Brown Pelican in West Texas


Hot days and no new birds.  The migration isn’t here yet, although I have received reports that it has started up north, so they are on the way here.  I will welcome them.  Anyway, in the meantime, it is back to my archives to see what I have forgotten about.

Going all the way back to 2011, and what did I find.  A bunch of photos of a Brown Pelicans that made an out-of-the-way stop at the City Water Ponds down in Eldorado.  They are indigent to the gulf coast, but on rare occasions one will make it’s way to our warm climes here in west Texas.

On this particular occasion, our friends that live in Eldorado, only a few blocks from the ponds, called us immediately after they spotted him.  It’s nice to have friends in high places.  Anyway, we were down there within an hour.  Here are a few of the images that I was able to get.

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

Look Ma!!!

Look Ma!!!

Brown Pelican in flight

Brown Pelican in flight

Brown Pelican in flight.

Brown Pelican in flight.

Click on any image to see some enlargements.  Hope you enjoy.

Beating the Summer Doldrums


Some people call it the dog days of summer.  Either way, it a somewhat boring time of the year for me.  The heat usually keeps me indoors and it keeps the birds from showing up.  Since I have had several weeks of trying to get my blood pressure meds adjusted, I haven’t been able to get out much.  But, after seeing my good doctor a couple of days ago for another adjustment, I think he has finally got it right.  I have been feeling the best that I have in two or three months.

Ann and I decided to finally do some serious birding yesterday morning.  For a change we drove down to Eldorado to visit our friends, Sid and Suzanne Johnson, and got them to go with us.

Our first stop was at the City Water Ponds.  It wasn’t a good time to be birding there, since it usually is home to all sorts of water birds, but of course, they are pretty much absent until the end of August or early September.  However, we saw some Red-winged Blackbirds in the reeds and an American Coot.  Around the outer fence line we saw a few Lark Sparrows but that was pretty much all she wrote.

So we then decided to drive out County Road 2596.  It a great birding road; no traffic to speak of, so we can creep along the shoulder at a slow speed, and there is great habitat on either side of the highway.  There we had much more success, and added two more birds to our 2014 Big Year list;  Bell’s Vireo and an Orchard Oriole.  That brings our current total to 172.  We should reach our goal of 200 by the end of the year.

There is a Crested Caracara nest a few miles out, but the birds were not  in the building.  Overhead we saw what we thought was a Red-tailed Hawk.  I took a long range photo, but when I got it magnified in the computer, I discovered it was a Swainson’s Hawk.  In all we saw a total of 32 species.  Not a specially great day, but the fun is in the hunt.

Here are a few photos from yesterday, and also from the past few small outings that Ann and I took.

Curved-bill Thrasher

Curved-bill Thrasher singing his song.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo - he can sing, too.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo – he can sing, too.

Bronzed Cowbird

Bronzed Cowbird

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal - female

Northern Cardinal – female

Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren

House Finch

House Finch

House Finch - femals

House Finch – female

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird – female

Painted Bunting - getting a bath.

Painted Bunting – getting a bath

Hope you enjoyed the photos.  Click on any of them to see enlargements.  To see my entire gallery go to http://www.bobzellerphotography.smugmug.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Quiz and previous results


I have a new quiz for you, but first the results of the last quiz . What a surprise I got when I looked at the results.  I posted a photo of a Cactus Wren, (Yes, folks, it is a Cactus Wren).  Surprisingly, out of 133 votes cast,  it got only 8, as in eight, total votes.  I surmise that it was because the bird is from my area here in the southwest, and most of you are not familiar with it.  And apparently, most of you don’t own any bird guides.  But that’s okay, I got you to participate, and that’s what this all about.  Just having fun.  If I can get one or two you hooked on birding, my job will be done.

The Cactus Wren has a white brow, similar to the Carolina Wren, but there the similarity stops for the most part.  The Cactus has a varied spotted breast, barred wings, and streaked back. The lower breast is slightly buff, not as bold as the buff breast of the Carolina.

You done me good, by having 133 of you take part in the voting, and I am happy about that.  Here are the total votes of each bird offered.

Carolina Wren, a whopping 73 votes.

Rock Wren, was second with 42 votes.

Canyon Wren garnered 9.

