Some ‘Thankful it’s Friday’ images.

After a week of catching up with a few chores, getting over a little bout of sniffles, I am back at work.  We went out for a bit this morning to get a few images for a post and was nicely rewarded, even though the birding was limited.  I will post these for your enjoyment, I hope.  One thing to mention, it seemed to be a day that the birds were wanting to get behind twigs or branches, but I think the images are acceptable.  Click on the images to see some beautiful enlargements.

This Red-breasted Merganzer didn’t have the problem I described above.  However, it was another lifer (number 255) for me.  I had never seen one before.

Red-breasted Merganzer

Red-breasted Merganzer

Here is a big Red-tailed Hawk, and, ‘voila’, there is the branch I am talking about.  But that is a problem that comes up often, and you can’t do anything about it, but accept it and make the best image you can.

Red-tailed Hawk in tree

Red-tailed Hawk in tree

A nice image of an Osprey with a large fish.  I think that it is a fresh catch, and I think I saw the fish squirm a bit before the bird dug in for his meal.  If you look close, you can see the fish’s eyes, perhaps looking up imploring for mercy from the bird.

Osprey with fish

Osprey with fish

A Northern Flicker.  Again the tree branch didn’t obstruct enough to take away from the image.

Northern Flicker - red-shafted

Northern Flicker – red-shafted

Ah, an un-obstructed photo.  This hawk was across the Middle Concho river from me, but it looks like he is still quite aware me.

Red-tailed Hawk - juvenile

Red-tailed Hawk – juvenile

So that’s it for today.  I am sorry for the lateness of this post.  Ann has been under the weather, I just had the sniffles plus I had to catch up on some other business obligations.

Hark, the lark, the Meadowlark

There I am again, getting cute with a catchy title.  But, I have to get your attention.  Today I have some Western Meadowlark images to show you.  I went out with Ann on Sunday morning to try and get some more improved images than what I have seemed to have gotten lately.  I was starting to doubt my own talents.  The day was one of those days where the birding was a bit sparse, but it was probably because of some chilly winds.  That is, chilly early morning, then it warmed to upper 70s in the afternoon.  I can hardly call that chilly.

Anyway we came across an area where there were several Western Meadowlarks, both on the ground and in the trees.  One thing that I have noticed about them, is they like to keep their back to you.  Maybe it is some kind of defensive thing, but it is hard to get nice photos of their beautiful yellow breasts.  Having said that, though, I did get a shot of one lurking in the grass a little further away.  I was able to capture it with my 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-converter.  I used the same set-up on the other two images as well.

Mind if I lurk a little bit??

Here’s another with a side view.

Western Meadowlark’s great profile

This one keeps looking over his shoulder.

Here’s lookin’ back at ya. 🙂

In closing, here is a frontal view of a Western Meadowlark that I captured back in the year 2009.  I was undecided about posting it because of the reeds that are in front of his face.  But the picture grew on me, and I think that the growth adds a bit of a natural look.  I hope you agree.

Western Meadowlark on barbed wire.

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  I am going to the central Texas area tomorrow.  First to visit Hornsby Bend Bird Sanctuary in Austin, then on Wednesday we will go to the Canyon of the Eagles at Lake Buchanan and take the Vanishing River Cruise and hopefully get some images of some Bald Eagles.  So my next post will be around next weekend.

Where have I been all week………

Darned if I know where I have been all week.  It has just been one of those times where time got away from me.  All of a sudden it is Saturday already.  I guess the holiday had something to do with it.  But, actually, holidays to Ann and I are usually just another day.  We have no relatives close to us.  So what is my excuse for not posting all week.  Darned if I know……

But here I am.  We got out a few days to do a bit of birding, between household chores.  You ought to see all of the acorns that we have been cleaning up.  We have two Live Oaks, (why do they call them live oaks, of course they’re live), and they drop acorns like you wouldn’t believe.  We sweep trash cans full and now I looked again when I went to check the mail, and it’s time to sweep them up again.  That’s a job for tomorrow.  Maybe.  Unless we go birding again.

So here are a few images from the past few days.  They are all tiny birds taken in the trees.  Danged hard to get the exposures right when they are hiding in the shadows.  It means more work in my digital darkroom to get it right.  I hate to have to do that.  But what the heck.  I have time on my hands. (when I’m not out sweeping acorns). 

