2020 Pix
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Here are some pictures from 2020. So you know there is all kinds of great stuff to see.
It's just that I can't get good photos of it. They are point-and-shoot study
material or documentation grab-shots. These are the photos used on the bird news page.
They are in reverse chronological order as used (last most recent at top-start; first
in Jan. at bottom-end). They were taken with a Canon Powershot SX40.

This appears to be... an excellent photo quiz picture.
Tail is spread, left wing spread, head shows well. It is
always great to get any shots of this little-seen plumage,
and acquire more breeding evidence as well. If only I
could see the brows, squirming, and page flippin'.  ;)

Here are a couple bonus pix...
Here is a dragonfly trifecta. Three species in a single frame,
in focus enough to ID. At upper right is a male Comet Darner,
very rare here. Center is a Red-tailed Pennant, scarce but
almost annual, and at left is a Red Saddlebags.

Here is the start of the 50 gallon tub pond. Nothing left to do
but drink beer and wait for Sora, Marsh Wren, and Least Bittern.

It is that time of year again... July, when some
adult male Painted Bunting initiate some sort of
supplemental molt we do not seem to understand.
Some ad.ma. are perfectly fully red below now, others
mottled with light areas, sometimes yellowish. Here
is another variation you won't find well-described
in the literature. I noted this male getting pale a
week plus prior to this pic.

How can you tell it is 104F here? That is what it takes
to get a cukcoo at the birdbath. Otherwise juicy worms
(caterpillars) and such provide enough moisture. Only the
third time in 16+ years to see one drink at the bath, all
three times it was 104 or more. Was at 3 diff. yards too.
Ya gotta love those zygodactyl feet! Two toes forward, 2 back.
Note yellow on upper mandible, not just the lower.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, formerly known as (B-b) 'Tree-Duck'
for their habit of perching in trees. They whistle well too.
A few nest locally, the immatures are duller and have dark bills.

This is the Least Grebe at the pondlet adjacent to the
Waresville Cmty, June 27. Tiny, mostly gray with yellow eyes.
Whaddabird! Likely the first Utopia area record. This
one shows the dark throat of breeding plumage.

One of two Comet Darner (Anax longipes), at the
pondlet by Waresville Cmty., Utopia, June 28, 2020.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo can spot a green caterpillar on a green leaf
from two-hundred feet. They are one of few things that tear into
the tents to eat tent caterpillars, and they eat other hairy cats
that nothing else touches. Tails are very long, it is cutoff here.

Here are a couple fuzzy Black-capped Vireo photos...
This is a plumage otherwise not shown here yet,
so it gets a pass on the otherwise poor quality,
a female Black-capped Vireo, with slate gray head.

The head of a fully adult male is jet coal black.

Cave Swallow gathering mud for the nest. Note the buffy throat
and chestnut forehead are the opposite of a Cliff Swallow.

This is the female Downy Woodpecker that was attending
begging young just south of town in early May. This is
the first Sabinal River drainage nesting record. I could
not see the nest on private property, but was listening to
at least two begging young while I took this photo. The
staining on the face which normally just pure black and
white is the result of digging the nest hole in the tree.

Golden-cheeked Warbler. Probably an adult female in a very
little-seen plumage, post-breeding pre-basic molt. Note the
admixed upperparts feathers, new green (crown and back) feathers
coming in replacing old dull worn grayish ones (as scapulars).
Late season females can get quite gray above from wear before they molt.

Great Crested Flycatcher showing the diagnostic
pinkish-orange mouth-lining. Nice rictal bristles.
The better to funnel those bugs right into that maw.
This bird was letting an uppity 1st spring male Summer
Tanager that landed too close in a threatening way as if
an attempt to displace it, that it needed to back off
and work on social distancing better. It opened beak
real wide aiming it right at it, and the tanager left.
Winning through intimidation.

Common Yellowthroat, male, at our birdbath.
Sorry about the grainy, was early in morn,
bath is in shade, and was heavy overcast.
It wouldn't stop flicking wings and tail.
I have seen more this spring than any in the
last 17, by at least a factor over prior best year.
The only warbler that showed well this spring here.

Golden-cheeked Warbler, male, May 4, 2020.
Utopia is where you can see this in your birdbath.

Here is a poor docushot of the Pin-tailed Pondhawk
at Lost Maples April 26. It was on the other side
of the pond 75' away.

