Little Blue Heron – a lifer


First of all, as I like to do occasionally, is  to bring attention to other nature artists that impress me.  Lyndi Simms is one of those and her work is stunning.  Check out her work by clicking HERE.

Okay, when Ann and I were out hooting for the owls last week we had another experience.  Glancing towards the river, we saw a flash of blue out of the corner of our eyes.  We looked to see what had distracted us, thinking maybe we were spotting a Great Blue Heron.  But what a surprise, when we discovered that it was actually a Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea), a smaller relative.  They are in fact about 18 inches smaller than the Great Blue.  They are permanent residents to the gulf coast, but summer throughout the southern states.  They are very rare to this west Texas area where I live, and this is the first one I have ever seen.  Number 254 to my life list.  Click on either image to see an enlargement.

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

One more bird that I don’t want to forget to mention is this Bronzed Cowbird, (Molothrus aeneus).  They summer mostly to the southwest of San Angelo, but a few do make it into the area.  Difficult to photograph because of the black, glossy feathers, but if successful,  the bluish feathers really pop.  This one I got lucky with when it was hopping in the grass nearby.  Ya gotta love that red eye, too.

Bronzed Cowbird

Bronzed Cowbird

Here is a reminder to my new and older readers.  If you will click on “sign me up”, in the upper right of this page, below all of my copyright fine print, you will receive an e-mail whenever I publish a new post.  That way you will never miss any of my narratives or nonsense.  🙂

Green Herons have arrived…..


The Green Herons have been arriving in the San Angelo, Texas area for their annual summer stay.  On Friday, while I spent most of the time photographing those Great Horned Owls, I did spot a Green Heron sitting on a dead tree branch overhanging the river at Spring Creek Park.

The Green Heron, (Butorides virescens), is relatively small as herons go.  They are only about 19 inches tall.  These photos are of an adult with breeding plumage.

I was amazed at how I was able to get close to him.  Of course, he was pretty intent on staring at the water in search of some tasty morsel.  I got the following two shots of him there.  Click on any of the seven photos to see some incredible enlargements.

Green Heron

Green Heron

Green Heron

Green Heron

On Saturday morning we drove downtown to check out the Great Blue Heron nests along the Concho River.  Although we observed three chicks on those nests, the conditions weren’t good for usable photos.  I will be back there in a few days.  However we did see another Green Heron along the opposite bank doing a little fishing.  Here are the results of his endeavors.

On the hunt......

On the hunt……

I see you.......

I see you…….

dive! dive! dive!......

dive! dive! dive!……

Gotcha!!  Two for one.....

Gotcha!! Two for one…..

Okay, my belly's full.  Now where is that eagle I am supposed to rassle??

Okay, my belly’s full. Now where is that eagle I am supposed to rassle??

I hope you enjoyed the photos.  I would enjoy reading comments from any of you.

Great Horned Owl Bonanza


I don’t know what the word is for a group of Great Horned Owls, but Ann and I certainly ran into a bonanza yesterday.  A friend of ours told us that he had seen a couple at Spring Creek Park recently.  We had seen them on occasion there over the years ourselves.  We drove out to check them out.

The Great Horned Owls are difficult to see at anytime.  People will say that owls won’t appear during the day.  I say hogwash.  They are there, but you have to know what to look for and be patient.  This was about 10:00 AM.  In one area, we heard one hoot.  We stopped the car and got out and started to walk around and look up into the trees.  These owls usually aren’t distracted by human traffic as they usually are high up and confident that they are pretty safe.  They are certain that they can’t be seen.  And they are pretty nearly right.

Anyway, I finally spotted an adult high in a tree.  Then a minute later Ann exclaimed that she could see two owlets, (young owls).  She showed me with great difficulty, then I spotted another kiddo.  I couldn’t believe it.  This was a first.  We had never seen four owls at once before.  I set up my cameras and proceeded to take photos.  In all, I would shoot over 600 images that day.  But the story doesn’t end here.

