New Toy – Canon Powershot SX40


Well, I went and done it.  I had been looking for a light, small, camera for those little hikes that I like to make and not have to carry heavy gear.  You know what I mean, just something for the birding and any other quick photo ops that might appear.  A couple of friends had this camera so I decided to check it out.  I read all about it and realized this would fill the bill.  Check this LINK to read about it your self.

It has a 35x zoom, from 24mm  wide angle to nearly 840mm, actually longer reach than my 500mm with a teleconverter.  Image stabilization, auto focus, 10.5 frames per sec burst, HD video, what more could you want.  B&H has them for 399.00 right now.  But for a birder or any kind of photography it does a great job.  I have been testing mine for the past three days.  Here is a photo that I took this afternoon with the camera.  I was about 150 yards away.  This is an un-cropped full frame image.  (Well, it was cropped on the ends to fit my format only.)

Great Blue Heron - Canon Powershot SX40 HS camera

I know that several of my fellow bloggers have talked about getting a longer lens, so how about a long lens with a camera attached.

On another subject, this may be my last post until I get back from our Big Bend trip on March 2nd.  So ya’ll all stay good and don’t drink anything that I wouldn’t drink. :-)

Another Great Blue Heron


I hope that you don’t think that I am obsessed with the Great Blue Heron, (Ardea herodias).  It just happens that they around here in great numbers and I love it that they are so photogenic.  They are majestic and graceful, as this photographfy shows.  I was above him.  He was hidden from my view, but I knew that he was about 10 feet below me, in the reeds against the river bank.  I was straining to see him, when he took off in a blur, heading for the opposite bank.  The fact that he was moving away from me made it easier for the auto-focus of my Canon 7D to lock on and track him.  This image is as he was starting to land across the river about 150 yards away.

Great Blue Heron preparing to land

I don’t especially like the busy background, but of course, there is nothing I could do about it.   I hope you like it.  I am sorry that I haven’t posted since Sunday, but I needed to have a new photo for you.  I didn’t get out much this week as I have been busy preparing for our trip to the Big Bend area coming up.  We will be leaving Sunday morning and I needed to get the car’s oil changed, car washed, numerous appointments that had to be taken care of.  I will give you more info on the trip in my next post, probably this week-end.  Click the image to see an enlarged image.

Pertinent exposure information:  Canon EOS 7D with Canon 100-400mm zoom lens, hand-held.  1/640 sec. @ f9, ISO 250.  Spot metering and aperture priority.

Random Sunday Morning Images


After the rains the past few days, I got out of the house for a few minutes this morning.  It was cool and damp.  I drove by San Angelo State Park to see if anything was stirring.  Not much action there, then I drove by the little pond in the Bluffs Addition.  Here are a few images from my expedition.  All were taken with my Canon EOS 7D with 100-400mm lens.  I will put exposure information beneath each photo.  Click on any of them to see an enlargement.

Northern Bobwhite

Northern Bobwhite, (Colinus virginianus).  1/640 sec. @ f7.1,  ISO 2000.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher(Toxostoma curvirostre).  1/640 sec. @ f9, ISO 3200.

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee, (Pipilo maculatus).  1/400 sec @f9, ISO 3200.

American Wigeon

American Wigeon, (Anas americana).  1/640 sec. @ f9, ISO 800.

Great Egret grazing with Coots


While browsing along the Concho River I spotted this Great Egret, (Ardea alba), stalking prey among some feeding American Coots, Fulica americana).  Since I was across the river, about 150 yards away, they were oblivious of me.  They looked so peaceful, co-existing in their own world, I thought it would make for some good photographs.

Great Egret and American Coot

Great Egret and American Coots

Photographed with my Canon EOS 7D and Canon 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4 tele-converter.  Exposure 1/1000 sec. @ f11, -1.3EV, ISO 400.  I love to under-expose these whites then post-process in Photoshop CS5.  That’s just me.  I hope you like.  Click either image to see enlargements.

