Good Friday Birding


I received my Canon 7D Mark II back from the factory Thursday evening.  I had a mishap a few weeks ago, and I had messed up the focus system.  I sent it off to Canon, and in eight days they had it repaired and back to me.  A great turn-a-round time.  Anyway, I was anxious to see if all was in working order.  It was, and I must say that I am so impressed with difference in the IQ of it over the 70D, which, by the way, produces darned fine images.  It performed greatly while I was using it as a back-up until I got the Mark II back.

So, anyway, we headed out to the local parks around Lake Nasworthy.  We didn’t stay there long.  We had forgotten about the long Easter weekend, and those parks were crowded with campers, hikers, RVers, walkers, bicyclists, fishermen, etc.  Not much chance of doing any nature photography there.

We went with Plan B and headed out to San Angelo State Park.  Not too many people there, mainly because of the absence of the lake.  Just the mile-wide dry lake bed.

We checked out the blind and caught a few birds there.  These three images needed very little post processing.  Just a bit light adjusting, and a tad more contrast.  Like I said, the Canon 7D Mark II is just amazing.

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia

Canyon Towhee

Canyon Towhee

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee

After spending about some time in the blind, we decided to just take a drive around the park to see what else we might come across.

We saw a Rock Wren up in the rocks of O.C. Fisher Dam.  Very difficult to see, and only if you happen to catch movement.  Ann spotted it, looking very tiny.  Actually too tiny, and too far away for a usuable photo.

A little later we did spot our first of the year Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.  I knew they were due to arrive, as usual, around the first of April.  It was in a small tree way off to the left of us.  I got this shot of him before he flew off.  I didn’t get a really tack-sharp photo, but that was my fault.  Hey, I’m not perfect.  Anyway, here is the result.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  If you are viewing them on your computer, or iPad, click on the images to see some nice enlargements.

Happy Easter!  and Happy Birding!!

Nesting Great Horned Owl


I left Ann at home this morning, as she wanted to catch up on her household chores.  She was understandably jealous, that I was going to go birding and shooting without her, but someone had to do it.

We had discovered a Great Horned Owl’s nest in the fork of a tree a couple of days ago.  I am thinking that there are may be some owlets hidden there.  Great Horned Owls lay there egg sometime in January thru February.  The incubation period is from 28-35 days.  So based on that, the little guys should be ready to fledge.

I saw no sign of owlets, however the mother, I presume, flew from the nest as I approached from about 50 yards away.  I stayed back a good distance and watched as she landed in a nearby tree.  I got my Canon 70D and 150-600mm lens and cautiously got out of the car.  I hand-held the camera, steadying myself against a nearby tree and shot this photo.  The advantage of a long lens, of course, that I can get images from a good distance without disturbing the bird.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

I watched from behind a tree for awhile, then she took flight and flew back to the nest.  Again with my long lens, I was able to catch her peeking at me from her shelter.  Even though I was around 50 feet away she was obviously aware of me.

Great Horned Owl in her nest.

Great Horned Owl in her nest.

Since there was no sign of any owlets, I left her to her motherly duties and left the scene.

I drove through the local parks and saw several of the usual resident species.  I got a couple more photos to show you.

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

Ladder-backed Woodpecker - female

Ladder-backed Woodpecker – female

It was a fun morning even though Ann wasn’t with me.  I missed her doing most of the spotting.  But I done all right by myself, anyway.  Of course, the highlight was photographing the owl.

A little this and that…..


Since my last post I have been trying to catch up on springtime duties around the house.  Mowing lawn, weeding, etc.  So our birding outings have been limited, but we managed to get a few images to show for it.

We ventured out to the north portion of San Angelo State Park today for awhile.  The Lewis’s Woodpecker has finally left, I believe.  We haven’t seen him in over a week anyway.  However, we did see 24 species of birds.

Black-throated Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

IMG_0823-net-wren-cactus-bob-zeller

Cactus Wren watching over her nest.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow

This next photo is unique.  The prickly pear is growing from a mesquite tree limb.  A bird probably dropped a piece or a seed from a cactus into the bark and it took root.  Believe me, prickly pear will take root anywhere you want.  Actually, you can just lay a piece on the ground, forget about it, and it will start growing on the spot.