We got back in the car and drove down another area of the park.  Ann yelled, “Stop the car!!  There are some more owls!”  Sure enough, there was another tree with four more young owls.  A total of eight owls within about 500 yards of each other.  As in the previous tree, they were pretty high up.

For all of my photos I used my tripod-mounted Canon EOS 7D with a 500mm lens and 1.4 tele-converter.   There was some difficulty selecting shooting positions because of the thick foliage and tree branches.  Because of the heighth of the trees, I usually had to set up twenty or so feet away from the base of the tree to get good shooting angles.  Enjoy these shots, and click on any of them to see enlargements.

Great Horned Owlets

Great Horned Owlets

A young Great Horned Owl peeks from a tree branch.

A young Great Horned Owl peeks from a tree branch while  his sibling stands guard in upper right.

Young Great Horned Owl.  Looking the worse for the wear.  Maybe survived a skirmish with a hawk?

Young Great Horned Owl. Looking the worse for the wear. Maybe survived a skirmish with a hawk?

"Do you think he sees us?"

“Do you think he sees us?”

Two young Great Horned Owls

Two young Great Horned Owls

Ten Minutes at K-Mart Creek


It didn’t take long.  We had been observing a Yellow-crowned Night Heron near our local K-mart Creek, so named of the little drainage creek that usually flows by an empty K-mart building.  I, like Lisa Rest up in Chicago, Illinois, always have my camera with me.  Check her blog to see her amazing shots from the Windy City.

We hadn’t had time to stop on the previous sightings, so we decided to make a special trip, specifically to see if we could spot that bird.  We saw it immediately as we drove on to the parking lot.  I managed to get the two pictures that are below, then as we were about to leave, Ann spotted a Green Heron in an honey mesquite tree by the water.  It was obscured partly by foliage, but I have always maintained that if you can see enough of the eyes, get them in sharp focus, you can get a nice picture.

I hope you enjoy all of the photos.  Click on any of them to see an enlargement.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Green Heron in tree

Green Heron in tree

Happy Blue Heron Parents


This morning early, I drove downtown to where the Concho River flows through the Santa Fe Park.  Along the bank of the river is a dead tree that hangs out over the water.  There are two Great Blue Heron nests near the top.  At least one of them has a new-born in it.  Since they are about 20 feet above me in elevation, it is difficult to actually see into them.  The skies were overcast and cloudy, and the lighting was excellent.  No harsh shadows to worry about.  The adults were coming and going, but I got this shot of both of them, plus the head of the tiny chick sticking up a bit.  I was about twenty feet away from the base of the tree, and up a small slope.

A happy family of Great Blue Herons.

A happy family of Great Blue Herons.

I hope you enjoyed the shot.  Click on it to see an enlargement.

A new week, a new day……


I am sitting here at my computer pondering the day, and wondering what I am going to write about.  I sometimes never decide until I am actually here with my fingers on the keyboard.  Ann and I had a pretty nice weekend, but now it’s time to get after it.  “It” being doing something constructive.

On Friday we decided to make a birding run through our local parks in the Lake Nasworthy area.  We actually came away with seeing 43 species in about three hours time.  I didn’t get any photos that were in an award-winning fashion, but here are a few images from the morning.

Eared Grebe

Eared Grebe

The Eared Grebe was the first we had seen this year, and we were fortunate to do so, as they usually have all left by this date except for a few hangers-on.

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal

The Blue-winged Teal was feeding pretty near the grebe, as was the Great Egret pictured below.

Great Egret

Great Egret

Sparrows are difficult to photograph, because of the small size and also because it is hard to catch them still enough when they are in the grass.  I got lucky with this Savannah Sparrow.

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

So photographically the day wasn’t a complete waste.  I have to admit, though,  that sometimes I get caught up with the birding aspect, and sub-conciously forget the cameras.  Then I have a ‘V-eight’ moment, slam myself in the forehead about possibly missing a great shot.