Portrait of a Great Blue Heron


This is one image that I almosed tossed out in my digital trash.  When I was photographing the Great Blue Heron, (Ardea herodias), the other day, he was about 150 yards away, across the river.  While trying to get some shots hand-held I threw my aiming point off a bit.  You might say that my gun went off in the air. :-)

Anyway, I chopped the heron off above the knees.  Fortunately, I, like other dedicated photographers, always take many, many exposures of any given subject.  So I had more shots like the one I posted yesterday.  This morning while taking a closer look, I decided I could make a portrait of this handsome guy.  And, besides, I need something to write about in today’s post.  So, here is the result of that little mis-adventure.

Portrait of a Great Blue Heron

Also, during that little trip by the river, we saw several Western Bluebirds, (Sialia mexicana).  Since, most of the bluebirds that we see here are the eastern variety, I waited about posting any images until I could make sure of the ID.  I didn’t get any photos that were ready for the art galleries, but this one is acceptable.  Unfortunately, because he is face directly at the camera, you don’t see much of his beautiful blue.  The photo is, of course, an adult male.

Western Bluebird - adult male

I hope you are enjoying all of my posts about the birds and birding of west Texas.  So keep reading and coming back as there will be much more in the future.

Great Blue Heron:  Canon EOS 7D with Canon 500mm f4 lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  Exposure:  1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, -1.3EV,  ISO 100.  I reduced the exposure because of a lot of glare off of the background.

Western Bluebird:  Canon EOS 7D with Canon 500mm f4 lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  Esposure:  1/1250 sec. @ f8, -0.7EV, ISO 100.  I messed up on this one, in that I inadvertantly reduced the esposure by 2/3, when I intended to increase it by the same amount.  I corrected it Photoshop.  Whew!!!

A Coot, A Wigeon, and a Heron


Here are a few more images from our little birding trips earlier this week..

American Coot

American Coot, (Fulica americana).  Mia McPherson told me that this specie is one of the hardest to photograph, because getting the exposure right is so difficult, with the dark blacks, and that white bill.  I can certainly agree with her.  On several occasions I have tried to get decent images, and I came up short.  This time I think I may have got it right.  Photographed with my Canon EOS 7D with Canon 500mm f4 lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  1/1000 sec. @ f8, ISO 250.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron, (Ardea herodias).  I photographed this wading bird in the waning light.  He seems to be just content to stand and just enjoy the day.  Actually, I don’t think the light was really waning, but I have always wanted to say that, so I reduced the exposure to make it look that way.  It sounds poetic.  Canon EOS 7D with Canon 500mm f4 lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, -0.7EV,  ISO 100.

American Wigeon

American Wigeon, (Anas americana).  I caught this guy swimming in a small neighborhood lake, hanging out with some Ring-necked Ducks.  They were pretty far away, so this photo is tightly cropped.  In the original image, he was just a smidgeon of a wigeon.  Canon EOS 7D with Canon 500mm f4 lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  1/6400 sec. @ f5.6, ISO 800.

Great Blue Herons and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker


I haven’t posted for a few days, but that is because the weather has been so danged nice, I just couldn’t sit at the computer.  I’ll probably be posting only about three or four times a week now, instead of my nearly daily doses during cold weather.

Ann and I went out yesterday, with the goal of hitting our favorite birding spots with a couple of little short stops along the way.  We ended up seeing 44 species during an approximately 4 hour span.

Great Blue Heron

We started off with spending about a hour at the bird blind at San Angelo State Park.  We wanted to see if the Green-tailed Towhee was still hanging around.  It was.  After we left there to head to Spring Creek Park, we stopped briefly at a pond in the Bluffs Addition, and saw our first American Wigeon of the year.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

After stopping at that pond, we then proceeded to Spring Creek and then the Middle Concho Park.  Among the highlights was the spotting of two Western Bluebirds, a specie that is normally found west of San Angelo.  Actually, the previous day when visiting the park with a neighbor friend, we saw seven of those.   Aside from the pictured Ladder-backed Woodpecker, we also saw six Great Blue Herons, one of those is pictured above.

