Archive for the ‘The Birds’ Category

Pine Siskin (again)!

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Look what idbirds got a shot of this morning:

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You can’t see much detail, because the light was low, but I’m pretty sure the folks on the cam at the time were right that this was CONE Welder’s first Pine Siskin!

A few minutes later grrrich got this shot:

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…and a few seconds later idbirds got this one:

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It would be nice if we could see the yellow on the wings, but especially with that first shot, I’m comfortable calling this a siskin. I said “again” in the title of this post, because we also got some shots of the Pine Siskin back in the CONE SF days (see Pine Siskin!). Here are the shots from that post, for comparison purposes:

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Congratulations to idbirds and grrrich for getting shots of this elusive bird!

Lincoln’s Sparrow!

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

I wasn’t on the cam at the time, but yesterday while some users were trying to follow the female Indigo Bunting to the pond, look what vanilla (along with idbirds, usabirder, and tinyang) got instead:

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Talk about serendipity! That, ladies and gentlemen, is the game’s very first Lincoln’s Sparrow!

Here’s an even better shot that vanilla got today, part of a superb sequence of bathing shots that I intend to stitch together into an animation as soon as the Super Bowl is over:

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What a cool bird. I really like Lincoln’s Sparrows; they’re so unpretentious, yet classy. Something about that neat streaking on the breast really appeals to me. I guess I’m just a brown-pinstripes kind of guy.

Update: As promised, here’s a stitched-together animation of the Lincoln’s Sparrow bathing. Thanks to vanilla, loughman1, and usabirder for taking these great shots.


The Indigo Buntings (Well, One of Them) Are Back

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

I’ve been kidded a few times about my ridiculously good luck with the birdcam. I’ve been very spotty in my use of it lately, but it seems that when I do show up, as like as not something special will appear on the camera. That was certainly the case when I spent about 5 minutes on the system one evening, and it just happened to coincide with the game’s first identified bobcat taking a stroll past the camera.

I had a similar lucky event yesterday, when I spent a few minutes on the cam trying to see if I could get any more shots of what sort of looked to me like it might have been a Lesser Goldfinch. Here are the two shots that had me wondering, the first by vanilla and the second by loughman1:

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That check mark on the wing is the thing that had me thinking Lesser, but after looking some more I’m pretty comfortable calling this an American Goldfinch.

But while I was looking for more goldfinches, look what I got a shot of:

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I’m pretty sure that’s the site’s first Indigo Bunting (a female) since August 2009. Here are some more shots I got yesterday:

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And here’s a shot from today, this one by tinyang:

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Hooray for buntings! 🙂

Birds of Prey

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

All birds are fun to look at, but like most birdwatchers, I get a special thrill out of birds of prey. Lately there have been some very cool shots of raptors with the birdcam, and I wanted to show a few of them here.

The Red-shouldered Hawk is the most-commonly seen diurnal raptor with CONE Welder, and any time it shows up is a special occasion. I don’t think I previously posted any shots from this very cool appearance it made back on October 9, 2009. Here’s a gorgeous shot by txbird:

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Here’s a pensive shot, also taken by txbird, this time from a little over a week ago, January 29, 2010:

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usabirder got this great shot on February 2:

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Earlier today (February 7, 2010), tinyang got this fantastic shot of the Red-shouldered Hawk “mantling”. I wonder if there was a prey animal under there:

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Less-commonly seen with the camera, and hence more exciting (especially if you’re a small songbird), is the Cooper’s Hawk. Here’s a shot tinyang took on February 25, 2009:

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Here’s another shot that rafa took on the same day:

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This shot was taken on January 31, 2010, by achadamaia:

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This interesting closeup was taken 11 seconds later, also by achadamaia:

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Finally, no CONE Welder bird of prey roundup would be complete without a shot of Hooty, the Barred Owl, the first bird of prey photographed with the camera. Here’s a neat shot taken by amaranth on the evening of January 27, 2010:

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Black-headed Grosbeak!

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Look what vanilla found with the birdcam yesterday: A beautiful male Black-headed Grosbeak:

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vanilla was the only one to get shots during that first appearance, which was around 8:19 a.m. Pacific time. But the bird came back to the feeder around 11:45 a.m., allowing others to get some nice shots as well, including these two shots by usabirder and txbird, respectively:

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Although we had Black-headed Grosbeaks (sometimes a lot of them) on Craig’s deck back in the CONE SF days, this is a first for the Texas birdcam. The last new bird species identified with CONE Welder was the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher recorded by birdbrain back on August 5, 2009.

Congratulations to vanilla, and to everyone who got shots of this great bird!

Update: The bird is back this morning, with several users getting nice shots. Here he is admiring his reflection in the feeder in a shot taken by annelizabeth:

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And here’s the Northern Cardinal trying to steal some attention back from the colorful interloper, in a shot by vanilla:

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The Little Lady Is Back

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Look what showed up on Craig’s deck yesterday:


Pretty sure that’s a female Western Tanager, which makes me wonder if it’s the same bird that bluebean photographed on May 7, 2007, and that I talked about back in Well, hello little lady and Two that got away.