Speaking of great birding here is a list of our sightings, which included our first Bullock’s Oriole of the year.

  1. Blue Jay   1
  2. White-winged Dove   7
  3. House Finch   9
  4. Great-tailed Grackle   11
  5. House Sparrow   5
  6. Mourning Dove   3
  7. Neotropic Cormorant   15
  8. American Coot   25
  9. Gadwall   5
  10. Pied-billed Grebe   3
  11. European Starling
  12. Killdeer   1
  13. Turkey Vulture   5
  14. Eastern Bluebird   3
  15. Red-winged Blackbird   7
  16. Northern Shoveler   1
  17. Golden-fronted Woodpecker   4
  18. Bewick’s Wren    1
  19. Northern Cardinal   5
  20. Ash-throated Flycatcher   2
  21. Eared Grebe   1
  22. Blue-winged Teal
  23. Common Grackle   7
  24. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  25. Brown-headed Cowbird   1
  26. Chipping Sparrow   7
  27. Vermilion Flycatcher   2
  28. Lark Sparrow   7
  29. Black-bellied Whistling Duck   25
  30. Barn Swallow   5
  31. Great Blue Heron   4
  32. Savannah Sparrow   3
  33. Great Egret   1
  34. Black-crested Titmouse
  35. Yellow-rumped Warbler   3
  36. Ladder-backed Woodpecker   1
  37. Bullock’s Oriole   2
  38. White-crowned Sparrow   3
  39. Wild Turkey   1
  40. Belted Kingfisher
  41. Cinnamon Teal   1
  42. Rock Pigeon   1
  43. Northern Mockingbird   7

I hope you enjoyed the images.  Click on any of them to see enlargements.

Where’s the spring??


Wow, I am wondering about all of this crazy weather.  Yesterday we almost set a record high at 96 degrees.  But…..by 10:00PM the temp had dropped into the 40s.  Today’s high will be in the 50s.  So, I am wondering if and when we will actually get some permanent springtime temps.  But I must say that the 96 yesterday looked like we were going to skip spring altogether, go directly to summer without passing Go and getting our 200.00.   Such is the weather in west Texas.

We took a short visit to the Hummer House in Christoval a couple of days ago.  We were a bit early for most of the birds that frequent there.  We did see several Black-chinned Hummingbirds, some Northern Cardinals, Black-crested Titmouses, and some sparrows.  We decided to head back to San Angelo and went to the blind at San Angelo State Park.

Here are a couple of photos from the day.

Black-crested Titmouse at the Hummer House in Christoval, Texas.

Black-crested Titmouse at the Hummer House in Christoval, Texas.

Northern Cardinal at San Angelo State Park

Northern Cardinal at San Angelo State Park

After getting home later, my neighbor called to say that there was a large hawk flying around the neighborhood.  I grabbed my Canon EOS 7D and 100-400mm zoom lens and ran outside.  With my binoculars I spotted him high in the sky.  I took the shot below, but because of the extreme distance, it was difficult to get much of a picture.  However, this heavily cropped image does clearly show the marking of a Swainson’s Hawk.

Swainson's Hawk in flight.

Swainson’s Hawk in flight.

Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Amazing After Easter Birding Images


Tuesday dawned as a beautiful day.  Winds calm, temperature balmy.  A perfect day to get out and do some early birding.  A friend of mine wanted to go birding for the first time, to see what this hobby/pastime was all about.  I will simply call him John Smith as that is his real name.  I picked him up at his house about 8:45AM and away we went.  I took him on the usual tour that Ann and always make.  Ann, by the way, had to stay home and catch up on wifely chores, laundry, ironing, cleaning and the like.

Osprey in tree.

Osprey in tree.

