No Wood Storks yet

Since the report of the Wood Storks being in the area yesterday, I took another look at O. C. Fisher Lake this morning.  We didn’t see the Wood Storks, but we did see some shorebirds that have arrived.  We were able to see with our spotting scopes eight American Avocets, two Long-billed Dowitchers, two Greater Yellowlegs, and several sandpiper types too far away to really identify.  I couldn”t get any photos for the same reason, but here is a photo of an American Avocet that I took last year.

American Avocet

You will notice that at the top of this page, a new page has been added for information about viewing my photo albums, which have been listed to the right here, in my Blogroll.  The instructions there will make viewing my photographs a bit easier.

New Photograph Access

I just made some changes to my blog.  You will notice to the right there is now a link to my Birds album, plus a link to my Animal/Scenics Album.  Now you can view all of my photos with one click.  I hope you will check them out and let me know what you think.

In other news, Sharon Camfield sent me an e-mail saying that she had seen two Wood Storks on the Concho River.  As she was watching them, they took off and seemed heading for O. C. Fisher Lake at San Angelo National Park.  So be on the lookout for them.  This a rare sighting for the Concho Valley.

Another lucky day

Gosh, I seem to stumble into some great photo opportunites.  This morning on the way to the San Angelo State Park, we barely got three blocks from the house when Ann spotted a White-tailed deer; a doe and two fawns cavorting in a vacant lot near the Walmart.  This is actually not that un-common for that area because this location is very near the city limits, right where the brush and mesquite start.

The deer were on my right and I didn’t see them right away.  I whipped into an illegal U-turn to go back, and fortunately they had crossed the road and ended up on the right side of the street.  I slowly pulled to the curb, all the time praying that they would hang around for a few seconds more.  Luck was with me and I managed to snap off a few images through the passenger side window. 

White-tailed Deer with fawn

Yesterday, Ann, Jodie and I made a trip to the Hummer House down at Christoval, Texas.  They sell some of my work there and I had to check my inventory.  I was lucky to find that they were almost out of my note-cards so I replenished the stock.

We decided to hang around and shoot a few photos.  I let Jodie use my 500mm lens to try out.  I think she is getting the urge to buy one.  She says she thinks whe is ready to “run with the big boys”.  This is one of her photos of a Painted Bunting, and with this result I agree with her.

Painted Bunting

Yesterday afternoon, I finally got my copy of National Wildlife Magazine, and lo and behold my photo of the two Black-tailed Prairie Dogs was on the back cover.  I had been previously been told that it would be on one of the inner pages.  So, obviously I am excited about that.  It is the August-September issue.

Happy Birding! and click on either photo for an enlargement.

More West Texas outdoor photos

We made our usual bird-feeeding trip to the San Angelo State Park this morning.  Afterwards we tried to do a little birding ourselves.  It is a typical West Texas hot summer day, with all the doldrums.  So, in lieu of any exciting bird photos, I again, will try to impress you with some of my West Texas outdoor photography.  I hope you will enjoy the images.

First up is one of my personal favorites.  About 20 miles or so east of San Angelo there are some Indian pictographs dating back hundreds, if not a thousand years ago.  They are along the Concho River, on private property.  The ranch is owned by Fred and Kay Campbell.  After being closed to the public for many years, they decided to open it so that the paintings can now be appreciated by everyone.  You only need to call them and let them know when you want to go. 

The first time Ann and I made the trip, Kay, who is a retired school teacher, gave us the grand tour.  Before taking us to see the 100 foot cliffs, she demonstrated to us how the Indians of that time made their paint.  She then drove us to the site so I could do some photography.  Since the pictographs are so high from the ground, at times I would make a move to climb the rocks to get a little higher.  True to here teacher personality, she would say, “Now you get down from there, Bob.  There are rattlesnakes in there.”  A very colorful and funny lady.