Favorite Shots from the Last Few Days

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

It’s been fun for me to get back into CONE Welder lately. I’ve been on vacation, so I’ve had more time for it, and maybe it’s the time of year and the drought bringing all this interesting stuff past the camera, or maybe it’s just always this interesting and I’ve been guilty of not noticing, but there really seems to be a lot happening at Welder lately. Anyway, here are some of my favorite shots from the last few days.

I didn’t previously post this amazing photo that txbird got of the alligator snapping up something along the edge of the pond:

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txbird’s shot is currently the top-rated photo of the alligator. It’s also in a six-way tie for the 14th-most-popular image since the game began (though I think it might place higher in the all-time rankings if people were using the ratings as much now as they used to).

I think this shot by judy10 also deserves a mention:

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This is the last shot we got of the alligator, at 8:24 p.m. CONE time on that one very exciting Day of the Alligator.

There have been a number of other shots lately that, while they aren’t necessarily the clearest shots, are interesting as records of species that are rarities, at least in the game. Take this shot by birdbrain, taken August 5 at 5:20 p.m.:

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It’s one of a series of four shots of a bird that was ID’d as house finch (at least it was in the other three shots, though not in this one, ironically, even though I think this might be the clearest shot of the four). A house finch isn’t much to get excited about in my backyard, or probably in most birders’ backyards; I believe it is the most commonly seen feeder bird in the country. But believe it or not, house finch is one of the rarest birds in CONE Welder; this is only the third date on which one has been photographed with the system.

A similarly rare bird, at least in CONE Welder terms, was the blue-gray gnatcatcher that user lynch was lucky enough to get two shots of back on August 9 at 5:15 a.m.:

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Gnatcatchers have been photographed on only four occasions since the game began, and this is actually one of the best shots of the twitchy little species we’ve managed to get with the birdcam.

This shot of the common grackle that I got on August 10 is interesting to me not because the species is especially rare in CONE Welder, but because it’s rare at this time of year. Although we got lots of photos of this bird last winter, we’ve had few shots at any other time, as you can see if you look at the chart on the bottom of the bird’s species page in the Dashboard.

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Besides rarities, some shots are interesting to me because of the behavior they depict. I liked this closeup I got of a white-tailed deer foraging for spilled feed (I assume) near the white feed-storage box on August 10:

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Dr. Glasscock has talked about what a rough time deer are having during the current drought, and I felt for this deer as it struggled to find something to eat.

On a more-cheerful note, I really liked this shot eyes23blue got of two common ground-doves mating:

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Common ground-doves are also something of a rarity in CONE Welder, making this action photo doubly impressive.

Rarities and interesting behaviors are fun, but really gorgeous shots hold a special place in my heart. This shot of the male painted bunting that rafa took on August 9 is a good example:

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I also loved this shot of the scissor-tailed flycatcher’s beautiful salmon underwing that loughman1 took on August 10:

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This shot by birdbrain of the female orchard oriole catching the rays of the setting sun on August 10 was my favorite of a whole series of shots that really took my breath away:

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Finally, I want to thank the people who devote so much of their time and energy to making CONE Welder the fascinating window on nature that it is. I include in that category the people at the CONE project and at Welder who created the system, and the other users on the system who bring it to life. But I want especially to thank the people who make the journey out to the site to fill the feeders, clean the water features, mow the grass, and climb the ladder to give the camera housing a much-needed cleaning:

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You guys (and gals) are my heroes.

On the Air Again!

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Well ahead of the April 2 ETA, CONE Welder appears to be back on the air. I’m not sure if it’s going to stay up, or if this is just teasing us with some temporary fun that’s going to go away again, but I’ll take it.

abirch got the first shots, including this excellent one of the Barred Owl:

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Yay! Texas birds again!

Update: Hm. Yeah, it still seems to be fairly flaky. I’ve had it go up and down on me during my two attempts to use it this morning. So maybe we’re still waiting on replacement hardware.

Craig Has Waxwings

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Since the newfangled telerobotic camera at CONE Welder is still down, it’s a good time to check in with the old-fashioned Newmark-powered camera on Craig’s deck. And look what we have here: A new (for his deck) species: Cedar Waxwing.


Third Time’s the Charm

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

The American Robin has showed up on the camera only twice since the beginning of CONE Welder, each time in a distant, tiny shot of the bird perching in the bare tree. Until yesterday, that is, when an American Robin showed up to take a drink at the fountain and gave us some really great shots. My favorite (and yours, judging by the assigned favorites points) was this one, taken at 6:24 a.m. by idbirds:

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There were a number of other shots, including several even tighter close-ups; click through to the dashboard to check them out. Congratulations to everyone who got a shot of this very special bird.