I’m baaaaaaaack!


Actually, we never went anywhere.  It’s just that I’m back to my blog again.  We received disappointing news from some friends, then literally minutes later we received news that an acqaintance had died in a car crash, along with her mother.  That made us think that, hey, life is too short to worry about little things.  So we made the best of the Thanksgiving weekend.  Ann cooked up a great meal for us.

We bought a Wii game thingee so we could get more excercise.  I almost got more than I bargained for, as we decided to try the bowling game.  That is Ann’s favorite.  Anyway, I thought I pulled a ham-string.  I know, that sounds hilarious, but the game feels so realistic, it’s amazing.  But after I got my groove back, I waxed Ann pretty good.  Ha! Ha!

We got out to San Angelo State Park for a little birding on Saturday.  The weather was really nice.  We spotted that elusive Harris’s Hawk again.  We watched him soar up and down this little valley area, always swooping near the ground.  At one point, a Northern Harrier entered the picture, trying to invade the hawk’s territory.  The Harris’s Hawk wouldn’t have any of that, and soon the Harrier left the area.

The hawk then left for another area, and I tried to follow him, around but I was always too far away to keep him in sight.  So I had to give up again, from trying to get a photograph.

On another subject, Suzanne Johnson sent me these two photos of a bird that she spotted near the water treatment ponds at Eldorado.  She has no idea what they are, and neither do I.  Does anyone have any ideas??  The wings seem to have a bluish tint to them.

Un-identified

Un-identified

Eldorado re-visited


In my excitement of talking about the great things of the new Canon EOS 7d, I forgot to mention about all the species that we saw at the water treatment ponds down at Eldorado.  Surprisingly, there was a great assortment of

Vesper Sparrow

 water birds.  I saw my first Canvasback, plus Green-winged Teals, Blue-winged Teals, Eared Grebes, Lesser Scaups, one Widgeon, a Mallard, and several Coots.  Also, an Eastern Phoebe, a Vesper Sparrow. a Great Blue Heron and a Snowy Egret.

Here in San Angelo, Mike Erb, a friend of mine, reported that he saw a Blue-headed Vireo in his back yard.

Happy Birding!!

More photos at www.zellertexasphotos.com

Canon EOS 7D Report


I drove down to Eldorado today to try out my new Canon 7D.  Suzanne Johnson had told us there were quite a few ducks that had arrived.  This camera is amazing.  I used my 500mm with a 1.4 teleconverter attached.  The auto-focus was  instantaneous.  The 8 frames per sec was like a quiet machine gun.  I was shooting at aperture priority at f5.6.  These subjects in the following photos were at least 100 yards distant.  They were about the size of my focus point in my view finder, so obviously I had to crop extensibly to get these close-ups.  Check ’em out.

Canvasback

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green-winged Teal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eared Grebe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesser Scaup

Canon EOS 7D Digital SLR Camera


Wiow, just gleefully unwrapped my new camera that I received by UPS late last evening.  Wow, what a wonderfull photographic wonder!!  I am like a kid with a new toy.  Heck, I AM a kid with a new toy.  This thing has 18 whopping megapixels, the better to see you with, my dear.  A flying 8 frames per second shooting.  The better to stop your action, my dear.

Seriously, what with all the new features for only 1700 dollars.  I don’t know how my photographs can’t do anything but get better, not that they are so bad to begin with.  But is always nice to improve on them.  The auto-focus is lightning fast, better exposure features, and a larger 3 inch LCD screen.  Did I mention that it shoots HD 1080p video??

Tomorrow I will do some shooting with it and I will give you a report then. 

Happy Birding!!

Phainopepla in Canada


Dave Skinner of Ontario, Canada sent an e-mail notifying me that  Phainopepla had appeared there on November 9th, and it is still hanging around.  It is a long way from home as it is normally seen mostly in Mexico and far Southwestern United States.  This is only the 2nd recorded appearance in Canada.

Spotted Towhee or Black-headed Grosbeak


Bill Yeates sent me a photo yesterday of a Spotted Towhee, but he had identified it as a Black-headed Grosbeak.  It is easy to see how the mistake can be made by looking at these photos, as the colorization is very similar.  But after looking closer, you can see the differences in the shape of the bill, etc.    The top one is the Spotted Towhee and the bottom is the Black-headed Grosbeak.  Actually I had to check my Sibley’s guide after Bill sent me the photo.  And, by the way, thanks for sending it, Bill

Spotted Towhee

Black-headed Grosbeak

Great day of birding.


