Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Portal to Patagonia SE AZ

On December 7th we entered SE Arizona into Portal in the the Chiricahua Mountains and the beautiful Cave Creek Canyon.
Acorn Woodpecker

A place full of all new species of birds:  Mexican Jays; Magnificent and Blue-throated Hummingbirds; and two new species of Woodpeckers (Acorn & Arizona).
Arizona Woodpecker
Drove the old mountain road to Paradise to find Juniper Titmice and three species of Towhees (Spotted, Green-tailed and Canyon).
Canyon Towhee

Between Wilcox and Bisbee is the famous wintering grounds for thousands of Sandhill Cranes - Whitewater Draw.  Of course there are many other birds that make this their winter home too such as Snow & Ross's Geese, many ducks, shorebirds and passerines.  A new bird for our retirement list was the Ruddy Ground Dove.  We spent a cold night in the parking lot watching over 10,000 cranes come in to stand in the water for the night.  Then watched them all leave again breaking through shell ice to go feed in the nearby corn fields that are planted just for them.

After camping a night at Quail River RV Park we drove to Patagonia stopping at Patton's bird feeding area and photographed this Anna's Hummingbird sharing with the honey bees.

Other birds coming to feed were a Bridled Titmouse, (pictured), Lazuli Bunting, Abert's Towhee, and Gila and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers.

We also walked around the town square and this White-Crowned Sparrow was very cooperative for getting his picture taken.

On the way to Lake Patagonia State Park, we drove through the vineyards and grasslands near Elgin where we found our first Pronghorn.

At Lake Patagonia we found this sleepy Broad-billed Hummingbird keeping guard over the feeder at the Nature Center.

We walked along the creek that flows into the lake and is the best place for birds.  While I rested on a fallen tree, Ty trekked another mile up the canyon and comes back saying, "You won't believe what I saw!"  Then shows me the photos of a mama Cougar with two young.

After 17 hours in 2 1/2 days of searching for this 14" Elegant Trogon with only a fleeting glimpse earlier.  Ty was able to leisurely capture some photos of this gorgeous male munching on grasshoppers before going to roost before dark.

So we said, "Good-bye" to Lake Patagonia and headed north for 6 weeks in Tucson and spending some quality time with our good friend Patti Hancock for Christmas and the month of January.

God's Blessing to you all for the New Year.
Ty & Ida Baumann

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Last Days in West Texas

We spent the month of November at Bentsen Palm next to Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park.  This is one of the many sunrises we enjoyed before early morning walks into the park.

There are many feeding stations at the park and not only birds come get the bits of grain.  This Wood Rat would rush out, grab seed and hurry back to the grass for cover.

On one of the tram rides around the 3 mile circle, we had the driver stop to photograph this Bull Snake as he slithered across the road.

We did a night tour with the naturalist and Park Ranger and this scorpion was one of the creatures we found.

As we were looking for butterflies we found this Praying Mantid also looking for and preying on the brown long-tailed skipper.

We drove back to Estero Llano Grande State Park and met up with Wisconsin birders Jerry & Karen Smith for a cool morning of birding finding lots of "cool" birds including this Yellow-crowned Night-heron.

We left Mission, TX on Dec. 1st and headed west.  Our first stop was Salineno bird feeding area now run by the Fish & Wildlife Service.  The two special orioles coming here are the Audubon's (yellow) and the Hooded (orange).

This area is located right on the Rio Grande and this Osprey found some Talapia for breakfast.

We spent 3 days at Falcon State Park in the more desert habitat of Texas.  These Bobwhites were coming to the feeder blind.

This male Pyrrhuloxia was also enjoying a treat at the feeder.

Near our campsite, the Greater Roadrunners were many times running across the road.

                      (Beep! Beep!)

One morning, heavy fog-dew covered the myriad of spider webs along the trail.

This White-eyed Vireo bade us farewell to Texas as we traveled northwest through freezing fog and cold mountain areas of New Mexico into Southeastern Arizona.

We wish you all a Merry and Christ filled Christmas.

Ty & Ida Baumann

Monday, November 25, 2013

Butterflies & More from the Rio Grande Valley

Red-bordered Pixie

The first three weeks in November is butterfly heaven in the Rio Grande Valley.  We took day trips to Edinburg Scenic Wetlands Birding Center, Santa Ana NWR, Quinta Mazatlan, and The National Butterfly Center plus right here at Bentsen RGV State Park.  Here's our Butterfly & Insect photo collection....
Ruddy Daggerwing

Tarantula Hawk

Tropical Leafwing

Dusky-blue Hairstreak

Desert Checkerspot

Insect feeding station

Mexican Fritillary

Western Pygmy Blue

Bordered Patch

Great Purple Hairstreak

Empress Leilia


Band-celled Sister

Giant Swallowtail

Isabella's Heliconian

Gulf Fritillary on Turk's Cap

Julia Heliconian

Green Kingfisher

An Amazon Kingfisher was seen 90 miles east of here and we decided that now was the time to see it.  We took off before dawn and at first light heard it calling.  It flew over us to a nearby resaca and we had great looks through the scope, too far away for photos but it looks like this Green Kingfisher only quite a bit larger.

Groove-billed Ani

On the way back west we stopped at Santa Ana and saw 7 Groove-billed Anis and a surprise Rose-throated Becard.

Inca Doves

Happy Thanksgiving from the two of us.
Ty & Ida

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bentsen Rio Grande State Park

For the month of November we are staying at Bentsen Palm RV Park next to Bentsen Rio Grande State Park.  On the ride west to Mission, Texas we stopped at the Hidalgo Pump House World Birding Center and Anzalduas County Park where we found this large Ringed Kingfisher.
The tropical looking Green Bay

We go into the park almost every day - sometimes 2 or 3 times and here are some of our sightings found at the many feeding stations throughout the park.

The noisy large Chachalacas wait at the feeders for the volunteers to fill up the Peanut Butter log.
Golden- Fronted Woodpecker

This large Altamira Oriole enjoys a little peanut butter.

Great Kiskadee

Although the Clay-colored Thrush is rather plain, this rare Mexican bird is sought after at the park.

 Birds aren't the only wildlife at the park - there are several Bobcats here and it is always fun to see one.
Mama Javelina and baby

Coyotes also roam the park.  we hear them howling at dawn & dusk

Spiny Blue Lizard in the sun. (15" long)

This Vermillion Flycatcher could be found daily in the open park area.

Next Blog we will cover some of our day trips in nearby birding areas.

Best to all,  God Bless!
Ty & Ida Baumann