Prickly Pear growing from mesquite branch.

Prickly Pear growing from mesquite branch.

Mexican Ground Squirrel

Mexican Ground Squirrel

The ground squirrel was photographed a couple of days ago at Middle Concho Park here in San Angelo, as was this image of a Ladder-backed Woodpecker.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker - female

Ladder-backed Woodpecker – female

Ann and I are getting antsy to travel again.  So in two weeks we are heading back to the Big Bend country of far west Texas.  We will visit Big Bend National Park and the surrounding area for about 3-4 days.  We hope to again see this Common Blackhawk that I photographed a couple of years ago.

Common Blackhawk

Common Blackhawk

A rarity in Texas, it has again been seen in it’s favorite area in the Rio Grande Village RV Park.  I think this is the fifth or sixth year that they have nested there, but not sure.  I hope you enjoy the photo.

Okay, that’s it for now.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Happy Birding!!

 

Nothing could be finah, than to see a Carolina…..


A Carolina Wren.  That’s what I am talking about.  We have seen several over the weeks, but never was able to get a quality image.  This one posed quite beautifully for me on a fence post before moving inside the wire fence.

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

It was good day for birding.  We saw 28 species including our first of the year sighting of a Vermilion Flycatcher.  Yesterday we saw our first Bullock’s Oriole, a female at the north unit of San Angelo State Park.

Today, though, we headed to Spring Creek Park and that is where we saw the above Carolina Wrens.

Here are some photos from the past few days, since my last post to this blog.

Black-throated Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Osprey

Osprey

Northern Flicker (red-shafted sub-specie)

Northern Flicker (red-shafted sub-specie)

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

How about another photo of an Osprey.  This time is being protective of that fish dinner he is working on.

Osprey

Osprey

So now the weather is more spring-like and I think we will be seeing more of the spring and summer species arrive.  Our 2015 Big Year list stands at 118 right now.  Our goal by December 31 is to reach 210.  With nine months to go it should be no problem……right??

Until the next post…….Happy Birding

Lewis’s Woodpecker and more


Ann and I got out of the house over the weekend to try to do some birding and hopefully get some photos.  We found that because of spring break, our local city parks are over-run with campers, fishermen, and just people enjoying the nice weather.  Also, there was a professional Disc Golf Tournament going on at Middle Concho Park.  But before I get to that, I would like to tell you about seeing the Lewis’s Woodpecker yesterday, Monday, morning at San Angelo State Park.

Anyway, one of our reasons to heading to SASP was to see if the Lewis’s Woodpecker was still in residence.  It was and is, with it being here since mid-November.  I guess he likes it here, far away from his usual range.  He is hanging around in the same copse of three trees.  However, the Lewis’s Woodpecker loves to perch up very high.  Here those three trees, are leafless near the tops and he can see quite far from about 35-40 feet up.  It also makes for difficult photographs.  He appears quite small in the viewfinder and dark against the blank sky.  This photo was hand-held with my Canon 7D Mark II and Tamron 150-600mm lens.  As much as I tried to adjust for the lighting, I still had to do a little brightening in my post-processing, not to mention some drastic cropping.

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewis’s Woodpecker

After getting several images, we drove around through that portion of the park.  It may be because of the lateness of the day, but we didn’t see too many other bird species except for this Vesper Sparrow and…….

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

…….this American Robin.

American Robin

American Robin

Now here are some images from the prior three days.  Even though the parks were getting crowded I did manage to get a few usable photos.

Ring-necked Duck - female

Ring-necked Duck – female

A sleeping Great Horned Owl.

A sleeping Great Horned Owl.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Osprey

Osprey

Click on any of the images to see some nice enlargements.

Is Spring here yet?


Over the past few days Ann and I have made a few trips to the local parks to check for incoming migrants.  It’s probably a little early but what the heck, it keeps us off the couch.  Having said that, though, we saw our first of the year American Robin.  Is that a harbinger of spring or what?

American Robin

American Robin

This bird isn’t the one we saw yesterday as I failed to get a decent shot.  This photo was taken last year.  But here are a few images that we did get during the past few days.

