The Menacing Curve-billed Thrasher


Going through old images again from the past year or more.  I decided to give some press time to this fierce looking bird.

Actually, the Curve-billed Thrasher isn’t really menacing.  But you wouldn’t believe it by looking into the adult’s eyes.  They are a bright reddish orange, and along with it’s curved bill, it looks downright mean.  Also, it’s call is a meek sounding tweet, not a growl.

I took this image of an adult nearly a year ago as it was hunkered down in some grass.

Curve-billed Thrasher - adult

Curve-billed Thrasher – adult

Last September I came across this juvenile, pictured below.  At first I thought that it may have been a Sage Thrasher.  Since it was photographed here in San Angelo, a ‘sage’ would been away from it’s usual area which is farther west.  But after looking at it closely, I found that it was indeed a juvenile Curve-billed.  Notice the paler, or yellow eyes that was one of the deciding marks of a younger bird.

Curve-billed Thrasher - juvenile

Curve-billed Thrasher – juvenile

Curve-billed Thrasher - juvenile

Curve-billed Thrasher – juvenile

Thanks for visiting my blog again.  Click on any image to see some enlargements.

Black-crowned Night Heron on the hunt.


Sometimes when I am out doing a little birding, and hopefully a little photographing, too, I come across little surprises.  Such was the case this morning as I was cruising through Spring Creek Park.  I was traveling along the shore of the creek, about 175 yards across at this point, and I happened to see a light colored blob of something in the brush on the other side.

juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron

juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron

Putting the binoculars on it, I discovered that it was a juvenile Black-crowned night Heron.  He was partially hidden by branches, as he stared down at the water.  I wanted to try and get a better photo of him more out in the open.  I drove down the shore a little bit and found a spot where I could aim my 500mm len through the brush on my side, and also get a better open shot of the bird.  This is the result of that maneuvering around.

juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron

juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron

I really like this as I got a better side view of the heron.  The photo below is what he will look like when he grows up.  I took this photo a few years back along the Tennessee River at Knoxville, Tennessee.

adult Black-crowned Night Heron

adult Black-crowned Night Heron

Click on any image to see an enlargement, and while your clicking check my new Fine Art gallery.

Images from a beautiful day……


We have had some very beautiful weather the past few days.  It is a very nice respite from the cold days that we had previously.  Ann and I got out to do a little birding, and I got some new photographs.  That was a bonus, as I hate to come home from birding empty-handed.

First up, I got very lucky getting this photo of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  It was in some thick brush along a fence at Spring Creek Park here in San Angelo.  We were in the car and maneuvered close to the fence, about 15 feet away.  We saw the bird in there, flitting around, and eventually it exposed itself long enough that I was able to get a few images.  If you look close, you can see the tiny red crown, that is usually concealed.  I hand held my Canon EOS 7D with a 100-400mm lens for the shot.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Along the way, we saw several Yellow-rumped Warblers on the ground and in the trees.  This is another tiny bird that moves quickly and is hard to photograph.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Another bird that we usually see on almost every visit to the lake parks, is the Great Egret.  This image was really under-exposed, so I decided to not correct it, but to just adjust the lighting of the egret itself.  It now appears like it is wading in moonlit waters.

Great Egret

Great Egret

We also saw this Ladder-backed Woodpecker working away in a mesquite tree.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Lastly, how could I not show this image of one of my favorite subjects, the Vermilion Flycatcher.  The wind was up a bit, and he seemed to be enjoying the swaying of the small tree branch.  I also like that I was able to get a catch-light in the eye.

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

I hope that you enjoyed these photographs.  Click on any of them to see an enlargement.  To see more of my images, click on the “Fine Art” logo in the left side of this page.  There I have some galleries for you to browse.

Red-tailed Hawk and Swainson’s Hawk


More about my favorite subjects, the raptors.  These two species of hawks, the Red-tailed and the Swainson’s, can cause ID difficulties to the unsuspected.  They are similar in shape and sizes.  The adult Red-tailed is easy to identify by checking out the red tail.  But beware, the younger ones have yet to get that color into the tail.  As for the Swainson’s, the adult has that unmistakeable brown bib.

Anyway, here is an adult Red-tailed Hawk that I photographed Thursday afternoon at Middle Concho Park here in San Angelo.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Here is a Red-tailed Hawk in flight that I photographed several months ago.

Red-tailed Hawk in flight

Red-tailed Hawk in flight

Below are a few images of the Swainson’s Hawk.

Swainson's Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson's Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk

The next photo isn’t too great aesthetically, but we happened to come across the adult Swainson’s Hawk protecting her baby from he brutal 110 degree Texas sun that day, about a year ago.

