Common Yellowthroat and more…….


We’ve been getting out for a couple of hours each day.  Birds are still not plentiful, but it seems that I am able to get at least one good opportunity each day.  Here are a few highlights from the past few outings.

First, of all of them, this is my favorite.  We were at Spring Creek Park, driving along the bank near the reeds when I spotted movement.  With the binoculars, I could only make out that it was one tiny bird, but not a definite ID.  I finally gave up on it, and we drove out the Spillway Road.  After getting another image of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher there, we decided to have another go at seeing that tiny bird again.  This time luck was with us, and the bird hopped out into the open for a few seconds.  I was ready and snapped several images of this juvenile (first fall) male Common Yellowthroat. I would have liked to seen a male adult, but none were to be seen.

Common Yellow-throat - juvenile

Common Yellowthroat – juvenile

Here is the image of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher that I captured a few minutes before on Spillway Road.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Loggerhead Shrike photographed somewhere in San Angelo State Park.

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike

Belted Kingfisher on high line over looking that water near Spring Creek Park.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

The Summer Tanager game me fits trying to see it and identify it.  It was in a dense live oak tree and I could only get little glimpses of a head, then a tail, then an eye.  Finally she showed herself and I got this image and a few others.  I nearly goofed on the ID, at first thinking it was an Orange-crowned Warbler.  I failed to look carefully as the size of the bill should have told me I was wrong.

Female Summer Tanager

Female Summer Tanager

This female Northern Bobwhite at San Angelo State Park thought she was hidden from me.

Northern Bobwhite - female

Northern Bobwhite – female

That’s all for this time.  Click on the images to see enlargements.

Happy Birding!!

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher


Ann and I were out near Spring Creek this morning.  We were greeted with hundreds, it seemed, of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers.  I wasn’t really interested in photographing very many, because as you know, you seen one Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, you’ve seen them all.  They all look the same.  But this one, I couldn’t resist.  Actually, he was quite far away, about 100 yards, but I liked the old mesquite branch he was perched on.  Plus, a nice uncluttered background, which is an earthern dam another 200 yards farther away.

This was one of my very rare times that had to do absolutely nothing in post-processing, except for cropping for composition.  In, fact I will show you here the original and the cropped version.  Camera info:  Canon 7D Mk II, Tamron 150-600 lens, zoomed to the max at 600mm, 1/1000 sec. at f6.3, ISO 125.  Aperture priority and spot metering.  Hand-held with camera resting on window of driver’s side.

original Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

original Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, at 600mm.

 

cropped Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

cropped Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

As I said, it is not very often that I do not have to do a little bit of post-processing, adjusting light, color, or sharpening.  I wish all of my photographs were this easy.  But the light was perfect and the bird sat still.  I hope you enjoyed it. (Click any image to see enlargement.)

Happy Birding!!

A Few More Weekend Highlights


Ann and I got out to the local parks this weekend.  With the cooler weather, low 90s for us, it was quite comfortable.  The birds are still a bit sparse but things are looking up.  Here are some highlights.  On Saturday we opted for a visit to San Angelo State Park.  This female Northern Bobwhite had just led her covey across the road, and I guess she hopped to this branch to make sure all was clear.

Northern Bobwhite - female

Northern Bobwhite – female

I am not a fan of the Starlings, but I thought this particular one was very pretty.

European Starling - winter adult

European Starling – winter adult

This morning we decided for a quick trip to the local parks.  There had been some rains during the night and the birds were still quiet.  But luck was with us.  At Middle Concho Park, we had, for the past week or so, observed a Swainson’s Hawk, either in flight or just short glances of him in the distance.  Today, Ann spotted him ahead of us, up in plain sight at the top of a tree.  I quickly pulled to the side of the road where I could get a good view of him.  In the first two shots, he was partially obscured by some branches near his face.  I had to pull the vehicle forward about three feet, and as I did, two huge RV motorhomes passed between me and the bird.  Fortunately, after they had passed the hawk was still there and I was able to get some very nice poses of him before he took flight.  This one of them.  The others I will save for another post.

