One could say that my stomping grounds or “patch” for birding and bird photography are the wetlands and subtropical habitats of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. This fantastic site has so many bird and wildlife viewing opportunities that it’s just hard to not visit.
A recent trip to the refuge was typically good and is an indication of what to expect if you plan on visiting Laguna Atascosa. One of the star bird species in that area is Aplomado Falcon but you don’t always see them.
A striking male Aplomado Falcon.
After not seeing the male and female Aplomado Falcons for three days, I finally found them late Friday afternoon on the east side of the road about a mile from where I normally view them. There are also two White-tailed Hawks that I normally see in the same area but I never see them together.
Those two hawks have different personalities. For example, one of them is extremely skittish and the other could care less if you brought a marching band with you. Maybe the shy one is getting used me though because the following two White-tailed Hawk images are of the skittish one!
A beautiful White-tailed Hawk.
A White-tailed Hawk ruffling its feathers and getting ready to take flight with its long wings.
Eastern Meadowlarks share the same open, grassy habitats as the falcon and the hawk. I can’t help but wonder if both of these raptor species catch meadowlarks now and then.
The pleasant songs of Eastern Meadowlarks are part of the Laguna Atascosa soundscape.
I also come across Eastern Screech Owls at Laguna Atascosa. Their natural camouflage is simply amazing.
Eastern Screech Owls look just like the trees where they roost.
As for small birds, water drips are excellent places to see them at the refuge. At one of the LANWR water features I heard a wren call and hoped it would come to the drip, but it never did. I keep hoping the Winter Wren I photographed the past two winters is back for a third year and it’s still possible that the same bird is around. At the visitor center, there were lots of Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped Warblers.
I also saw beautiful Green Jays.
There are always plenty of birds and other wildlife to see at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. I can’t wait to go back!