Cactus Wren. 8 correct votes.

Bewick’s Wren, one vote.

Thanks to all for participating. :-)

Okay, now for the new quiz.  This one is a simple one.  Is this bird a Tufted Titmouse, or a Black-crested Titmouse.  Vote below and choose between the two titmouses listed.  Results posted next week.  Have fun!

What is this bird?

What is this bird?

 

Quiz – Do you know your Wrens??


Okay, I have a good one this time.  No funny stuff, and no trick questions.  Since this quiz has so many possibilities, I am going to let it run for a week to give you plenty of time to investigate your guide books, or to make your up mind as too which one you will take a guess at.

So let’s have at it.  What species of wren is pictured here?  Answer will be posted next Saturday, July 19, 2014.  You can click on the image to see an enlarged photo for closer viewing.

IMG_7734-net-wren-cactus-bob-zeller

New Page – New Photos


First, I would like to mention that I have a new, additional page that you can see at the top of this post.  It is “Yakkety-Sax Man”.  It is the story of my music career.  Some of you already know about it, but I decided to post it a manner where you can select the six parts individually.  Just click on the ‘button’, or this shortcut.

Ann and I got out for a couple of hours on Tuesday morning.  This is the proverbial dog days of summer.  Hot, not too many birds moving.  But a birder can find opportunities if he or she perserveres.  I lucked out and saw a Bronzed Cowbird.  They are somewhat solitary, not usually in large groups.  This one was all alone in the grass at Spring Creek Park, here in San Angelo.  I love the bluish iridenscent color of the wings, and of course, that flashing red eye.

Bronzed Cowbird

Bronzed Cowbird

Further along the way, I saw this pretty Northern Cardinal.  I must admit that I already have many, many photographs of a cardinal, and I usually just ignore them, looking for that photo that may be better than the others.   But with so few birds in our count, and needing some photos for my post, I gave it a shot.  Once I saw it in my digital darkroom, AKA my computer, I realized that it was one of my better ones, so I am glad I didn’t ignore it this time.  I hope you like it.

North Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Click on either image to see an enlargement.  To see more of my photographs, click on the Galleries button at the top of the page, then click on my SmugMug gallery.

Latest Quiz Results of July 5


Wow!  Another fun quiz, and many more responders this time.  Click here to see original test.  I am glad to see so many people are enjoying these tests of birding identifications.  The photo is a Lesser Scaup.  For those that might have considered the Greater Scaup, I apologize for not saying that this bird was photographed here in San Angelo, Texas.  This area is far out of range for the Greater, although it has made a rare appearance in the past.

There were a total of 116 votes cast.  Lesser Scaup  67;  Common Golden-eye  40;  Ring-necked Duck;  8;  Redhead  1.  One person, at least, thought it was a Greater Scaup.  Perhaps I should have listed it as an option.  It certainly would have made for some great discussion.

Judy of Flights of Wonder, said it best in her comment, and I hope she doesn’t mind me using it.  Here is what she said:

“Hi, Bob. Ring-Necks have a blue bill with black tip and a little white ring around the black tip; plus a little white ‘stripe’ between the black chest and the greyish sides. Lesser Scaups have the black chest and black rear end with whitish/greyish back and belly, along with a ‘peaked’ appearance to the head, which has a purple irridescense. This guy’s a Lesser Scaup. (Greater Scaups tend to have a head with a greenish irridescense – though the lighting can play tricks with that one – and their bellies are more whitish than grayish. I worked on these guys a long time this past winter!!”

Now for the birds that it wasn’t.

Common Golden-eye

Common Golden-eye

Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck

Redhead

Redhead

Brunette AKA my wife, Ann when she was a brunette.

Brunette, AKA my wife, Ann, before I caused her hair to turn gray.

Click on any photo to see enlargements.  Stay tuned, I am working on another quiz to appear here soon.

 

 

 

Holiday photos – gotta get out more.


I am still ailing just a little bit, getting used to some new meds, but don’t fret, I should be 100% in a few days.  I really feeling like getting out more, and I did so for a few hours during the recent Fourth of July holiday.  Here are a few results, mostly from our local San Angelo State Park.

Greater Roadrunner resting in a tree.