Adult Swainson's Hawk shielding her baby from the hot sun.

Adult Swainson’s Hawk shielding her baby from the hot sun.

Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Here is something new that I have added to my blog.  Click here to see my new website featuring my Fine Art Gallery.  I have just started adding photos to it so you will have to check it periodically, as it is a work in progress.  I hope you like it.  From there you just gaze at my work, and if you get interested in buying, you can also do that.

Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks


You guys all know how much I love to photograph raptors.  I have posted many images of Red-tailed Hawks several times during the history of this blog.  Today I will feature several photos of the Cooper’s Hawk and of the Sharp-shinned Hawk.  These hawks are some of favorites along side of the red-tailed.  In fact, the sign on the side of my car features a Cooper’s Hawk, as do my business cards.

The following photographs were taken over the past few years.  There is much similarity between the Cooper’s Hawk and the Sharp-shinned Hawk.  The difficulty in making the right ID has me hoping that I made the right choice in naming these.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

On a side note, when I photographed the top image, I was at the bird blind at San Angelo State Park.  Sitting next to me, co-incidentally, was Jim Miller, a fellow blogger and photographer from San Antonio, Texas.  Somewhere in his files, he has a photo nearly identical to mine.

The following is an image that I believe to be a Sharp-shinned Hawk.  You can see and understand the difficulty in identifying these two species.  I am sure that there will be letters and controversy after I post this.  It would have been easier if I had a photo of the both of them, sitting side by side.  It would show that the Cooper’s Hawk is a good 5 inches taller than the Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

I was, at first, reluctant to post the last, (above) photo.  Simply because I had clipped the tail.  But upon further consideration, I felt that it was too good an image to just discard it.

So, enjoy the photos.  Click on any of them to see enlargements.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker and more


Since we had better weather for a couple of days we have been to our local parks a couple of times.  Today, Saturday, of course, the weather has changed, getting cooler then downright cold for the next six days or so.  Anyway, I managed to get a few photos of some of the smaller birds, plus a pretty nice shot of a Great Blue Heron.  I will show them here starting with three images of a Golden-fronted Woodpecker, which I think is one the most photogenic of that species.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

This Savannah Sparrow flew from a tree into the edge of the water.  It is one of my better shots of one of these.  It usually is difficult to get such close-ups of them.

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

The same goes for the American Goldfinches such as the one pictured below.  I was lucky with this image.  The bird was in dense brush, inside a fence line.  I think I took 30 shots, before I got one that showed nearly the whole bird in focus.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

There was still a lot of water standing in the roadways and this Western Meadowlark decided that it wasn’t too cold for a bath.

Western Meadowlark - taking a bath

Western Meadowlark – taking a bath

I have always had difficulty getting decent photos of swans.  Usually the ones around here are on open water, making getting good compositions hard to come by.  Also there is the problem of getting the exposure good because of the whiteness of the feathers.  I believe this image of the two Mute Swans is a bit more interesting with the rocks in the background.

Mute Swans

Mute Swans

What can I say about the Great Blue Herons.  I always enjoy trying to get interesting images of them.  We ate at the ‘Golden Arches’ for breakfast early Thursday morning.  It was cold, drizzly, and a bit dark.  When we left the restaurant, Ann noticed the heron in the little arroyo adjacent to the parking lot.  Of course, I just happened to have my camera in the car, so I got it out and managed to get several images in the very low light.  I like the photo especially the way the wet weather saturated the colors.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Click on any of these images to see enlargements.

By the way, I still have copies of my highly acclaimed book, “Birds, Beasts and Buttes”, available.  To order autographed copies, contact me at bobzeller1@aol.com.

Another American Kestrel and friends


Another smallish hawk that visits the San Angelo on occasion, is the Prairie Falcon.  It is larger than the American Kestrel that I featured yesterday.  I captured this photo a few years ago, when it made a couple of appearances atop a utility pole a few blocks from where I live.

Prairie Falcon

Prairie Falcon

In this second photo, taken at a different time, you can see that he has caught a small rodent of some kind.

Prairie Falcon

Prairie Falcon

Another small hawk that is seen around here is the Merlin.  The image below was shot in the early morning as you can see by the side light.

Merlin

Merlin

Yesterday I had posted several of my images of the American Kestrel.  I had forgotten that some of you may not have seen this photo that I posted a year or so ago.  I had shot the photo while the bird was perched in a leaf-less shrub.  During post-processing, I done a little of this and a little of that, and ended up with this 3D illusion.  (this is not an HDR proccesed image).  Click to see the enlargement.  I hope you like it.

