West Texas Happy New Year!

Here it is just a few hours left in the year.  I have been ‘outta pocket’ the last couple of days.  Getting end of year tax reports, bookkeeping, etc. to end the year.  But also doing a little birding, trying to get my annual bird count up.  I believe I saw 180 species, but was shooting for 200.  But a new year dawns.  Here are a couple of shots that I got yesterday I thought you might enjoy.

Mourning Dove

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

I want to wish all my readers, far and wide, the most joyous and Happy New Year.

What? Another Red-tailed Hawk photo?

They’re everywhere!  They’re everywhere!  I told you before that I loved photographing these birds.  Actually, I have a goal of capturing a Northern Harrier that hunts regularly at San Angelo State Park.  However, a decent photo of him continues to elude me.  So this morning on a casual drive through the area I spotted this…..wait for it……yes, another Red Tailed Hawk.  I think this will be one of my favorite images.  For the curious, I shot it at ISO 100, 1/2000 sec, at f7.1, minus 1/3 EV.  Hope you like it.  Click on the image for an enlargement.

Red-tailed Hawk

 Also, I’d like to tell you about another software that discovered, PhotoMatix Pro.  Well, actually I’ve had it for some time, but busy as I am, I never got around to really giving it a test.  Well, I did this weekend.  I took some older photos that I had taken at Big Bend National Park and they hadn’t knocked my sox off.  Well, they are pretty nice now.  Take a look at these two examples.  I will show the original, then a second after using PhotoMatix Pro.

Old Ruins - Big Bend National Park


Old Ruins - Big Bend National Park

 Here’t the second example:

Davis Mountains Scene

Davis Mountains Scene

It is done by a process they call Tone Mapping.  The software is actually a HDR program where you would bracket 3 or 5 images and it would blend all of them together.  However, if you only have one image, you can use just the Tone Mapping option.  You can see that you can salvage a good photo out of one that you would be ready to put into the trash.

Anyway, just thought you’d be interested in knowing about it.  As usual, click on image for an enlargement.

Happy Birding!!

More west Texas photographs

I am going to pass on doing a Bird of The Week feature until after holidays.  I have been fighting a cold for a few days and haven’t done any planning.  Instead, though, I think I will post a few more photos for you to see.  First up is one image that I captured early one morning in the Davis Mountains of west Texas.

Wild Rose Pass

This next one is a familiar sight out here in west Texas, where the plains are flat and windy.  In the winter those winds blow cold directly out of the north.  It is said that there is nothing between here and the Canadian border except a snow fence, and it is laying on the ground. 🙂

West Texas Skyline

Another type of windmill that is starting to appear in greeat numbers are the gigantic wind turbines.  They number in the thousands in far west Texas.

Wind Turbines

And, yes, there is sometimes snow in mountains of west Texas.  This blizzard hit while we were visiting in February of 2010.  Two days later the snow was gone.

Snow storm in the Chisos Mountains

I guess that will be all for today.  I must save a few for another time.

I hope you enjoy these photos of west Texas.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Animals say the darndest things.

Isn’t it funny that sometimes you take a photograph of a bird or animal, and just happen to catch something humorous.   Here are three examples of mine.  The first is a hitch-hiking Northern Mockingbird.

"Going My Way?"

The following one is a Mexican Ground Squirrel, munching on a mesquite bean.  He seems to be taking offense that I am watching him eat.

"Well, what are you looking at?"

This pair of Black-tailed Prairie Dogs does’t mind putting on a show of public affection.  This photo was selected for a cover of National Wildlife Magazine a few months back.

"Blow in my ear and I'll follow you anywhere"

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  Click one any of them to see enlargements.

Dueling Snowplows

A couple of years ago we were visiting relatives in Michigan.  We were strolling around and found these two sitting next to a storage building, waiting for winter.  They should give you a chuckle.

Dueling Snowplows

Merry Christmas!  🙂

Blog Changes

I just wanted you to take note of some changes to my pages, as you can see listed across the top.   I have added a page with a list some fun places to stay at and visit.  In addition, since this blog is about birding, I have also added a page of birding sites.  Just open those pages and click on the links.  And of course, my galleries page has links to my two photo albums.

As for the snow falling across my blog, it will be a short winter, as the snowfall will stop on January 4.

Happy Birding!!

Acorn Woodpecker and Big Bend Photos

I just came across an old photo that I took at Davis Mountains State Park.  Isn’t this one of the uglisest, cutest bird you ever saw??  🙂    It is an Acorn Woodpecker, (Melenerpes formicivorus).  It is pretty common in west Texas west of the Pecos.  Click on the image to see an enlargement.

Acorn Woodpecker

While I am at it I guess I will include some other Big Bend photos that I don’t think you have seen.  Well, maybe you have.  I have so many danged photos and sometimes I don’t remember if I have ever posted them.  The first is one more of the Santa Elena Canyon.  You can see a family preparing to take a short float trip upstream.  When this photo was taken the Rio Grande was pretty calm and not running fast.

Santa Elena Canyon

This next picture is a mountainous desert scene from somewhere in the desolate part of Big Bend National Park.  The image was captured about a year ago on one of my trips there.  I never tire of visiting that vast isolated place. 

Big Bend Landscape

Well, that’s it for this time.  Swing back around again in a few days and I’ll probably have some more to show you. 🙂

Happy birding and photographing and hiking, and etc. 🙂

Bird of the Week – Eastern Bluebird

One of my favorite small birds is the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis).   Stokes Field guide to the Birds of North America describes it as small, broad-necked, short-legged thrush with a short tail and short bill.  It resides here in Texas year around.  Upperparts bright blue, underparts a rich reddish brown on throat, breast and flanks, contrasting with a white belly.  It loves the open woods and woods edges and farmlands.  Enjoy the photos.  Click on either one for an enlargement.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Both photos were shot in Aperture Priority at f6.3.  Top photo, ISO 400, 1/800 sec.  Bottom photo ISO 800, 1/640 sec.  Canon EOS 7D, 500mm  f4 lens with 1.4 converter.   Bogen-Manfrotto tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head.

Another Red-tailed Hawk

I can’t help it.  Whenever I see one of these majestic beauties, I just have to photograph it.  This one was at San Angelo State Park, perched atop a mesquite tree.  I was out there alone because Ann was ailing and didn’t want to come.  I was driving around slowly when i spotted him.  As usual, I had my Canon 7D on my lap all prepared with my Canon 100-400mm lens attached.  I was about 100 yards away when I first saw him.  He spotted me, or something else, and started to fly.  I got my focusing point locked on to him and this is one of the ensuing images.  ISO 100, Shutter priority, 1/640 at f11, minus 1/3 EV.  Click image for an enlargement.  Enjoy

Red-tailed Hawk

All say “Happy Birthday, Heather!”

Just wanted to add this post today.  My friend Toby of “Three State plus One” fame (see top of blogroll)  just had a wonderful post about his wife’s birthday.  Here’s a link to that post. http://threestatesplusone.blogspot.com/2010/12/heathers-birthday.html.  She lives in Maine with Toby, who is a misplaced Texan.  She has a blog, the Mish Mawsh on my blog roll.  Why don’t we all click on this link to her blog and wish her, Heather, a Big Texas Happy Birthday!  All together now……….http://simplyheather-mishmawshandotherthings.blogspot.com

Happy Birthday, Heather,  from your friends at Texas Tweeties!!