We headed for Middle Concho Park and before we got there we had already seen about 7 species, including the Osprey pictured above, sitting on a tree branch overlooking a pond near Lake Nasworthy.  I think it was the same Osprey that I had photographed a few days ago, as it was on or near the same branch, but positioned slightly different for a better exposure.  (Click on any picture to see an enlargement.)

Ped-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Inside the park, we were surprised that the parks department had already had the place cleaned up from the hordes of people that cluttered the place over the Easter weekend.  We immediately saw plenty of birds, woodpeckers, grackles and even a Ruby-crowned Kinglet flitting in a small Live Oak.  Along the shoreline we saw the above pictured Pied-billed Grebe.  I love those little guys.  They seem to be smiling and having a good time.  A little farther along we saw the first of the season, for me, some Blue-winged Teals.

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal

"The water sure is cold.""And deep, too."

“The water sure is cold.”
“And deep, too.”

We then proceed to leave Middle Concho Park and head over to Spring Creek Park.  It is actually just across the river, but with no bridge, you have to drive an approximate 7 mile trip around the lake.

Vermilion Flycatcher in tree.

Vermilion Flycatcher in mesquite tree.

Will driving in that park, we saw a Vermilion Flycatcher in front of us.  I didn’t have room, or the time, to maneuver the car so this photo was taken through the car.  I now am driving a brand new Ford Escape, and for some reason or other I had an easier time of getting a good focus through the glass.

Wilson;'s Snipe

Wilson’s Snipe

We proceeded to get a little closer to the shoreline, and as I drove, I told John that it would be nice to see a Wilson’s Snipe, since the habitat in that area was shallow and muddy.  Sure enough, I had hardly spoken when we spotted two of them.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

As if seeing the snipes was surprising enough, just a few minutes later, we saw thes Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.  So we had a really fun day.  John said he was hooked on birding and is chomping at the bit to do it again.  We ended up seeing a total of 36 species.  If you are interested, here are all of them listed.

  1. Pied-billed Grebe
  2. Ring-necked Duck
  3. European Starling
  4. Great Blue Heron
  5. Killdeer
  6. American Coot
  7. Blue-winged Teal
  8. Double-crested Cormorant
  9. House Finch
  10. Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  11. White-winged Dove
  12. Mourning Dove
  13. Osprey
  14. Red-winged Blackbird
  15. Curve-billed Thrasher
  16. Golden-fronted Woodpecker
  17. Chipping Sparrow
  18. Black Vulture
  19. Neotropic Cormorant
  20. Black-bellied Whistling Duck
  21. Wilson’s Snipe
  22. Wild Turkey
  23. Mallard
  24. Northern Shoveler
  25. Cinnamon Teal
  26. Gadwall
  27. Belted Kingfisher
  28. Northern Mockingbird
  29. Northern Cardinal
  30. Vermilion Flycatcher
  31. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  32. Red-tailed Hawk
  33. Barn Swallow
  34. Rock Wren
  35. Swainson’s Hawk
  36. Great-tailed Grackle

Red-tailed Hawk taking a bath


I have seen some peculiar things when trying to photograph the behavior of wildlife.  Last week, when driving along the Concho River, I happened to look across at the opposite shore.  I saw something that took me by surprise.  A Red-tailed Hawk was just sitting in the shallow water.  I didn’t see any prey that he might have been eating.  He was there several minutes and I had plenty of time to maneuver my car so I could get this shot out the driver’s side window.  He was about 100 yards away so I used my 500mm and 1.4 tele-converter on my Canon 7D.  I still had to crop it extensively to make this closeup.

Red-tailed Hawk bathing in Concho River.

Red-tailed Hawk bathing in Concho River.

Farther along the river, I spotted this Great Blue Heron.  He was standing on some dead wood above the surface of the water.  I love this pose.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

On the way home we spotted four Curve-billed Thrashers.  In this photo you can see the ferocity in the eyes.  But for such a fierce looking bird. their call is pretty meek sounding.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

Click on any photo to see an enlargement.