No Regrets for these Egrets

I have never regretted plying the lakes and waterways around San Angelo, Texas, as I have always managed to come up with photos of egrets, herons, etc.   Of course, the waterways now are more like dryways.   O. C. Fisher lake is completely dry,  Twin Buttes Reservoir is only 5% percent of capacity, and Lake Nasworthy has dropped two feet and counting.   It is getting more difficult to launch a boat there anymore.

But that is not what this post is about.   In trying to find a nice subject to write about I decided to show you my best of the best favorite photos of the Great Egret, (Ardea alba).  These images have been taken in and around San Angelo in recent years, during wetter and better times.

Great Egret in reeds.

Great Egret “Night Flight”

Great Egret browsing in the reeds.

Great Egret “Liftoff”

Great Egret

Great Egret

Enjoy, and click on any image to see an enlargement.

Yearning for the Big Bend

As most of you know, the Big Bend country of west Texas is my favorite of all favorite places.  Ann and I generally make at least two trips per year to that area.  Usually once in the spring, then another during the fall months.  We try to time the journeys to coincide with the spring and fall bird migrations.

So here we are in mid-summer.  Our fall trip isn’t scheduled until late September we have another couple of months to wait.  We have plans to visit Marathon, Texas on September 23 and stay at the old Gage Hotel.  While there we will bird at the Gage Gardens and Post Park.  A lot of good birds visit each location, so hopefully I can get some new photographs along with maybe seeing some new lifers.

Great Roadrunner

On Monday September 24 the real fun starts.  We will be staying at the Far Flung Casitas until Friday morning.  Located in Terlingua/Study Butte area these beautiful little cabins are the best places to rest between “play times”.  They are centrally located for day trips in any direction.

Rio Grande with Santa Elena Canyon in background

Big Bend National Park is just a few miles east.  Going south and west along the El Camino Del Rio, (River Road), Hwy. 170, is probably one of the top ten scenic drives in the country.  To the north lies the city of Alpine, home of Sul Ross University.  Further west of Alpine is the city of Marfa, where you can see the eerie “Marfa Lights“.  There is a road that heads south from a point just west of Marfa that takes you on a spectacular down through Pinto Canyon and around the Chinati Mountains.

Sora photographed at Rio Grande Village, Big Bend National Park.

Getting back to our personal plans, we intend to do a lot of birding in Big Bend National Park.  Rio Grande Village RV Park is one our favorite places to see a lot of birds.  There is where you can try a great nature trail that winds through a wetland with a boardwalk, then up to some high points for some great scenic views.

Bobcat photographed at Rio Grande Village, Big Bend National Park

The Sam Neil Ranch ruins provides great birding opportunities.  The old windmill still works, pumping some water through this seemingly little oasis.  Watch out for marauding Javelinas.  Similarily, a few miles away is Dugout Wells, another shaded area where birds and an occasional Bobcat hang out.

Red-tailed Hawk – Big Bend National Park

We also have plans for a guided birding trip provided by Mark Flippo, a  bird expert of the Big Bend region, and hopefully a drive to Carolyn Ohl-Johnson’s Christmas Mountains Oasis.  Click her link  to read more about her personal birding area.

So now you can understand why we are in a restless mode right now.  After reading this post, you may be inclined to join us.  Click on any photo to see an enlargement.  Some of the images may be found in my new book, which I am shamelessly promoting every chance I get.  Click this link to preview and/or purchase a copy.  Or contact me at

The Crazy Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Are  Yellow-billed Cuckoos (Coccyzus americanus), really crazy?  I don’t think there has been any scientific evidence to that.  When I was a kid, I would hear things like, “Bob, you’re crazy as a cuckoo”, or “Bob, have you gone cuckoo?”.  Perhaps I was, but that is not what this post is about.  We are talking about a bird.

I haven’t posted anything in several days.  It was simply because I have been busy, getting my book published, (more on that later), looking for photo ops, getting a little nap time in, etc.  Ann suggested this morning that it was time that I wrote something.  So I got off of Facebook, put my crossword puzzle aside, and started trying to decide what to write about.    I settled on throwing virtual darts at my files.  Aha!!  A hit, right on the Yellow-billed Cuckoo file.

This bird has a yellow bill, (duhhh), a distinctive white breast, and has an upright posture when perching on a branch.  It spends the summer in mostly eastern and central United states.  Would you believe it is a close relative of the Great Roadrunner.  Now there is one crazy bird.  This first picture was taken way back in June of 2007.  It was the first YBC I had ever seen.  I was using a Canon EOS 20D then with a 100-400mm lens.  Exposure 1/2500 sec. @ f5.6, ISO 200.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

The following two images were taken in May of 2010.  I used my Canon EOS 7D and Canon 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4 tele-converter attached.  Exposure 1/800 sec. @ f5.6, ISO 500 for both photos.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

I hope you enjoyed the photos.  Click on either of them to see some great enlargements.  You can see more of my collection by clicking the Flickr Logo on the right side of this page.