We went to our usual place out at Spring Creek Park.  I drove through an area to be used to camping and we spotted this Brown Creeper.  We don’t see many of these, so it is always a nice surprise to spot one.  They climb the bark of trees looking for tiny morsels.  They keep going until they reach the top, then the fly back down to the bottom and start all over.  As you can see, the image is quite noisy, but I will post it anyway.

Brown Creeper

Later, we saw this sparrow.  At first I thought it may be a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow, but after getting it in the computer and adjusting the lighting so I could ID it, I discovered that it is a Chipping Sparrow.  He seemed to be staring right at me.

Chipping Sparrow

We saw this Bewick’s Wren on a fence post.  They are hard to photograph, usually flitting around too quickly, to get in the view-finder, but this one co-operated nicely for me.

Bewick’s Wren on post.

Again, I apologize for the quality of my images.  Not quite up to my standards.  All three were pretty dark and shaded, and trying to brighten them up with my software, produced a bit more noise that I like.  Sometimes I can’t make up my mind, whether this blog is about photography or the birding.  If it is about birding, then I shouldn’t be concerned about the quality of the photos, as long as you can see the birds.  On the other hand…………     Ah, I think I will quit worrying about such things, and just go with the flow. 🙂

Saturday morning images Nov 16.

Here are a few photos from a short three-hour birding trip to Middle Concho and Spring Creek Parks.  The first two images are of a Cooper’s Hawk.  The same bird, but taken in two different trees.  It was on the move but we followed it.  The sky was bright but cloudy, and the subject was back-lit in both images.  The Cooper’s is often confused with the Sharp-shinned Hawk.  The Cooper’s is the larger of the two, but since I hadn’t had them close together, I opted for the Cooper’s because of the flatish head.  The horizontal breast markings show that it is an adult.

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

We came upon several Yellow-rumped Warblers.  I was able to get this close shot when one lit on a small tree just a few feet from the car.  It wasn’t there but for a few seconds.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

This Great Blue Heron was taking it easy atop an old concrete pier.

Great Blue Heron

We saw a good many birds, including our first Cedar Waxwing of the season.  Here is a complete list of our 29 sightings.

  1. Northern Mockingbird    4
  2. Great-tailed Grackle    35
  3. House Finch    2
  4. Northern Cardinal    3
  5. American Kestrel    2
  6. Eastern Bluebird    8
  7. Red-winged Blackbird    7
  8. American Coot    16
  9. Great Blue Heron    4
  10. Northern Harrier    1
  11. Double-crested Cormorant    9
  12. Pied-billed Grebe    1
  13. Mute Swan    2
  14. Vermilion Flycatcher    1
  15. Cooper’s Hawk    1
  16. White-winged Dove   20
  17. Golden-fronted Woodpecker    5
  18. Blue Jay    2
  19. Black-crested Titmouse    4
  20. Ladder-backed Woodpecker    1
  21. Yellow-rumped Warbler    3
  22. House Sparrow    10
  23. Belted Kingfisher    3
  24. Ring-billed Gull    11
  25. Gadwall    3
  26. Cedar Waxwing    3
  27. Eastern Phoebe    2
  28. American Robin    1
  29. Mallard    6

Enjoy the photos and click on any of them to see enlargements.

American Robin: There’s No Place Like Home

As much as I love the Big Bend, it is always great to get back home.  We spent four great days in the Big Bend area, just taking in the sights, getting a few photos, and just laying back.  Unfortunately, we picked the wrong time of year to see a great many birds.  Over the years, our visits there had always been in spring or early fall.  Never had we ever went there during the month of November.  That’s not to say that we didn’t see any of the avian variety, it is just that there weren’t as many as we were used to.

So as it turned out we returned home last Monday, empty-handed so to speak.  But things are really picking up around here again.  Yesterday, Ann and I, along with a close friend decided to go birding at our usual haunts, Middle Concho and Spring Creek Parks.  From 9:30AM until 2:00PM, a space of four and a half hours we saw 41 species.  I think that may be more than we saw in entirely in our 4-day trip.

I got these photos of an American Robin.

