I can’t think of a better way to start a new year than birding with my family. As we reset our annual species count for the new year — as we’ve done the three previous ones — our first-week-of-the-year trip to Big Bend National Park resulted in several birds we would not otherwise have seen living along the Texas Upper Gulf Coast.
As I put the finishing touches on the post for our trip (which was three weeks ago, already!), I felt it best to highlight the birding part of it separately to keep the rambling under 1,000 words. It’s hard enough to do when writing about such a wonderful place as Big Bend, much less adding birding detail and 10 more photos.
The longer a post gets, the more difficult it is to get it finished. I desperately need to check something of my very long to-do list.
The first few days of our trip were cold, the entire area shrouded in what seemed to be perpetually parked clouds. It turned out that the days with no sun or wind were the best for spotting birds. Photographing them in such dim lighting conditions turned out to be secondary to viewing them in my field lens.
Unlike us, birds really don’t care much about the weather. As long as they have a reliable food source, they persevere any harsh conditions brought on by nature, while also avoiding the predators that call them ‘food’ and all the habitat constraints and obstacles we’ve created for them.
Life is hard in the desert; it can be made harder for them by us. Many of Big Bend’s birds call this desert home all year ’round.
Vermillion Flycatcher (Male)
For me, this bird screams ‘West Texas!’
We are greatly looking forward to going back again this year. Enjoy these favorites from our week. If you’d like to see more, simply click on a photo to flip the album.
Say’s Phoebe Lifer!
These guys just won’t stay still.
We chased a lot of different birds with the kids but didn’t necessarily ID them. They don’t call sparrows ‘little brown jobs’ for nothing. Not recognizing a bird’s sound was the biggest detriment to ID success. It’s the downside to birding an area whose species are yet unfamiliar.
But we’re always learning…yearning for more feathered nuggets of delight. We got ’em!
- Black-throated Sparrow Lifer!
- Black-chinned Sparrow Lifer!
- Acorn Woodpecker Lifer!
- Canyon Wren
- Lesser Goldfinch
- Green-tailed Towhee
- Chihuahua Raven Lifer!
- Phainopepla Lifer!
- White-throated Swift Lifer!
- Black-tailed Gnatcatcher Lifer!
- Verdin Lifer!
- Golden-fronted Woodpecker Lifer!
- Red-naped Sapsucker
- Black-crested Titmouse Lifer!
- Spotted Towhee
- Scaled Quail Lifer!
- Curved-billed Thrasher Lifer!
- Northern Flicker
- Western Meadowlark
Check that box.
Big Bend NP: Desert Clarity…Coming next.