Also check out my recently published book, “BIRDS, BEASTS, AND BUTTES”  You can preview the first 15 pages at or by clicking on the link on the right side of this page.  Hint:  You can also buy it there if you like.

For autographed copies contact me direct at e-mail:

Egrets of the Big Bend

One wouldn’t ordinarily associate egrets with the desert.  But occasionally during the migratory seasons that is what happens.  It is not unusual to see large flocks of Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis), in the Big Bend National Park and surrounding areas.   Their favorite places to perch, at least in my experience, are the ocotillo plants.  Their large, tall, but thorny, limbs and branches make ideal places for they to roost.  They are quite a bit smaller than their cousins, the Great Egret.  But nevertheless, they are equally beautiful.

Cattle Egret in Ocotillo

These photos were taken several years ago, on one of our many journeys to that beautiful area of the United States.  As you can see, they look glorious against the backdrop of a clear blue, desert sky.

As we were approaching the western entrance to Big Bend NP, we noticed as we pulled up to the kiosk to pay our entry fee, that there were two of these Cattle Egrets sitting on the roof.  Of course, our car disturbed them, and they flew only a distance of about 30 yards away.  I was able to easily photograph them from the car with my Canon EOS 7D and 100-400mm lens.

Cattle Egret in Ocotillo

Cattle Egret in Ocotillo

Cattle Egret really in the Ocotillo

This next final photo was shot, I believe, at even an earlier date.  I know that I was using my old EOS 40D at that time.  I like this photo with a backdrop of the mountains of the Big Bend.

Cattle Egret in Ocotillo with Chisos Mountains in background.

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  Click on any of them to see an enlargement.

For preview or to buy copies of my book, click the link on the right side of this page.  For autographed copies contact me at

Happy Birding!!

Bird Banding – An Experience to Remember

Ah, the desire to see birds up close and personal.  If you have never been to a bird banding, if you ever get a chance to see one, don’t walk, but run (quietly).  It is an awesome chance to see these beautiful birds like you have never seen them before.  The Concho Valley Birdbanders visit various bird areas, and people are most welcome to visit and observe.  Visit their link above to read more about them and their goals to report on the movement and behavior of birds around the state of Texas.

Upon arriving, they erect mist nets; very fine nets that are strung across poles in areas where birds are know to fly.  The birds fly into the nets, are then captured by hand and taken to the area where the banding is actually done.  The birds are unharmed, but some do enjoy scolding the banders as they go about their business.  It might be added that the mist nets are nearly invisible.  The material is so fine that I have walked right into a net before I realized it; like walking into a spider web.

Bander Charles Floyd running the nets.

White-eyed Vireo in mist net.

The banders record the date of capture, sex, age, species, health condition, and any other pertinent data.  They then attach a very tiny, light, metallic band with a number corresponding to such report, around the leg, then released.  Before such release,they usually hold the birds in their fingers for a minute or two, to give an opportunity for any photographers to get close-ups.

Painted Bunting

Indigo Bunting

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Wilson’s Warbler

Needless to say, it is a very educational experience.  An addendum:  I do not, for my personal albums or other professional use, ever photograph birds that are captured, set up, in zoos, or baited.  These photos were taken strictly for an article about this banding group.  This banding was done at the Hummer House Nature Retreat, in Christoval, Texas, on April 23, 2011.  Click on any of the images to see enlargements.

To preview and/or order my new book click: HERE, or click the link on the right side of this page.

Great Blue Heron No. 1690

Have you had enough of my Great Blue Heron photos yet?  As most of you know, that bird is one of my favorites to photograph. I have hundreds of images of them, and probably a good percentage of them should be deleted as I know that I will never show them to anybody.  But that’s like trying to decide which of your children you should get rid of.

But I think it is safe to say that I haven’t taken one thousand, six hundred and ninety images of them.  That number in the title is the file number of this most recent publishable photograph: IMG_1690.  A few of you that are on Facebook have probably already seen the image, that is if you are a FB “friend”.  I just realized this morning that I had never posted it on this blog.

We, Ann and I were at Middle Concho Park, where I really see most of the Great Blue Herons that I photograph.  Or though it seems.  We have also seen them downtown on the Concho River;  at O.C Fisher Lake (when it isn’t dry); Twin Buttes Reservoir; and Spring Creek Park.

