Monday, 9 February 2009

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

Today we went to my favourite place, the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, only 30 minutes away from our condo. There is a 15 mile loop that goes along the Laguna Madre for about 7 miles. There are various places to pull over and birdwatch from the car or along the side of the road. We saw hundreds of redheads in one lake and hundreds of coots in another. Over 400 species of birds have been spotted there.

Here are some of the better photos I took today (it was overcast most of the time).

Three little blue herons (egretta caerulea) and a tricolour heron (egretta tricolor)

White-faced ibis (plegadis chihi)

Mr. and Mrs. Northern Shoveler (anas clypeata)

and Mr. Shoveler on his own. Skip calls them 'mallards on steroids'.

long-billed thrasher (toxostoma longirostre)

green jay (cyanocorax yncas)

Using the spotting scope we saw an unusual deer-like animal but it was bigger and had a humped back. When we asked at the office, they told us it was a Nilgai a type of deer from India. I'm not really sure how it ended up at Atascosa but 4 of them were spotted from the observation deck we were on.

And the highlight of the day was spotting this blue bunting (cyanocompsa parellina). It looks a lot like the indigo bunting but is slightly different. It is rarely seen above the Rio Grande River. This is certainly my 'bird of the day' and possibly of the whole time down here.

I saw him and the female (which is all brown) as I approached the photo blind and they flew off. It took a few minutes before he returned and posed for me only a few feet away. She didn't return while I was there. Skip and I looked him up in the big Sibley and learned that he wasn't an indigo bunting after all, that he was the blue bunting. He has darker shades of blue on his head behind his eyes and down his cheeks.

I still have managed to get some knitting done and the Madli scarf continues to grow longer.

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