Raptors, Raptors, Raptors!!!!


Yesterday I posted one of my Red-tailed Hawks to my FaceBook page.  In doing so, I was reminded that it had been a long time since I had blogged about raptors of any kind.  So today, I decided to go back through my archives.  I found a few that I don’t think I have ever posted, some that I hadn’t edited yet, and a few of my favorites.

I will begin with fore-mentioned Red-tailed Hawk.  It was taken a few years ago while on my way to Ballinger, Texas.  He was in the grass on the left side of the highway.  I pulled to the right and stopped and managed to get the photo as he was leaving the ground.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

This next photo of the Zone-tailed Hawk, I got just this morning as I was driving through Spring Creek Park near Lake Nasworthy.  I was lucky indeed as sightings of the Zone-tails are very rare around this area of the state.  I do believe I interrupted his meal of a fresh caught ground squirrel.

Zone-tailed Hawk with fresh catch.

Zone-tailed Hawk with fresh catch.

Next is a Cooper’s Hawk that I captured a few years ago in Big Bend National Park.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks are difficult to discern between the two species.  I believe the next image is a Sharp-shinned Hawk.  Notice the Cooper’s (above), has a slightly flattish head, where the Sharp-shinned’s head is a bit more rounder.  I may get letters about this, but the sure way to see the difference is you can see the birds next to each other.  The Cooper’s will be the larger.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

People don’t think the Greater Roadrunner as a raptor, but he is definitely a voracious carnivore, as this next photo will show.  This image is pictured on the cover of my book, “Birds, Beasts, and Buttes”.

Great Roadrunner

Great Roadrunner

Another Red-tailed Hawk….

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

More Raptors……

Osprey

Osprey

Young Great-horned Owl.  A raptor to be.

Young Great-horned Owl. A raptor to be.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Another Roadrunner….

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

Click on any image to see great enlargements.

 

Post Processing? or Not?


A lot has been said about post processing.  In the old days of film, you took a roll of film to your local camera store or a WallyWorld to get it developed.  (Or if you had a darkroom, you could do it yourself.)   That in itself is a kind of post processing.  Depending on how good the individual was at his job, you got back a set of decent 3×5 prints.  Sometimes the color was off on one of them due to batch processing.  Then you could take that one negative back and have him or her custom print it.  In other words, adjust the color, or brightness, or whatever was needed to get the print right.  Post processing.

Now in the 21st century we are in the digital age.  We take photos with our digital camera.  Again we can take the memory card to your favorite “developer” and have them do the prints for you.  Or, again, you can do the processing yourself.  Regardless of how good the camera is, it can never get the absolute picture that you saw with your naked eye.  But most individuals are satisfied with what comes out of the camera.  They are good enough to show their friends and relatives, or post to a popular social media.  Or to sell.

Some people say, “get it right in the camera, and there is no need for post processing.”   An image from the camera does look ‘right’.  Or does it?  Look at the following photos of mine.  The images from the camera do look right.  I would probably would be able to sell them the way they are.  But, when I do my post processing, or digital darkroom work, as I like to call it, all of a sudden the photos look more like what I saw before I took the picture.

Click on the photos and examine each one and you will know what I am talking about.

Western Kingbird from the camera.

Cassin’s Kingbird from the camera.

Western Kingbird after post processing.

Cassin’s Kingbird after post processing.

Another.

White-breasted Nuthatch from camera

White-breasted Nuthatch from camera

White-breasted Nuthatch after post processing.

White-breasted Nuthatch after post processing.

In no way do either of these photo look “tricked up” or faked in anyway.  The changes are subtle, but noticeable enough to give more naturalism to the images.

It is very, very rare for me to NOT to post process, or at least check the images out to see if any edits need to be made.  Not that my photos don’t look good from the camera;  it is just that I know that the camera just can’t record all the minute details, or see as well into the shadows as well as my human eye.  So as you can see, it doesn’t hurt to do a bit of post processing, or editing, then you know for sure your result is closer to what you saw in the viewfinder before you clicked the shutter.

For the record, I use PhotoShop along with a couple of choice plug-in programs.  “An old family recipe ‘that was handed down………..”,  just kidding.. :-)

Jerry, over at Quiet Solo Pursuits, talks more about this at the end of his current post.  Click on the link to see his take on it.

 

Sunday at San Angelo State Park


On Sunday morning, Ann and I decided to visit the bird blind at San Angelo State Park.  There we met our friend, Christie McCorts-Chambers, as she had the same thoughts as ours.  We sat and watched the birds to see if there was anything new to drop by.  There were a couple of Black-chinned Hummingbirds that were quite active and I managed to get some nice shots of those.  Also, I was pleased that a beautiful, male House Finch decided to pose for me.

House Finch

House Finch

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

A male Northern Bobwhite made a brief visit at the back of the viewing area, but I managed to get a photo with my Canon 70D and Tamron 150-600mm lens, as I had with all of these photos.   He was about 60 feet away, but as I do with most of my photos, I still was able to crop for a nice close-up.

Northern Bobwhite

Northern Bobwhite

We decided to take a drive around the park.  We asked Christie to join us so we spent a couple hours checking out all areas.  Most of what we observed were too far for decent photos, but for birding we saw a total of 27 species for the morning.  Here is one photo of a perhaps a young, or a female Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.  The tail is quite shorter than normal male adult.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Click on any photo to see enlargements.