So this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias),or number 1690, was wading along the opposite short of the river.  But that is where I get most of my shots.  When they are on my side, they are usually down below the bank, in the reeds, where I can’t get a shot.  I particularly like this image.  I like the pose, and color of the background and the nice even light.  I might even call it my current favorite, that is until I get another one that I like better.

Great Blue Heron No. 1690

Anyway, as usual, I was able to maneuver my car near the river bank so I   could shoot through my open driver’s side window.  I was shooting with my Canon EOS 7D and Canon 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4 tele-converter.  The exposure data was 1/250 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 1000.  Aperture priority.

Now, I know that I will be back there again, watching for more Great Blue Herons.  I am sure that I will come across more great images, but in the end I will never forget old #1690.  Click on the photo to see a beautiful enlargement.

To review or purchase my new book of wildlife and landscapes, that includes this photo, click this link:  Book.   Available in hardcover or softcover.  For autographed hard-cover copies, contact me personally at

Birds, Beasts and Buttes – Book now available

That is the name of my long awaited book of some of my best photographs.  It is now available direct from my publisher in either hard-cover or soft-cover at this LINK., where you can preview the first 15 pages.

The book has 111 photographs and 86 pages.  I am very proud of it and I think you will enjoy it.

For autographed copies of the hard-cover version, please contact me at my e-mail address:   They are being shipped to me as we speak.  I will sign them on their arrival and then ship to you as needed.

A Shot in the Park

I go out to the local parks occasionally, as you know if you have been  paying attention, to try and get a few shots.  Photo shots, that is.  The problem is that I end up getting a lot of shots and they pile up on my hard drive and I generally forget them for awhile.  Then when I find the time, like now, I go back and browse through them for subjects for my posts.

These are some that I photographed sometime in late April or early May.  Actually, I could, right now, if I wanted to, check the EXIF data and tell you the exact date, but that is immaterial to the post.  So enjoy them, and click on them if you would like to see some enlargements.


Squirrel on log.

Red-winged Blackbird on twig

Western Kingbird

In reviewing this post, I think you have already seen the photo of the Pyrruhuloxia.  Sorry to repeat, but I think I will leave it in, as it is a very pretty bird, and it will give you more practice in pronouncing it. 🙂

For you who are awaiting in anticipation, my book is still progressing right along and I should have it ready to go soon.

Happy birding!!

You Asked for Her, Now Take my Wife – Please

Okay, so Henny Youngman I am not.  For you youngsters and international readers, Henny Youngman was stand-up comedian many years ago, and one of his favorite lines was, “Take my wife, please!!

Now I have been asked recently why I have never posted a picture of Ann.  I am always writing about Ann and I doing this and that, but never showing you her picture.  Next month we will have been married 54 years.  So in honor of that mementous occasion I will show you the images of time gone by and later.

Ann back then…

Ann now…………..

Now, I don’t really see much difference between the two. 🙂

Here are a couple of more.

Bob and Ann back then……

Bob and Ann about now…

So now you know, there really can’t be much difference in pictures, as long there are no differences in the way we feel about each other.  Thank you for following us along in our journey through life.

P.S.  click the images to see delightful enlargements. 🙂

Birding Bitter Lake NWR and Roswell, New Mexico

Ann and I decided to take off a couple of days and head to Roswell, New Mexico.  We had read about Linda Rockwell’s visit to the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge and had also read about it.  We left early Monday morning and headed northwest.   We had about 200 miles to the Texas/New Mexico state line, then about another 100 miles from there to Roswell.  We were hoping to see some new wildlife along the way, because although we have lived in Texas for 50 years we had never made it to that area, the western part of the panhandle.

After hitting the state line, we headed west on highway 380.  We were somewhat bored with the scenery.  A lot of flat farming type of land, and nothing growing taller that six feet, or at least it felt like that anyway.  About 45 mile east of Roswell we came upon a dead tree on the right side of the road, and in it was an adult Swainson’s Hawk sitting on a nest with a baby.

Swainson’s Hawk on nest with chick.

From there we continued on west.  John English, a friend in Abilene had told me about a highway rest stop a few miles further on.  We found it at about 40 miles east of Roswell.  He said that it was like an oasis in the desert, and that was about right.  There were a lot of birds there, mostly a lot of Western Kingbirds, but there were many others in the brush along a large chain fence.  Unfortunately, a maintenance crew was busy working and they had a noisy generator going that was keeping the birds away.  We did spot a gorgeous Western Tanager, but it was gone as fast as it arrived and I did not get a chance to get a photograph.  John had also told me about a Burrowing Owl that he knew I could find in Clovis, New Mexico.  Clovis was about 100 miles to the north.  Apparently John didn’t get a chance to see the Burrowing Owls in Roswell that I told you about in my previous post.  Sorry, John.  On that note, here is an image that I got of two owl chicks that were sitting on one of the prairie dog mounds.  I took if from quite a distance, so the quality isn’t real great.  You saw my adult images in that previous post

Burrowing Owl chicks on prairie dog mound.

