Monday, February 18, 2013

The Martin Refuge at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival

Every year I look forward to attending the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in Harlingen, Texas. The birds are spectacular, the people are wonderful, and the festival is truly a marvel of organization and excellence.

I must confess that although I am an enthusiastic birder, I am even more of an enthusiastic photographer, and so this year at the festival I treated myself to a photography excursion to the Martin Refuge in Edinburgh, Texas. I had seen wonderful photos from this private refuge, and I was anxious to take some of my own.

We arrived at the ranch very early on a cool, windy morning. We went to the photo blinds and began to set up our equipment. We did not have to wait very long until the Crested Caracaras began to arrive.
The birds sat in the trees, waiting.
Crested Caracaras are spectacular-looking birds, and I was really excited as they began to fly closer to the blind.
They began to land in trees near the blinds.
It was amazing to watch the mid-air encounters.
There were occasional disagreements when two birds wanted to occupy the same perch.
The Crested Caracaras were not the only raptors on the refuge. There were beautiful Harris Hawks as well, and the caracaras were intimidated by them.
The Harris Hawks were clearly in charge.
And what brought all these birds so conveniently close to the blind? A lovely ball of leftovers from a local taxidermy shop. It seemed pretty unappealing to me, but it was a caracara and hawk magnet!
Birds would grab pieces from the lure and take them up into the trees to eat.
As we finished up our morning photo session, I saw a bird that immediately made me think of my home in Corrales, New Mexico.
Greater Roadrunner
In the afternoon, we went to another area where blinds were set up. Our hosts put out food to attract the beautiful Green Jays that inhabit the area.
I enjoyed photographing this one, because he had raised his crest. I have not seen that very often in this particular species of jay.
It was interesting to watch the interplay between the birds as they landed near each other.
A Northern Cardinal stopped by to survey the scene.
A Golden-fronted Woodpecker dropped by as well.
We had a lovely day of birding and photography at the Martin Refuge. The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival is a wonderful birding festival, and the Martin Refuge was a highlight of that festival for me.

28 comments:

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    1. Thank you Juliana. You have a great week too! :-)

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  2. Terrific photos, Linda. The Crested Caracaras and the Harris Hawks sure hit the jackpot with the 'leftovers' set out at the reserve. I like the pastel colours in your shots of the Green Jay. Cheers.

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    1. Thank you Scott. It was fun going to the refuge, and it provided wonderful photo opportunities. Cheers to you too!

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  3. Wowser! These are amazing photos, Linda.

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    1. Thank you very much. I had a lovely time photographing those birds!

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  4. Great photos! I live in Rio Rancho, I wonder if we've ever run into one another.

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    1. I don't know. I think it's likely though. . . Happy you like the photos! :-)

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  5. You captured some beautiful images of birds I'd love to see. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Jeff. You really should go to the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival. Wonderful birds down there!!

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    1. Thank you so much. I'm happy that you like the photos! :-)

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  7. Gorgeous photography! WOW! Linda you really did a amazing job!

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    1. Thank you so much Ricky. That means a great deal coming from you. :-)

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  8. Very nice photos, but I worry that bait from the taxidermy shop is a bad idea, since it is likely full of lead shot and quite harmful to the birds that eat it (lead fragments from hunters' gut piles is a major cause of CA condor mortality in the wild populations).

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment and your concern Linda. We were assured that the bait animals were not from shotgun kills and that lead is not a concern. The Martin Refuge is a leading proponent of conservation in Texas.

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  9. Marvelous shots, Linda! I remember trying to sneak up on a roadside Caracara on a visit to Texas but I never got close enough.

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    1. Thank you very much Hilke. Prior to the trip to the Martin Refuge, I'd managed to get only two decent photos of those handsome birds. It was a real treat to be able to photograph them from a blind.

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  10. Wow! You must have been in heaven observing and photographing all those marvelous birds! I would have been thrilled to see any of the birds you featured in this wonderful post. Outstanding captures of them all, Linda!

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    1. Thank you for your very kind comments Julie! Yes, it was wonderful to see them at the refuge. Having Ruth Hoyt there to help us with our photography was absolutely wonderful as well.

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