Tiny Birds in the Overcast


I love the challenge of photographing the tiny birds.  The past few days have been slightly cooler and overcast.  Most birds are staying hidden, but with a little patience, fun can be had looking for those tiny birds that hang around marshy, reedy areas.  A couple of my favorite birding areas feature that description.

Ann and I stopped at one of those sites, bringing some coffee and burritos along for comfort.  We parked a mere fifteen feet from the water and sat back to watch.  Within ten minutes we detected movement in the cattails.  We watched intently as a Common Yellowthroat started showing himself.  I grabbed my Canon EOS 7D MK II with a Tamron 150-600mm G2 zoom lens and got ready.  The reeds where he was moving around was about twenty feet from the bank.  This is one of the images captured.  Keep in mind, it is heavily cropped, as even with my long lens, I could never get this close.

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Common Yellowthroat

A few minutes later I got glimpses of an Orange-crowned Warbler.  He would’t completely expose himself, so we played hide and seek.

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Orange-crowned Warbler

After staying there for nearly an hour and seeing various wrens, cardinals, warblers etc., we moved to another location.  This spot was more brushy as it was farther from the water.  Again, with patience, after a few minutes we saw some action.  More Kinglets, Warblers starting to flit around.  One of two favorite prizes of that sitting was this very cooperative Blue-Gray Gnatcher.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

The other was this Verdin.  I had been on a quest to get a nice photo of one of these secretive birds but they had alluded me until now.  Check this out.

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I know I have preached this before, but again, don’t let overcast weather keep you from your appointed birding rounds.  The light is fantastic.  No harsh shadows and the color is great.

In other news, my new coffee table book, “Birds, Beasts and Other Stuff” is available now.  110 pages of photos illustrating my photographic career. Hard cover. For a special “WordPress Reader discounted price of 60.00 plus tax and shipping, contact me at bobzeller.pobox.com.

Also you can order from the publisher at: https://www.blurb.com/b/9899713-birds-beasts-and-other-stuff

 

New -Book-Photo

So, that is about it for this post.  I hope you enjoyed the photos and will consider purchasing the book.  You will not be disappointed.

‘Til then,

HAPPY BIRDING!!!

Birding is fun again…..


It is great to begin the year feeling great.  Much different from last year when my health issues were taking up most of my time.  Now, although those issues haven’t disappeared, all is under control now and I feel fine.

Birding activity has increased now, mostly around the Lake Nasworthy and Twin Buttes Reservoir areas.  I can’t understand the lack of birds at San Angelo State Park, but we haven’t been seeing much there.  In fact, the last couple of times we visited, we didn’t stay long but left to go to our above mentioned favorite areas.  I might mention that we rarely visit the bird blind, for the reasons mentioned below.  We prefer to just drive through the park and watch for bird activity.

As far as the blind at San Angelo State Park, is is not maintained properly.  Some volunteers stop out there, usually later in the morning to put seed in the feeders.  Otherwise it is not kept up on a regular basis; mowing, cleaning windows, etc.  The water feature is usually not running.  Even though a local service organization build a handi-cap oriented viewing spot, overall, the blind is still treated like a step-child.  The park management concentrates on hiking trails and star watching activities.  The Friends of the Park, place preferences on the equine area.  But nobody considers any birding related activities.

Birding is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the state.  I know of many people come to the park to see the many birds that frequent the Concho Valley.  I think the managaement would do well to promote that more in the park.

About ten years ago (or more), Ann and I took on the responsibilty of maintaining the blind and viewing area.  Since we were retired and since we only live three miles away, we were there daily at 8:00AM to put feed out.  We kept the place clean and the grass trimmed and weed-whacked.  We kept the water running in the water feature.  Once a month, I lead a birding walk on a Saturday morning.  But after a couple of years, going out there on a daily basis, and getting up in age, we eventually decided to let someone else take over.

So, I say to anybody that wants to travel to San Angelo to bird, we do have lots of birds.  For example, yesterday Ann and I saw 38 species in about a three hour period.  But we visited the public parks around the Lake Nasworthy that I mentioned in the second paragraph of this post.  So come on down……..:-)

Speaking of those 38 species, here are a few example from the past few days:

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet

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Common Yellowthroat

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Cattle Egret

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Greata Egret

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Eastern Bluebird

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Golden-fronted Woodpecker

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Loggerhead Shrike

Those six are a pretty good sampling of the birds around here.   As for my rant about San Angelo State Park, I am a great fan and supporter of the park.  I just wanted to mention about the quality of birding there, if you happen to be a camper there.  Don’t depend on the blind to be very productive.

