Sunday, July 24, 2011

Big Bend, 7/20-21/11

I finally got up and out to Big Bend National Park for the first time this year. My logic was with all the drought and fires around in the Southwest, there might be some juicy stuff around looking for sanctuary. Turns out it's incredibly dry at Big Bend too. Dryest I've ever seen. Boot Springs was dry with only scattered black, scrummy rancid pools in the canyon above the spring.

My first stop after a hard day of driving up from the RGV was at Fort Pena Colorado County Park south of Marathon to look for odes. The stream that flows into the park was dry although the main pond is still full. Very few dragonflies around, just gliders and saddlebags. Damsels included this cute Mexican forktail.

And this Orange Bluet.

I camped out in the Basin as usual. It was extremely dry with few birds around, but scenic as always.

I did my nine mile Boot Springs hike with high hopes. Though enjoyable, birds were a bit scarce. I did manage a couple of Painted Redstarts, but for the first time I went Colima Warblerless. This redstart was at the shady area below the Pinnacles.

I aslo had a Blue-throated Hummingbird there, but no sign of Dusky-capped Flycatchers.

Birds seemed to be struggling to find anything to eat and in general looked pretty scruffy. This Hutton's Vireo looks particularly worn.

Mexican Jays begged for food all along the trail. I even had one eat trail mix out of my hand.

That evening I made a run down to Panther Junction to use the phone to call Honey. I was surprised to find my first Big Bend Crissal Thrasher in the lower part of Green Gulch. The next morning I found anouther foraging along the edges of Cottonwood Campground.

Also foraging along the edge was one of my favorite lizards, Cnemidophorus tesselatus, the Checkered Whiptail.

The uncommon campground specialties like Tropical Kingbird and Gray Hawk were no where to be found. However seedeating birds were attracted to the irrigated lawn and its seeding grass. I had at least ten Painted Buntings there.

This desert loving Black-throated sparrow was also taking advantage of the free food as was a Cassin's Sparrow and eight Pyrrhuloxias.

I then ran down to Santa Elena Canyon where the only ode species along the river were some crappy Powdered Dancers who don't deserve a photo. Desert birds like Verdins and Ash-throated Flycatcher were present along with more Painted Buntings, but nothing unusual.

A stop at Sam Nail Ranch turned up singing Bell's Vireos, Yellow-breasted Chats and this Varied Bunting.

Having had enough of the heat and few birds, I headed back home to pleasant south Texas summertime where it's also incredibly hot, but at least it's humid. Ugh!

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