Greater Roadrunner resting in a tree.

Greater Roadrunner enjoying the chase.

Greater Roadrunner enjoying the chase.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker - female taking a pose for me.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker – female taking a pose for me.

House Finch ruffling it's feathers.

House Finch ruffling it’s feathers.

Click on any image to see some enlargements and enjoy.  A couple of these will probably end up in my gallery at http:www.bobzellerphotography.smugmug.com.  Have a look when you can.

Anatomy of a hunt………


Now that my health issues seem to be improving day by day, I have finally felt more like getting back out in the field.  I think my recovery is going to be much quicker than I thought.  On Monday we took off for a couple of hours and  I was able to observe this Great Blue Heron hunting along a shoreline.  I was about 150 feet, (50 yards) away, when I first saw him.  I stopped the car, rolled down the window and turned off the engine.  I propped my Canon 70D with my Tamron 150-600mm lens on the sill, and composed through the viewfinder for the hopeful shots to come.

I would like to mention here, that I decided to experiment with back-button auto-focusing.  Whereas you use the AF-ON button on the back of the camera instead of using the shutter half-way.  It can be used on most Canon SLR cameras.  I think I am going to like that method.  I think you will agree from the images below, that the system worked fine for me.  Click on the above link for a detailed explanation.

Anyway, I didn’t have to wait too long.  After a few minutes, some movement in the water attracted his attention.  I pressed the shutter, which was set for high-speed multiple shooting and I was able to get the following sequence of his success.  I must say though, that there was actually about fifteen images taken in the space of about two seconds,  but because at the high speed of the series, many of them looked pretty much the same, so I am showing you five of the basics to tell the story.

Just waiting and watching

Just waiting and watching

Hey, what was that that I saw from the corner of my eye?

Hey, what was that that I saw from the corner of my eye?

Better check it out.

Better check it out.

Gad. this water is yucky.  Must keep it out of my eyes.

Gad. this water is yucky. Must keep it out of my eyes.

I don't know what you are, but you are all mine, weeds and all.

I don’t know what you are, but you are all mine, weeds and all.

I am not sure what he caught.  I think there may have been a crawfish, but also some weed.  Anyway, he swallowed it all.

Exposure was Aperture Priority, f8 @ 1/800 sec.  ISO was on auto, and varied between 400 and 800.

Click on the images to see great enlargements.  Hope you enjoy.

 

Quiz results are in…..


What a fun quiz that was.  Click here to see the original post. The photo is, of course, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  It is identified from the Orange-crowned Warbler by the two white wing bars, one of them is usually concealed.  The eye, instead of being barred like the OCW, just has very pale crescents in front of and behind the eye.  The ruby crown can be seen only part of the time, depending on the mood of the bird.  The female has no ruby crown.

The Orange-crowned Warbler is rather plain, dull and unmarked.  Kind of a flat oliveish/green.  The most distinctive part is the bit of yellow under the tail.  But it does have a bar thru the eye that you should look for.

Initially, the Orange-crowned Warbler obtained a prompt 25 votes, making me go back to the guides and see if I had made a monstrous mistake.  But soon, people starting taking a closer look at the guides and the Ruby-crowned Kinglet got 49 correct votes, and the warbler with 36.

There were a five people who were obviously not birders, but enjoyed the quiz just the same.  And I am glad that they did, and hope they will participate in some future quizzes.  They are the ones that failed to see that the Red-topped Titmouse is fictional, and a figment of my own imagination.

Of course, this was not a contest.  Only a fun quiz to test your knowledge.  I will try to come up with another one soon.  I thank everybody for participating.  For my identifications, I usually consult the Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America.

A few recent photos…..


Hi, everybody.  My health is still having some minor issues, and I am still not up to 100%, but gaining on it.  But I know that you readers love to see what photos I have taken recently, as I am still trying to get out in the field for a few hours.  Here are a ten images, including maybe a few older ones that you may not  have seen before.  Click to see enlargements, and enjoy. :-)

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

Northern Bobwhite

Northern Bobwhite

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

American Robin

American Robin

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron – in flight along the Concho River

Bewicks Wren

Bewicks Wren

Burrowing Owl - in early morning light.

Burrowing Owl – in early morning light.