Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Longenbaugh Road

R is for roads, raptors, and ruminators, so I'm linking up with Alphabe-Thursday .

This weekend, I headed to the Texas Hill Country for a hike at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area with one of the Meetup Groups.  Enchanted Rock is one of the sites along the Heart of Texas Wildlife Trail - West, but I've discovered I cannot be a hiker and a photographer/birder at the same time.  With a camera, my pace is about a mile an hour.  I'll visit another time with the intention of wildlife photography.

The hike was not until Sunday, and check-in time at my hotel was not until 4 pm, so I visited some of the Katy Prairie sites of the Coastal Birding Trails on my way out of town Saturday.  That's Longenbaugh Road in the above photo.  I searched for the waterfowl pond, but was not able to find it.  I didn't see any signs, all of the gates along the road were locked, and there were no obvious large bodies of water.  I did find birds, though, including the ever-present vultures.            

I've seen vultures stretch their wings while roosting before, always shortly before taking off.  Are they doing this to dry their feathers and warm themselves, I wonder, or simply to loosen up before taking flight?  There was no sun on this day, but there was rain.

Both vulture species were posing this way, so I captured some shots that illustrate the difference in appearance when sited soaring overhead.  Turkey vultures have light feathers on the bottom halves of their wings...

...while Black Vultures have solid dark wings with the exception of light tips.

I thought I was photographing a Red-Tailed Hawk, but when I uploaded the pictures, the head was wrong.  The tail doesn't really look red, either.  With those facial markings, I think it has to be a Prairie Falcon.  Birds look so different when they are fluffed up against the rain and cold, they confuse me sometimes.

There was a cattle herd in the field, as well.  They mostly ignored me, but the young one never looked away.  I wonder what he found so fascinating.

I Googled  the site after returning home, and the satellite map does show a spot in the field that could very well be the Longenbaugh Waterfowl Pond.  I wonder if I looked right at it without seeing.

The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail - Upper Texas Coast:  UTC098
Date of visit:  3/15/2014
Time:  Midday
Temp:  68 deg F
Conditions:  Overcast, periods of light rain.
Species identified (11):  White-winged Dove, Northern Mockingbird, Turkey Vulture, Prairie Falcon, Black Vulture, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Mourning Dove, Savannah Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, European Starling


  1. Good Luck with your mission to visit all the birding and wildlife trails of Texas - Enchanted rock seems a good one to tick off the list!
    Wren x

  2. Walking and photography are not always the best mix - I have just made up my mind that a slow walk is still a walk!

    Great vultures.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    PS: thanks for the comments about the email - I just think I was shocked by the whole episode!

  3. No matter....I think walking and birding are a perfect combination!! You're getting fresh air, exercise and having an opportunity to sight a beautiful bird!
    ...and I like vultures too!

    The cattle photo is awesome also. That calf is curious, and pretty watching you watch them.

  4. Wonderful photography ~ Vulture in flight is amazing ~ Great post for R ~ xxx

    artmusedog and carol
    (A Creative Harbor)

  5. Lovely stretch of road. Makes me miss taking long drives.

  6. I love a good stretch of road.

    And this was a great one!

    Stopping by to visit a few R's today.

    Thanks for the mini-trip. It was relaxing and fun!


  7. we have a lot of turkey vultures on my place - they never fail to amaze me when they take flight...

  8. Great photos, loved the one of the vulture in flight.

  9. A friend told me about Meetup when I mentioned hiking and not wanting to start out on my own, I'd never heard of it. It crossed my mind about mingling a group hike with photography, and whether or not that was a good idea. We do have a local chapter of the Audubon Society which sponsors birding trips. Maybe that would be more compatible. Nice vulture and falcon shots.

  10. Wonderful photos! Exquisite catching birds!

  11. Walking and birding is the best, but a short walk can take an awful long time when you keep stopping to study admire the birds you see. Good to see the difference in TV and BV - Turkey Vulture looks slightly larger too?

  12. i like all the criss-crossing lines in the first shot. cattle always make me smile - calves especially. :) like the vultures.

  13. hiking and photographing - yeah I get that - it reminds me of hubby and I - he likes to hike:) Great captures!

  14. Exquisite shots -especially the vulture in flight.

    Have a great weekend!

  15. What a wonderful area to explore! I empathize about hiking and photographing at the same time when you're with a group.

    Love those vulture shots! You're right about why they spread their wings. During the night, they reduce their body temperature to preserve energy and early in the mornings they spread their wings to absorb radiant heat to help them warm up. In wet weather, they spread them to help dry out quickly.

    I think you may have been right the first time about your hawk. It appears to be a Red-tailed Hawk based on the belly-band streaks, head coloration spreading down into the upper sides of the breast, light-colored throat and overall "bulky" looking appearance (somewhat due to its "fluffed up" posture). The red tail of adults is not always obvious when perched and immature birds have very little red at all.

    Best of luck as your adventure continues!

  16. Love the shot of the vulture in flight! I do love cows too.