In other news, the first draft of my new book, “Birds, Beasts and Other Stuff” is at the printers and I should received it in a day or two.  I will peruse it to make sure I like everything, then I will order a bulk shipment.  So hopefully, by the end of the month I will have a supply on hand.  It is a 110 page hard-back book, packed with some of my newest best photos.

On that note, I still have a few copies of my original book, “Birds, Beasts and Buttes”, first published in 2013.  On sale at a reduced price of 45.00.  (Original 65.00).  Contact me at bobzeller@pobox.com if interested.

HAPPY BIRDING!!

 

Twas the day after Christmas……


….And here at the house, I am sitting at the computer holding my mouse.   (was that catchy or what?)

It has been a busy time around here, as it has for most people this time of year.  We had a delightful dinner with friends on Christmas Day, though.  Now it is time to get back to doing what I do best; producing more photographs.

Despite the hectic activities associated with the holiday season, Ann and I managed to get in a little birding, and a little photography.  Here are some of the most recent results.

These are two Northern Cardinals that we have been seeing.  I don’t know which I like best.  Both were photographed at Spring Creek Park, here in San Angelo.

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Northern Cardinal

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Northern Cardinal

While were were driving around the park, we came across this little Brown Creeper.  It is one of the hardest birds to find, let alone to photograph.  They scurry up and down trees, looking for tiny morsels in the bark.  The only way that you can find one, is to just watch for movement.

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Brown Creeper

One bird, or I should say duck, is the little Pied-billed Grebe.  Usually I see them far off shore, and unable to get good detailed shots of them.  This time we spotted one close in to some reeds, where we were more hidden.

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Pied-billed Grebe

In a brushy area we saw three or four more Carolina Wrens.  I hate to pass up a chance to photograph these little cuties.

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Carolina Wren

I am looking forward to the new year.  New challenges.  We will again keep a list of all the birds that we will see during the year.  2019 was a bust, in that regard.  With my on-going health issues, we didn’t travel or do as much birding as usual.  We saw only 155 different species for the year, whereas we usually see 200 or more.  So on January 1, we start anew, hoping for a year where there will be no health emergencies, and maybe make a few trips to other bird areas.

One more thing.  I have started on a new coffee table book.  It will be “Birds, Beasts and Buttes, Volume II”.  I last published the first volume back in 2013, so I have an abundance of new work from west Texas to include.  As the title implies, it will have plenty of birds, animals, and west Texas landscapes.  It will be a hard-cover book with 100 or more photos.  Look for it to be published sometime in January if all goes well.  By the way, I still have a handfull of Volume One that I am selling at a reduced price of 45.00.  Contact me at bobzeller@pobox.com if interested.

Happy New Year and Happy Birding!!!

 

 

 

Carolina Wren and friends.


This past Friday morning Ann and I headed to Spring Creek Park here in San Angelo.  Birding had been pretty slow for awhile and we were hoping that things would be starting to pick up.   And it was.  Among other things a Carolina Wren made himself visible and treated us to several poses.  I hope you enjoy these photos.

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Carolina Wren

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Carolina Wren

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Carolina Wren

We also saw this beautiful Orange-crowned Warbler.

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Orange-crowned Warbler

And this cute little Yelllow-rumped Warbler.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler

It is great to see our winter birds finally getting settled in, especially these tiny bird that I enjoy photographing.  Of course, we had some record-setting warm weather, too, that helped.  Having said that, a cold front blew in this morning so we shall see how that affects the coming week.  Stay tuned………

HAPPY BIRDING!!!!!

Swainson’s – the forgotten hawk.


Well, the Thanksgiving holiday is over.  Now I am contemplating the Christmas season.  However, I think that began long before Thanksgiving, considering all of the commercial ads I have seen the past several weeks.

Anyway, we have been out birding on several occasions, only to come home empty handed.  Where are all the birds, someone once said.  I guess they are around, keeping in hiding until the weather makes up it’s mind as to what it wants to do.

So, I am staying busy going through thousands of old files, and making surprising discoveries.  In the past, I come home from a shoot, load the photos, sometimes several hundred.  I look at the best, then forget the others until I have time, like now, to go back a take closer looks.  Like now.  I forgot about red-tails, osprey, falcons, and went through my old files of the Swainson’s Hawk.

They are nearly the size of a Red-tailed Hawk, and just as photogenic as them.  I guess the fact that there are more red-tails around San Angelo, is why I tend to see the more. of them.   Anyway, here are a couple new/old photos of Swainson’s Hawks that I have never published.

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Swainson’s Hawk

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Swainson’s Hawk

Those two I have never published.  However, here is one that I did publish about two years ago, and one of my favorites.