The Johnsons came up again from Eldorado yesterday to go birding here in the San Angelo area.  The first stop was at the bird blind at San Angelo State

IMG_2071_bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

 Park.  Well, hey, the birds are back.  I think we saw about 19 species there.  Finches, warblers, sparrows, etc., plus a bonus.  A not-often seen Spotted Towhee.

From there we went to the boat ramp and saw about 100 American White Pelicans, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, several un-identified shorebirds.  Pretty far away, but I think there were some Greater Yellowlegs, and some dowitchers.  Also, the Harris’s Hawk put on another show for us.

We then headed for Twin Buttes Reservoir.  We got on some of those heavily rutted back roads and at first we were a little disappointed as there were no birds to be seen. But we were rewarded when Suzanne yelled out that she had spotted an owl.  It took the rest of us several minutes to see what she was seeing because of dense growth of trees and brush.  But we did get a view of it finally and it was a beautiful white-faced Barn Owl.  That was another lifer for me.  But I could not get a clear view to get a usable photo.

After that we headed to Spillway Road.  At the road leading to Spring Creek

IMG_2097_bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

 Park we turned in and on the left we spotted what must have been about two dozen Eastern Bluebirds, and several Yellow Rumped Warblers.  We spent nearly an hour observing and photographing the bluebirds, and I have two of the shots here.

Finally back in town, we stopped at the little lake off of Sunset Drive.  We spotted Northern Shovelers, Pied-billed Grebes, Ring-necked Ducks and Gadwalls.  Not a bad day at all.  I think we ended up spotting 43 species.

Happy Birding!!

more photos at www.zellertexasphotos.com

Harris’s Hawk


Just thought that I’d mention that the Harris’s Hawk is still hanging around out at San Angelo State Park, near O. C. Fisher lake. (or should I say O. C. Fisher Puddle.)  Oh well, there still is water there, but the shore line is getting farther away.

But anyway, if you want see the Harris’s Hawk, after you enter the main South entrance, just keep on going straight until you come to the boat ramp parking lot.  The hawk seems to have taken that whole area along the shore as his hunting area.  Ann and I have watched him for over 30 minutes on two occasions the past couple of days. 

At that area, you are about 25 feet above the shore line, so watch for him swooping low, some times hovering if he sees something of interest.    He doesn’t get above the horizon much, but he’s easy to spot with that bright flash of white near his tail.  I bought a new pair of 10×50 Leupold binoculars and I am having a great time observing him.  The next time I’m out, I’m going to set up my camera with my 500mm lens on a tripod and see if I can lock on and track him.  Maybe I’ll get some shots if he gets close enough.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Monte Jones, a.k.a. the famous Biscuits O’Brien.  He purchased some framed prints of my Red-tailed Hawks.  He gave me an autographed copy of his book, titled “Biscuits O’Brien, Texas Storyteller”.   He’s quite a character.

Happy Birding!!

visit www.zellertexasphotos.com

Time is fleeting


Boy, I can’t believe how time flies.  I just realized that I hadn’t added a new post since November 7.  I guess that is just part of the aging process. LOL

But anyway, Ann and I haven’t been doing too much exciting.  We did go to the San Angelo State Park a couple of time the past few days.  Hey, I almost forgot!  I saw my first Harris’s Hawk.  A lifer for me.  Unfortunately, I had my binoculars in my hands instead of a camera, so I missed a photo.  We have

IMG_1979_pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia

 seen quite a few birds, though.  A Pyrrhuloxia, pictured to the right, about 150 American White Pelicans, numerous other shorebirds such as Greater Yellowlegs, American Avocets, Great Blue Herons, and various Egrets.  The White-crown Sparrows are starting to show up, too.

We passed by the Prairie Dog town.  We have been keeping an eye on it, because we were wondering how they were surviving.  We have seen four healthy looking ones the last two visits.  I hope there are  more down in their dens.  At one

IMG_1999_prairie_dog

Black-tailed Prairie Dog

time, a couple of years ago, there were nearly two dozen.  But disease and predators, probably bobcats or hawks, I think are taking their toll.  We’ll continue to watch.

The last report I heard about the O. C. Fisher Lake level, was about three weeks ago and the amount of water was about 4% of capacity.  I would be surprised if it wasn’t down to about 2% now.  It is getting harder and harder to identify the shorebirds without a scope of some kind.

But better days are coming, and the birds are returning.

Happy Birding!