Wednesday, February 13, 2013

UTC084: Challenger 7 Memorial Park

The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, Upper Texas Coast

I visited Challenger Seven Memorial Park, named in honor of those who died in the space shuttle explosion, during a break in the rain early Sunday afternoon.  Black vultures perched atop light poles greeted me.  They are beautiful in a macabre sort of way.  I do appreciate the service they perform.   

At most sites I've visited alone so far, people have approached to chit-chat.  This time it was a park official.  At least he had some useful information to contribute.

"If you were here 45 minutes ago, you would have gotten some great photos of deer," he said.

"I'm more interested in birds."

"Oh, well you need to drive down this road and around the curve where we have some viewing platforms."

I parked where he suggested and soon heard a commotion.  I looked just in time to see a hawk on the ground, clearly attempting to capture something.  When I got close enough to the tree to which I'd seen him return, I discovered a pair of red-shouldered hawks.  Neither was eating, so it's possible their prey got away.              

There was only one bird hanging out at the viewing platform I visited.  A snowy egret was busily hunting for a meal.  He almost seemed to be shivering.  Then I realized it was because he was shuffling his feet, trying to stir up something edible from the bottom.  I've never seen one do that before.  Every once in a while I'd capture a glimpse of bright yellow feet, confirming his identification.

I didn't get to spend very much time at the park before it started raining again.  There were more viewing platforms and a nature trail I didn't explore.  The forecast called for possible severe weather (lightning, hail, strong winds), so I didn't think it wise to stay.  I did see more birds than I expected at this time of day.  Two killdeer were among a large flock of starlings, and some caracaras were scratching and pecking at the earth almost like chickens - both new birds for my checklist.

Birds seen this visit:  Great Egret, Black Vulture, European Starling, Killdeer, Northern Mocking Bird, Eastern Bluebird, Snowy Egret, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Crested Caracara, Laughing Gull.    

I'm linking up with Wild Bird Wednesday.  Please visit to see more beautiful birds from around the world.


Brian Miller said...

still a cool capture...the yellow eyes look like a mask...and hey i can see deer any day...smiles.

Tempo said... cool is that! We dont have them here so I find them quite interesting. Nice pics, thanks for sharing.

eileeninmd said...

I think the vultures are cool birds! Great sighting of the Hawk couple and I love the Egret. Sorry, the weather ended your birding early. Great post and photos.

Stewart M said...

I do like the egret - did you manage a shot with more reflections?

Cheers and thanks for lining to WBW.

Stewart M - Melbourne

PS: why worry about the rain - once your wet, your can't get any wetter!

Jen said...

True, but lightning and hail are a different story...

Jen said...

They're all over the place here. I sometimes forget what's common here isn't common everywhere. Glad you enjoy them.

Donna Heber said...

Hi Jen,

Your photos are stunning! I truly love the egret and how you captured the reflection. Thank you for stopping to visit me. Happy Valentine's Day!

Nora at Island Rambles said...

Really nice shot of the vultures, and I love the egret, we had one come north here once. I like how you organize your blog and put the bird list on the bottom that you have seen. Great bird blog.

Wally Jones said...

Very nice post! I'm partial to vultures (yes, I know, I'm strange). Congratulations on adding two new birds to your list!

sage said...

Great photos!

Anonymous said...

Great shots Jen. Its always a good day when your able to add birds to your life list- congrats!

From my backyard I watched as the Challenger exploded in midair. What a horrific sight that was.
Its nice they are remember by parks being named after them.

Debbie said...

you got some really amazing images. i am partial to the snowy egret as i have never seen one. only the great white egret which is very common here, i will chase him for hours and hours, just to get a good picture.

your vultures are also amazing, nice and close, lots of detail!!!

TexWisGirl said...

i like the black vultures. love the snowy!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

The white egret is beautiful :)

Ken Schneider said...

Nice juxtaposition of species-- each of which has a place in the ecosystem, and each beautiful in its own way.

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