Last Man, er, Heron Standing

On Sunday Morning after breakfast, Ann and I decided to check out the Great Blue Heron nest downtown on the Concho River.  We wanted to see if the young ones had fledged.  All three nests were empty except for this one, with a lone bird sitting like a sentinel.  He had probably fledged and just came back to take a rest.

Great Blue Heron

We checked the rest of the river and  found one of them doing a little fishing.  As we watched for about 15 minutes, he just kept picking up trash and twigs.  I got this series of photos when he came up empty.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

We ventured further along and spotted this Green Heron.

Green Heron

Green Heron

I am so thankful that Ann and I live in an area where we can get in the car and drive only a few blocks, or just a few miles to see such a diverse collection of birds and wildlife.  Because of the large quantity of photos in this post, I am not going to go into detail about my various exposures.

I had my two Canon 7Ds in the car, one with my 500mm f4 lens and the other with my Canon 100-400mm lens.  I put both of them to good use.  I didn’t photograph from the car on this trip.  I was able to get out of the car and set up the tripod at various locations.  Ann acted as my ‘gofer’ in this regard and was a great help.

All images were shot in RAW and post processed in Photoshop CS6.  Minimal adjustments were made, only for lighting, some sharpening and minor color tweaking.

The city is in the process of re-doing the banks of the river downtown; installing riff-raff and decorative rocks and fountains.  To do this they have nearly drained the river except for a small channel that flows down the center.  When finished, it will be more beautiful than what it already was.

Quiz No. 7 – New Bird Quiz

For this week’s quiz I am going to change it up a bit and see how you like it.  One of the photos is a Bronzed Cowbird, (Molothrus aeneus).  Look them over closely, consult your guides, and vote below to select which photo you think it is.  Also, I would like you to comment at the end, and tell me how you like this format versus the older one that I used for the first six quizzes.

Photo A

Photo B

Photo C

Photo D

Photo E

Select from these photos, A, B, C, D, or E, and tell me which one is the Bronzed Cowbird.  Put a check mark next to your choice and click Vote.  Click any image to enlarge.  Good luck.  Answer will be published on Friday.

Comment below and please and tell me how you like these quizzes.  Which style do you like best.  Do you have some more ideas to share?

Results Quiz #6

Here are the results of this weeks quiz number 6.  The original photo was n Olive-sided Flycatcher.  Out of 34 votes, 18 of you got it right.

Olive-sided Flycatcher – correct – 18 votes

Olive-sided Flycatcher.  This is the correct answer with 18 votes.

Eastern Kingbird – 1 vote

The Eastern Kingbird got the least votes with only one.

Eastern Phoebe – 10 votes

The Eastern Phoebe garnered the second most votes with ten.  That was easy to do, as the two birds are very similar.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 2 votes

Yellow-billed Cuckoo, another similar bird.  Two votes.

Vermilion Flycatcher – female – 3 votes

Vermilion Flycatcher with three votes.  As you can see I listed them in the same order as they were in the original quiz.

I will be publishing a new quiz on Monday.  I am going to change it up a bit and give you a different type of quiz.  I think you will enjoy it.  Look for it.

Nesting Yellow-crowned Night Herons

A few days ago I mentioned that I had found a nest of Yellow-crowned Night Herons, (Nyctanassa violacea), in a residential neighborhood near here.  We went there and I was able to capture a few pictures.  The first one shows the mother on the nest.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron – adult on nest

In this second photo, if you look closely, you can see the tiny chicks peeking through the twigs.  Click the photos to enlarge.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron – adult on nest

The nest was about 20 feet off of the ground and I was about another 30 feet away, so I was photographing at an upward angle.  Hopefully, in a few days the chicks will be larger so I can get better photos of them.  They generally fledge in about 3-4 weeks and I assume that these chicks were probably about a week old.

Note:  Still time to vote in this week’s quiz.  Click here  BIRDQUIZ

Fledging Great Blue Herons

As I have mentioned in previous posts, we have been following the growth of the Great Blue Herons that are nesting on the Concho River in downtown San Angelo.  We drove by there Sunday morning and I shot this series of one of them testing his wings.  Enjoy and click on any image to see an enlargement.

“Hey, Ralphie, I am going to try and jump over to that other little branch. That will be a good test of my new wings.”
“Well, be careful, Robert, you know how Ma feels when we try shenanigans when she ain’t around.”

“Well, I am going to try it anyway, Ralphie. We just won’t tell Ma.”

“Here goes, Ralphie.”

“YEE Hahh!”

“Whoa! This is really sump’in, Ralphie!”

“Hey, Ralphie, I am ready to blow this place. There’s a big world out there.”

When we left a little later, they were still there, but I imagine that they will probably be gone the next time we go check on them again.

In the meantime, I have discovered a nest of Yellow-crowned Night Herons in another residential neighborhood.  More on that later, as I try to get photos of those chicks in coming days.

Quiz #6 – Monday May 21, 2012

Good morning to all.  I have here the new quiz for this week.  This one is a bit trickier than the previous quizzes.  In fact, I have decided to give you two views of this week’s mystery bird.  Take note that it was photographed when he was standing under a sprinkler.  So he (or she) is a bit wet.

Quiz #6 mystery bird – front view

Quiz #6 mystery bird – back view

So, “What Bird is This?”.  Choose a selection from the list below, and we will see how smart or lucky you are this week.

Results will be published Friday, May 25, 2012.

Black-crowned Night Herons

I was driving through the park one day.

In the merry, merry month of May.

I was taken by surprise,

By a pair of roguish eyes.

In the merry, merry month of May. 🙂

Actually, I was driving through our downtown city park on the Concho River.  I had just finished photographing some young Great Blue Heron chicks on their nest.  I happened to glance across the river, and there was this (here it comes) pair of roguish eyes of a Black-crowned Night Heron looking at me.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Here it is sitting in the tree branches contemplating this beautiful day in May.

Black-crowned Night Heron

He gets alerted to something.  He stands up on the tree branch and looks around. (with those roguish eyes, of course.)

Black-crowned Night Heron

Whatever has distracted him has made him restless, and he decided to fly away on a lovely day in the merry, merry month of May.

Photographed with my Canon EOS 7D and 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-converter, tripod mounted.  Exposure about 1/1250 sec. @f6.3, -0.3EV, ISO 160.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Quiz #5 – Results

Here are the results of the fifth Bird ID quiz.  This one was a bit tougher for some people, however most of you got it right.  Here is the original picture of the bird in question.

Red-naped Sapsucker

Red-naped Sapsucker:  (The correct guess).   25 votes

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker   1 vote

Red-headed Woodpecker   2 votes

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker   1 vote

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker   5 votes

So that does it for this week’s quiz.  I thank everyone for participating.  On Monday I will publish Quiz #6.

Greater Roadrunner with prey

A few days ago I was cruising around San Angelo State Park when I saw this bird way up, about 45 feet, in the top of a dead tree.  When putting my binoculars on it I realized that it was a Greater Roadrunner,Geococcyx californianus).   I also noticed that it had a lizard in it’s beak.  Perhaps a Racerunner, (Cnemidophorus sexlineatus).

It was too far for my Canon EOS 7D and 100-400mm lens to get a decent shot, so I maneuvered the car in such a way that I could deploy my big Canon 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-converter attached.

Greater Roadrunner with prey.

Exposure was 1/2500 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 200.  Distance to subject according to my camera data was about 80 feet.  Photographed in RAW and processed in Photoshop CS5.  Enjoy the photo and if you click on the image you will see an enlargement.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

It was about nearly 70 years ago when I got my first camera.  I was just a kid, obviously, but it was a thrill to get it.  It was a little Brownie Hawkeye if I remember correctly.  A little box camera with a tiny window on top that you look down on to see the image you want to shoot.  My folks liked to take Sunday drives around the western part of Michigan.  I think one of my memories was to drive, (my parents did the driving), up along the Muskegon River.  It was always great scenery, and I loved to visit the different dams upstream.  But anyway, I always had my little Brownie with me.

Later on, I moved up a bit to one with an actual viewfinder.  I think it was an Ansco.  I forget what size film it used, but I don’t think it was 35mm.  I think it was some kind of roll film.  Later on when I was in the military and stationed in Turkey, near Istanbul, was I able to get my first 35mm camera.  It was a German-made Kodak Retina 3S, a rangefinder type,  that I bought in the Base Exchange.  It had interchangeable lenses, a standard 50mm, an 85mm and a 135mm.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

But to get along with story, there is no way that I could photograph birds the way I do today with any of that equipment.  Today I use state-of-the-art, top of the line Canon equipment.  For the photograph of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, (Regulus calendula, I used a Canon EOS 7D, Canon 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4 tele-converter.  The bird was tiny, about 4 1/2 inches,  approximately 20 feet away.  Using spot metering and only the center focusing point, I was able to nail the shot of the bird among the tree branches.  Exposure was 1/500 sec. @ f5.6 at an ISO of 100.  That set-up is rather heavy so I made the shot from the window of my car, using a Puffin’ Pad window support.

The image was taken in March of this year.  Since then, the Puffin’ Pad wore out from the weight of my equipment.  I now, with an idea from (click) Ron Dudley, use a Noodle.  That is one of those swim flotation thingees.  They come in length of about 4 feet.  Just cut it to size, slit it down the middle, and it fits over your partially opened window glass.

Say, before I forget, please remember to vote in the current (click) Bird ID.

Click on the image to see an enlargement.