Tag Archives: Killdeer

Duck Tuck! What am I!!!

Quack Seeking: One waterfowl guru to name a quack or two

Quack, Quack, Quack, waterfowl in Mineral Wells. It is getting close to the end of the year and I am getting desperate for identifications. I started this craziness in early summer. The late life hobby gone haywire. Most birders my age have been doing it for 30 years and have these huge list they love to share. I am too old to be intimidated by the master birders but… not to old to be humbled. Over the last few months, I have met some extraordinary people due to birding. Prior to 2012, I would not have been able to tell you the first thing about birding or be able to name ten birds in Mineral Wells. Mutual of Omaha would be ashamed (I grew up on it).

Funny how things change in the wink of an eye. Now, my life is lived around conservancy concerns, Audubon, TOS and building bird habitats. Prior to this year, the lake was a place to get wet, drink a beer and fish. The coast was a place to get on a bigger boat and eat great cuisine. Birding has changed it all.

Gorgeous duck - what am I?
Gorgeous duck - what am I?

Much of birding is about identification and hunting. I am pretty damn good at the hunting part of this hobby. Instead of pulling a trigger, I now push a button. The identification will hopefully come with time – lots of it.

To the point: I have several photos that I cannot discern what is what… being new, the “bird on the wire” is a tough identification but waterfowl are damn near impossible. Variants are crazy but I cannot even get it to a species without some “in your face” diagnostic. Anywho, the year is coming to a close and here I stand needing more help ending this season with a decent number, at least for a “county count.”

Duck Tuck! What am I!!!
Duck Tuck! What am I!!!

Here we go: The photos reveal Canadian geese, Killdeer and an Egyptian goose. On or near lakes in North Central Texas (Palo Pinto County). That is what I do know. What I don’t know is the duck on the platform or the duck on the shore in the fall colors. Gorgeous animals.

What am I? Duck with head tucked.
What am I? Duck with head tucked.
Hanging with Canadian geese - head untucked
Same duck with head out - What am I?

The past 45 years are done; there is no going back. Ending 2012 with a respectable newbie count is another matter. Thanks for all your help these past couple of months.

Happy Birding!!!

Z

Ring Billed Gull

Birding Mineral Wells State Park in Texas

First of all, here is the bird list for Mineral Wells State Park. This list is a good starting point for a North Central Texas BIRD LIST and it contains some great general information for newcomers trying to bird watch at the lake. What the PDF does not contain is the location of the bird watching habitat or the nature viewing platform that is now setup for guests. Check with the Ranger Station or store for directions. Well worth the very short walks. If you spend a couple of hours at the birding habitat, you will be able to count Titmice, Chickadees, Juncos, Spotted Towhee, Cardinals and a variety of Sparrows. Eagles and Hawks are a treat if you are lucky enough to spot one during your hike. Owls at pre-dawn are a definite as well. I heard them in a couple of areas.

Check out the categories at the bottom of my article for a mostly complete list of what we counted on the lake. It is a definite that we missed a few! As a general rule, I don’t count what I don’t photograph. If you visit the locale over the next couple of weeks, get back with us and share your list. This time of year is kind of unique at the lake and even short trips can yield a wonderful discovery. If the Eagle returns, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

Above Penitentiary Hollow and rock climbing
Above Penitentiary Hollow and rock climbing
  • Aperture: ƒ/6.3
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 8 December, 2012
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/640s

Our pre-dawn hours were spent hiking the east of the lake side up through Penitentiary Hollow and down to a quiet cove. A Northern Flicker and a pair of Cardinals were very busy making themselves known shortly after light. A series of Terns could be seen from the bluff, busily feinting, feinting again and then diving into the water. A Cormorant flies by and lands in the cove and nearly immediately goes under. Pops back up 30 yards from where he departed. Amazing bird but they can rid a lake of its fish population.

Pelicans, Cormorants, and Terns Oh My!
Pelicans, Cormorants, and Terns Oh My!
  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 8 December, 2012
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/640s

Desi and I returned for an afternoon hike on the west side of the lake. We ventured up to the Plateau area and back down to the lake. We were able to check off several birds from our “Palo Pinto County” list on Saturday. Down by the coastline, we viewed an island off the distance. I counted three or four varieties. A kayak would have came in very handy in getting closer shots. Based on knowledge of the lake and the Ranger’s stories, the birds were American Pelicans, Cormorants, Terns, and what I assume to be Gulls. By 4 p.m., we were beat and I had over 1200 captures on the day.

Ring Billed Gull
Ring Billed Gull
  • Aperture: ƒ/6.3
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 8 December, 2012
  • Focal length: 240mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/2000s

If you are traveling around North Central Texas, be sure to come visit our little lake. One does not have to be early. I went back out at 130 with Desi. As I was saying, the lake now has a very active bird habitat with a viewing station. It was crazy busy for a couple of hours. The usual birds were hitting but I did manage to capture some first time Junco shots. Now, it is time for a Kayak or Canoe run up Rock Creek. Been hearing some great stories about sightings. That will be an all day trip by canoe if you make the run. We walked a small part of it and captured some FANTASTIC Red-Shafted Northern Flicker shots.

Red Shafted Northern Flicker
Red Shafted Northern Flicker
  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 8 December, 2012
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/250s

Egyptian Goose
Egyptian Goose
  • Aperture: ƒ/7.1
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 8 December, 2012
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/400s

Saturday was a great day for marking off waterfowl – The following were all confirmed and captured on my little Canon. Cormorant, American Coot, Canada Goose and an Egyptian Goose? Of course the goose does not count (imported). We also located a flock of White Pelicans hanging out with more Cormorants, Forster Terns and a few Ring-Billed Gulls. Out of all of my “new birds,” the Marsh Wren was a favorite for the day. Flicking about in a tight circle through the reeds on the edge of the lake. Every time Desi or I whistled, he would stick his head out for a split second then kick off on a new tirade. What a life. You can see a bit more about him from yesterday’s story. Quite the controversy.

Two Killdeer with Sandpiper
Two Killdeer with Sandpiper
  • Aperture: ƒ/9
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 8 December, 2012
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/640s

The Least Sandpiper, Killdeer and Canada Geese were in abundant supply. I have several stories to share from yesterday. For now… here come a few photos from our romp about the lake and a few discoveries; beginning with the Least Sandpiper following the Killdeer around like underlings. Watching nature is a great way to spend the day.

Canadian Geese Flight
Canadian Geese Flight
  • Aperture: ƒ/7.1
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 8 December, 2012
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/1600s

Killdeer

It’s a Killdeer

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a Killdeer. The birds version of a crash test dummy. The Killdeer is all over Palo Pinto County and Mineral Wells, Texas. The strange thing is that this bird is a shorebird without a beach. My wife believes it to be one of the dumbest birds on the planet. They will lay their eggs anywhere underfoot. These Plovers are one of my favorites to “play” with as such. You can get near a “nest” and the Killdeer will try to lead you away and then play injured. They like to run in spurts and then stop abruptly. The Killdeer is tan to brown on top and white below. The white chest is barred with two black bands, and the brown face is marked with black and white patches. The Killdeer can always be seen from busy highways and streets alike. They love the open fields and golf courses in our area.

Killdeer black & white
Killdeer black & white
  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: X-S1
  • Taken: 23 June, 2012
  • Focal length: 158.6mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/450s

Killdeer
Killdeer
  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: X-S1
  • Taken: 23 June, 2012
  • Focal length: 158.6mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/900s

Killdeer being noisy
Killdeer being noisy
  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: X-S1
  • Taken: 23 June, 2012
  • Focal length: 158.6mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/900s