Swainson's Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk

That is all for this short post.  Click on the images to see great enlargements.

Fall Migration Beginning


The temps here have finally dropped towards the low nineties.  The cool fronts are starting to bring a few winter and migrant birds.  We are excited about the activity as we have had a few somewhat boring birding trips recently.  Here are a few images that I captured the past few days.

This is the first Osprey that we have seen since spring.  It was across the water high in a tree, about 200 yards distant.  This is one of several poses that I was able to get.  It is heavily cropped, and sharpened with FocusMagic software.

Osprey

Osprey

This Green Heron was a welcome sight, too.  They have been around most of the summer, but I have had a hard time spotting one.  This one was across the water, but at a point where I much closer, maybe 150 yards.

Green Heron

Green Heron

Yesterday, we drove along the brushy fence line near Spring Creek Park.  A friend had seen a Wilson’s Warbler the day before and we were hoping to see it for ourselves.  We were not disappointed.  We saw two, but as they flit quickly through the brush, it was nearly impossible to get a good photo this time.  I managed to get this image before they disappeared farther into the woods.  Not a great shot, but recognizable.

Wilson's Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler

Along with the Wilson’s, there were a couple of Nashville Warblers.

Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Along the way, we also saw a Yellow Warbler and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, but was unsucessful in getting any photos of them.

Happy 6th Anniversary Texas Tweeties!!!


I just realized that this Texas Tweeties blog is six years old today.  My, oh, my, how time flies. This is my 860th post.  I must ask myself, how in heck did I come up with something to write about 860 times?  It all started when my dear friend, Deb Tappan, up there in Knoxville, Tennessee told me that I should write a blog.  And, of course, my wife, Ann, chimed in and said, “Do it, do it!”  Well, I couldn’t very well turn down my two best friends, could I?

Me and my two best friends, my wife, Ann and Deb.

Me and my two best friends, my wife, Ann and Deb. (photo by Paul Tappan.)

I wanted a catchy name that would connect with the birds and birders.  Deb came up with name Texas Tweeties.  At first, I thought people would confuse that with Twitter.  But that hasn’t been the case.  For the record, I don’t Twitter.  I might tweek, squeak, whistle, burp and make other funny noises, but I don’t Twitter.

So I jumped in and got my writing juices flowing.  I don’t remember what my first post was about, but I thought afterwards, heck, this ain’t so hard.  This is from a guy that for many, many years, I was such an introvert that my worst fear was that someone would ask me to say grace before a dinner occasion. 🙂

Anyway, 6 years, 860 posts.  As of this date, I have been read by 181,394 people in 161 countries, and I only write in one language.  There must be a heck of a lot of bi-linguals out there.

But I am having a bunch of fun doing this.  Of course, the blog is about photography, too, but my wildlife and birding pursuits go hand in hand with it.  I also, have been know to go off on a tangent and rant about some other thing, but as most of you know I stick to birding most of the time.

That being said, I must say that my friend Deb was the cause of me getting into bird photography.  Ann and I were visiting her home.  Outside her living room window was a large cedar tree of some type and all of these colorful birds were hanging around it and under it.  Deb encouraged me to open the window and take some shots with my camera.  Wow!  I was stunned with all of those colorful species.

Up to then, my bird vocabulary was ducks, pigeons, or sparrows.  My major photography interest was flowers and landscapes.  Well, my world changed after that visit.  I started photographing birds as often as possible.  Then, I needed to be able to know what I was photographing, and voila!!, another friend got Ann and I into the birding hobby.  You know, learning to identify them.  Holy Mackeral!!  I found that there are in the vicinity of 914 species of birds in North America, nearly 649 of them found in Texas alone, and 383 recorded sightings here in Tom Green County where I live.  So far, I have learned to identify ony 283 species.  I don’t have and accurate figure on how many of them I have photographed but probably near that last number.