Painted Rocks, Paint Rock, Texas

The following photo is of a notable landmark outside of Ballinger, Texas.  A local rancher and business man, John Studer, took it upon himself to build this beautiful cross on his land, then open it to the public.  It rises about 120 feet and can be seen from miles around.

The Cross at Ballinger

About 30 miles north of San Angelo you will find the two communities of Bronte and Robert Lee, Texas.  When you travel the highway between the two, you will come to a turn-off for Hayrick road.  It takes off to the north then follows a gentle turn, eventually returning to the main highway.  It is a great birding drive.  It takes you through remnants of the old village of Hayrick, which was the original Coke county seat.  Nothing there now but the old cemetary.  A few years ago a lady commissioned me to photograph Hayrick Peak.  She also liked the cemetary, so I managed to get the two together in the following photo.  Below that picture is a photo of Nipple peak that is along the same road.

Hayrick Peak and Cemetary

Road to Nipple Peak

I’m sure that most of you are familiar with the song “Luckenbach, Texas”, a song made famous by country singer Willie Nelson.  Well, there really is a Luckenbach, Texas.  It is about 12 miles southeast of Fredricksberg, Texas.  It consists of a cotton gin, dance hall, and the famous Luckenbach post office.  Besides the postal work, it is also a little trading post, and at the rear is a small bar where you can go to whet your whistle with a cold beer.  You might even get to hear Jimmy Lee sing you a song while you relax from the heat.

Downtown, Luckenbach

Further out west, in Big Bend National Park, you will find Robert Luna’s Jacale.  A jacale is an old dugout type of structure, made of sotol, ocotillo, mud and local rocks.  Senor Luna built this one after he got married.  He resided in it until he died at the age of 108 – in 1947.  So if you do the math, this homestead is probably near 150 years old.  It is a surprise that it is still standing, but the walls are very thick.  When I discovered the place you could walk inside and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees.  Since then there has been the occasional incidents of vandalism, so the National Park Service has now covered the front door with chicken wire.  They had been maintaining it and you can see the cement patching on the roof.  I feel very lucky that I got this photo.

Luna's Jacal

North of the Big Bend and west of Fort Davis there is a beautiful drive that takes you through scenic mountains.  The following photo was taken as I was leaving Fort Davis and heading for Balmorea.  It was early morning and the sun was just rising.

West Texas Morning

Back here in San Angelo, just west of town, we have these nearly identical hills that are called “Twin Buttes”.  I had been asked to come up with a good photograph of them.  It was a difficult assignment as it is hard to find a suitable place to get the right view, to include both in the same photo.  Some vantage points had private housing in the way.  Other spots I didn’t like the way the buttes were positioned.  Also I had to make the photo interesting in itself.  I finally found this place across the Twin Buttes Reservoir where I had an unobstructed view.  But without an interesting sky, save for just a few white clouds, I decided to get down under these mesquite trees and include their branches.  I think the result was nice.

Twin Buttes

I hope you have enjoyed these photographs.  Click on any of them for an enlarged view.

House cleaning my camera bag

How many of you have ever tried to organize your camera bag.  It probably is as bad as my wife’s extra large purse.  (Uh-oh, I’ll get letters).  Anyway, that’s about the way my own bag is.  I got a new Canon 10-22mm super wide-angle len from B&H Photo yesterday.

This morning I unpacked it, got my camera bag out and proceeded to try and find a place for the new lens.  I figure that having a well-packed camera bag is like owning a professional baseball team, like the Texas Rangers.  When I went through the stuff I had in that bag, I decided that some stuff need to go back down to the Triple A farm team and some had to go on the disabled list.

I have a Tamron 200-400mm lens in there that I hadn’t used in years.  Don’t need it.  I have a Canon 18-55mm kit lens that I never used.  Don’t need it.  Those two go back down to Triple A, maybe I trade them off.  I have Sigma 17-35mm lens that I don’t use because the auto-focus is screwed up.  Definitely go on the disabled list.