Greater White-fronted Goose

Greater White-fronted Goose

Getting the Greater White-fronted Goose was a nice find, and an addition to our 2015 Big Year list.  This goose is rare around here, not appearing every year.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Herons are in great supply as they are year-round residents.  This one was just strolling, perhaps trolling, but I didn’t see him make any move towards catching anything.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

Now this Great Horned Owl was wide awake.  Check out those eyes.  He was eye-balling everyone that came along, including me, but he didn’t mine me taking a few photographs.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

The Northern Cardinal, eyed me up and down, then gave me a nice Howdy-do as I went by.

Eared Grebe

Eared Grebe

An Eared Grebe enjoyed himself swimming along.  This was only the second sighting of one this winter…….or is it spring?

Osprey

Osprey

The Osprey, one of my favorite raptors didn’t look like he was doing any hunting.  Perched about 20 feet above the water he was content to just stare off into the distance.

The following two images are of a Double-crested Cormorant.  This is the first time that I ever saw the two crests that the the bird is named for.  They are only visible during spring months, then not always.

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

So that is all for today.  I will be hunting again the next few days and I wonder what that will bring.  Click on any of these images to see some nice enlargements.

More updated images from Fort Davis


Before I get into this post, I was just perusing the comments on my About Me page and my Marfan Syndrome page.  I had forgotten that there were so many nice and caring people out there that follow my posts.  I hope you’all are still there.  I definitely appreciate you and it is you that keeps me interested in keeping up this blog.

Okay, as most of you know, Ann and I spent nearly a week in Fort Davis, Texas.  Fort Davis is named for a restored frontier fort of the same name.  A neat little town at the base of the Davis Mountains.  We love the area because of the potential for great wildlife photos, not to mention the great scenery at this altitude of about 5,000 feet.  Higher if you get up to the nearby McDonald Observatory.

In my recent post I described the local area, the Davis Mountains Inn, etc.  I won’t get into that again as I don’t want to repeat myself.  I will now get you up to date with some of the photos that I took while there.  Ann was a big help with her spotting.  I tend to try to drive safely, (yeah, right), and keep my eyes on the road so I depend on her to watch the trees, high wire lines, and fences.  As yet, I don’t have a bumper sticker that says, “I brake for birds”.  For the record, we recorded 62 different species of birds, 12 of them to be added to our 2015 Big Year list.

First, I must say that there are many Red-tailed Hawks in the area.

Red-tailed Hawk along the highway.

Red-tailed Hawk along the highway.

But we can’t ignore the other species.

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

On Tuesday of our stay, we ventured over Wild Rose Pass and drove down to Balmorhea, Texas, a distance of 38 miles.  It wasn’t so much that we had a reason to visit that town, it was the journey that we loved.  Raptors appeared on posts and fences and hunted over the land.  Other wildlife could be seen, too.  Aoudads, (pictured below), Pronghorned Antelope, Bobcat, and Muledeer.

Aoudads, also know as Barbary Sheep, stand on a ridge near Wild Rose Pass.

Aoudads, also know as Barbary Sheep, stand on a ridge near Wild Rose Pass.

Did I say there were many Red-tailed Hawks?

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Lark Bunting

Lark Bunting – female

Just west of Balmorhea is the Balmorhea State Park.  They have some wonderful wetland areas to visit.  This is a rather small park so it is easy to get around.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

A Bufflehead enjoys splashing around.

A Bufflehead enjoys splashing around.

Lesser Scaup

Lesser Scaup

Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck

A Canada Goose flies overhead.

A Canada Goose flies overhead.

A happy Western Meadowlark sings his song.

A happy Western Meadowlark sings his song.

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Before returning back over the pass to Fort Davis and our room at the inn, we stopped at this great little restaurant in Balmorhea.  I forget the name, but the sign says it is the “Cutest Restaurant in Balmorhea”.  If you are in the area I recommend the food here.  We ate the traditional stacked enchiladas with hot sauce, topped with a fried egg.  Can’t wait to get back there.

And we will end this post with, you guessed it, another Red-tailed Hawk.

REd-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk.  This one seems to be saying, “If I stay behind this twig, I can’t be seen.”

Again, many thanks to all who follow this post.  Click on the photos to see enlargements.  If you like to comment, I sure would like to hear from you.  Since our return from our trek to the mountains, I have been busy trying to get some more local photographs for you.  I will post again in a few days.