Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Red-headed Woodpecker...Blackpolls and Butthurt...One for the Herpers

This is the celebrity Red-headed Woodpecker that spent some time on South Padre Island this spring. I've only seen a few ever before, so you can bet I was deep into the stoke when I saw this. What made it even better was that when I first heard about it, I specifically did not chase this bird, even though it was only a block away. A big crew of geri were sprinting/scuttling/hobbling/limping over to the woodpecker and I thought it would give me a better chance to find the Cerulean Warbler that was in the area. This tactic failed miserably, but at least the woodpecker was still present several days later.

Unlike everyone else who were practicing their wildlife harassment skills on this bird, I just stood next to a tree it liked and was within a few minutes rewarded with a crush. What a crippler!

One thing that this bird made painfully obvious was how annoying and indifferent photographers can be with birds. Although you can easily witness this yourself on any spring day on South Padre Island, this bird seemed to constantly have some tool mercilessly chasing it around the convention center, for days on end. It's not like flushing a bird is a big deal (well...sometimes it is), but this woodpecker had a whole harassment crew to keep it as bummed out as possible. Wankers.

People don't seem to realize that birds will often just beg you to crush them if you don't try to chase them out of the state. Pictured is a Scarlet Tanager, not giving a fuck.

To all the colorblind birders out there...I am truly sorry. You have my sympathies.

This female Scarlet Tanager that spent a weekend at the convention center was one of tamer birds I've met this spring. Once she became addicted to oranges, she would do anything for a wedge.

Blackpoll! How poignant.

My, what crisp plumage you have. Such orange legs you possess.

A Blackpoll Warbler utters an otherworldly bellow from the convention center's water feature. It's pretty funny hearing all the seething photogs whine and pine for how the water feature used to be set up, when the birds were more exposed and had to come closer to people to take a drink or bathe. There is some serious butthurt going on out there.

Speaking of butthurt, that's how I was planning on feeling if I didn't get a good look at a Gray-cheeked Thrush this spring. I had only seen one ever before, and that was for a whopping 10 seconds, about 10 years ago, at Marblehead Neck in Massachusetts. Well, my butt does not hurt and my ass does not ache. Gray-cheeked Thrush has become pretty predictable on SPI, for the time being.

More than one birder has told me, discreetly, of his/her fixation with vireos. Well, this one is for you. I thought I would be seeing a lot of Red-eyed Vireos this year...that has not been the case. I reckon this is my best photo of one for the year (it's been weeks since I've seen one), and I'm pretty happy with it.

Have I seen my last Hooded Warbler of the spring? Yeah. It's a sad state of affairs.

The Hooded Warbler is enthusiastic about being near the ground. Not so much as an Ovenbird, but if you get warbler neck from looking at a Hooded Warbler, you are either suffering from an extreme case of stunted growth already or you are misidentifying the bird entirely. While many birders suffer from various renditions of stunted emotional growth, I find the latter scenario more likely.

Finally...one for the herpers. I was told this is a Laredo Striped Whiptail, which one can find many of at the Sheepshead lot on South Padre. Most I have seen have not been this large, or so cerulean. Whiptails are parthenogenic, aka have Virgin Mary powers. The mind reels.


  1. Hot damn that Woodpecker is gorgeous.
    Also, the warblers.

    Obviously the Vireo is the best; so what if Red-eyeds are one of the most common birds in North America according to something somewhere.

    It's funny how impatient and pushy the gerri birders often are, and those who get caught up in such mobs. Patience should be the one skill possessed in spades.
    We had a very fun experience with about 2 dozen this past weekend at the BCNJ stake out near Madera Canyon.

    1. I found a lateish REVI today...really wanted to turn it into a Yellow-green or a Black-whiskered but I'm #7, so that did not happen. Mob birding is ridiculous.

  2. Jesus christ. What the hell is hot pink behind that woodpecker?? That second Scarlet Tanager shot too. Holy fuck. I really dropped the ball this spring with letting work keep me from Tejas.

    1. When #7 extends an offer, it is best to accept it FJ.