Vacationing And Birding In Quintana Texas Part One



Sorry I haven’t posted in a while.  I just got back from taking a 3 day vacation in Quintana, Texas.  Quoting their web page, “Quintana is an island located between the mouth of the Old Brazos River and the New Brazos River on the Texas Gulf Coast.”  My purpose in going there was just to relax and visit the Quintana Neotropical Bird Sanctuary.  Leecy also wanted me out of the house so she told me to have fun and take Sascha (our black German Shepherd) with you:-).

I’ll warn any potential visitors now.  There’s not much to do there other than go birding and relax (and fish which I did not do).  For me, it was perfect!  I was also fortunate enough to hook back up with Greg Lavaty who is one of the premier birders and bird photographers in Texas.  Greg came out to visit on my first day in town and we immediately went out birding. Birding with Greg is always a great experience for me for a couple of reasons.  One, that guy can spot a bird before I’ve even looked in the general direction of a bird.  Second, he’s a great bird photographer and I always learn about bird photography when he and I have a chance to visit.  I must confess, I also always have a negative experience in birding with Greg as well.  Every time I see him with the Canon EF 500mm lens I get jealous:-).

Now on to the birds, at least some of them that I saw and photographed (I’m breaking this post into 2 different sections so the page doesn’t take forever to load).  One of my favorite shots that I took on my next to last day was of a Brown Pelican.  The reason that this is one of my favorite shots is because I’m used to taking pictures of things that aren’t in motion, or standing still, not birds in flight.  What I was excited about is that I captured this Brown Pelican floating along in the sky, then suddenly it did a nose dive into the water.

Brown Pelican Hovering Before Diving

Brown Pelican Hovering Before Diving

Brown Pelican Turning To Dive

Brown Pelican Turning To Dive

Brown Pelican Diving Straight To The Water

Brown Pelican Diving Straight To The Water

Brown Pelican Lifting From Water After Empty Dive

Brown Pelican Lifting From Water After Empty Dive

Some of the other shots I like were of a Crested Caracara and a Harlan’s Hawk.  The Harlan’s Hawk (which I would have never identified without Greg telling me) used to be considered a separate species from a Red Tailed Hawk, but now is considered a “morph.”  It’s not that my pictures are that great, rather it’s that this bird is somewhat rare. As to how this Hawk is of the same species as a Red Tailed Hawk I have no idea as they certainly don’t look similar to me.

Harlan

Harlan's Hawk On Telephone Pole

Harlan

Harlan's Hawk In Flight

Harlan

Harlan's Hawk With Wings Fully Spread

The Crested Caracara is an interesting looking bird to me.  This bird almost looks like it would be from Africa or something, not a bird that you would expect to find in Texas (or Florida).

Crested Caracara Resting On Fence Pole

Crested Caracara Resting On Fence Pole

Quintana also has a jetty where some folks decide to fish.  Interestingly enough, I didn’t see one person in 3 days who ever had a single fish, but I did see a giant rat which would have walked right over me if I hadn’t moved out of the way.  I’m not joking, this rat started from much further down the jetty, then would dart in and out of the rocks, and was going to walk right into me.

Big Brown Rat Staring At Me On The Jetty

Big Brown Rat Staring At Me On The Jetty

Another favorite that I photographed was a Le Conte’s Sparrow.  Confession:  I wouldn’t have been as excited if I hadn’t seen Greg get so excited since I had no clue what type of bird this was initially.  This poor bird was exhausted, and since it was on the Jetty, it likely had spent the night flying over water and this was the first bit of land it had found.  These are pretty secretive birds who tend to hide in grassy fields and marsh edges, not walking on concrete around a bunch of fisherman.

Le Conte

Le Conte's Sparrow Walking On Quintana Jetty

Le Conte

Le Conte's Sparrow On Quintana Jetty Resting

Le Conte

Le Conte's Sparrow Resting On Rock At Quintana Jetty

I’ll do my best to post some additional pictures and commentary this weekend for Part Two of my vacation in Quintana, Texas.

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