American Kestrel in 3D

American Kestrel in 3D

American Kestrels – Feisty cuties


We are having rainy weather here in San Angelo.  The nasty, drizzly, dreary kind of stuff that tends to keep a person indoors.  So what does a guy do, when he has hundreds (thousands?) of photos in his files.  I decided to see what I had of interest.  There has been a lot of interest lately in the American Kestrels.  Lo and behold, I discovered that I had a bunch of images that may or not have ever been seen before with the human eye in one of my posts.  In short, I think that I have never posted some of them before.   So here for your enjoyment are a few of those that I think were photographed in early 2011, or somewhere around there.  Click on the images to see some really great enlargements.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

This American Kestrel, as you can see was watching me intently, and shortly he took of from that little branch.  The following two images are immediately after that.

American Kestrel in flight.

American Kestrel in flight.

American Kestrel in flight.

American Kestrel in flight.

In the next two, this Kestrel can’t make up his mind whether to trust me or not.  He keeps looking back at me.  I wonder if he strained his neck in the second image.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

I think this one below is getting ready to go on a hunt.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

Hunt accomplished.  Looks like a good meal to me.

American Kestrel with a noon time lunch.

American Kestrel with a noon time lunch.

A successful hunt, catching a small field mouse.  I hope you enjoyed these photos.  I’ll be back another day with maybe more surprises.  It depends on how long these rainy days last.

Weekend of Birding Fun


Ann and I had a fine time with our birding over the weekend.  On Saturday we went to our usual haunt at the parks around Lake Nasworthy.  On Sunday, she wanted to go again, but I thought it would be fun to go somewhere different for a change of scenery.  We decided to visit the water treatment ponds down at Eldorado, Texas.  I am glad we did, as there were numerous water birds there, some that we hadn’t seen up here around San Angelo lately.  After visiting the ponds we drove out a local county highway where there are a couple of Crested Caracaras nesting in a tree about 500 yards off of the road.  We spotted a couple of their heads above the nests, but too far away for any pictures.  Down the road a little farther we came to a large bridge over a creek bed.  There was a large pond of water where there were about 40 Canvasbacks swimming around, along with some Ruddy Ducks and Northern Shovelers.

All in all, we had a total of 52 different species spotted for both days.  We added several more to our 2013 list.  We now have 56 for the year already, of the 200 that we are shooting for.  Here are a few of those species.  Click on any of them to see enlargements.

Northern MockinbirdState bird of Texqas

Northern Mockinbird
State bird of Texas

Bufflehead

Bufflehead

Canvasback

Canvasback

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shoveler

Red-tailed HawkWind-blown atop utility pole.

Red-tailed Hawk
Wind-blown atop utility pole.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

Here is a complete list of our birding weekend.

  1. Northern Shoveler
  2. White-winged Dove
  3. Killdeer
  4. Inca Dove
  5. House Sparrow
  6. Northern Mockingbird
  7. American Coot
  8. Pied-billed Grebe
  9. Red-winged Blackbird
  10. European Starling
  11. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  12. Black Vulture
  13. Double-crested Cormorant
  14. Western Meadowlark
  15. Eastern Bluebid
  16. Gadwall
  17. Vermilion Flycatcher
  18. House Finch
  19. Northern Harrier
  20. Great Blue Heron
  21. Golden-fronted Woodpecker
  22. Belted Kingfisher
  23. Black-crested Titmouse
  24. Black-bellied Whistling Duck
  25. Red-tailed Hawk
  26. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  27. Eastern Phoebe
  28. Northern Cardinal
  29. Ring-billed Gull
  30. Common Grackle
  31. Great-tailed Grackle
  32. Western Bluebird
  33. Bewick’s Wren
  34. Osprey
  35. Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  36. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  37. Green-winged Teal
  38. Mute Swan
  39. Ring-necked Duck
  40. Greater Roadrunner
  41. American Kestrel
  42. Ruddy Duck
  43. American Wigeon
  44. Lesser Scaup
  45. Bufflehead
  46. Eared Grebe
  47. Crested Caracara
  48. Canvasback
  49. American Goldfinch
  50. Savannah Sparrow
  51. Common Raven
  52. Northern Pintail

Sparrows – The forgotten and ignored birds.


Jane Cheese, a fellow blogger (her link), recently commented and wondered if I had a photo of a Savannah Sparrow.  It didn’t take much searching to find one in my files.  It seems that I have been negligent in spending much time photographing the many species of sparrows.  Maybe it is because, that most of them are more or less bland in appearance, or maybe it is because I have the most difficulty in identifying them.

Nevertheless, I came across photographs of several of the many species of sparrows.  Here are a few of my most show-worthy images.  I hope that after looking at these, you will have a better appreciation for these species.

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Lincoln Sparrow

Lincoln Sparrow

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow