Painted Bunting, Pyrrhuloxia and Western Kingbird

Here are a few more images from our sucessful birding over the weekend.  All were taken at San Angelo State Park.  We saw so many birds that it took me extra time to organize and edit them.  First up is the beautiful Painted Bunting, (Passerina ciris).  I shot this and the Pyrrhuloxia both with my Canon 7D and 500mm lens with 1.4 tele-converter.  Bunting exposure was 1/250 sec @f8, +0.7EV, ISO 3200.

Painted Bunting

Next is this nice shot of a Western Kingbird, (Tyrannus verticalis).  This bird just arrived in the area a few days ago.  Exposure 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7EV, ISO 2000.  Canon EOS 7D and Canon 100-400mm lens.  Hand-held.

Western Kingbird

Who can forget the gorgeous red and gray tones of the Pyrrhuloxia, (Cardinalis sinusatus).  That is pronounced Pie-rule-loxia.  A beautiful bird in the cardinal family.


Enjoy the pictures and click on any of them to see an enlargment of each.  Voting is still open until Thursday afternoon in our weekly bird quiz #3.  Click on this link:  BirdQuiz  then make your selection.  Good luck!

San Angelo State Park – Great Birding Day

Ann and I spent four hours at San Angelo State Park Saturday morning.  Weather was beautiful and the birds were alive.

Wild Turkey

This Wild Turkey was wandering through quite frequently.  Almost too close for my long lens, so I decided on a formal portrait for the upcoming Turkey Trot dance.

Green-tailed Towhee before toweling off.

There was a Green-tailed Towhee in attendance again after a three-week vacation.  I don’t know where he went, but he looked pretty fit.  Expecially after he got toweled off after his bath.

Green-tailed Towhee - looking dapper.

Like I said, there were plenty of birds. We saw our first two of the season of the Painted Bunting and Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  Here is a complete list of 32 species from our four hours of birding:

  1. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher   7
  2. Bullock’s Oriole   4
  3. Wild Turkey   2
  4. Mourning Dove   6
  5. Red-winged Blackbird   11
  6. White-crowned Sparrow   12
  7. House finch  10
  8. Common Grackle   13
  9. Brown-headed Cowbird   6
  10. White-winged Dove   20
  11. Canyon Towhee   1
  12. Yellow-billed Cuckoo   1
  13. Verdin   1
  14. Northern Mockingbird   10
  15. Bewick’s Wrn   1
  16. Painted Bunting   1
  17. Clay-colored Sparrow   1
  18. Green-tailed Towhee   1
  19. Western Kingbird   1
  20. Lark Bunting   2
  21. Ash-throated Flycatcher   2
  22. Great-tailed Grackle   10
  23. House Sparrow   13
  24. Turkey Vulture   4
  25. Barn Swallow   5
  26. Savannah Sparrow   4
  27. Says Phoebe   1
  28. Ladder-backed Woodpecker   1
  29. Curved-bill Thrasher   1
  30. Lark Sparrow   6
  31. Golden-fronted Woodpecker   1
  32. Greater Roadrunner   1

Voting will be open until next Thursday afternoon for playing our bird ID quiz.  Click here:  BirdQuiz.  Great fun for all.  Results published next Friday, then a new quiz wil start next Saturday.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Quiz #2 – Final Results

Here we go again.  This second quiz garnered more votes than the first one, so it seems that the interest in them are growing.  I, for one, am really enjoying them, but of course I have an advantage.  I know the answer.  But I hope more of you are starting to use some photo guides to help you along.  It is not cheating to do so.  I encourage it.  This is the original picture that you were asked to identify.

So after a world-wide vote of 84 votes, here is the final tabulation:

  1. Spotted Towhee                                 39
  2. Black-headed Grosbeak                  19
  3. American Robin                                18
  4. Orchard Oriole                                     7
  5. Dark-eyed Junco                                 1

The correct answer is Spotted Towhee.  That means that nearly half of you readers got it right.  That’s not bad, as the wrong answers were birds that are very similar. as these pictures show.

Black-headed Grosbeak

American Robin

Orchard Oriole

Dark-eyed Junco 

So that does it for Quiz #2.  I will let you digest this for the evening.  Tune in tomorow, Saturday morning for the always exciting, Quiz #3. 🙂

FOS Green Heron and Bullock’s Oriole

Durng the past week or so, Ann and I have seen our first of the season Green Heron, (Butorides virescens), and Bullock’s Oriole, (Icterus bullockii).  We had been watching for both of them, as we knew it was the proper time for their arrival.

Green Heron

Green Heron, photographed at Middle Concho Park in San Angelo, Texas. Bird was on opposite side of the Middle Concho River, about 20 feet above the river in a tree. Tripod mounted Canon 7D, 500mm f4 lens with 1.4 teleconverter. Exposure 1/1000 sec. @f5.6, -0.3EV, ISO 200.   Aperture priority.

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole is our predominant oriole around this area, but the other species make occasional visits.  Photographed in Middle Concho Park in San Angelo, Texas.  Canon EOS 7D and 500mm f4 lens with 1.4 tele-converter.  Exposure 1/1600 sec. @ f5.6, ISO 100.  Shot in aperture priority.  Handheld from window of my car.

Tomorrow I will publish the results of my 2nd bird quiz.  If you haven’t voted yet you can do so at this link:   BirdQuiz.   Then on Saturday stay tuned for the exciting Quiz 3.  Click on either of the above images to see an enlargement.

Mooning Turkey and Breeding Egret

Leave it to me to be able to come up some unusual photographs.  First, while roaming around Spring Creek Park, we spotted this Great Egret, (Ardea alba),doing a little fishing across the river.  I maneuvered the car into position so I could get the shot from the driver’s side window, with my Canon 7D and 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-converter attached.

I got several shots as he strolled along, stabbing the occasional small fish.  It was after I got home and examined the images, that I noticed it had bright green lores.  For you non-birders that is the area between the bill and the eyes.  At first, I thought maybe it had gotten some algae stuck to it’s face while feeding.  Heck, that happens to me at dinner.  🙂

Great Egret - breeding

So, first out come the bird guides, trying to find out about this mysterious malady.  Didn’t find much info there, so I done a bit of googling on the internet and found that green lores can be found on breeding egrets.  Aha, I said to myself, I have found out something new.

Wild Turkey - breeding

After getting the shots of the egrets, we came upon a trio of Wild Turkeys,(Meleagris gallopavo). The three were all toms and they were showing off to a hen that was out of sight on the other side of a fence.  They all were putting on a show and I was able to get several images.  I knew that they were aware of me because before I drove away, one of them decided to moon me.

Wild Turkey -mooning

Personally, I thought that was kind of rude, but these insults I can take.  It comes with the job.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

I hope you enjoyed the images as much I enjoy being out and capturing them.  Be sure to click on this link:  Bird Quiz    to vote in the latest quiz.  Results will be published Friday.

Nesting Great Blue Herons

The Concho River flows through downtown San Angelo.  It attracts many species of water birds, and the stars of the show are the Great Blue Herons, (Ardea herodias).  The whole riverwalk area is a beautiful thing in itself.  A beautiful nine-hole golf course is one of the attractions.  In this area across the street from the course are three of the herons’ nests.  Two on the closest side of the river and one nest across the river.  An acquaintance of mine had informed me that the chicks had recently hatched and it may not be long before they fledge.

On Sunday morning, after breakfast, Ann and I decided we had better go down and check them out.  It didn’t take us long to locate the nests, as they were in the same location as last year.  I got my tripod out of the car and set it up on the curb, on the golf course side of the street.  It gave me a line of sight to all three nests.  I was using my Canon EOS 7D and 1.4 tele-converter, with 500mm f4 zoom lens.

"Hey, Ma, what's for breakfast?"

On one of the nest, I could only see two birds and they were facing away from me.  The other one on the near side of the river was filled with four young chicks and the mother who had just flown in to feed them.  I got one shot of them, then a couple of minutes later I captured an isolated shot of the mother, to make a portrait of sorts.  By the way, there are no discernable features between the male and the female Great Blue Heron.

Great Blue Heron - a portrait

Across the river, the nest visible in the foliage, the adult was preening and I was able to get a pretty neat shot of that as well.

Great Blue Heron - preening

I hope you enjoyed these latest images of the photogenic Great Blue Herons.  I intend to monitor the chicks’ progress until they fledge.

Voting is still open in the latest quiz.  Click  Bird Quiz.

