More from San Angelo Parks


Since my last post of October 22, I have been complaining about the slowness of the birding.  For the most part that is true.  The high temperatures continue to hang around.  But that never stops Ann and I from getting out and seeing what may surprise us.  As you will see from the following images, there are still great subjects for photography.  For all photos I was using my Canon 7D Mark II with a Tamron 150-600 super zoom telephoto lens. I will accompany each photograph with pertinent exposure information.  Click on any image to see beautiful enlargements.

We have spent most of the week at Spring Creek and Middle Concho Parks.  Both are city owned parks and are both are within the area of Lake Nasworthy.

On the morning of the 23rd we got up early, around 7:00 and headed to Spring Creek Park.  A very rare Rose-throated Becard had been reported and we had hopes of spotting it.  Of course, as our luck usually runs, it was nowhere to be see, and as far as we know it has left the building.  So we will speak of it no more.  However, there are three Great Kiskadees staying around and we always have a look for them.  We didn’t see them this day, but I got lucky and spotted a Cooper’s Hawk.  It flew past the car and settled for a few minutes on a tree branch.  Much similar to the post the Red-tailed Hawk in my previous post.

Cooper's Hawk - 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3EV, ISO 5000.

Cooper’s Hawk – 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3EV, ISO 5000.

That was about it for that morning, but on the way out we saw this Osprey lurking near some wetlands, hoping to make a catch.  As you can see, it was ‘photo-bombed’ by a Great Blue Heron.

Osprey - 1/11600 sec. @ f8, -0.3EV, ISO 3200.

Osprey – 1/11600 sec. @ f8, -0.3EV, ISO 3200.

The following morning of the 24th, we were up and at ’em again.  Again, after stopping for a burrito and coffee to go, we got to Spring Creek Park.  Again, we decided to see if the Kiskadees were still around.  At the area where we had seen them in the past, we could here one singing.  After a good look with our binoculars we spotted him high above on a tree top.  A long distance, but I managed to get a fairly decent image.

Great Kiskadee - 1/1690 sec. @ f8, -0.3EV, ISO 2500.

Great Kiskadee – 1/1690 sec. @ f8, -0.3EV, ISO 2500.

Continuing on along the water, we spotted a Black-crown Night Heron.

Black-crowned Night Heron - 1/1600 sec, @ f8 -0.3EV, ISO 6400.

Black-crowned Night Heron – 1/1600 sec @ f8 -0.3EV, ISO 6400.

We then spotted a Cooper’s Hawk again.  Perhaps the same one that we saw the previous day, as it was in the same area.

Cooper's Hawk - 1/1600 sec, @ f8m -0.3, ISO 4000.

Cooper’s Hawk – 1/1600 sec, @ f8m -0.3, ISO 4000.

I love the little Cattle Egrets.  This one was with several others, but I managed to isolate him for a nice photo.

Cattle Egret - 1/2000 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3EV, ISO 180.

Cattle Egret – 1/2000 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3EV, ISO 180.

Back at it again on the 25th, still bolstered by our usual breakfast from Jack and Jill donut shop.  No Kiskadees this time, although we did hear them again.  We settled for another photo of a Black-crowned Nigh Heron.

Black-crowned Night Heron - 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3EV, ISO 3200.

Black-crowned Night Heron – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3EV, ISO 3200.

A Great Blue Heron was nearby.

Great Blue Heron - 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3, ISO 3200.

Great Blue Heron – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3, ISO 3200.

On the 27th the pickings were pretty skimpy.  (We took the 26th off.  Man does not live by birding alone). Not much going on, but we got lucky with the Vermilion Flycatachers.

Vermilion Flycatcher - 1/640 sec. @ f7.1, +0.3EV, ISO 640.

Vermilion Flycatcher – 1/640 sec. @ f7.1, +0.3EV, ISO 640.

Vermilion Flycatcher - 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3EV, ISO 1250.

Vermilion Flycatcher – 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3EV, ISO 1250.

On the 28, we were accompanied by Jennifer and Jeff Koch, friends from Austin.  Needing to make a good impression, we were on our best behavior.  First stop was Spring Creek Park.  Again things were pretty slow.  However, a good shot of a Northern Cardinal impressed our guests.

Northern Cardinal - 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3EV, ISO 6400.

Northern Cardinal – 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3EV, ISO 6400.

We had enough there, so we headed to Middle Concho Park, and again on the way, we saw this Great Egret.

Great Egret - 1/1600 sec. @ f6,3, ISO 1250.

Great Egret – 1/1600 sec. @ f6,3, ISO 1250.

