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.

Flora and Fauna, etc.


I woke up this morning and said to myself, “Self, (that is what I call myself at times), you need to write a post”.  I haven’t written one in several days.  It has just been one of those periods where it seems that I haven’t accomplished anything.  We had lots of rain, really gully-washers, here and the lakes have received much water.  The lake where I spend most of my time with my photography was literally over the banks, where previously it had almost dried up.  The gates were opened to bring the depth back to the normal.  That water will flow downstream to replenish yet another reservoir a few miles south.

So when I finally got out a few days ago, decided to go to several venues where I like to photograph.  First, here is a photo that I got in my own backyard, where we received seven and a half inches of the wet stuff.   A very wet, not dried off yet, immature female Bullock’s Oriole.

A very wet immature female Blullock's Oriole.

A very wet immature female Blullock’s Oriole.

We headed to San Angelo State Park.  We noticed that O. C. Fisher Lake there had received some water also.  Reportedly it rose from a dry bed to nine feet of water.  Should help the overall wildlife of the area.  Even the Prairie Dogs are happy, judging from this mother frolicing with an  off-spring.

PLayful Prairie Dogs

Playful Prairie Dogs

This photo was taken in the north part of the park at the prairie dog village there.  Also,while in that area we spotted a couple of Mississippi Kites in a tree.

Mississippi Kite

Mississippi Kite

Killdeer sheltering a young one.

Killdeer sheltering a young one.

Look close at the above picture.  No, it is not a four-legged Killdeer, nor are those training wheels.  When we first spotted the adult Killdeer, the chick was several yard away.  As we approached, it sensed danger and ran for it’s mother and hid under a wing.  I snapped a few photos, then left, as I don’t like to stress the wildlife for the sake of a photograph.

More images from the park included the following.

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

Bewick's Wren

Bewick’s Wren

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus

Leaving the park, we decided to venture downtown.  San Angelo is the home to one of  just a handful of International Water Lily Collections in the world.  Ken Landon, the curator and owner, collects specimens from all over the world.  He is just now putting out the plants for the summer, but several of them were in bloom already.  The five pools, (soon to be six) are each about half full, but will be completely filled with gorgeous blossoms of all shapes and sizes very soon.  Here are a couple of images that I captured.  As you can see from the water droplets, the rains had just recently finished.

Water Lily blossom

Water Lily blossom

Water Lilies

Water Lilies

I hope you enjoyed this diverse collection of images.  Click on any or all of them to see enlargements.

Recent photos and another first……


Click on the post title to see it in it’s entirety and all of the photos.  Also click on the images to see enlargements.

I have been shooting more than I have been thinking about something to write about.  So I will just write about the pictures I have taken the past week.

First I need to mention, that it is said that there never has been a nesting pair of American Coots in this area.  Well, that has changed.  At a pond at San Angelo State Park there are a pair of adults and at least five young ones.  Here is a photo that I captured of one of the babies.

American Coot - a very young one.

American Coot – a very young one.

On another day at the bird blind in the park I captured this amazingly beautiful European Starling.  I don’t often compliment starlings on their looks, but you have to admit there is a certain beauty about him.

European Starling

European Starling

Then I got lucky with a cute pose of the Northern Cardinal.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

This Golden-fronted Woodpecker always is a feast of color to look at.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

After leaving the blind, we drove through the park a bit and caught this Greater Roadrunner with a grasshopper.  I have a hard time resisting photographing these popular birds.

Great Roadrunner

Great Roadrunner

Upon leaving the park, Ann spotted this Common Nighthawk on a branch.  Our first sighting of one this year.  That brings our 2014 Big Year total to 167.

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

All photos were taken with my Canon EOS 70D and Tamron 150-600mm lens.  Hope you enjoy.