Happy New Year and Flying Turkeys


Well, today we bid goodbye to 2015.  It has been a great year although it didn’t go as well as I had planned it back on January 1st.  But does it ever go like a person wants it to go?  Ha! Dream on…… 🙂  But I am happy that I am still waking up atop the grass.  At my age that is a fine thing.  I spent the year photographing, buying new equipment, and selling old equipment.

The new equipment is paying off.  (You can never have enough cameras) My new camera is a  Canon EOS 7D Mark II, of which I actually bought two, are amazing.  They can take photos, make videos, (still learning that), make time-relapse photos, and make coffee in the morning.  Well, maybe that last part was an exaggeration, but I am still not finished with reading the manual. 🙂

One thing that I can do is to get amazing photos of birds in flight.  That is one thing that I love to do.  This camera has the capabilities to shoot at an amazing 10 frames per second, and that makes the job a bit easier.

Yesterday, December 30, Ann and I were out at Spring Creek Park.  As we drove through slowly we came upon a flock of Wild Turkeys.  As I slowed, they became nervous, and a few seconds later they took flight to fly across the water about 100 yards, to land in another spot.

I had my Tamron 150-600mm super telephoto lens on the camera, as I always do when I am in the birding/photography mode.  I was able to snatch the camera from my lap and aim the camera towards the flying birds.  The spot-auto focus instantly locked on to a few of them as they passed.  The hard part was keeping the birds in the viewfinder.

I think you will be pleased with these two, of several photos that I captured.  The other twelve or so, will never again see the light of a computer monitor. 🙂 The tech data for photographers that are interested is:  Shutter speed 1/8000 sec., Aperture f6.3 with an EV adjustment of -0.3, at an ISO of 1600.  Spot-exposure and spot-focus. Click the photos to see beautiful enlargements.

Wild Turkey in flight

Wild Turkey in flight

Wild Turkeys in flight

Wild Turkeys in flight

I must say, that I was impressed with the results.  Both images are available as 12×16 prints.  They will look amazing framed.  Of course, I have those prints for sale. (hint, hint).  You can always contact me if you are interested, and that goes for all of the photos that you see on this blog.

So that’s all for this brief post.  Happy New Year to all!

Happy Birding!!  (and photographing!)

‘Twas the days after Christmas……


I hope all of my readers around the world had a very happy Christmas.  Ann and I did.  We did what we love to do.  We went birding.  We are alone.  No children and nearest relatives over 1,000 miles away.  Our best friends live a bit farther.  But we have no complaints, as we enjoy each other’s company.

So anyway, the weather Christmas was absolutely beautiful  We first ventured to two local parks near Lake Nasworthy.  When I say local, I don’t mean that they are in the middle of town.  More likely they are at the edge of town, out towards our airport.  But since our home is near that edge of town, these parks are just minutes away.  They abound with wildlife; birds, water fowl, wild turkey, and bobcats, etc.

Today, Sunday, I will post here a few of the images that I have gotten the past few days, including Christmas Day and the days after.

This Song Sparrow was in the reeds along the lake.  It looked pretty tiny in my viewfinder.  But I was using my Canon 7D Mark II and a Tamron 150-600mm lens.  I shoot using spot focusing and if I can get that tiny dot on a bird, I can get some good results, images sharp enough that I can crop close for photos like this.  By the way, you can click on any image to see nice enlargements.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

There were plenty of meadowlarks around.  Again, they prefer showing me  their backside instead of their beautiful yellow breasts.

Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

The Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are rare around here this time of year, but they do sometimes make appearances.  This one was with a group of three, and I had a challenge to get photos.  They were flitting all over the place.  I finally got out of the car and was trying to get shots over the hood.  After a about twenty-five, or more, efforts this was the best of the bunch.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

At the southern end of Spring Creek Park is a small narrow cove.  It was there that Ann and I spotted three Black-crowned Night Herons, one adult and two juveniles.  They were across the water, about 200 yards away.  This juvenile was the only one that I could get a clear open shot.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron – juvenile

Co-incidentally, at the northern end of Middle Concho Park, there is another little cove.  This one much smaller and narrower.  As we were driving along the nearer edge, this Wilson’s Snipe startled me, flew up and across to the far side.  I was able to see where it landed and was able to get some photos, from about 50 yards.  They are little cuties, and I love to photograph them.

