Armed with our passports, cameras, binoculars, and travel mugs, we headed to wall country, piloted by seasoned birders who graciously offered to show us around.
“Have you been to Boca Chica?” our host asked.
“No, but it’s on my list,” Ric responded.
So we set off, the early morning sky a wash of blushed peach.
“First stop, to see if we can sight the yellow-headed blackbird.”
I readied my camera, as R maneuvered down muddy back roads, stopping in country lanes. Our first sighting was a bobcat, who lingered long enough to let us get a picture before lumbering off into the brush.
“You’re lucky to get to see one of those,” E, who was seated next to me in the back, offered. I could feel my excitement mounting.
We pulled into an industrial lot, where big rigs were parked, and workers were just assembling. The roof of the main building was covered with pigeons, and the nearby hydro wires were lined with blackbirds. R lifted his binoculars and exclaimed that he’d spotted a yellow head.
From our distance, I could see that one of the blackbirds had a lighter upper body, but when I raised my camera lens, the shock of yellow startled me. R inched the vehicle in closer, causing the birds to disperse, but they came back around and I got some lovely shots. How delightful!
Satisfied we’d recorded our sighting sufficiently, R turned the car around to exit the compound. There, on a utility pole, sat a large bird of prey – a Harris hawk! The first I’ve seen that wasn’t in captivity. I got a few good pics, but I particularly like this one of him hunkering down – is he giving me the stink eye?
This was only the beginning. I’d brought along a notebook, but between trying to capture images, write down the names of the birds that were new to me, and keep myself calm, I wasn’t fairing very well. I am guilty of talking too much when I get excited (sorry, R and E).
R has an incredible eye for spotting and identifying birds while driving. He instructed us to yell “stop” whenever we saw something we wanted to investigate, but my reflexes are not that quick. No matter, because between him and his wife, we saw plenty. By the end of the trip, I would have noted over twenty new-to-me species.
Just on the way to Boca Chica, we saw White-tailed hawks, Black-necked stilts, an Anhinga (picture on the right), Muscovy ducks, Black-bellied Whistling ducks (featured image), a pair of Caracaras, a Northern Harrier, and a Summer Tanager, to name a few. A Kingfisher even stayed in place long enough for us to snap a few pics, although mine didn’t turn out (too much sun).
Next post: Boca Chica II