there was no Eagle. But there was Hawk sitting on the fence that divides the back patio from the driveway. What a sight!

The blinds were down with the slats open so you could see out the window but it was not ideal for a photograph. I knew that if we were to raise the blinds the hawk would probably just fly away. If I had any hope of getting a photo of this guy I would need to do it through the blinds without moving them at all.

Fortunately for me, my camera was on the table and already mounted with my Sony SAL-70-300G lens. This lens is pretty remarkable and I was counting on it to be able to spot focus on the bird THROUGH the blinds. It was the only chance I would have.

I grabbed the camera, switched it on and quickly made the necessary adjustments and fired off two quick shots before the hawk flew off.

This is either a juvenile Red Shouldered Hawk or a Cooper’s Hawk. I am betting it’s a Cooper’s.

The blinds make the shot a little on the soft side but all in all, it came out pretty well I think. Especially considering I went from sleeping soundly to shooting this picture in probably less than 60 or so seconds.

The last time I got a shot of a Hawk was back in 2007 at West 11th St. Park in The Heights and I have been itching to get something like this ever since I noticed him flying around the neighborhood.

Backyard Birding Report – August 2nd, 2009

House Finch

Close
House Finch

While watching the feeding frenzy that is the swarms of sparrows and doves along with the smattering of Blue Jay’s, Cardinals, House Finches (pictured above) and Grackles that visit the yard I noticed a bright, almost translucent orange streak zoom in and land on the patio.

Orange Bishop

Close
Orange Bishop

I had initially thought it might be an Oriole or even a Scarlet Tanager but after some online research I am confident that what we have here is an Orange Bishop also known as the Red Bishop, Grenadier Weaver, Orange Bishop Weaver, and Orange Weaver.

The markings are a dead match from the black midsection to the sparrow-like markings of the wingtips.

The problem with this identification is that the Orange Bishop is a native of sub-Saharan Africa. Suffice to say, he’s not from around here. I am guessing he’s an escaped pet although I have heard there were reports of Orange Bishops at Storey County Park on West Belt by Bellaire a few years ago and that’s not too far from where I live.

Fortunatley I had the camera at the ready, though he didn’t hang around long enough to get as good a shot as I would have liked. Hopefully he’ll come back.

Squabble Of Wrens

Cynthia and I were in the TV room when we heard a commotion outside the front window. We looked out and spotted an adult Carolina Wren herding 3-4 fledglings through the front garden. After a bit they moved past the window and out of sight. I grabbed my camera and threw on the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

When I opened the front door I was surprised to see the mamma wren on the Bottlebrush tree right next to the porch.

Mamma Wren

Close
Mamma Wren

Right after I snapped her picture she chittered loudly and flew off only to be replaced by one of the fledglings

Baby Wren

Close
Baby Wren

Who soon departed only to be replaced by another

Baby Wren

Close
Baby Wren

And this went on as the family continued moving from one side of the front garden to the other. It was a sight to see and noisy! The adult Wrens were fussing at the babies and at us as we watched and the babies were making the usual “feed me” noises…

Road Trip To Marfa – Day 2

Day 2 in Marfa was spent mostly relaxing. The Allen Oldies Band had an afternoon gig playing on the back of a trailer that was hauled into the common area near the train tracks that is used on the weekends for the farmers market. David Beebe and Allen Hill had gone over to the Marfa Public Radio station to interview Allen Hill and promote the mid afternoon show as well as the evening show in Alpine and the show on Saturday at Padres.

The promotion did get quite a few people out to the afternoon show which lasted about 45 minutes.

Allen Oldies Band

Close
Allen Oldies Band

Allen Oldies Band

Close
Allen Oldies Band

The next show was in Alpine, about 30 minutes away from Marfa. Scheduled to start at 10:00 pm the band was planning to head over there around 4:30 for a 5:00 pm sound check. This meant about 5 hours of downtime plus the show which would run about 4 hours and then the breakdown and trip back to Marfa.

I opted to stay in town and skip the festivities. There’s still the Saturday night show at Padres and a lunchtime show on Sunday so I felt I could give this one a miss.

Walked around town and shot some pics and hung out with some of the band wives who also opted to skip the Alpine leg of the tour.

Windmill

Close
Windmill

Main Street

Close
Main Street

In the above picture you can see the Marfa Courthouse in the distance. I was able to climb to the top of the dome and put together this panorama of the City of Marfa with Main St. in the center.

Marfa Pano

Close
Marfa Pano