Golden-cheeked Warbler, female, testing the water
at Can Creek, in Lost Maples SNA.

Golden-cheeked Warbler, female, bathing.

Golden-cheeked Warbler, female. She left and preened a bit,
returned, keeping an eye on us, and bathed some more.

Golden-cheeked Warbler, female, after bathing.

These are a couple of the Eastern Phoebe fledglings just
before they left the nest later this same day, April 20.

Here are a few poor Chimney Swift photos.
This one was calling as it went over a chimney, head is
lifted up in an odd position, wings bowed down. Why it
slowed enough for me to catch it.

What I like about this pic of the speed demon with the 14" wingspan is that it is the same exact pose you see a several pound albatross with a 7' wingspan in, out at sea. Standing on a wingtip, cutting the wind effortlessly, with incredible speed. That long thin wing works well.

This one is going away. Note that knife-shaped wing with fairly straight
trailing edge. The tail is often held closed into a point like this.
Learn the shapes of birds.

See ya!

Hermit Thrush at the bath. Note rusty tail.

Sorry about the gray clouding from the window screen.
This is looking down on the crown of a Grasshopper Sparrow.
Nice median crown stripe. The eye position is interesting
to me, allowing it to see above and behind it to a degree.
I'd have seen twice as many birds with eyes like that.

Yellow-throated Warbler, male, presumedly the local breeding
individual that uses the yard daily or so all spring to fall.

This is a Cecropia, one of America's big fancy moths.
Wingspan is about 5" and what a beauty! March 17, 2020.

An Anole, aka American Chameleon. Over a dozen live
around the house, they are coming back out now after
wintering in the cracks in the stone outer layer of house.

This is a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, note all white throat.
Note big black crescent on breast not present on intergrade or hybrid
sapsucker below. Due to black crown with only a very few red feathers,
this is not an adult, so then, a first-spring bird not yet a year old,
just acquiring its first adult plumage. White areas on posterior head
and nape still show some muddiness to them from immature plumage.


This is the hybrid or intergrade sapsucker seen last week.
Note on the top pic the amount of red on head is out of limits
for normal Red-naped or Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. This
requires Red-breasted Sapsucker genes. On the second pic
note red on breast below throat, again, requiring Red-breasted
genes. Note also there is no black crescent on the breast.
Note the solid red forehead to nape over crown. It could be some
sort of backcross or who knows what kind of combo. It is
of interest in Texas since it is partly Red-breasted Sapsucker
which are very rare in the state.

Here is the mystery bird I posted at the end of last year.
It saw a Cooper's Hawk and dropped like a rock off
the snag into thick willows below. It is just growing out
a new tail, so does not have the full tail we expect on
an adult male Common Grackle. Taken Sept. 20, 2019
The cropped blowup of the bird is right above Dec. 27 entry.

Here is the bat that is hanging around. It looks pretty
rusty-toned in person, methinks it is a Red Bat.

This is a flashback from last fall. Field Sparrow
on the bath, American Resdart on rock.

This is the male Vermilion Flycatcher at the golf
course pond by the Waresville Cmty., Jan. 26.

I specialize in bad pix of good birds. This is the
Harlan's Hawk we had south of Sabinal a few
weeks ago. We saw it much better than this, close.
And it was awesome.

This is a Long-billed Thrasher wondering what I am looking at.

Whaddabird! Green Jay, near Sabinal Jan. 5.
This is how you see everything in south Texas
brush-country, through branches and twigs in the brush.
What this shows well is how bright plumage in dappled
light becomes a type of camo.

~ ~ ~

Berteau House

Just to give an idea, here is a pic showing part of the yard, house and cottage, so you can get an idea of where much of the stuff being written about is being seen. This pic was May 2013, barely two months after we moved into this place. Now there are butterfly flowers around the porch and in flower beds. The yard lists are: 45 species of odes (dragons-damsels), 94 sps. of butterflies, 7 sps. of frogs & toads, 7 sps. of native lizards, 20 sps. of native mammals, about 100 sps. of plants (mostly wildflowers), and now at the 7 year point, about 230 species of birds.

Quick links to the last few years.
2015 pix
2016 pix
2017 pix
2018 pix
2019 pix

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and may not be used without permission.
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© M. and K. Heindel 2006-2020