#517-#520 at La Copita Ranch

A couple of weeks ago my human resources department sent me an e-mail warning me that I was about to max out on accrued vacation days so I had to use some fast. I looked around for the next available birding festival, and the most interesting one seemed to be the Whooping Crane Festival in Port Aransas. I also considered Winter Wings in Oregon, but it offered mostly the same birds I’d already found in California. Texas, by contrast, has dozens of species I’ve never seen and that can’t be found anywhere else in the United States. Thus Wednesday I flew into Corpus Christi Airport for five days of semi-intense South Texas birding.

First stop was the La Copita Ranch in Jim Wells County for a photography workshop. I got to the ranch about 3:00 PM. but the gate was locked so I drove into town and had a quick Mexican lunch. Then I visited Lake Findley while waiting for the gate to open. Likely I saw a Couch’s Kingbird there, but it was too far away to be sure of the ID, and I didn’t have the scope out yet. :-(

About 4:30 I got the call that the ranch was open, so I drove back, met the instructor, and drove out the blind. No sooner had I arrived than we heard a Green Jay, life bird #517:

Just a couple of minutes later the second bird we saw was a Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus), #518:

Male Pyrrhuloxia

And then, an hour or so later when I walked out of the blind my car to grab some supplies, I noticed a couple of large black birds in a tree far down the road. I figured they were buzzards, but put my binoculars on them to be sure. Weird. I never saw a buzzard with a white head before. Maybe an Osprey, but why would an Osprey be so far from any body of water? What could these be? I flipped through the raptor section of my Sibley’s field guide and on p. 112 there it was, Crested Caracara, #519. To be sure, I grabbed the scope out of my trunk and switched from camera to scope. Yep, Crested Caracaras all right.

2 Crested Caracaras perched in a leafless tree

And then just before we were going to leave the blind, a Curve-billed Thrasher popped up next to the feeder. I only saw it with my naked eye very quickly, but Leah got a picture of it that confirmed the ID.

Four life birds in about an hour. OK, I only heard the Green Jay and didn’t really ID the Curve-billed Thrasher, but I saw both of those species multiple times the next day so I can certainly count them. Not bad at all.

Toward dusk we moved on from the blind to a location down the road where we tried (unsuccessfully) to lure in a Great Horned Owl. Once it got dark we headed back to the bunkhouse for some Texas barbecue followed by nighttime long exposure light painting. Neat trick. Up early tomorrow for more birds!

One Response to “#517-#520 at La Copita Ranch”

  1. John Cowan Says:

    The cranes in question are indeed whopping as well as whooping, but I think you meant the latter.

Leave a Reply