Fort Davis abreviated visit.


Once again, my medical problems intervened with our anniversary trip to the Davis Mountains.  But not to worry, as I write this I am feeling fine again.

We arrived late in the afternoon on Sunday, and this is what greeted us just a few miles before we were to arrive in Fort Davis.

Gathering storm over the Davis Mountains of west Texas.

Gathering storm over the Davis Mountains of west Texas.

We were in luck as the rains held off until later that evening.  As we were unloading, this Say’s Phoebe hopped along a concrete curb.  That was a bird that we could add to our 2014 Texas Big Year list.  A nice start to our weekend.

Say's Phoebe

Say’s Phoebe

We were staying at the Davis Mountains Inn, a very nice bed-n-breakfast.  Our room was huge with king-sized bed, flat-screen TV, jacuzzi, walk-in showers, and a walk-in closet that was big enough to use as a spare bedroom.

We were early enough so after checking in and putting our stuff away, we decided to make a quick run to the bird viewing area at Davis Mountains State Park.  Immediately, we were able to see and photograph a White-breasted Nuthatch.

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

A Rufous Hummingbird lit on a nearby feeder.  I had only a few seconds to get a shot.  I rattled off a few, but unfortunately all of the images caught him as he was dipping his head to get that nectar.

Adult Rufous Hummingbird at the feed trough.

Adult Rufous Hummingbird at the feed trough.

We left after that to get some dinner then head back to our room to get some sleep, looking forward to a full next day of birding and getting some photographs.

The next morning, Monday, Annette Huffaker cooked us a very excellent breakfast of scrambled eggs, tasty sausage and a creation of hers, french toast casserole.  Breakfast was served at 8:00, but as Ann and I rise much earlier, we were there drinking coffee and sitting on the porch, watching the sunrise, and a few butterflies.

Queen Butterfly

Queen Butterfly

After eating, we headed back to the state park.  Going straight to the bird viewing area, we were then quickly rewarded with a female Black-headed Grosbeak,

female Black-headed Grosbeak

female Black-headed Grosbeak

a male Black-headed Grosbeak,

male Black-headed Grosbeak

male Black-headed Grosbeak

then a male Summer Tanager.

Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager

We saw several other species there, but the above photos were some of the highlights.  Traveling between the park and our inn, I was able to photograph a Cassin’s Kingbird.  It wasn’t a new bird for me, but it was the first time I was able to get a good photograph of one.  The Cassin’s is a rare kingbird around our home in San Angelo, but here in the Davis Mountains, they are seen quite regularly.

Cassin's Kingbird

Cassin’s Kingbird

It was about then that I experienced some medical problems, and I ended up spending the rest of the day resting in our room.  But we were happy with what we saw for the three or four hours that we were able to spend.  We saw 32 species and we added four new one to our 2014 Texas Big Year list.  We are now at 178, with our goal of 200 well in sight.

We hope to come back to the Davis Mountains soon, but we also want to visit Bob Shackleford down in Uvalde, Texas so see some great birds, and also make another trip to the Big Bend National Park area.  So if my health holds out we still have an exciting fall and winter coming up.

I hope you enjoyed this post and and the photographs.  Click on any of them to see enlargements.

 

New Quiz – Which Kingbird is it??


Today I am giving you a quiz that is a bit more tricky.  It even had me stumped when I first saw it.  I like these, because it makes you get your bird guides out and study harder.  These photos were taken near Fort Davis, Texas on August 18, 2014.  Un-retouched except for a little sharpening.  You may click on the photo to see it enlarged.

I would love to hear more comments, too.

As usual, study the picture, then click your answer in the poll below.

What is this bird?

What bird is this??

Which Kingbird is this.

What bird is this??

Celebrating our 56th


Ann and I will be gone for a few days.  We are leaving tomorrow morning, August 17th for Fort Davis, Texas.  We getting away from our 100 degree heat for a few days.  We will be staying at the Davis Mountains Inn, a bed and breakfast.  Our 56th anniversary is Monday the 18th, but we will probably celebrate by doing a little birding and some photography at Davis Mountains State Park.

We are only going to be gone for about three days, but during that time we hope to drive the scenic loop that takes us around the Davis Mountains and near the McDonald’s Observatory.  In the past we have been able to see plenty of wildlife and see magnificent mountain scenery.  My camera will be ready.

We will be back home here in San Angelo sometime the afternoon of the 20th.  Hoping to bring back plenty photos to show you in future posts.  In the meantime, here is a recent photo of a Greater Roadrunner.   Enjoy.

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

Quiz result – Woodpecker species


Thanks to all participating in my latest quiz.  Click here to review it.  The bird is a Lewis’s Woodpecker.  It was photographed here in San Angelo, Texas.  It was really out of range for that species.  But, as sometimes happens, he wandered off course during migration, and ended up here.  He was observed for about three days, then he moved on.

I only had one shot at him.  We were driving through Middle Concho park, when Ann spotted high atop a dead tree branch.  After I took the photo, he then flew off into some other trees.  I never saw him again.

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewis’s Woodpecker