Migratory Fallout @ South Padre Island, Texas

About 10 days ago, an unexpected northern front blew through South Texas and with it came a massive fallout of migratory birds. To my misfortune, my Canon 7D was at Canon CPS for repair. Those who have shot with me in the past know that I always have two cameras but I had sold my 1Ds MarkII so that I could save up for a new full frame camera. Well, I still haven’t purchased a new one so when the fallout came, I was caught without a camera. This past weekend, another northern, though much less intense, pushed through the area. With my 7D back from repair, I drove to the South Padre Island Convention Center and was able to photograph the birds below. While this second fallout was nothing compared to the week before, I had a great time and some interesting experiences. The weather is warm now and these birds will soon be departing but they’ll be back another day…and I’ll be there with “two” cameras at the ready.

Until next time, keep shooting. –KEVIN

6 thoughts on “Migratory Fallout @ South Padre Island, Texas

  1. Nice images! I wish we had that kind of diversity of birds here (West Texas). I have noticed, just in our backyard feeder, that we have also been getting birds that we don’t normally see here this time of year (goldfinches, pine siskins, some sparrows), and I assume they’re coming in as a result of all the recent colder weather up north as well. In our case, it may also be because of the long-standing drought. We’re still seeing a lot of red-winged blackbirds at our feeder, and we usually only see them in the winter when foraging by water is more difficult. We’re also seeing fewer of some other species, especially predatory birds.

    • Thanks Sterling. I suspect you are right about the increase in bird activity due to the colder weather. If you are in a drought still, providing them with a natural pond will attract just about everything your region has to offer and would make for a fantastic place to photograph birds and mammals. Not sure if you are in town or in the country but if it’s the latter, you could have a great op for photo setups. Saying that, you could do well in in a city suburb too. I have a post on my blog about backyard birds you might enjoy. I spent a few years in Lubbock going to grad school at Texas Tech so I am familiar with West Texas. Drop me a line if I can ever be of assistance.

      • Oddly enough, Lubbock is actually where I am. We live in the city, with a fairly small yard, so we are limited on what we can do. But we go to the lakes a lot and bird watch. We do have a small birdbath, which isn’t much, but we definitely see increased diversity when there’s water in it. (A tough feat in the dry heat summer when it never rains!) I actually saw a painted bunting in my backyard today. That’s something I never would have expected to see in an urban environment. The only other time I saw one was in a state park. He didn’t seem very sure of himself, and he took off before I could grab my camera. Anyway, thanks for the tips! I look forward to more beautiful bird photos!

      • Lubbock huh? Well, we’ve certainly had some of the same West Texas grit in the teeth from a good dust storm. Only a West Texan can really appreciate that…along with a good ole tumbleweed. If you have seen a painted bunting, then you are bound to be able to attract other species as long as you provide some water, feed, and some cover. I have a small lot in a suburban subdivision and I’ve documented 19 different bird species in my yard. As long as you don’t have cats, you can setup feeders just above ground level, setup perches a little higher than that, and shoot so that the green grass becomes your blurred background. That’s exactly what I did with the male orchard oriole in beautiful warm light (seen in this post). The background is just grass but one would never know it. That was not in my backyard, but at South Padre Island convention center…but the background itself is just carpet grass. Beneath his perch is a feeder tray with seed and oranges. Give it a try. I think you would be surprised at the success you could have…and fun too. Let me know how it goes if you do try it.

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