In Their Element: Birds Of The Texas Upper Gulf Coast

A male Eastern Bluebird brings morsels to his brood.

“Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy — your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself.” ~ Annie Leibovitz

In an attempt to make up for the lack of blogging these last few months, I’d like to share some birds I shot with the bulky Canon/Tamron set-up, many of them right where I live. Birding and photographing them is a passion of mine, and not having been out to count or shoot for nearly three months now is difficult to confess. But Autumn is now here, and with a summer birding lull just about done, it’s time again to empty the SD cards, clean the lenses, charge the camera batteries, and get ready for some feathered adventures! I regularly flip through this 2017 Bird Photo Album regularly to remind me why I do it and to get me primed for the last few months of the year.

Did you know that we already have ticked 304 species of birds for this year? Breaking our previous record by more than 50 birds?It helps that we have birded away from home twice. With one more trip away from home still scheduled before we close out the year, we hope to add a few more … perhaps even breaking 350 with non-local species.

I hope you enjoy these beauties as much as I did in shooting them. Happy Birding!

~ Shannon @ DirtNKids Blog

Yellow-crowned Night Heron (chicks)

Yellow-crowned Night Heron Chicks
Backyard Pecan Tree

Black-and-white Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler
Upside Down Pose

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill
Strange-looking Flamingo

Willet (Eastern)

Willet
Working For Dinner

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird
House-sitting

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk
Day Snoozin’

Orchard Oriole (M)

Orchard Oriole
Plains Beauty

Laughing Gull

Laughing Gull
Lovey Dovey

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Fiery

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove
Under-appreciated

27 thoughts on “In Their Element: Birds Of The Texas Upper Gulf Coast

  1. Beautiful! 🙂 Love the one of the gulls and Night Heron chicks. Glad to hear you are doing well after the big hurricane?

    I, too, did a lot less birding this summer than I’d intended but I plan to make up for it! hope you have some nice fall birding adventures and stay safe!

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    1. We didn’t experience any flooding, but a couple of the levee’d neighborhoods did — 4 feet worth of water in their homes. There is a photo of the debris pile from those 100+ homes. So, so sad. I’m certain that the lawsuits will bring forth some resolution as they flooded due to levee breaches from the river or pumps that weren’t working properly (or both). Glad to not be living in a fish bowl. 😀

      It was hard to get out of the funk this summer. The news cycle, storms, and summer heat (we replaced an A/C unit too) were a bad combination for feeling good about life. Cheers, Erin!

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  2. I think you’r eright. So far, I’m not doing too badly with the lenses I have. And it’s only very rarely that I want anything “longer” than 400mm. Aperture is something different, though. But those lenses are usually quite expensive. I’ll just see.
    As to 2 blogs: my second, “Pit’s Bilderbuch”, is fairly easy to maintain as it’s mostly just pictures. It’s “Pit’s Fritztown News”, with the longer articles plus pictures, that is way more work. But I think I’ll try and keep up both.

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      1. Indeed it doesn’t take much time. Talking of WP: on the one hand I’m really happy about being here, especially meeting so many people and their interesting blogs, but then, sometimes, I’m really frustrated with WP’s performance.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful pictures: thanks for sharing!
    Talking of Tamron lenses: which were you using? I’m asking since I am making up my mind if I want another lens [very likle a “long” zoom] or not, and if so, which brand [Tamron, Signa, or Nikon original].
    Have a wonderful Sunday, and keep the pictures coming!

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    1. Thank you! And glad to oblige, Pit. I do no post-processing of images save a quick increase/decrease in lighting in-camera (I shoot JPG+RAW), so what I have caters to that. One day, I’ll have time to sift through those thousands of RAW’s and do something nice for my birdie subjects; until then, JPG’s straight from the Canon is what you all get.

      Hence the long lens. It gets me close to birdie faces without additional cropping.

      I keep an equipment page (http://wp.me/P28k6D-17K) that is always accessible from the drop-down menus (Ext Media Links -> Equipment). Nothing has changed there since around 2014. The Tamron long lens LIVES on the Canon body, and if I need a wide-angle shot, the smartphone camera or older Olympus (provided one of my kids is carrying it) does the trick.

      When out among other birders/shooters, I see all sorts of set-ups from the very expensive Nikon to point-and-shoots and everything in between. It really is what you feel most comfortable with. But shoot them with a camera. They value their lives too. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the link to your equipment page. 🙂 The Tamron 150-600mm is under consideration here, too. But maybe I’ll stick with my present Sigma 80-400mm. My “regular” lens now is the Nikon 16-85mm. That normally has a wide-enough range from wide angle to light tele.
        I have taken to working my pictures over, enhancing (most 0f) them with EasyHDR. I’m going to post some “before-snd-after” pictures soon on my other blog, “Pit’s Bilderbuch” [https://pitsbilderbuch.wordpress.com/].