All in all, it was a very fun day.  If you’re interested, here is a complete list of our species for the four hour adventure.  Click on either image to see a glorious enlargement.

  1. Great Blue Heron   6
  2. Cinnamon Teal   7
  3. Green-winged Teal   4
  4. Gadwall   16
  5. American Coot   22
  6. Malard   7
  7. Northern Shoveler   30
  8. Northern Mockingbird   14
  9. Eared Grebe   1
  10. Western Bluebird   2
  11. Pied-billed Grebe   6
  12. House Finch   20
  13. Red-winged Blackbird   10
  14. Eastern Bluebird   12
  15. American Goldfinch   4
  16. Blue Jay   2
  17. European Starling   12
  18. Black Vulture   2
  19. Forster’s Tern   5
  20. Ring-billed Gulls   220
  21. Double-crested Cormorant   6
  22. Mute Swan   1
  23. Northern Cardinal   2
  24. Western Meadowlark   15
  25. White-crowned Sparrow   30
  26. Phyrrhuloxia   2
  27. Belted Kingfisher   1
  28. Golden-fronted Woodpecker   6
  29. Yellow-rumped Warbler   3
  30. Vermilion Flycatcher   1
  31. Curved-bill Thrasher   2
  32. Northern Flicker   2
  33. Osprey   1  (flyover)
  34. Ring-necked Duck   2
  35. American Wigeon   4
  36. Great-tailed Grackle   6
  37. House Sparrow   6
  38. Black-crested Titmouse   4
  39. Canyon Towhee   2
  40. Green-tailed Towhee   1
  41. Mourning Dove   1
  42. Ladder-backed Woodpecker   1
  43. Savannah Sparrow   14
  44. Eastern Phoebe   1

About the photos:  Both photos taken with my Canon 7D.

Great Blue Heron:  500mm lens with 1.4 tele-converter.  1/3200 sec. @ f8, -1.7EV, ISO 100.  I accidently adjusted the EV un-necessarily and had to correct in post processing.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker:  100-400mm zoom lens.  1/500 sec. @ f7.1, +0.3EV, ISO 500.

More birding formation.  I found out this morning that a Snowy Owl has been seen, photographed and verified, near Lake Ray Hubbard near Dallas, Texas.  Since it is about 300 miles east of San Angelo, I will not go to have a look.  Maybe it will head west…………. :-)  Hey, we can always hope. :-)

The Magnificent Great Egret


Yesterday as we were driving near the Concho River in Middle Concho Park, I spotted this Great Egret, (Ardea alba), hunting in the grass and reeds along the opposite bank, about 125 yards away.  I always love to photograph these magnificent birds.  I was able to swing the car along the river bank so I could get the images from my side window.  We watched (and photographed) him for several minutes, until he left for better hunting grounds.

Great Egret - on the hunt

Great Egret - departure

Disappointed to see the egret leave, we continued on.  After a while, we came upon this female Ladder-backed Woodpecker, (Picoides scalaris), hanging under a mesquite tree limb.  He seemed, and sounded, like he was quite busy.  I grabbed a few shots, then we went on our way and left her alone to do her feeding or hammering or whatever she was enjoying doing.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker - female

As we continued on our way around the park we saw several other species, though none that sparked my creative juices to photograph.  Then just as we were ready to leave I spotted this female Golden-fronted Woodpecker in the top of a tree, singing her heart out.  For this shot, I had been out of the car stretching my legs, and had my camera in hand.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker - female

So ended another day of enjoying the outdoors and getting a few more photographs.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Great Egret (both photos):  Canon EOS 7d with Canon 500mm f4 lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  1/1000 sec. @ f8, -0.3EV, ISO 250.  Center-weighted metering and aperture priority.  Hand-held with aid of Puffin’ Pad window support.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker:  Canon EOS 7d with Canon 100-400mm zoom lens.   1/1250 sec. @ f8, -0.3EV, ISO 400.  Center-weighted metering and aperture priority.  Hand-held.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker:  Canon EOS 7d with Canon 100-400mm zoom lens.  1/500 sec. @ f11, ISO 320.  Spot metering and aperture priority.  Hand-held.

