If all goes well around here at Intrigued, the bird counter should pretty much be free spinning well into next month. Most of those additions will be coming from the Texas coastline. Pretty sure I already made posts from our first trip to Galveston Island back in November 2013. I recently completed processing all of the shots from our Christmas trip down to South Padre Island last year. Those shots will be featured for most of the posts over the next several weeks. I need to get through those by mid February in order to focus on all the new blog fodder put in the tin on our recent trip back to Padre and then over to the Mission region on the Rio Grande. Texas has become a biding nirvana for me – each trip has produced multitudes of +1’s. A surprising number of those being absolutely gorgeous birds.
One thing for sure, the Peterson Field Guide I use for my field reference does not do this bird justice. At the time I had no idea what kind of bird it was. It was definitely smaller than a Cardinal although it did sport a spiky tuft of a crown. I did not boost the saturation of this bird, although the overcast feel of the day did give it more of a natural pop against the duller background. The Summer Tanager was the next option, but even that species is pretty much duller red all over and seemed stockier than this specimen- see my previous reference (link here). Hmmm – staying in that arena, it did have a feel of Scarlet Tanager which is definitely closer to the red hue along with the darker wing coloring. The definite robber mask set this one apart from that. My previous Scarlet reference is of a water logged specimen, but you can see that here (link here). (Note, I do have a better Scarlet in the queue, just need to find some time to get it posted).
Hit the jump to see more images of this bird and, of course, learn what it is if you haven’t seen one before.
Clearly the Red of the Cardinal and the Summer Tanager do not stack up to this, nor the Scarlet of the other Tanager. Nope, this Johnny Flame On of a bird has to have a name that better separates it from the other red imposters of the birding world. That is exactly what the discoverers of this bird did when they named it the Vermilion Flycatcher. Pretty much the Ferrari of the skyways. I suspect this neon red bird is constantly being profiled and pulled over for speeding. The particular specimen captured here was hanging out at the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Texas.
That refuge has quickly become one of my favorite places to visit in Texas. Anahuac sits north of Galveston Island just up from Bolivar Peninsula. We have had the pleasure of visiting there a couple of times now and each time has been very productive. The problem is finding out how to get into it. We recommend coming in off of 61. The first time we tried finding it we came up 87 and ended up wasting a lot of time to get back on the North side of it where the main entrance is. Linda and I ended up getting a visit from the conservation patrol officers because we were in a closed off section of the park – think it was hunting season or a privately owned part of the refuge. In either case, they didn’t want us there and were nice enough to give us directions to the entrance we wanted.
Although visited there twice now, I can honestly tell you we haven’t yet scratched the surface of that refuge. They have an amazing auto-tour loop which takes you through a number of large ponds full of birds – absolutely FULL. There are also a number of boardwalks you can take that allow access to more wooded areas of the park and straight out into the heavily reeded waterways. I highly recommend the first boardwalk you come to on the right side of the road. That is where I first spotted this Vermilion. It was hanging out in the trees at the time looking quite stunning. Turns out it was looking to fill the gas tank.
As are all flycatchers, this one was extremely agile in the air. It wasn’t long before it had found a suitable item for lunch. By then, it had moved just outside the refuge entrance. Wanting to explore more of the refuge before it got dark, opted to head back to the RV. As luck would have it, it was still hanging by the entrance when we left in what looked to be some form of substation. That allowed me to jump out and take a bit more time producing the first shot in the post. And now the obligatory over shoulder shot giving a good view of the back feathering on this Flycatcher.
As tradition goes, this is a new bird to the blog, so time to hit the reference sites and see what interesting facts we can find about this electric red bird. Definitely a bird that prefers the very southern region of the United States on into Central American and down into South America. My brother Ron will have to travel if he wants to catch up to me with this one. There are 12 subspecies of the Vermilion across their southern regions. Apparently quite the ladies’ man bringing butterflies and other colorful insects to the female in hopes of action after the prom. “I killed these pretty bugs just for you wink wink!” An lastly, thanks to a 800 million dollar government study we now know the breeding male spends up to 90% of its day perched on wires watching sports on the boob tube drinking red Kool-Aid out of a bendable straw..
“Hey, you stupid birder, you take those made up facts and high tail it out of here – THAT AWAY!” Hehehehe, well, it does say they spend that amount perched… I might have embellished a bit, but clearly no reason to kick us out of the refuge. We will definitely be back. This recent trip we were able to cover some new areas, but still a large number of areas to explore. Can’t wait to see what other birds are hanging out there.