After arriving at Middle Concho Park, again there weren’t many of the avian species hanging around.  Dang this heat.  But nearing the end of that park we spotted a bird, really back-lit in the sun.  We couldn’t make out what it was, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and try for a shot.  Remember, I am trying to impress my guests.  I boosted the Exposure Value by a stop and a half.  When looking through the view-finder I had a hard time focusing because of the sun.  Here is the result, after post-processing.  Not fantastic, but pretty recognizable as a Western Bluebird.

Western Bluebird - 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, +1.7EV, ISO 2500.

Western Bluebird – 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, +1.7EV, ISO 2500.

This morning, the 29th, after breakfast at Kenney’s Cafe with our local friends, Gene and Ethel Burger, we decided to go back for a couple of hours.  Again, still not many birds in residence.  But I got two great images that made the day.  First, this image of a Belted Kingfisher is probably the best I have had of this species to date.

Belted Kingfisher, male. - 1/600 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 160.

Belted Kingfisher, male. – 1/600 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 160.

While taking a final drive through Spring Creek Park, we spotted the image of a hawk type bird, far across the water, about 300 yards away and high in a tree.  With the binoculars we saw that it was an Osprey.  Stopping the car and turning off the engine, I put my bean-bag support on the window sill of our car.  With the camera setting comfortably I was able to get the little focus point on the bird.  The Osprey was within some branches and the wind was blowing.  I had to time my shutter release carefully, as when the wind blew the leaves would cover the bird’s face.  I had to wait for the breeze to subside a bit.  Here is the result.  I hope you like it as much as I.

Osprey - 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 400.

Osprey – 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 400.

So that’s all for this time.  Check back soon for more.

 

‘Till then, Happy Birding!!!

 

Bird activity at Spring Creek Park


The weather has cooled and birding has improved over the past few days.  It is hard to believe that just four days ago on the 18th, San Angelo had a record-breaking high of 97°.  It broke the old record of 92 set back about 100 years ago by five degrees.

So anyway, a few days ago, Ann and I went to Spring Creek to check out the birds there.  What fun we had.  First we came upon a Red-tailed Hawk just as it flew from a tree in front of us.  I quickly watched to see where it landed.  Luck was with us and it landed in a tree about another 150 yards away.  It had it’s back to me and it was back-lit, but I did get this photo as it looked back at us.

Red-tailed Hawk - 1/2000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 6400.

Red-tailed Hawk – 1/2000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 6400.

A few minutes later, we saw several Cattle Egrets along the edge of the water.  I got out of the car, and keeping trees between me and the birds I tried to get within camera range.  They were skittish and I only managed to get a photo of this one that was slower than the rest.

Catttle Egret - 1/2000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 160.

Catttle Egret – 1/2000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 160.

As we circled through a horseshoe drive portion of the park, we spotted this Vermilion Flycatcher in a smal live oak next to the road.  It was on the opposite side of the car so I couldn’t shoot through the window easily.  I got out of the vehicle, placed my bean-bag on the roof of the car and got a pretty decent image, if I do say so myself.

Vermilion Flycatcher - 1/2000 @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 160.

Vermilion Flycatcher – 1/2000 @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 160.

Also along the water, we saw a Spotted Sandpiper hopping along.

Spotted Sandpiper - 1/2000 sec, @ f6,3, -0.3 EV, ISO 320

Spotted Sandpiper – 1/2000 sec, @ f6,3, -0.3 EV, ISO 320.

It is always fun to run across a roadrunner.

Greater Roadrunner - 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO 160.

Greater Roadrunner – 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO 160.

Greater Roadrunner - 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO 160.

Greater Roadrunner – 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO 160.

After leaving the park, we saw this Osprey looking out over the water, hoping to see an early lunch.

Osprey - 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3, ISO 1000.

Osprey – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3, ISO 1000.

After having so much fun that day, we decided to return the following day.  Immediately, we saw a Great Blue Heron in the water.  I liked it’s pose and as I turned the car to get a good shooting angle, a large Osprey flew down and scared the heron off.  The Osprey decided to stay awhile and stayed in the water where the heron had stood.  It apparently like the water temperature so it decided to bathe and get itself clean.  It flopped around, shook it’s wings, dove under the water for an instant than shook itself dry again.  It repeated this several times.

Osprey - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3, ISO 320

Osprey – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 320

Osprey - 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, - 0.3 EV, ISO 1000.

Osprey – 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, – 0.3 EV, ISO 1000.

Osprey - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 250.

Osprey – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 250.

Finally, it took off and landed a few yards away to dry off.

Osprey - 1/2000 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 800.

Osprey – 1/2000 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 800.

