Texas Travel Diary NOTE:   Images were prepared using screen settings of 1024x768, and are best viewed with those settings.  As usual, the name of the bird can be seen by placing the cursor over the photo.

Buff-bellied Hummingbird20 April 2009
April may indeed be the cruelest month, but it is a great time for a photo safari.  I'm off to a place of scorching heat and fierce winds.  A boisterous, untamed land whose natives, in the teeming millions, zoom about at terrifying speeds in Hummer H3s and Dodge Durangos.  I refer of course to the state of Texas.
    To be precise, Corpus Christi along the Coastal Bend, where photography colleague Duncan Hill and I establish base camp at the local Red Roof Inn.  Our first stop is Goose Island State Park.  A mister spray has been put up that attracts an amazing spectacle of dozens of newly-arrived Indigo Buntings, with a scattering of Brown Thrashers and Painted Buntings.  A sugar-water feeder nearby is attended by a life bird for me, Buff-bellied Hummingbird.

Royal Tern

Down the road at Mustang Island State Park, the best birds are terns.  The Royal Tern soars above it all just beyond the beach.  A shutter speed of 1/1600" stops the bird's motion.


Least Terns

Least Tern females (?, the sexes look the same) await their male admirers who catch small fish just beyond the surf.
Amid much ceremony, the male presents a fish to his amour; then, in the typical male manner, struts about, quite pleased with himself.
    But the Sandwich Terns are without shame, mating right there in front of everyone.


Ruddy Turnstone

Meanwhile, Willets, Sanderlings, Piping Plovers and Ruddy Turnstones patrol the shore, investigating every bit of detritus that washes up.  I sit in wet sand nearby.  When turnstones approach to the point where I’m in their comfort zone, they suddenly go a-scurryin’ by; then, pause to feed once they are safe again.
    It would be nice to see a turnstone in its full breeding plumage of pure black and white head.  But for that I'd have to go to the coastal tundra of northern Canada, Alaska, or even Greenland, which is where they breed.










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