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Swainson’s Hawk

As you can see, the Swainson’s Hawks are pretty exciting to see also.

So, as I said, Thanksgiving is past and the following photo shows that a turkey is thankful that he did not end up on the platter as he is getting the heck outta’ here. 🙂

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Rio Grande Wild Turkey

And with that, I am outta’ here, too.  See ya back here in a few days.

Elusive Great Horned Owl


Birds continue to be a little sparse around here, but Ann and I have to keep them honest so we continue go on our little jaunts through our favorites sites.  Not only is it still great fun, but healthy as well.  But my rehab exercises are starting to pay dividends.  They have helped me feel better.  In fact, I saw my doctor a few of days ago for a checkup.  He said, “Bob, you are in”awesome” shape.”  Of course, except for terminal pulmonary fibrosis, incurable Marfans Syndrome, polymysemia which is under conttrol, and osteoporosis for which I think there is an app.  In other words, I am in pretty danged good shape considering the shape I am in. 🙂

But I digress.  Saturday, when we ventured out to Spring Creek Park, we weren’t seeing much, but Ann exclaimed “Stop!”  When she says that I stomp the brake.  She pointed out the a large live oak tree on the left.  She said “There’s an owl!”  At first, I didn’t see it, but after looking to where she was pointing, I did in fact spot it.  It was in the open but the harsh morning sun was casting glaring highlights and deep shadows.  I took several exposures, which although I didn’t know it at the time, they ended up being tossed in the digital waste basket.

We continued on and ran into a couple of new birders, Natalie Bryan and Kristina Phluger.  We told them about the owl.  They were pretty excited as they had never seen one in the wild.  We invited them to follow us, and we drove back to where we had originally spotted it.  Alas! It wasn’t there.  But, Ann with here sharp eye, saw that it had moved to another place.  As we watched, it flew about 200 yards to another resting place.  We could see where it went, so we drove a bit closer, where we had an open shot with our long lenses.  I took several more photos, trying to get a shot that avoided the leaf that was over the owl’s face.  I had to settle for this one.  Not too bad.  I hope you like it.

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Great Horned Owl

After that, we decided to check out Twin Buttes Reservoir.  Pretty much the same results.  No birds to speak of, except for this Red-tailed Hawk atop a utility pole.  You know that I have a weakness for photographing them.

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Red-tailed Hawk

Well, keep your eyes and fingers crossed.  Birding will soon improve.

’til then, HAPPY BIRDING

Patience a Definite Virtue


I recently posted on Facebook, a couple of photographs that I captured of a pair of Red-tailed Hawks, perched side-by-side on a dead tree.  I received many comments of congratulations, several of which mentioned on how lucky I was.  I am deeply appreciated of those compliments, although I know that there are many that think that I just have to aim the camera, click the shutter and then publish the snapshot.  I wish it were that easy.  I am good, but not that good. 🙂

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Well, first, I was definitely lucky to come upon the two hawks together like they were.  However, the pose that I eventually got had nothing to do with luck.  They both, as birds do, were constantly moving their bodies and eyes.  Fidgeting their heads here and there.  My goal was to capture both of them looking to my right at the same time, wanting to get their heads in profile.

Well, I did indeed reach my goal, but to get there I had to patiently sit and take around one hundred exposures, while nervously wondering if the birds would fly too soon.  I finally gave it up after about twenty minutes.  I was far enough away, about 150 yards, that there is no way I was disturbing them.  I don’t think they ever noticed me in my car.

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These two images were the only ones that met my personal standards.  My point is that patience can make the difference between a mediocre photo and a truly great image.  So yes, luck did get me to the opportunity.  Then it was up to me to finish the job.

For those that are interested, my wildlife set-up is my Canon 7D MkII with a Tamron 150-600mm G2 zoom lens.  For several years I owned a $7,000 Canon 500mm prime lens, but age caught up with me and I had problems handling it in the confines of my ‘mobile’ bird blind, AKA my Ford Escape.  My settings for most wildlife is usually TV or Shutter-priority mode.  My shutter speed is usually high, from 1,000 to 5000 per second, set at hi-speed so I can shoot in bursts.  Auto ISO rounds it out and I usually get great results.  My right thumb is usually on the main EV dial, so I can make adjustments on the fly if need be.  I crop a lot, and do minor editing is Photoshop CS5.  (Try all that with a telephone.) 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this post and the images.  Prints are available, of course.  Just click the My Gallery button at the top of this page for more information, or contact me at bobzeller@pobox.com.

‘Til the next time,

HAPPY BIRDING!!