Posts Tagged ‘Montezuma Quail’

Big Bend sunset.  Photo by Warren Jones.

Big Bend sunset. Photo by Warren Jones.

After our group met in Hondo, Texas, it was on to Neal’s Lodges in Concan in hopes of seeing Golden-cheeked Warblers and Black-capped Vireos.  We found the warbler quite cooperative and all had great views at Neal’s and again at Lost Maples SNA.  The vireo, however, did not want to be seen as much as we wanted to see it.  One flashed by a couple of times, but I did not get a look that I could count.  A lovely Tropical Parula was a bonus bird at Neal’s, though, which we all saw well.  Another treat at Neal’s were the plentiful and cooperative Bell’s Vireos.  Unlike their black-capped cousins, these birds perched in the open for us.

The most awe-inspiring experience in Concan for me, though, was our visit to the Frio Bat Cave where 10 to 12 million Mexican free-tailed Bats emerge from the cave and whirl into the sky just before dark.  We stood outside the cave entrance where we could hear the whoosh, feel the breeze created by their wings, and smell the odor of the bats (surprisingly not unpleasant) as they flew a few feet over our heads and ascended into the evening sky.  I found this amazingly peaceful.  An added bonus was a Canyon Wren who hopped around on the rocks outside the cave entrance while we were listening to the guide and waiting for the bats to exit the cave.  It was an unexpected treat to get close looks at a bird that is more often heard than seen.

At Big Bend, a Greater Roadrunner appeared in front of the lodge before we even got the cars unloaded, a sign of the good birding ahead.  The Colima Warbler, the reason that we were in Big Bend, rewarded those of us who climbed the Pinnacle Trail with wonderful views.  It was also great to have quality views of Common Black-Hawks and Gray Hawks.  Another interesting sighting was a Blue-winged Warbler at the Sam Nail Ranch.  We were puzzled when we saw the bird because it should not have been there.  It is a bird of the Eastern US.  But we could not make the bird into anything other than a Blue-winged Warbler.  Later we learned that the bird had been discovered the day before our sighting and was reported on the rare bird alerts.

Seeing a bird really well can be as exciting for me as seeing a life bird.  I suppose you could call it seeing life field marks.  Such was the case with the Vesper Sparrow that I watched in front of the camp store at Big Bend.  The little sparrow stretched its neck upward to reach the grass seeds and seemed to not care at all that I was watching from only 10-15 feet away.  It was exciting to be close enough to actually see the rufous shoulder patch.  Now I could understand why this bird was once called Bay-winged Bunting, and before that, Grass Finch.  The name Vesper Sparrow was first used by New England naturalist Wilson Flagg in 1858 because he thought that the bird sang most fervently during the sun’s decline until dusk.

Christmas Mountains Oasis provided a wonderful stop on our way from Big Bend to the Davis Mountains.  Carolyn Ohl-Johnson, CMO’s owner, was a delightful host who was interesting, energetic, and very welcoming.  I got my 500th ABA bird there – a male Varied Bunting.  Carolyn wrote about our visit on her blog and posted a photo of our group.

Montezuma Quail.  Photo by Warren Jones.

Montezuma Quail. Photo by Warren Jones.

We wrapped up our trip with two days in the Davis Mountains and we were rewarded with incredibly close long looks at the star of Davis Mountains State Park, Montezuma Quail.  On two separate visits, both a male and female came within 10 feet of us.  They also fed surprisingly close to javelinas on one of those visits.  These sightings occurred at the official quail viewing station where the feeders also drew in quite a few other birds.  My favorites were the Green-tailed Towhees who also allowed us wonderful close looks.

Back at the Hotel Limpia, a charming Say’s Phoebe graced the lobby entrance with her constant presence as she attended her nest on the porch.

Say's Phoebe.  Photo by Warren Jones.

Say’s Phoebe. Photo by Warren Jones.

Many thanks go to Warren Jones for permission to use his photos in this post.

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