Anyway, I am getting away from the purpose of this post and that is to celebrate another Texas Tweeties birthday.   I appreciate all of my readers, from near and abroad, for staying with me and continuing to hopefully, enjoy my meanderings, my strange jokes and my photographs.

Let’s try for another year. Happy Birding to all!!

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – A Wow moment.


I am feeling better now that I can get out into my nature environs again.  Traveling through the San Angelo State Park, I came upon this beautiful Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.  I pulled the car off the road.  The bird continued to pose for me, and I think I came away with one of my best photos of one in a long time.  I hope you enjoy. (click on it and the other images to see enlargements.)

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

We also ventured to the north section of the park.  This Great Blue Heron was standing in a pond in the North Concho River.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Before we left that area, I had to take a shot of this Black-tailed Prairie Dog.

Black-tailed Prairie Dog

Black-tailed Prairie Dog

The following morning we made a short visit to Spring Creek Park and spotted some Eastern Phoebes cavorting in some brush.  One of them stopped long enough to take a breather on a wire fence.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Migration isn’t in full swing here yet because of our lingering 100° days.  But cooler weather so projected for the next few days so birding should start improving.

I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you of my new DVD that I recently produced with the help of DST Productions in Knoxville, Tennessee.  One hundred of my finest work, including birds, wildlife, and landscapes.  Truly a beautiful collection set to some beautiful music.  In 1080P HiDef.  As many of you know, I am a very trusting individual.  You can have this DVD if you will mail me a check for 25.00 that includes any taxes and shipping expenses.  My address is Bob Zeller, 4401 White Ash Ln., San Angelo, TX.  I will ship it immediately by Priority Mail.  By the way, it would make great Christmas gifts.  I have references available if you like.

Of course, my book, “Birds, Beasts and Buttes” is still selling very well.  Total cost to you is 65.00.

Happy Birding to all. 🙂

Labor Day weekend odds and ends……


As many of you know I am recuperating from a hospital stay with a nasty bout with a urinary infection.  I have been home for a few days and have been itching to get back in to the field.  So, feeling up to it, I and Ann sneaked out to San Angelo State Park for an hour or two.  It was hot and we really didn’t expect much, but I wanted to get out of the house.

We first drove down near the only operating boat ramp on the struggling O.C. Fisher lake.  The heat and evaporating are taking their toll.  I think the level has dropped nearly two feet in just the past three weeks.  Anyway, I spotted this Green Heron about 125 yards away in the reeds.  Since the pickin’s were slow I tried to come away with some kind of shot.  It was tiny in the viewfinder and I did’nt think I had a prayer of getting anything useful, mainly because of the focus problems with all of the reeds. I hand held the camera because I didn’t feel like lugging the tripod down there.  Anyway, I got lucky and here is the final result after doing some major cropping.

Green Heron

Green Heron

Venturing around to the Isabel Harte multi-use area, I came across this Great Roadrunner cooling under a shady Live Oak.  He presented a slight exposure problem with the shade and bright background.  But the good news, he was only about 25 feet away.  I was careful to ease my car into position for a shot from my window.  He posed long enough that I got several exposures.

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

Getting away from birding for a bit, I had nice comment to my About Me page.  It was from Kathryn Ingrid at Art-colored Glasses.  She lives in Denton, Texas and her husband, Richard, is a conductor and the interim head of the choral program at University of North Texas.  UNT has a fantastic jazz program, and I am acquainted with their One-o-Clock Lab band.  It brought memories of my own playing in the big bands of an earlier era.  Although I didn’t play in the ‘big name’ bands I loved any opportunity to play in a band with five saxes, five trumpets and four ‘bones, plus assorted percussion.  I love the jazz creations of Stan Kenton, the driving sound of County Basie, or the sweet saxophones of Ralph Flanagan.

As I said, I never played with likes of those, but I did play with many of the great musicians at after-hours late night (early morning) jam sessions while I was stationed in Reno, Nevada.

I thank Kathryn for bringing back those memories.  Maybe it will lead to another post about those experiences.