I love taking pictures of birds in the estuaries and coastal lagoons of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. I know that I am going to get many a great shot every time I visit and October and November are especially productive for bird photography.

The rich estuarine habitats are especially good for shorebirds. I usually see several Black-bellied Plovers although most have pale winter plumage like the bird seen below. Given its winter plumage, it is easy to understand why the Europeans call it the “Grey Plover”.

Black-bellied Plover in winter plumage.

Least Sandpipers are one of the most common shorebird species. True to their name, these birds are as small as sparrows. Their size makes it a challenge to get full-frame shots of these sandpipers but patience eventually pays off.

The yellowish legs show that this species is a Least Sandpiper.

One of the more colorful shorebirds is the Ruddy Turnstone. I never see it turn over any stones but its orange highlighted plumage seems to somehow match its poetic name.

Ruddy Turnstones are fairly common.

When I take photos, I am also watching the birds around me and I often see interesting behaviors. This Willet looked like it might have been coughing. Maybe some extra-long estuarine invertebrate got stuck in its throat.

Willets are one of our most common shorebird species.

Herons, egrets, and other birds frequent the same areas as the shorebirds. The White Pelican is one of the largest bird species in the valley. When these huge birds take flight, they like to soar on big, outstretched wings.

White Pelicans are truly majestic.

Of course all of those birds also attract predators. I regularly see Peregrine Falcons and other birds of prey as they patrol the coast for prey along with the occasional Coyote. It s funny how Coyotes look kind of like dogs but just have something about them that tells you that you are looking at North America’s most comon wild canine.

The intelligent, cunning, and beautiful Coyote.

A lot of birds come and go from these estuarine habitats. I can’t wait to see what happens to be waiting for me on my next visit!

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