Digging further down I realize that this may be a major project.  What is this??  A little blue flash bulb from my old Brownie Hawkeye!  Let me see now.  There is the 50 ft remote shutter release that I thought it would be fun to have.  Never used it.  They now have a new fangled electronic remote for those situations.  Need to get one of those.  Probably will never use it, though it would be fun to have

Now I am down to the furtherest depths.  Turn on the basement lights.  Literally down to the nitty-gritty.  Some lint of some sort I can’t identify and a dead cricket.  But there’s a Renoir on the wall. 🙂

So now my bag is re-organized for awhile.  What fun that was.  And as I ogled my wife’s purse, she said “No way, buster!”

Paisano AKA Greater Roadrunner

The paisano, or better known as the Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), is a living symbol of the southwest.  It is a member of the cuckoo family and dwells on the ground, nesting in cactus or thickets.  Their diet consists of insects, lizards, snakes, bird eggs, birds, rodents, spiders, and scorpions.  Their flying is limited to only hopping into trees from branch to branch.  On the ground they can run up to 15mph in pursuit of prey.

They are usually solitary, but this morning Ann and I saw a group of four, that were apparently trying to decide which one was going to take possession of a deceased Northern Cardinal.  Enjoy the photo that I was able to get, and click on the image to get an enlargement.

Greater Runner with prey

Diversity in my photography

After posting those scenics photographs in my blog yesterday, I decieded to show you some more of my non-nature photography.  I love to shoot anything and everything that appeals to my eye.  I love color, I love action.  All of that besides my wildlife photography.  So I hope you enjoy the folowing images that shows my diversity.

Ths first is one of  what I call one of my “artsy” photos.  I was at a balloon festival a few years back.  It was a very windy day, with winds too strong for balloon flying.  I was trying to salvage some images, not wanting to go home without something.  The balloon were anchored to the ground for static showing.  I saw these three swaying to and fro in the wind, and I was taken by the similarities in the stitched panels.  I just aimed right into the middle of the grouping and got this result.


For the following shot I was at an air show at Midland, Texas.  It was the annual Confederate Air Force show.  (for political reasons, it is now called Commemmorative Air Force).  Anyway, the Air Force Thunderbirds were the headliners.  I shot seven 36-exposure rolls of film and this was one of the better results.

U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds

Here’s another one of my “artsy” photos, and it is one of my best sellers.  It is another one from my film shooting days.  As a matter of fact, it goes way back to 1962.  I was near Istanbul, Turkey at the time, and I and my wife were walking along the water front.  We spotted this old fishing boat sitting near an old dock.  I call it simply “Abana”.  I have no idea what it means except it may be the boat owners wife or girl friend.  Photographed on the old Kodachrome ASA 10 (would you believe it?) slide film.  Oh, the camera was a Kodak Retina 3s.


We were vacationing in Michigan a couple of years ago and ventured out near the seashore.  Actually, the lake shore, but it is mis-leading.  Those Great Lakes are actually inland seas.  You need to be there when the violent storms are splashing waves to the top of the light house in the following picture.

Lake Michigan Seascape

Another photo from Northern Michigan.  This is Fishtown.  An actual name for this old fishing village.  In the old days it was very active with commercial fishing boats.  Now, it is more of a tourist attraction.  But those old buildings captivated me, and I loved the green row boat.  I facetiously named the photo “Yacht Club”.

"Yacht Club"

Back home in San Angelo.  Some of the big happenings around here are the rodeo events.  In February we have one of the largest rodeos in the United States.  Enough entrants that it takes nine days to complete the competion.  However, we also occassionly have one of the Professional Bull Riders events held here and that was here I shot this photo.


I hope you have enjoyed these photos.  If so leave a comment.  When you do, if you click on the little box at the bottom, my posts will be automatically sent to you e-mail.  Click on any image for an enlargement.

Some scenic photos.

The subject of this blog is supposed to be birding, photography, and utter nonsense.  Well, you’ve seen a lot of my birding photographs, and hopefully got a laugh out my utter nonsense, but I’ve never got into talking about my scenic photography.

