Backyard visitor.

Nearly every day I see a Cooper’s Hawk in the backyard.  I think there is a juvenile and an adult that visit.  I watched this adult in the birdbath on Thanksgiving Day Eve.  It may be a female, as they are larger than a male, and this bird is pretty big.  Not a great quality photo because it was taken through a window, but what a beautiful bird.

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DOWO.

With the Cooper’s hawk flying through regularly, my backyard bird activity has dropped significantly.  But the resident Downy woodpeckers are not phased by it.  I have at least one male/female pair.  They frequent the feeder all day, every day.   This is a photo of a female downy woodpecker (DOWO) on the finch feeder.  They love to pick the sunflower chips out of the mix.  Downy’s are notoriously difficult to ID versus the similar looking, but larger, Hairy woodpecker species.  In this photo, though, you can see a couple of the markers that confirms it is a downy:  the relatively short beak, and the black flecks on the outer white tailfeathers.  Here’s a link to Audubon guidance on differentiating the two species.

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Second chance.

I was sitting on the back patio today when four beautiful warblers decided to take a bath in the fountain, about 10 feet away from me!   I was treated to a yellow warbler, two black-throated green warblers, and a mourning warbler.  I had my binoculars so I enjoyed a nice long look.  But of course, the camera was in the house.   After they had moved on, I went back in for my camera.   The earlier photo opp didn’t repeat, but I did get a shot or two of a beautiful yellow warbler that dropped down to the fountain for a drink.   Fall migration is on!

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Messing with my mojo!

Since coming home from our road trip, I have noticed a marked decrease in my backyard birdie population.   I suspected a hawk was the reason.  And today, sure enough, while sitting out back I saw one swoop through the backyard scattering the few birds that were at the feeders.   Later in the day, the hawk flew in again and perched on an oak across from me for a few minutes.  It is huge.  I believe this is a juvenile Cooper’s hawk.   Cooper’s hawks and sharp-shinned hawks, both accipiters, are very hard to distinguish from one another.   Based on field guidance I’ve read online (e.g., here, here, here and here), the overall size, head shape, tail shape, thick legs, and breast streaking lead me to lean towards a Cooper’s ID.  Either way, it’s a beautiful bird, but I wish it would find another yard to terrorize.  I miss my abundance of birdies.  

Sweaty betties.

I went birding and hiking today with my friend, Doray.  We started early, at Reimer’s Ranch Park, and then did the guided tour of the canyon and grotto at Westcave Preserve.  After that, we went back to Reimer’s to hike their River Trail.

Let me just say, “Whoo dogie, it was HOT!”   Whew!  100 degrees or so.  But it was beautiful, we did see lots of birdies, and we enjoyed a lovely day in our hill country.  Pretty good day.

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Jacob’s Well. 

I joined Doray for a trip to the Wimberly area.  We stopped by their new home site to check out progress.  Then we visited Jacob’s Well Natural Area.   Jacob’s Well is a narrow (10-20′ in diameter), but deep (up to 100′) hole in the limestone of the springfed Trinity Aquifer.  Young and old jump from the rocks into the waters of the well to cool off.   We were only hiking but I enjoyed watching the divers.  


Watch your step!   That first one can be a doozy.  

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Red yucca blooms.

Pretty flowers.  I have four red yucca plants in the yard, each one seems to bloom every other year.   But luckily for me they are not all on the same schedule, so I’ve had at least one in bloom every year.  My next plant on the wish list for the yard is a white yucca.  Stay tuned.

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Hold still!

Scissor-tailed flycatcher, in motion.  They say the male’s tail is longer than the female’s, so I’m guessing this is a she.

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Taken at Commons Ford park.

Who’s watching who?

I really don’t have the intention of turning this photoblog into a birding blog, but since, for the time being, I’m spending lots of time looking for my feathered friends, bird moments are what you get.  🙂  But I will try to work some other subjects in.

I was watering plants out back this afternoon and heard some birds making a ruckus in one of the trees by the fence.  I walked over to find several birds squawking at a large shape sitting in the tree.  I’ve discovered hawks and crows in other similar situations, which quickly fly away after I walk under the tree.  I walked along the fence line to see if I could get a good look at what it was.  I saw our resident eastern screech-owl:

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He didn’t budge, other to turn his head from time to time.  I didn’t have my camera when I first saw him, so I walked back to the house to get it.  He was still sitting there when I got back.  I assume he has a nest he is guarding.  I’ve captured him on the infrared critter cam once or twice at night, but have never laid eyes on him before in person.   And he can say the same.

Saturday.

We packed a picnic basket and visited Becker Vineyard’s annual lavender festival.   The lavender fields bloomed early this year so there wasn’t much purple to photograph today.  But a good time was had by all.  

Lil’ baby bird.

Seen at the bird bath this week – a baby blue jay.  We have found two dead jay fledglings on the back patio this month – lots of predators out and about.  I’m happy to see some have made it.  This guy is adorable with his short tail, fuzzy white belly feathers and pinkish baby-beak corners.

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Newsflash:  this week we have seen another blue jay pair building a new nest in the red oak in the front yard.  Their nest is visible from our kitchen window.  I’m looking forward to more stealthy shots.  Stay tuned.