Finally back on the keyboard. All I can really say at this point is the days have gotten a bit crazy since we embarked on our second exploration of the year. First week was a bit tiring as that was primarily travel days. Last week ended up being a birder’s paradise thanks to a bit of luck on the weather front. We really tried not to continue our long history of tugging bad Midwest weather down wherever we go – unfortunately, it continued as horrible rains raced us to our destination. Even hopped over us and pounded our first main stopping point so everything was nice and soaked for our arrival. A bit bummed, we headed to the recommended birding spots expecting the worst. Wow, were we wrong – imagine hundreds of birders standing on the roads, standing on the trails, standing under the trees, hell, hanging from the trees. Appears we managed to experience our first fallout! Will post more on that when we finally return, however, as a teaser I am at LEAST +22 for the trip so far. Now to more pressing matters – getting to the end of the month and the post production is a bit light. All hail the King of Kings.
As we are in the early part of the week, the promise is to deliver the fresher posts. Thankfully, I worked up a number of newer images before we departed. Today’s featured feathered friend comes to you from the first exploration trip of the season back in January. Seems like a lot longer than a mere three months ago. That excursion took us to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park and to a new location called Edinburg Scenic Wetlands.
Hit to read a bit more about our rather stout Kingfisher or is it a scissors with feathers.
Managed to spot a Ringed Kingfisher while we were at both of those spots. Ron and I had found one at Bentsen two years ago so I was hoping to tin one again on this trip. Sure enough, went to the same oxbow overlook there and found it almost in the exact same spot. If only all birding outings were that easy ha! The first encounter was more like a drive-by as the specimen that year basically spotted us right when we noticed it. Seeing Ron, the Ringed dive-bombed and took off leaving us with whiplash and just a few shots in each of our tins. I have yet to figure out what it is about Ron that agitates the birds so much – quite the quandary.
This year it basically just hung out in a distant tree at the edge of the water (obviously due to not seeing Ron!). The Beast was straining to close the gap as best it could – needed a lot more digital darkroom zoom to get the images you are seeing. True to course, it was drizzling all day forcing the ISO to dizzying heights. Kept the background in a dreary slate grey to compliment the colors of the Ringed Kingfisher. For those not familiar with Kingfishers, take note that they have a “false eye”. The white spot you see is not their eye, it sits back from that and in my shots quite dark so practically invisible.
The shots with the vegetation in the background comes courtesy of the new location Edinburg Scenic Wetlands. Each trip down to Texas we try to find one or two new spots to check out. There are so many good birding places down there you have to really struggle with what sites you are willing to skip (or at least limit your time at) in order to add the new places. One of our standard places ended up being a bust this year so we had some cycles to catch the Wetlands.
Based on our good experience there, we will have to find a way to make this a standard stop on future trips. At $3/person, this is a good investment. They have multiple habitats ranging from heavy tree/shrubs to a large body of water that looked like a canal or a stream. They also had two large ponds in the middle of the site. Oddly enough… not a lot of true wetlands based on my expectation of it having a swamp or marsh based on the name – might have missed it, but we did try to explore the entire area. While standing next to a small pond getting a lecture from Linda about how bad I give directions when she is trying to find me, a Ringed flew right by us and landed on a nearby tree. Luckily, I wasn’t paying any attention to Linda’s clearly wrong analysis or I would have missed it hehehe. Whipped the camera up and managed to snap about 5 shots before it left, never to be found again.
I’ll end the last of the images with the back perspective to give you the full experience of the largest Kingfisher we have access to in NA. These Rings are BIG compared to their counterparts the Belted (link here) and especially the Green (link here). These Rings hang around Central America and only push up to the Rio Grande Valley area. Cornell doesn’t even consider them a North American bird and thus do not provide any details on their standard website. That forced me to use Audubon’s crappy website which can give you 20 ways to Sunday how they will supposedly be impacted by climate change, but can’t bother to give a curious birder the dimensions of the bird. Hopefully Cornell will get it added by the next time I feature this bird so I have something more interesting to tell you beyond .. it’s BIG.
Hope you enjoyed another official +1 on my bird list – take care everyone and see you again soon!