Actually, landscape and flower photography was my major effort before somebody got me hooked on birding.  This afternoon I ordered from B&H Photo a Canon 10-22mm, f3.5-4.5 super wide angle lens.  I have decided that I need to get back to some scenic landscape and flower photography. 

Now that doesn’t mean that I am abandoning my birds and wildlife.  Absolutely not!  However, this does give me an excuse to show off a few of my older landscape photos here.  See how smooth I got that all in?? 🙂

First up is one of my favorite shots of Santa Elena Canyon.  I had waded across Terlingua Creek so I could take the trail up to an observation point inside the entrance to the canyon.  After reaching that OP, I continued a little further on the trail.  I decided to get a vertical shot of the canyon, but I needed to show something that would give the photo some perspective.  I stood on this 4-foot wide trail, about 75 feet above the Rio Grande River and waited for that tiny speck of a hiker that you can see down in the lower left of the picture.  Then I was able to get a very nice exposure, showing the sheer 1500 foot vertical cliffs.  That large rock you see along the shore around the bend is probably about four stories tall.  How’s that for perspective?

Hiker in Santa Elena Canyon

This next picture I have entitled “Beachcombers”.  We were vacationing in Michigan visiting relatives.  We were at the beach on Lake Michigan and my wife and her mother decided to search the shoreline for driftwood, etc.  The patterns of their footprints and the eroded pilings in the water caught my eye.


The photo of the mission ruins was taken down at Menard, Texas.  The mission, as you can see, is mostly fallen down.  As a matter of fact, as we speak, it is really in pieces, as a conservationist group is in the act of completely restoring it.  However, when I took the photo I liked the way that I could get the two arches to interact.  I sold the one-time rights to Wild West Magazine two years ago for an article they were doing about the Presidio De San Saba mission.

Presidio de San Saba

There is a movie set on the Rio Grande river just a little west of the resort of Lajitas.  Several movies including “Dead Man’s Walk”, and a Brooks and Dunne music video were made there.  When I first discovered the place it was really on private property.  I just wandered on to it, thinking I had run across and old Mexican village.  But then I noticed that some of the “buildings” were just imitations.  Of course, it is now part of Big Bend Ranch State Park and open to the public.

Casa Adobe

I hope you enjoy the photos.  If so, I may add some more at a later date.  Click on any image for an enlargement.

Nine-banded Armadillo

We went to the San Angelo State Park wildlife viewing area this morning  to feed the birds and we surprised this Nine-banded Armadillo romping in and around the little pond.  I believe it is an adult pregnant female.  Enjoy the photo and click on the image for an enlargement.

Nine-banded Armadillo

A better day than yesterday

After not having much luck down at the South Llano State Park bird blinds, we returned to our old stomping grounds here at San Angelo State Park.

Actually, Ann went out there earlier with Pam Guelker, another birder, and the two of them mowed the grass at the blind.  I couldn’t be of much help yet because the doc said to take it easy on my back until I get the next x-ray.  Yes, I know that gives me an available excuse. 🙂  Anyway, after they were through, Ann came back to the house and picked me up.

Cactus Wren

We went back to the blind first for about an hour and saw a good collection including a Cactus Wren.  (They had done a great job of mowing, by the way).  After that we did a little drive around and saw some Herons and Black-necked Stilts on the lake.  I also spotted an American Kestrel.  The first one in several weeks.

I have notice that I have several overseas readers.  At least one in each of England, Australia, and Canada.  Okay, so Canada isn’t overseas, but you know what I mean.   So a hearty Hello! from San Angelo.  I don’t need to add Texas, as the only San Angelo in the USA is right here in Texas.  I guess that is best.  I don’t think San Angelo, New Jersey or San Angelo, Wisconsin would sound right.  Not southwesternish enough.  (I have a feeling I will get letters.) 🙂

Happy Birding!!