Birding at K-mart Creek


There is a wet area along the frontage road by the old K-Mart building off of Loop 306.  It is part of Red Arroyo and usually has a little stream of water in it.  Since it just a few blocks from our home, Ann and I check it out every time we go by there, which is to say nearly every day.  We have gotten used to calling it K-Mart Creek.

Cedar Waxwings

Over the past year, we have seen and/or photographed a veritable host of avian species.  All either in the creek, which bends around behind the Fireston Store, or in trees or on utility poles in and around the K-Mark parking lot.  Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Black-crowned Night Herons, Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Greater Yellowlegs, Belted Kingfishers, a Prairie Falcon, Wilson’s Snipe and a flock of Cedar Waxwings.

Now you won’t see these species all at once, and a lot of the time you won’t see any, but if you frequent it enough you will be rewarded.

Yesterday, we cruised through the parking lot, first checking the creek, then as we were leaving to turn on to Oak Grove Blvd. we saw the flock of Cedar Waxwings.  We was in our mini-van only about 10 feet away, so I came away with some very nice photos.  One of them is posted here.

Then, this morning, driving through again, we saw this Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

 pictured here.  It was also there yesterday morning, but I think I got the better photograph today.  I have it here for your enjoyment.  By the way, it is safest to do your birding from the parking lot.  If you do it from the frontage road, the traffic may may be a distraction, and the life you save might be your own. 🙂

Enjoy the photos, click on either one to see an enlargement.  For more of my photos check www.zellertexasphotos.com

Happy Birding!!

Almost back to normal….


Well, the painters left about an hour ago.  Now begins the arduous task of getting the house back in some semblance of order.

First we had the entire exterior painted.  Then we had them paint the bedrooms as they still sported the original color that was put on when the house was built 23 years ago.  Now the whole inside looks fresh and bright.  Next come new carpet for one of the bedrooms.  The old had some water damage from a storm last year.  The new is to be installed next week.

We also had the front circle drive and sidewalks power-washed.  Those darned grackles had sure done number on them.

While they were painting the interior the past couple of days Ann and I decided to get out of the odorous fumes and sleep elswhere.  We called Sherry Hodges, a friend of ours whe just happens to own the Morning Glory bed and breakfast near Christoval.  She had a spot for us so we had a nice quiet place to stay, on the banks of the Concho River.

But since we were only staying as a necessity, and only slept there, we didn’t really get to enjoy the full deal there.  However, we did see several Northern Cardinals and an Eastern Phoebe, plus Deer and Wild Turkey.  Maybe we’ll go back when we will be actually taking a few days off.

As for birding, I really don’t have much to report since I’ve been out of pocket so to speak.  I hope to get back to the park this weekend and check things out, and see if anything new has shown up.

Bill Yeates sent me a great closeup photo of a Long-billed Curlew that he spotted near Tankersley.

I’ll post again here in a few days.  Maybe I’ll have a good report and some new photographs.

Today’s Monthly Bird Adventure


This morning was our monthly birding adventure at San Angelo State Park.  I fully expected no one to show up, and was prepared to head back home and get warm.  The temp was mid-thirties with 25-30 mph winds so the wind-chill factor was down to about 10 degrees.  But surprisingly four people showed up.

We headed to the bird-blind first, mainly just to get out of the wind.  Inside we sat and shivered but kept the windows closed.  I did manage to get there earlier and put out a little feed for our avian friends, so there were several of them in attendance.  We watched for awhile, found that there wasn’t anything unusul that was going to appear.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

We then done a driving tour in our mini-van, keeping it cozy with a little warmth from the heater.  Linda White, the ever-popular Sue Oliver,  a lady named Sally from Rhode Island and my wife Ann were with me.  It was very enjoyable and the highlight for me, anyway, was the sighting of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius).  See picture on left.  I shot it from the van window with my 500mm lens on my Canon 7 camera.  It was another lifer for me, bring my total to 195 if anybody is counting.  Heck, maybe I’ll hit 200 by the end of the year.

Also yesterday I managed to get this photo of a Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes varius).  I think this bird is one of  most photogenic of the woodpecker family.  See picture to the right.

Gooden-fronted Woodpecker

 

Enjoy the photos.  Click on either one for an enlarged image.

Happy Birding!

Great Egret (Ardea alba)


Great Egret

The Great Egret (Ardea alba) and the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) are the two that are seen most of the time around our area.  However you may come across flocks of Cattle Egrets also.  The Great Egret is the largest of the three.  It has an orange or yellowish beak and black legs, where the Snowy Egret has a blackish beak and black legs.  The Snowy is also quite a bit smaller.

The Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) is a shorter, stubbier bird.  It is found in

Great Egret

 upland habitats and near livestock, where the can get the insects off cattle, etc.  Hence the name.  I have come across flocks of the Cattle Egrets in the desert of Big Bend National Park.  Probably on a migation route. 

Two years ago on one of my trips to the Big Bend, as we were entering the park from the west near Study Butte, we pulled up to the kiosk where you pay your entrance fee to the park.  Lo and behold, there were two Cattle Egrets and one Yellow-headed Blackbird sitting the roof.  I pulled to the side of the road immediately.  The Egrets flew to a nearby Ocotilla and I was able to get some very nice photos.

The two great egret photos were taken near the old K-mart store in southwest San Angelo.  The Snowys were shot at O. C. Fisher lake and the cattle egrets were photographed several years ago in Big Bend National Park.

Click on any photo to see an enlargement.

Snowy Egrets

 

Cattle Egrets in ocotillo.

Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus)


Found in brushy habitats. Similar to the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis).  Pyrrhuloxia more grayer, has yellow bill versus an orange bill on the cardinal.  I captured this image yesterday.

Pyrrhuloxia

What a difference a day can make, at least weather wise.  Yesterday the local temp reached a high of 87 degrees.  Now at this writing the thermometer on my patio reads 50 degrees at about mid-afternoon.  It’s cloudy and scattered light showers.

However, we took advantage of the sunny day yesterday and ventured out.  We went to the San Angelo State Park and staked out a position near the prairie dog village.  The previous day Ann had seen a Burrowing Owl sitting on the edge of an old prairie dog mound.  I barely missed seeing it, only catching a glimpse of fleeting wings out of the corner of my eye.  I can’t really say I saw it enough to be able to ID it, so I can’t add it to my life list.  So I am on a mission to see it and photograph it.  But it wasn’t to be yesterday.  Maybe next time???

Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)


Greater Yellowlegs are larger than the Lesser Yellowlegs with a longer bill.  Likes to hang around shallow water or mud-flats.  Will forage for vertabrae or chase after small fish. 

I photographed these in the drainage ditch that runs in front of the old K-mart building here in San Angelo.

Greater Yellowlegs

 

Greater Yellowlegs

Rock Wren (Salpinctes obsoletus)


Today was one of the windiest days I’ve seen recently.  But we decided to check out the San Angelo State Park and see if any of the migratory birds have started to arrive.  I guess everything decided to stay out of the wind, so we didn’t see much in the way of new species.

We decided to drive by the riprap along the O C. Fisher Reservoir Dam and see if there were any Rock Wrens.  We were rewarded, after cruising along at a snail’s pace.  Because of all the rocks, it is hard to spot one.  You just have to stare and hope you see movement, then lock your eyes on them.

We did spot a couple.  I decided to use my 500mm with a 1.4 converter attached.  I had to hand-hold it out the window, and creep along in the van, steering with my knees.  Those birds are so gosh-darn little it was hard to lock the lens on and try to follow there movements.  I took a hundred images and some of them I just caught air.

Here is one of my more successful images.

Rock Wren

Lonely House on The Prairie


About five miles north of Alpine, Texas this house sits abandoned and alone.  I have passed by many, many times over the years.  Each time I have tried to photograph it, but I could never come up with an image that I felt in my heart, portrayed it as I felt.  I was getting quite frustrated with the scene, and myself. 

Last week, again there it was again as I headed north towards the Davis Mountains.  For some reason or other, it felt different.  I stopped the car, got out, and composed the shot as I had done so many times before.  I probably stood in the same places.  But apparently the light was different, maybe it was a different time of day, but I felt that this time I finally got it right.  Below is the result.  I hope you like it.  Photographed with my Canon 7D, with EF 24-105mm f4 L IS AF lens.  Settings ISO 100, 1/400 sec., at f8.  Color and light adjustments made in Photoshop CS4.

Have a look, enjoy.  Click the image for an enlarged image.

"Old House on The Prairie"

More Big Bend/West Texas Photos


Here are some more photos from our recent trip to the Big Bend area of West Texas.  Click on any image for an enlargement.  Enjoy.

Cactus Wren

 

Indian Pictographs

 

Pronghorn Antelope

 

Hawk on wire

 

Dark-eyed Junco

 

Snow in Davis Mountains

 

Mountain Bluebird on post

 

Chisos Mountains and Cholla

 

Windmill near Sam Neil ranch ruins

 

Desert and Chisos Mountains snow

 

Snow-covered Prickly Pear

 

Mountain Bluebonnets