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      2. Seems to me that what you use are working nicely! ‘Use what you have’ is a quote I often use with my kids. I think much of an artist who does very well with whatever tools he possesses.

        Two blogs were difficult for me to juggle (I used to have two!!) hence the mish-mash of dirt, kids, birds, and vegan — all equally worthy of the ‘nature blog’ banner. Photos, videos, and sounds are merely the ‘bling.’

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  4. Oh Shannon, your photos here are gorgeous, and what an incredible array of birds. Having a nest of yellow-crowned night herons with chicks in your backyard is astounding, that is a great photo. You captured the true spirit of a B&W warbler, their acrobatic ways; I never tire of roseate spoonbills, this wild and wonderful bird, and seeing through the wings is a special treat. Finding a common nighthawk is quite a boon, and I love seeing it sleepy-eyed but still standing. And the elegant orchard oriole, the amorous laughing gulls, and all the others, thanks for taking us along. This was wonderful. Also liked the quote.

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    1. As I was just commenting for Peter below, I feel quite privileged to have so many species of birds nearby. This variety only kinda makes up for the triple-digit temps (with high humidity) and mosquitoes that can carry away a small dog. I absolutely delight in capturing the personalities of bird animals. It’s what keeps me mentally healthy, Jet. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. These are all fantastic, Shannon, thanks for sharing. I have never seen Heron chicks in the wild; they are precious. Although we have a regular adult heron visitor to the pond, and she/he is gigantic. And, I believe the prime culprit behind our dwindling fish population. We shoo (not shoot) them away because we don’t allow fishing, and that goes for heron too. Although they’re little respectful of the rule, returning the next morning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We live on a unique property in the suburbs, one with a variety of trees, unkempt under brush (across the creek), and water running through. It’s a great stop for migrant birds, if you ask me. We manage it lightly, to keep it nice for them rather than for the human neighbors (http://wp.me/p28k6D-24z). Herons, hawks, and bluebirds, cardinals, chickadees, jays and wrens (and deer!) all raised their families on our 1.5 acres this year. Privileged, I tell you Peter!!

      About your heron, he knows a good honey-hole when he finds one. ;D

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  6. Funny that I could identify every water bird and the dove. It’s an indiction of how songbird “deprived” we are in my neighborhood.

    I did see something amazing last night. The great flocks of grackles are back at my HEB. As dark was falling, they were everywhere: pavement, car tops, grocery carts. There had to be thousands. In the middle of all that, there was one black and white bird. It clearly was a grackle — it had the same beak, the same tail, the same point-your-beak-to-the-sky mannerisms — and it was clearly just part of the group. Of course I had no camera, and it already was so dark I’m not sure I could have gotten a decent photo if I had. But it was a good reminder that nature has more surprises than we can imagine — part of the reason being out in nature is such a delight.

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    1. ‘Song-bird deprived?’ I hope never to have such an affliction. But you have the waterbirds being nearer the coast and along a body of water. I’m not sure if you ever frequent the Texas City dike from where you are, but it can be a great place for birds (http://wp.me/p28k6D-2E4).

      The black-and-white grackle was most likely an individual with leucism — a lack-of pigment condition. The grackles are definitely flocking in! We saw a huge flock fly overhead on their way somewhere this morning, our first of such for the season.

      Thanks for additional insight, Linda! Have a wonderful rest of the weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Linda. I just got an email from the Wildlife Center of Texas inviting me to a rehabilitated Brown Pelican release (8 of them) in Seabrook this Saturday, 9/30. I won’t be able to attend due to schedule restraints, but you may want to! It’s at 11a @ Carothers Coastal Gardens. Great opportunity for photos and a much-needed feel-good story about Hurricane Harvey. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well those were beautiful! My favorite bird call is the mourning dove. It is a comfort sound for me and one I love to hear.

    I have thought of you and your family often in the past few weeks since Harvey. It sounds like you faired ok. I know you look on the brighter side of things and as long as you have your family you can get through anything… blessings my dear. Have a glorious Sunday and week. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comments warm my heart, Courtney! I am delighted as always to have you as a contributor here. Yes, we take things in stride here; nature and birds do their part in keeping me grounded and calm for those necessary ‘people’ outings. Happy, happy weekend to you too! *hugs*

      Liked by 1 person

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