Texas Travel Diary - p 2Vermilion Flycatcher (50776 bytes)

9 April 2003
Here, as in many areas of the Great Plains, one can do a lot of bird photography using the car as a blind.  With June Osborne's book as a guide, today I explore Park Chalk Bluffs along the Nueces river.  Its pecan groves contain Golden-fronted Woodpecker and two spectacular red birds, Summer Tanager and Vermilion Flycatcher, the latter the most colorful of its group.
    The Vermilion is an intriguing bird.  In fall of 2001, I found this bird common in northern Argentina.  Its habitat in that faraway place was open fields interspersed with trees, the same as here.  It also looked and behaved the same, perching on fences and the low shaded branches of trees.  As far as is known, however, the North and South American populations are separated by the dense rainforest of Central and northern South America - they do not migrate back and forth.





Roadrunner (60404 bytes) Later - As I'm leaving the park, I see two Greater Roadrunners along a picnic area near the exit.  To get the right lighting as I follow the roadrunners, I put the car in reverse and back down an access road.  Just one of the crazy things one does to get a photo.   The birds weave in and out of tall grass.  The more confiding roadrunner then leaps into the air to snatch something, and disappears back into the grass.   Suddenly he hops onto a low post, a nice fat grasshopper in his beak.   Instead of eating it, he looks for his mate and makes a soft cooing sound.  This must be the roadrunner equivalent of a love song and box of chocolates. 






10 April 2003
Occasionally while traveling one runs into a friend from home .  A fencerow along a farm road south of Neal's has Scissor-tailed Flycatchers perched every 200 yards or so.  Some will breed here, while others will continue migrating north perhaps to Oklahoma, where they are honored as our state bird.  I pick out the male with the longest tail Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (48213 bytes)and red axillaries.   To get a nice close photo, I pull over into the wrong lane and completely stop the car.  Normally I wouldn't act with such reckless abandon, but few other vehicles travel this road, and I can see for a mile in each direction.

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