Brown Creeper – revisited


In the birding community, if a person sees a rare bird, it is customary to get a picture of it to prove the authenticity of the sighting.  When we saw the Brown Creeper that I mentiond in my previous post, I got out of the car to try and get some shots of it.  It was scrambling around, moving fast through the trees.  I tried to get it in my sights and when I was able to, I fired off what shots I could get.  Some went wild, and my shots went off in the air, so to speak.  A few made “contact”.  That was why I said that none of my images were publishable.

However, yesterday, I pulled up one of the images to see if I could salvage something.  This one below looked promising, so I opened it in Photoshop.  I kicked it, stomped it and cropped it.  I used FocusMagic on it then ended up over-sharpening it a bit, but in the end it was a pretty identifiable photo of the bird.

Brown Creeper - pre-edit

Brown Creeper

Also, after screening my other images from that day, I liked this photo of a female Ring-necked Duck, (Aythya collaris).  One of the oddities of this specie is that you will be hard pressed to make out the ring around the neck.  But both the male and female have white rings on the bill.  Go figure.

Ring-necked Duck - female

Both photographs were taken with my Canon EOS 7D and Canon 100-400mm zoom lens.  Spot metering with aperture priority.  Hand-held.

Brown Creeper:  1/500 sec. @ f11,  ISO 400.

Ring-necked Duck:  1/500 sec. @ f11, -0.3EV,  ISO 500.

The Great Blue Heron – plus……Lifer 241


We took a run out to Middle Concho Park today.  One of the highlights was catching a photo op of the Great Blue Heron, (Ardea herodias).  The Great Blue is I believe my favorite of all of the herons to photograph.  This one flew up from the river and lit high in the top of a tree on the other side.  I love the way the light breeze was blowing his plumage.  He was about 125 yards away.

I was in the car, but I was facing the wrong way to get a shot from the drivers side.  I got out and hand-held my Canon 70D with 500mm lens and 1.4 tele-converter, resting against the hood of the car.  Exposure was 1/1250 sec. @ f8 with a ISO of 125.  Center-weighted metering and aperture priority.  Click on the image to see a beautiful enlargement.

Great Blue Heron

As I said above, that was one of the highlights.  There were others and one was the spotting of not one, but two Brown Creepers, (Certhia americana).  The Brown Creeper is another rarity for the San Angelo area, so I was very pleased to see these two.  And, by the way, since I had never saw one before this was lifer number 241 for me, if anyone is keeping count.  I did get photos for confirmation, but they are not publishable quality by my standards.  They are good enough for identification purposes.

It was a good birding day.  In all we saw these 35 species:

  1. American Coots   35+
  2. Northern Shoveler   50+
  3. Gadwall   12
  4. Northern Mockingbird   4
  5. House Finch   12
  6. Great Blue Heron   9
  7. Pied-billed Grebe   6
  8. Cinnamon Teal   11
  9. Great-tailed Grackle   4
  10. Belted Kingfisher   2
  11. Ladder-backed Woodpecker   2
  12. Common Grackles   6
  13. Red-winged Blackbird   2
  14. Golden-fronted Woodpecker   6
  15. Great Egret   2
  16. Green-winged Teal   8
  17. Brown Creeper   2  (lifer)
  18. Meadowlark   6
  19. Yellow-rumped Warbler   2
  20. Eastern Bluebird   2
  21. Cooper’s Hawk   1
  22. European Starlings   8
  23. Black-crested Titmouse   3
  24. Dark-eyed Juncos – slate   12
  25. Mallard   2
  26. Northern Cardinal   2
  27. Blue Jay   1
  28. Savannah Sparrow   1
  29. American Robins   2
  30. Forster’s Terns   2
  31. Ring-billed Gulls   50+
  32. Northern Pintail   2
  33. Hooded Merganzer   1
  34. Ring-necked Ducks   50+
  35. White-winged Dove   1