We arrived in Roswell about 1:00PM, forgetting that we would gain an hour, traveling from the CST time zone into the MST zone.  So actually, by Roswell’s clock we were there about noon.  We didn’t want to try to check in to our room yet, so we investigated the Bottomless Lake State Park nearby.  It was hot and dry there, as some of the little lakes there were empty from the drought.  However, one large one was pretty neat.  It had been improved to provide a large swimming area and visitor center.  We didn’t loiter as we were just checking it out for later journeys.

American Robin

We had reservations at the Enchanted Farm Retreat, a bed & breakfast in Roswell.  It was at the edge of town, but felt like it was further away.  Very quiet, a large pond surrounded by trees and shrubs contain lots of birds.  Blackbirds, doves, robins, swallows, etc.  Before I forget, it was Linda Rockwell, again, that recommended this lovely place.  There was a large porch attached that ran all around the cottage on three sides.  We ended up spending most of our late afternoons and evenings sitting out there watching birds and just relaxing.  I might add that the relaxing was accompanied with a little “toddy” and a batch of nachos. 🙂

Barn Swallow

Susan and Michael Richardson, the people that owned and ran the place are indeed great people.  Their service was top-notch.  The refrigerator was well stocked with food so we were pretty well fixed up.  On Wednesday, Michael did take Ann and I, and another friend of his, Steve Smith, on a little birding tour.  I referred to that in my previous post.  It was on that little tour that we saw, in addition to those Burrowing Owls, this Swainson’s Hawk.

Swainson’s Hawk

But of course, I have been getting ahead of myself.  Our main objective on the trip was to visit Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

We woke early on Tuesday morning, so we could get there early before it started getting too hot.  It was only about 7 miles from town and we arrived there a little past 7:30AM.  The visitors’ center was closed so we just started taking the driving tour.  It is well marked and it is an approximate eight mile drive.

The first part of it was rather void of any avian wildlife to speak of.  We saw a distant dead tree with a Great Horned Owl perched in the top of it.  That tree was probably the tallest thing in the area.  That is not meant as a derogatory remark.  It is just the nature of the refuge.  It is an area of marshy wetlands, that shelter many types of water birds, etc.  However, most of the areas were pretty dry with no water.  Upon visiting with the rangers later on, they told that they had drained a lot of the ponds to assist in the making of some satellite imagery.  Why that was, they didn’t explain.

Western Meadowlark

We eventually came upon some larger bodies of shallow water, and saw many species of water birds.  Here are a few select images of some of them.

Black-necked Stilt

American Avocet – sleeping

White Ibis

A few of the images were shot from a distance away, so the quality is a bit poor in them.  The White Ibis, we found out, was an unusual sighting for the area, as was a Least Tern that was seen.  So many of the species were so far away, it was only with a scope that we could see them clearly.  By the way, click on any of the images to see much larger enlargements.

During the two full days that we spent in the area, we saw a total of 50 different species.  Here is a complete list, if you are interested.  We didn’t keep a count of each specie, but I will say that there was on one each of the White Ibis and Least Tern.

  1. Mississippi Kite
  2. Northern Mockingbird
  3. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  4. Western Kingbird
  5. Northern Cardinal
  6. Common Raven
  7. Turkey Vulture
  8. Chihuahuan Raven
  9. Swainson’s Hawk
  10. Western Tanager
  11. House Sparrow
  12. Greater Roadrunner
  13. Barn Swallow
  14. Red-winged Blackbird
  15. Black-chinned Hummingbird
  16. Eurasian Collared Dove
  17. Lesser Nighthawk
  18. House Finch
  19. Great Horned Owl
  20. Mourning Dove
  21. Lark Sparrow
  22. Western Meadowlark
  23. Blue Grosbeak
  24. Great Blue Heron
  25. Black-necked Stilt
  26. Killdeer
  27. White-faced Ibis
  28. White Ibis
  29. Black-crowned Night Heron
  30. Snowy Egrets
  31. Least Tern
  32. Snowy Plover
  33. American Avocet
  34. Blue-winged Teal
  35. Lesser Yellowlegs
  36. American Robin
  37. Burrowing Owl
  38. Purple Martin
  39. Black Phoebe
  40. Common Grackle
  41. White-winged Dove
  42. Scaled Quail
  43. American Kestrel
  44. Great-tailed Grackle
  45. Cave Swallow
  46. Bobwhite
  47. Gadwall
  48. Ruddy Duck
  49. Northern Shoveler
  50. Red-tailed Hawk