Friday, May 4, 2012

Big Bend: Day 1

Marathon Motel

The morning in Marathon was nice and cool and the desert came to life with the songs of Orchard Orioles and Barn Swallows. In the distance, we could hear Cassin's Sparrows carrying their trilling tunes.

Brad and I spent our first day split between Marathon and Big Bend National Park. After staying at the campground at the Marathon Motel, we headed to Post Park and found some West Texas specialities, including Cassin's Kingbird and Phainopepla.

When we entered the park, a ranger pointed out some Cactus Wrens that were attending to a nest right outside the visitor center.
The cool morning quickly faded into a hot afternoon as we stepped out of the car at Santa Elena Canyon. We hiked the trail, but found few birds.

Santa Elena Canyon
 Then, we visited Cottonwood Campground where we encountered a swirl of bird activity - Ash-throated Flycatcher, Green-tailed Towhees and at least 4 species of sparrow, including a Grasshopper Sparrow, which hopped up on a picnic bench.

And in a large Cottonwood Tree appeared my first lifer - a beautiful Gray Hawk.
Gray Hawk
We spent the rest of the day at Sam Nail Ranch where we found several colorful Varied Buntings calling in the West Texas Brush. This is a bird I've missed in the Big Bend twice, so checking it off on my life list was a huge plus. I didn't get very many good photos on the first day, but when we visited Christmas Mountain Oasis the next day, I got the shot I really wanted.
Varied Bunting


  1. Wow! The varied bunting is beautiful! Your blog is the first place I've ever seen or heard of them. What a great shot!

  2. Those are beautiful birds! That varied bunting is amazing with the pretty colors and you got such a great photo too.