Laguna Atascosa NWR

I think my favorite area to bird in South Texas so far is Laguna Atascosa NWR. When I decided to ditch one of my field trips and venture out on my own I chose Laguna partly for aplomado falcon but also because there is such a variety of habitat you can see anything from crested caracaras to long-billed curlews. It was a windy and chilly day for Texas and birds were blowin' around all over the place.

I also thought this would be the perfect place to try out the Swarovski 80mm Field Scope and eye piece and Nikon P4 with digiscoping adapator: Verdict--cool camera, sweet scope, futzy digiscoping adapter. I like the macro feature on that camera, but Swarovski has two different adapters for their scope and the one that works with this camera is way more futzy than the other. However, I got some rockin' images with this set up.

Here is one of the many white-tailed hawks that can be seen in this area. You can just assume every raptor here with a light chest is a red-tail. These guys are beautiful to watch fly!

This photo was not digiscoped, but I thought it established some of the terrain and windly, cloudy weather for the day. This turkey vulture sailed right by the minivan window trying to get control of its direction in the aggressive winds. Nice shot with the P4.

Here's another habitat shot with the added bonus of a coyote taking a leak on the side of the road as I was approaching. This was not digiscoped. I was hoping for an ocelot, but I guess a coyote marking his territory will do for mammals on this trip.

Here's a digiscoped white-tailed kite. These guys could be seen all over on brush and power lines. Kites are a treat since we don't have them in Minnesota.

Here was the bird of the day for me: a wood stork. I spotted it on my way to Laguna in someone's yard. At first I thought it was odd yard art. Then I thought it was the weirdest ibis I had ever seen. After much deduction and consulting with the Handheld Guide to Birds, I fell on wood stork. When I got to Laguna, I showed them to images to confirm and to find out if this was unusual. They said that these birds are possible, but should have migrated south by now. I didn't see the bird marked on the official festival checklist, but since I saw it on my own and not part of the official field trip it couldn't be counted. Still, a bird I was not expecting to see and a liver. I even got to watch it labor swallowing a large fish.

Doh, have to go catch a flight. More later.