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson’s Snipe

Back to driving along the brush line in Spring Creek Park, we came across some more Ruby-crowned Kinglets.  It seems that I have seen more kinglets this year than in the past.  They, like the gnatcatchers, are quick and flighty, never sitting still.  I got lucky again and got this capture.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

A Northern Flicker in one of it’s favorite perches.  High above on a dead tree.

 

Northern Flicker - red-shafted variety.

Northern Flicker – red-shafted variety.

I will end this post with this delightful photo of one of my favorite little birds.  The Eastern Phoebe.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

I do hope you enjoyed these photos from our Christmas weekend.  The weather here in San Angelo is going to have big changes the next couple of days, so I don’t know when I will get out again.  But if the sun shines, and there is no winds to speak of, it can be beautiful even if the temperatures get down real low.  I will be watching for opportunities.

My 2015 list didn’t make the goal of 210 that I had hoped for.  We are still a 185, with the prospects of adding more pretty small.  Too many medical issues kept me in for part of the year.  But in about a week, 2016 will begin with new hopes for a longer list.

I hope to publish another post before the end of the year.

Til then, Happy Birding!

A Very Birding Merry Christmas


First, I want to say Merry Christmas to all of my readers around the world.  Thanks to all who take the time to comment over the years.  I appreciate all of you.

Today, I just want to share with you a few images that I have captured over the past few days.  The weather has been very nice here in west Texas, albeit a bit windy.  But, personally, I will take mild temps and a bit of wind, over the cold winter days I remember from my childhood in Michigan.

We spent most of our time at Spring Creek and Middle Concho Parks near Lake Nasworthy.  By the way, I have been accused of training these birds to pose for me.  Not so. They seem to feel that I am some kind of a bird whisperer and are willing to co-operate. 🙂

One more thing, if you can click on the image, you will see some very nice enlargements, especially if you are reading this on a computer.

All photos were captured using my Canon EOS 7D Mark II with a Tamron 150-600mm super tele-zoom lens.  Hand-held and photographed from my 2016 Ford Escape mobile blind.

This juvenile White-crowned Sparrow posed nicely for me.

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

No birding trip can be complete without spotting one of our state birds, the Northern Mockingbird.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

In Spring Creek Park, there was an abundance of Cedar Waxwings.  I found a water puddle where many of them were partaking of a sip or two.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

On the water, there were a few American Coots, a duck that I usually take for granted and mostly ignore.

American Coot

American Coot

Along the shore, in the mud, we spotted this Wilson’s Snipe.  In the open, I didn’t need to go on a snipe hunt. 🙂

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson’s Snipe

Across the water, a good 200 yards away we saw this Black-crowned Night Heron, again out in the open.  For several previous days, we could see him in the denser brush, but not visible enough for photos.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

A female Ladder-backed Woodpecker peering into her handiwork.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker - female

Ladder-backed Woodpecker – female

Along the fence line I got lucky to catch a Ruby-crowned Kinglet as he stopped for a split second on a branch.  They hardly ever sit still for long.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Another handsome Northern Mockingbird sat on the fence.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

We were treated to many Yellow-rumped Warblers.  This one is of the Audubon variety.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - Audubon variety

Yellow-rumped Warbler – Audubon variety

This American Goldfinch took my by surprise.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

A Ladder-backed Woodpecker seemed to be contemplating a blade of grass.  I wonder what that was all about.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

So that’s it for this time around.  Again, a very Merry Christmas to all of my friends, relatives, and fellow bloggers.

‘Til the next time, Happy Birding!

Northern Cardinal and more…….


Birding the past week has been delightful.  Our species daily counts are getting up there, one time reaching 40.  But most importantly, I was able to get some nice photographs.  Most of the photos were taken in the local parks around Lake Nasworthy.  San Angelo State Park has been closed as they are burning off nearly 25% of the park to rid it of unwanted brush and mesquite.  In the long run, that should help the flora and fauna rebound, beneficial to all.

Let’s start with this Northern Cardinal. always a favorite to photograph.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Some Western Bluebirds arrived to add to the beauty of the avian population.

Western Bluebird

Western Bluebird

The Yellow-rumped Warblers are here in large numbers now.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - Myrtle variety

Yellow-rumped Warbler – Myrtle variety

It seems that I have seen an increase in Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, compared to prior years.  Of course, it may be just me, getting more familiar with each specie as the years go by. 🙂

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

As we were driving along the fence line at Spring Creek park we were surprised to come upon this Blue-gray Gnatcatcher……

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

…….and this cute Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  I love the challenge of photographing these tiny birds.  They are quick, flighty never sitting still for more than a fraction of a second.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

A few rare Pine Warblers are still around.  Maybe they have found a home here for the winter.

Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler

Eastern Phoebes are always around, entertaining us with it’s quick flights from tree to tree, then resting for a few seconds before moving on.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Another Yellow-rumped Warbler,this one a beautiful Audubon variety.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - Audubon variety

Yellow-rumped Warbler – Audubon variety

One of my favorite wading birds is the Great Blue Heron.  They are plentiful here, being seen at most of the lakes and waterways.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Wild Turkeys abound here in the Concho Valley.  I usually ignore them because they are so common.  But as we passed the narrow little inlet several took off to fly to the other side.  This group numbered about 30 and they were taking off about one at a time.  I decided to stop and try to catch a photo of one of them in flight.  I was lucky.  I say that because of all 30 or more, I was able to catch only one good image.  I was rattling off hi-speed shots as each bird blew.  Here is the best of the bunch.

Wild Turkey - hen in flight

Wild Turkey – hen in flight

So that’s it for today.  I hope to get more for another post before Christmas.  Click any image to see an enlargement.

Happy birding!!

Pine Warbler, a lifer…….


For you who may be unfamiliar to the birding vernacular, a lifer is a bird that an individual sees for the very first time, then adds it to his or her’s ‘life list’.  Currently, my life list is at 285. That is the total that I have compiled since I got into birding about six years ago.  Since there are nearly 800 species in the state of Texas alone, it certainly is nothing to brag about.  I would like, though, to eventually get to 300.  At my age, that is a manageable goal.  So, in that vein, I can tell you that I got my 285th yesterday.

Having had a successful little tour of Spring Creek Park, seeing several species and getting some photos, we ventured over to Middle Concho Park to see what might be there.  As we drove through, we saw an area where many small birds were darting through the Live Oak and Mesquite trees. Titmice, Vermilion Flycatchers, and American Goldfinches.  All of a sudden a yellowish bird caught my eye.  I knew instantly that it was not a goldfinch that I was looking at.  Then I remembered that a couple of other birders had mentioned that a Pine Warbler was running with a bunch of goldfinches.  After getting several shots off with my Canon 7D Mk II and Tamron 150-600mm lens, I looked at the images on the back of the camera and compared them to my Stokes Guide.  Lo and behold, a Pine Warbler.

A Pine Warbler is very, very rare to the Concho Valley and Tom Green County, so this was an exciting find.  This image is one of about seventy-five that I tried to get.  The bird is quick and fast, and I didn’t get very many usable photos.

Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler

After getting that photo, I got a shot of this very cooperative Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

As I mentioned above, previously we had been to Spring Creek Park.  Here are a few photographs from there.

This White-breasted Nuthatch is the first that I have seen in this park in a couple of years, although I know they are present.  Just not always visible.

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

In the same area this Bewick’s Wren was flitting among the brush……..

Bewick's Wren

Bewick’s Wren

……..along with this beautiful Eastern Phoebe.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

So, all in all, a pretty fun day, when I can come away with a few acceptable images to post here.

On another note, this is the time of the year when there are various Christmas Bird Counts going on.  This link to the Lost Pines was sent to my by Garth Beyer.  Check it out, it may be something you may be interested in.  It sounds like fun.  http://www.visitlostpines.com/hyatt-lost-pines/activities/christmas-bird-count.aspx.  I probably won’t participate.  I am at that age that I would rather stay by the fire with liquid refreshment on those upcoming cooler days.

 

 

A few more older images…….


Well, I am still going through old files and I found a few that were taken back in 2014.  I re-edited them, and you may not have seen them before.  But have a look.

This Northern Cardinal is one of the best that I have ever photographed of this species.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

I love the fierce look of the Curve-billed Thrasher.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

Everybody loves a Greater Roadrunner.

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

The Golden-fronted Woodpecker is the most predominant of the species in this area.  To me, also the most photogenic.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

I love the way the Common Nighthawk chooses to perch parallel to the branch rather than across it like other birds do.

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

This Yellow-billed Cuckoo looks as he is distracted by something above him.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

I think the female House Finch has a certain beauty all of her own.

House Finch - female

House Finch – female

Finally, here are a couple of shots that I captured just this morning, December 1, 2015.

Yellow Sapsucker

Yellow Sapsucker

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

That’s it for this post.  Click on any image to see enlargements.