American Robin

American Robin

American Robin

Here is a complete list of our sighting of the birds that were seen yesterday:

  1. Great Egret
  2. Northern Mockingbird
  3. Killdeer
  4. European Starling
  5. Eastern Bluebird
  6. House Wren
  7. White-crowned Sparrow
  8. Great Blue Heron
  9. American Coot
  10. Double-crested Cormorant
  11. Bewick’s Wren
  12. White-winged Dove
  13. Vermilion Flycatcher
  14. Pied-billed Grebe
  15. Black-crested Titmouse
  16. House Finch
  17. Great-tailed Grackle
  18. Eastern Phoebe
  19. Black Vulture
  20. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  21. Golden-fronted Woodpecker
  22. Western Meadowlark
  23. Cooper’s Hawk
  24. Northern Harrier
  25. Osprey
  26. Mallard
  27. Ring-billed Gull
  28. Great Horned Owl
  29. American Robin
  30. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  31. Red-winged Blackbird
  32. Northern Cardinal
  33. Wild Turkey
  34. Red-tailed Hawk
  35. Orange-crowned Warbler
  36. Chipping Sparrow
  37. American Goldfinch
  38. Mute Sway
  39. Great Blue Heron
  40. American Pelican *
  41. Northern Pintail  *

*Note:  The Pelicans and Pintail were seen at O. C. Fisher Reservoir.

Note:  My book, “Birds, Beasts and Buttes”, makes a great Christmas gift.  Contact me for a signed copy at  or buy one from the publisher by clicking on this link:  BLURB.  It is available in hard-copy or soft-cover.

Images on a West Texas morning

Here are some random images that I took the past few mornings at Middle Concho Park and Spring Creek Park.  Perfect fall weather, mild temps, zero wind, the water smooth as glass.  The trees are changing color and the birds are happy.  Ann and I are just cruising along enjoying all of the above.  First up, a couple of images of a Pyrrhuloxia.  Okay, I know how some of you have trouble with pronouncing that name.  Here again:  pie-rul-oxia.  Close enough, Ron?

Pyrrhuloxia – female

Pyrrhuloxia – female

A Belted Kingfisher intent on watching the water for a meal.

Belted Kingfisher

A Golden-fronted Woodpecker digging in.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker – female

A pretty Eastern Bluebird just relaxing.

Eastern Bluebird

A Great Blue Heron peruses the action.

Great Blue Heron

This may be my last post for a few days.  My bride, Ann and I are leaving for the Big Bend area on Wednesday morning.  We hope to have more stories and new photographs for you on our return next week.  I hope you enjoy these photos here.  Click on any of them to see some enlargements.


Lewis’s Woodpecker – Another for the Life List

The Lewis’s Woodpecker is a rarity in Texas, just a very few sightings per year.  In fact, I had never seen one.  I heard about a year ago that one had been seen down around the rodeo grounds at Junction, Texas, but I didn’t make it down to check it out.  But a couple of days ago, my neighborhood friend, Carl Williams, spotted and photographed a bird that he couldn’t identify.  We got together, looked at our field guides and discovered that it was the Lewis’s Woodpecker.

So this morning, Ann and I set out to see if we could spot it.  We headed for Middle Concho Park, where Carl and seen it.  He described the location where he had seen it so we headed there.  Immediately, when we neared the area Ann spotted it atop a dead tree, about thirty feet above the ground.  Lewis’s Woodpeckers have a tendency to hang around the same area, and even in the same tree.  That was a fortunate break for us.  It was added to my life list as Number 253, if you’re counting.

Lewis’s Woodpecker

I wish the light could have been better, but when stalking any bird, and you  only get one shot, you take what you can get.  In this case, it was a harsh early morning sun.  It was about 35 feet in the air so I was shooting upward at an angle with my Canon EOS 7D with 500mm lens and 1.4 teleconverter.  Considering my distance from the tree, I was probably a good 50 yards from the subject.

While we were out there, we checked out the usual spots and discovered that the young Great Horned Owl was back in the same tree in Spring Creek Park as it was several days ago.  Here is the photo that I got today, an image of him showing me his backside.

Great Horned Owl, juvenile

Further along the river we also spotted this juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron.  He has a dour expression, and looking at that scat on the log, I wonder if he has a sour stomach.  He was about 150 yards away across the river and we almost missed seeing him.  Captured with my 500mm lens and 1.4 teleconverter, supported on my window with my Noodle.

Black-crowned Night Heron – juvenile

Enjoy the photos.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.