Texas Wrap up

April 25th was the last day of shooting in Texas before making the tortuous drive back to Ontario. The trip was a great success with the last couple of days in northeast Texas being particularly productive. I had always wanted to get some good footage and stills of Prothonotary Warbler and this goal was fulfilled. Here are some of my best Prothonotary shots. I never get tired of this bird!

So now I have a few days off to catch up on correspondence, finish taxes, and prepare for our May birding packages. Pelee has already had some hot birds so it looks like it will be a great spring!



The last few days have been hectic to say the least. We left Port Aransas two days ago and have been on South Padre Island the past two days. Both days provided good shooting, with today bringing in a small fallout. We are still hoping that more birds will drop in tomorrow with continued North winds. Regardless, its almost certain that what is here will stay put. That should mean another day of good opportunities with many orioles and buntings and a good selection of warblers.

Below is a kind of funky image I took at the Convention center - a well known spot for observing migrants on South Padre. It gives a sense of both the bird and the photographer.

Now here are a couple of photos of the bird close up - a gorgeous male Black-throated Green Warbler that seemed oblivious to all the attention it was receiving!

The fallout that arrived this afternoon brought a small group of male Painted Buntings which were incredibly tame at times. I spent most of my time videotaping them at distances as close as six to eight feet. At one point I had to back away from the bird as it fed closer and closer! I did take a few still images and here is my favourite.

Lastly here is a pic of a Palm Warbler that was lingering for the last two days. Not the brighest warbler in the book, but still a neat little bird.



The day started off slowly with poor light and strong winds. We didnt get shooting until nearly ten but Paradise Pond was even better than yesterday with nice bright overcast conditions. The buntings were still in place with a new selection of companions like this first spring male Orchard Oriole.

The Painted Buntings were more wary than the numerous Indigos, but finally came close enough for some decent images.

After the dull light of yesterday the bright overcast today allowed for much higher success rate with images, and much sharper captures. This male Indigo was a significant improvement over yesterdays work.

In late afternoon we headed south towards Corpus Christi and then had dinner at Chilis in Kingsville before continuing to Harlingen for the night. Tomorrow we head for South Padre Island hoping that we have the same standard of success there... who knows?


Last night Ethan and I met up and had dinner with our good friend Bruce DiLabio. Then early this morning we headed for some coastal migrant traps to see if a cold front and some light rain had brought any birds in. This was day 1 of our shoot in Texas and it started off REALLY well. Two birds I really wanted to shoot here were Scarlet Tanager and Indigo Bunting... and boy were those co-operative today!

In the afternoon the weather became 'unshootable' if there is such a word. Prior to that another fun bird was a male Dickcissel.

So we are off to a GREAT start and looking forward to more in the days to come!

FLORIDA highlights

I started off my trip to Texas with a detour to Florida to video a few target species. One of the highlights there was an airboat tour of Lake Kissimmee to see Snail Kites. I had several fantastic encounters with the kites. Although I was focusing on video I did manage to crank off a few stills.

Another amazing experience on the boat trip was seeing a Sandhill Crane on the nest just twenty feet away... really neat!

The road into the boat ramp is one of my favourite places for birding in Florida. You get great opportunities for photos and video work there. Here is an example.

Nearby Three Lakes WMA was good for birding but a huge Cottonmouth crossing the road while I ate a picnic lunch was a stroke of luck.

Vultures and Crested Caracara were both common in the same area. At one roadside deer kill there were at least fifty vultures including this Black Vulture with a wing tag. I haven't found out the background on this yet but will post when I do.

So after a fantastic start to my trip in Florida I am now off to Texas to meet Ethan. Looking forward to a couple of weeks of great shooting!


WOOD DUCKS by the back door

April Fools Day started off with some fun. As I was having my morning coffee I was distracted by movement in the box right beside the deck. It turned out to be a female WOOD DUCK investigating the nest box. Perhaps because this box is so close to the back door (only 25 feet) they have never used it. However they did nest in this same box when it was by the pool deck about five years ago (an equally busy location). I watched her peek in the opening repeatedly while I worked on my crossword puzzle.

I decided to add a third owl/duck box this year in the hopes that either woodies or owls will nest in one. We will see. The screech owl is still in the middle box every morning and has been singing from there during the day at times. Lets hope that means they are hard at work!

While I was looking at the female wood duck I noticed some movement about fifty feet farther away and to the right. It was the male, who was clearly 'guarding' her as she checked out prospective nest sites. Once she flew off, he followed in close pursuit. Neither of these images is great because it was taken through the glass door at a bit of an oblique angle but you can certainly see what they are... and it was a nice way to start the day off.