A Prickly Experience


Yesterday, Wednesday, Ann and I decided to make a return trip to Spring Creek and Middle Concho parks.  The weather was nice, turned out to have a high of 71.  We called Jodie Wolslager, our birding and photographic friend and asked her to join us.  She just recently received her Canon 500mm f4 lens and was anxious to get some inaugaurative photos.  And guess what, with her first shot with it, she nailed a shot of a Great Blue Heron in flight.

It was a real fun day.  The birds were active.  Lots of surprises.  But the biggest surprise was as we were making a cruise through Spring Creek park, a Porcupine mozied out of the woods.  It was the first time I ever saw a porcupine live (not roadkill), in the open and walking around.  Jodie and I both got out of the car and keeping far out of the way so not to panic it, we followed until it returned to a tree at the edge of the woods.  It promptly climbed it, found a fork about 10 feet above the ground, then got comfortable.  Here are a couple of my images.

Porcupine

Porcupine in tree

Later, I was also able to get these images of a juvenile Belted Kingfisher.  It was pretty far away, so I used my 2X tele-converter on my 500mm lens, hand-held.  I am not completely happy using that set-up because of the manual focus.  I was able to save the photos with editing, but I may be better off just using the 1.4 tele-converter, where I have auto-focus, and then just cropping closer.  It’s fun to experiment with different methods, though.

Belted Kingfisher - juvenile

Belted Kingfisher - juvenile

For the birders out there who might be interested, our total count for about three hours was 28.  A lot of that time was spent doing photography, though.

  • 1.   Vermilion Flycatcher
  • 2.   Great Blue Heron
  • 3.   Double-crested Cormorant
  • 4.   Northern Shoveler
  • 5.   American Coot
  • 6.   Eastern Bluebird
  • 7.   American White Pelicans
  • 8.   Northern Harrier
  • 9.   Cooper’s Hawk
  • 10. Western Meadowlark
  • 11.  Pied-billed Grebe
  • 12.  White-winged Dove
  • 13.  Common Grackles
  • 14.  Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  • 15.  Red-winged Blackbird
  • 16.  Golden-fronted Woodpecker
  • 17.  Cedar Waxwing
  • 18.  Savannah Sparrow
  • 19.  Lesser Goldfinch
  • 20.  House Finch
  • 21.  Northern Mockingbird
  • 22.  Ring-billed Gull
  • 23.  Mute Swan
  • 24.  Black Vulture
  • 25.  Wild Turkey
  • 26.  Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • 27.  Cinnamon Teal
  • 28.  Osprey

But a fun day was had by all, and that’s good, because it looks like the weather is not going to be very favorable for the next week or so.  One more thing has happened since I started writing this post this morning.  Ann happened to look outside, and she saw what we decided was a Cooper’s Hawk, grab a White-winged Dove and fly into the trees with it.  I ran out, but all I saw as the hawk flew off, was a shower of feathers.

Click on any of the images for enlargements.  Talk at ya agin’ soon. 🙂

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30 thoughts on “A Prickly Experience

  1. You are amazing. I can’t imagine myself instead of you. But I am so glad that you were far enough for this porcupine… Do you know, I knew it but I haven’t seen them before… I was supposing that they were same as hedgehogs… But I can see they have legs… long legs… like a cat… But I don’t want to imagine their arrows 🙂 You did great shot. Bravo dear Bob, Thank you, with my love, nia

    • Thanks, John. Maybe the porcupine is native only to the US. Another blogger from Australia had never seen one before, too. I love the Kingfishers, their bill is as big as their bodies, it seems. 🙂

    • Yes, they are full of quill with needle sharp points. It is a defense against other predators. A lot of dogs have been known to get too close and come home howling to have the quills removed. 🙂

      I assume you don’t have them in Australia. 🙂

  2. Well done..distance is important for the porcupine..we had a milk cow who quite frequently got to close..the Belted King Fisher photos are priceless..

  3. Great shots, today Bob. I’m suprised by the porcupine! I don’t know why, but I don’t think of them in that type of climate. We have a lot of them in the pine forests above 7000′. I’ve even had one of my horses ‘investigate’ one too closely and had to remove quills from his nose! (difficult with a 1000 pound animal) Glad your encounter was more benign. 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, Ted. Actually porcupines are quite common around here. I have encountered, and photographed them before in trees near here, and also road-kill, but this is the first I have ever seen walking around in broad day light.

  4. Love the porcupine pictures. For a moment I thought you’d gotten a picture of my wife first thing in the morning. Hope she doesn’t read your blog. Keep the great shots coming.

  5. I didn’t know it was possible to panic a Porcupine. They move slow and deliberately around here. I don’t think they ever run, at least I’ve never seen one. When you carry a coat of spines like they do, there’s no need to run.

  6. Awesome post Bob! What an exciting adventure seeing the porcupine! It looks deceivingly cute.

    Every once in a while I get to see a Belted Kingfisher. I think they look so cool. (:

    Happy December!

    • The porcupine was almost close enough to pet when he was in the tree. But if you ever pet a porcupine, be sure to NOT move your hand against the grain. 🙂

      I love the Kingfishers, but they are so quick and flighty, I rarely get a chance to get a photo. I agree they are so cool, with their beaks that look as large as their body. 🙂

      Thanks for the great comment, Melissa. 🙂

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a live porcupine (in person) – it must have been quite a sight! He’s actually kind of cute!! Considering you had to work with manual focus, those shots are still wonderful (the blue background really makes him stand out)!! Did you end up cropping the last two at all?

    • That porcupine was a kick! Cute he may be. Actually, I was using my other camera with the 100-400mm lens for the porcupine. So I did have auto-focus, thankfully. because he was moving along quite rapidly.

      On the Kingfisher photos, I used the long lens and had to manual focus. I cropped them quite a bit.

    • Thanks again, Jo. The porcupine wass a bit new experience to me. I don’t think they are agressive, but I kept my distance anyway. I didn’t want to be picking quills out of my nose or anywhere else. 🙂

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