Big Bend National Park, Fall 2018

Postcard View

Spent 3 nights at Big Bend in mid-September, and collected some more western bird species. What a beautiful place! The shot above is the one that everybody takes, but how can you not?

Very exciting to be around so many unfamiliar birds! I collected as many photos as I could, and no doubt due to my inexperience as a birder missed a lot of IDs. I wish I had gotten a photo of the Hepatic Tanagers I saw at dusk in the basin. The Greater Roadrunner is also MIA from the photo record, sadly.

Acorn Woodpecker

Cactus Wren

I learned their call and song after hearing them constantly for days.

Canyon Towhee

These are all over the place, very accustomed to people in the park.

Mexican Jay

Large jays, very boisterous and loud, but difficult to spot. They stay hidden in the tree canopies screeching, always on the move. 3 or 4 moved through the campsite at lunchtime. I feel lucky to have gotten this one framed nicely.


Never heard of this Cardinal-cousin before, very cute and not shy with the campers. This one came up into the camp shelter, attracted by the rain puddle.

Say’s Phoebe

There was one working the parking area by the registration office when I first arrived, and one frequenting my campsite the whole time I was there. For all the photos I took of this bird you would think I’d get at least one good image. This one is not horrible, yet it doesn’t really convey that look-and-feel of a phoebe.


Light gray little desert songbird with a bright yellow face. The only shot I got of her.

Yellow-headed Blackbird

So cool to finally see one! Worst possible lighting conditions this side of midnight! This is down at the Rio Grande Village area.

Swainson’s Hawk

:: More Big Bend ::

Chisos Basin

The Chisos Basin where I camped is at 5,400 ft and the surrounding mountains peak at over 7,000. Clouds were constantly obscuring the mountaintops and this was very amusing for a flatlander like myself to see.

Someone carved out a heart-shaped cactus-cake for his or her lover! Love can be a thorny thing, no?

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

This 3-footer was in the road, acting lethargic, so I pulled up and took a few snapshots. It was not there on my return.

Western Desert Tarantula

The road out of the park, on the morning of my departure. A stunning scene, the photo barely does it justice.

:: SANTA ANA NWR at McAllen, TX ::

From Big Bend I headed straight down toward Corpus and Santa Ana. The park is hemmed in on the south side by the Rio Grand and the Mexican border. Immigration cops all over the place down here.

Olive Sparrow

I did not know what I was seeing when I grabbed this exposure, but it turned out to be a nifty lifer for me. They range all through Mexico into areas north of the border. Ground feeders foraging under cover of brush mostly, like a worm-eating warbler which they somewhat resemble. Warbler body with a sparrow head, unusual.

Long-billed Thrasher

Not much in this poor photo to separate this from our Brown Thrasher back home, but range and coloration does indicate long-billed: the gray head, and striking contrast of the breast streaking. The bill, however, does not seem so long to me.

I also saw the Great Kiskadee, one of the signature birds for this locale. It paused long enough for me to start to grab the camera, but no longer. Very distinctive bird, easy to ID. Did not see the famed Green Jay, however.

Laredo Striped Whiptail

These lizards are all over the place. ID is from what I could glean around the ‘net and should not be considered authoritative, but that’s probably what she is.

And, as always, thanks for looking.

6 replies to “Big Bend National Park, Fall 2018

  1. I’m bummed for you that you didn’t get the green jay, but what a nice collection of West Texas birds! It’s the main reason we go, so our eyes are always to the trees as we hike. That verdin is a beauty .. glad you got to see her.

    Nice photography, Paul!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This was our post after a 15-yr BB hiatus a couple years back. We went again late last year—got caught camping in a freak blizzard—and are going again this year. Kids love it so much we are making it an annual trek! Love B.B. Country. I’ll bet you do too; autumn is the best time to go.


  2. Thanks, Paul, for sharing about your west Texas trip. Lots of cool bird shots – the Mexican Jay is a handsome bird! The scenery is certainly gorgeous. The hawk shot is really beautiful – nice work. Sounds like a most satisfactory vacation!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it was, thanks! I set out with minimal plans and wandered around at will. BB was not on my agenda when I first took off! So glad that I went though. I was not a “birder” when I visited there about 12 years ago.


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