Long-tailed Duck – another lifer

As I mentioned in a recent blog, I often get calls telling me of new discoveries.  Yesterday I received an e-mail from Suzanne Johnson down in Eldorado, about 45 miles south of San Angelo, informing us that a Long-tailed Duck was making a stop-over.  It is a bird that usually winters on either the Atlantic or Pacific coasts, then spends the rest of the year in the far north.  Ann and I hopped into the car and headed that way this morning, as it is a bird that neither of us had ever seen before.  It took a bit of patience and searching but we saw it at the waste water ponds outside of town.

Again, I got lucky.  We searched for about 30 minutes, and as I was about to give up, I saw a bird splash down in the water.  I zipped my big lens around just in time to get it in focus.  It was my bird, i.e., the Long-tailed Duck.  It was windy, the water a bit choppy as the ponds are large, but I managed to get a couple of images of it.  Not great photos, but good enough to prove the Identification..

Long-tailed Duck

Long-tailed Duck

Long-tailed Duck accompanied by a couple of Eared Grebes.

Long-tailed Duck accompanied by a couple of Eared Grebes.

We then came home after seeing about 15 other species in the ponds.  Later this afternoon, I got a call from friends in Eola, about 25 miles west, to come over and shoot photos of their cotton harvest.  Since they were half-way finished and cold weather on the way I though I would get over there and get the job done.

Cotton fields surround home on west Texas farm.

Cotton fields surround home on west Texas farm.

If the above photo was an aerial view, you would see that the home is surrounded by a sea of cotton fields.

Modules of compressed cotton harvested on cotton farm.

Modules of compressed cotton harvested on cotton farm.

Pictured are 19 modules of compressed cotton, freshly harvested.  14 are full, 5 are nearly finished.  Each the size of a school bus.  And they are only half finished.  Looks like a good harvest.  (The modules appear shorter because of the long telephoto lens I was using.)

On the way home from that project, we spotted this Merlin atop a warning sign.  I barely had time to get the camera off of my lap and grab a shot, before it took off.



The Long-tailed Duck is number 262 on my life list if any of you are interested.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.  By the way, the WARNING sign is for buried cable in the area.

18 thoughts on “Long-tailed Duck – another lifer

  1. Well done on your new species, Bob! A few years back we saw a long-tailed duck, pretty far out from the shore, in western Scotland – I’m guessing this is the same species. I know they’re pretty uncommon here, too.
    The pics of the cotton farm are fascinating – that is certainly farming on a big scale, like nothing I have ever seen! Stunning merlin photo, too – a grabbed shot?! You’re making it look too easy! 🙂

    • Hi Jo, as always so nice to hear from you. I am not enough of an expert to know if it is the same species or not. I had not ever seen one before, and it isn’t even supposed to be here in west Texas/

      That particular farm (actually a ranch) has several thousand acres. Typical of west Texas ranches. They also raise sheep and goats.

      My grabbed shot. Yes, that is what I called it, because I only had a few seconds to grab the camera and aim it. Of course, I cropped and made a few lighting, contrast, and sharpening adjustments as I usually do. I think that I really make the pictures, not in the field, but after I get home to the computer.

      I appreciate that you think I make it look easy, but I know that you are capable of doing the same thing. You under estimate yourself. You make wondrous landscapes, and wildlife is just step up. :-). If I can give you pointers, give me a holler.

      You are probably my favorite blogger from the UK. It is always fun discussing photography with you and Colin. 🙂

      • Bless you, Bob, that is so nice! 🙂 Thank you so much for your lovely comment. You know how much I love reading your own blog, too, and seeing your latest pics.

        I do love photographing landscapes, and castles etc., but I’m finding that wildlife doesn’t stay around for me to decide on aperture, shutter speed etc!! 🙂 But I’m sure I will get more used to it – and I’m really enjoying experimenting with exposures. Thank you very much for your offer of pointers! I will have a little think.

        The cotton farm is on a scale that I can barely imagine. I bet it looks awesome from the air, as you said in your post.

        • Jo, I was just thinking that Colin is pretty capable of giving you pointers, too. But I am here to back you up anyway. 🙂 As you and Colin both know, it is great fun discussing photography.

  2. How exciting to add another bird to your list. And you caught that Merlin just right! Nice photos. Thanks for sharing. hugs

  3. glad you got another lifer..the Merlin is so beautiful. Love the photos of the farm and the cotton crop..sometimes I miss that life…have a good evening..snow expected tonight..

  4. Congrats on the Long-Tailed Duck! A new bird for the life list is always cause for celebration. I absolutely LOVE the Merlin shot. You caught the essence of the bird’s personality. Good for you!

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