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Spring in South Texas - Birdapalooza!






Spring migration, when birds leave their winter homes and fly for thousands of miles to their summer range, is an exciting time for all bird enthusiasts. But nowhere is it more fun to witness this annual rite than in the southern part of Texas. This area is a major flyway for many species migrating from South America to the U.S. Visiting this area in spring means you get to see the amazing resident birds that call this area home, but you also get to see myriad birds that are just passing through the area.


Several "bird ranches" have been established to provide food sources and shelter for the birds and have specially constructed ground blinds so that you can photograph the many species of birds from ground level! This makes for some photographs that are inviting to the viewer and have that something special that will set your bird images apart from the thousands of others that are seen on social media.


I had the pleasure of visiting one of these bird ranches a few years ago. I accompanied a private client that wanted to go and needed some photographic tutoring. Little did I know that I would learn so much myself!! I am a confident landscape and underwater photographer, but honestly, birding was a bit of a new twist for me. I am happy to report, that after 5 days in the ground blinds, I came away with not only gorgeous images, but a knowledge base of how to photograph birds that has served me well ever since.


I am leading a trip next spring to South Texas and I can't wait to share this amazing area with enthusiastic bird photographers! What type of images can you expect to capture during your visit to the Texas bird ranches?


The Crested Caracara


Watching the antics of the crested caracara was one of the highlights of the raptor blinds. These beautiful resident birds are gorgeous in flight, and they have several unique behaviors that make them quite entertaining to watch. The backwards headflip-a real gymnastic feat!- is especially fun to capture with your camera. After watching these birds for a bit, I was able to anticipate what they were going to do and be ready to catch them in action.


Notice that the backgrounds behind the birds are perfectly located to allow it to fall out of focus for a very pleasing back drop for your images. Great care has gone into designing the blinds, for comfort and for photographic success!


The other raptor that I found particularly beautiful was the Harris Hawk. This was a new bird for me, so I loved learning about it's behaviors and watching it soar with such grace. The fun thing about having so much time with the birds is this allows you to work on special "shot lists." I usually let whatever happens just play out and photograph as I go. But after a few days, I recognized several very interesting behaviors that I really wanted to try to capture. This was my first time doing a shot list, but it challenged me to step outside my comfort zone and just have fun. And I did!!


One such shot was an in flight shot with just the eye of the bird visible between the feathers. Talk about a challenge!!! This became a "spray and pray" technique but I was rewarded with several peaking out from the feather shots that I really liked!



Such is the luxury of the bird ranches. You have multiple opportunities to hone a new technique or work on capturing special images that you've only ever dreamed of, all with my guidance just a few feet away.


In addition to raptor blinds, the ranches offer water features that draw in the smaller songbirds. The birds are absolutely wild, but they are attracted to the oasis of these small ponds in the very arid climate of south Texas. Being eye level with the birds as they come in for a drink makes for some amazing images, often with reflections that make them even more special





The variety of birds in a beautiful setting, lovely accommodations and all the help you need to succeed makes this a very special opportunity. It is almost impossible to get time at any of these ranches during spring migration, unless you are lucky enough to go with a pre arranged group tour.


I hope you will consider joining me next April for a tour of south Texas during peak migration. I can guarantee you we will have fun and get some amazing images along the way! Please reach out with any questions about the tour, gear, what to bring etc. I'm happy to answer any questions and share my enthusiasm for this unique birding destination.


Here is the link for more information, what is included and how to sign up.



Don't miss this chance to have a great time with me in South Texas!

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