Kute Killdeer Kids

We decided to take a drive to the North Shore side of San Angelo State Park.  We had received a cell phone call as we were heading for the South Shore.  It was Kim, one of the hosts at the north portion of the park.  She said that I might want to come over there and photograph a Yellow-headed Blackbird that was chasing around the prairie dog town.  Well, it was ten minutes away, and by the time we got there the blackbird was nowhere to be seen.

So we decided to just take a drive around there.  That area of the park has the North Concho River running through it.  You might say that the area is nicer than the south park area.  But I think it is because of the difference in the habitat there,  because of the huge, by west Texas standards, oak trees.  They, of course, are healthy because of the nearness of the river.  The south part, where I do most of my photography is more wild, with more mesquite, more cacti, etc.  The south portion, in addition, is about ten times larger than it’s northern counterpart.

Killdeer chick

But, to get back to my story, as we drove around we heard lots of birds singing, but they were hard to locate in the leaves of the larger trees.  But as we went through one are we spotted two adult Killdeer,(Charadrius vociferus),along with three chicks.  The chicks, who were only about four inches tall, were walking throught the grass, while the parents were going through their act, pretending to be crippled so as to draw us away from the kids.

Killdeer chick

I pulled into the grass across from the young ones, and stuck my Canon 7D with the 500mm lens and 1.4 tele-converter, out the window of the car.  I was lucky to be so close to get these pictures.  Exposure was 1/1000 sec. @f10, -0.3EV, ISO 250.

I don’t know where the actual nest was.  The Killdeer actually lay their eggs on bare ground, among pebbles or stones usually.  They don’t make nests as we know it.  No grass, twiggs, etc.

I hope you enjoyed this post and photos.  Click on either image to see and enlargement.

The second of my Bird IQ quizzes can be found at this link:  Bird Quiz.  You can vote any time through next Thursday.  Results will be published on Friday, April 27.  Good Luck.

Quiz #2 – Saturday, April 21, 2012

Okay folks, get out your bird guides and prepare to answer this question: What bird is this??  Our first quiz was well received and every seems to be having a lot of fun with it.  Please select your choice of what bird you think it is, in the poll below the picture.  If you’re not sure, take a guess.  No one will know what your selection is.  Maybe you will get hooked and become a real birder. 🙂  By the way, it is not “cheating” to use your bird guide.  The purpose of my having these quizzes it to get you to into reading your guides, and discovering the differences in the species.  And you will have the best chance of getting the correct ID especially on this quiz.

Click image to see an enlargement.  Results will be posted next Friday, April 27.  Good luck to all. 🙂

Quiz 1 – Results are in!

Before I get to the main subject of this post, I need a favor from all of you.  You may have noticed that I now have a Bob Zeller Photography Facebook page.  Please check it out by clicking on the link or the link on the right side of this page.  Then do me a favor and click “like” for me.  I am new to all of this stuff, but I understand that if I get 30 “likes” something special will happen.  I don’t know what it is.  Maybe bombs will burst, fireworks will flare, streamers will fall, confetti will fall, I will get the key to the city, or I will get the the man of the year award.  Who knows, but I would like for all of you to have a look. 🙂

Okay, let get to it!  From all of the comments this week, my first Bird ID quiz has been a smash hit.  So I will not keep you in suspense any further.  Here are the results from 45 votes:

  • Lark Sparrow                        17 votes
  • Red-winged Blackbird       18    “
  • Sage Thrasher                          9    “
  • Common Grackle                    1    “
  • Red-shouldered Hawk          0   ”

    Female Red-winged Blackbird

The photo is a female Red-winged Blackbird, (Agelaius phoeniceus).  It sure fooled a lot of people.  The female is actually an attractave bird.  Most females of other species are usally kinda drab.  In the photo you can see just a smidge of red in the shoulder, though not always visible.  I threw in the choice of the Red Shouldered Hawk, to see if I could catch any of you off guard.  It has that reddish spot on the shoulder also.

I appreciate all of you that have voted.  Check back in tomorrow, Saturday April 21, to see what I have in store for you in Quiz #2.  Ann and I spent a couple of hours last night dreaming up the dastardly thing.  Heh! Heh!

Lark Sparrow

For those that thought it was a Lark Sparrow, here is what one looks like.

Sage Thrasher

And above, the third place Sage Thrasher.  The fourth place Common Grackle needs no introduction, besides, I don’t have a picture of one. 🙂  Click on any image to see enlargements.