This whole sequence took place about 150 yards away from my camera position.  In retrospect, I wish I had videoed the whole time.  But I didn’t want to take a chance of missing the whole thing, while trying to set up my camera for recording.  I ended up with about 150 different exposures, and perhaps after reviewing all of them, I may find some more interesting images.

Meanwhile, up in the trees away from the water, this Great Horned Owl slept through the excitement.

Great Horned Owl - 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400.

Great Horned Owl – 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400.

We ended our little foray into Spring Creek Park by getting an image of one of my favorite birds, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - 1/2000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 250.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – 1/2000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 250.

I hoped you enjoyed this post.  Click on any image to see some amazing enlargements.

 

‘Til the next time, Happy Birding!!

 

Snowy Egrets and more…..


This morning, after resting the weekend from our Fort Davis trip, (more on that later), we ventured out to the local parks.  What a nice surprise we got when we got to Spring Creek Park.  There we found two Snowy Egrets wading in the water.  It was the first time this year we had seen any of these wading birds.  They are not rare, but they are hard to find.  They are also hard to photograph in the early morning sun.  Click on any photo to see some nice enlargements.

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

As I mentioned above, we spent most of last week in the Davis Mountains of west Texas.  The birding was slower than we expected.  I guess Ann and I tend to rush the season sometimes, and I perhaps we may have been a couple of weeks early.  Never the less, we added three more species to our 2016 list and one more lifer.  The lifer, a Black-bellied Plover, we saw in a plowed field that had water standing in it, about a mile east of Balmorhea, Texas.  There were some other water birds there including another first of the year for us, a Western Sandpiper.

Black-bellied Plover

Black-bellied Plover

We stopped at nearby Lake Balmorhea, where we have had good luck in the past.  Again, I feel we were a couple of weeks early.  Usually, in the fall and winter, it is teeming with all sorts of egrets, herons, grebes and other duck species.  We did see some Cattle Egrets and Clark’s Grebes, plus some other common resident sparrows and other birds.

Cattle Egrets

Cattle Egrets

Clark's Grebe

Clark’s Grebe

After arriving in Fort Davis and getting settled in to our room at the Davis Mountains Inn we spent a couple of days mostly relaxing.  Birding in the mornings until about 3:00 PM then retiring to our room to rest of the day and evening.  Here are some more of our birding highlights.

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow.

 

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

We did see many more birds than the above, but they were mostly too far off for any decent photos, or they were elusive, and flew away too quickly.

The village of Fort Davis continues to be one of our favorite places to vist, along with the Davis Mountains and Davis Mountains State Park.  As on other visits, we enjoyed staying at the Davis Mountains Inn.  This time we met some great people that we enjoyed visiting and eating with.  Walt and Carol Kraatz from Fort Worth, and Mike and JoJean Ray from Fredericksburg, Texas.

That’s it for this post.  Happy Birding!!

Running late again……..


After a very action filled ten days, I am finally back to write another post.  Sorry about the long delay, but things happen.  Currently, our A/C is not running.  We have contracted to have a new complete unit installed, but that won’t happen until next Tuesday the 11th.  The installing company did loan us one window unit, and fortunately the temps here are in the low 90s and will be in the 80s in a couple of days.  So we cope.  Also, about ten days ago, I was eating a chicken salad from Wendy’s and unfortunately I bit down on a tiny bit of something hard, perhaps a bone, and I chipped one of my front teeth.  I know have a cute little gap, much like that little “What Me Worry” guy on the front cover of Mad Magazine many years ago.

Of course, part of my delay is that birding was quite slow for a few days. We would go out and wonder where did all of the birds go.  So, for a change of pace, we made a trip to South Llano River State Park.  It is noted for the great birding there.  It really wasn’t that great their either, but with what I got there and what I have photographed the past three days, I feel I can contribute to a nice post for you.  I know you like a lot of pictures.

Right now there are a couple of Great Kiskadees hanging out around Spring Creek Park, here in San Angelo.  A fellow birder, Randy Hesford informed us of them back on September 25.  Kiskadees are very rare here.  Anyway,we went out the following morning and spotted them about 200 yards away across the water.  We were hoping they would come to our side, but they stayed where they were so I tried to get photos with my Tamron 150-600mm lens.  Here is one those distant photos.  Heavily cropped so the image quality is not very good.

Great Kiskadee - 1/1250 sec @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400.

Great Kiskadee – 1/1250 sec @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400.

Nearby a Great Blue Heron was grazing.

Great Blue Heron - 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400

Great Blue Heron – 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400

There was nothing more happening, so we went home.  The following morning we were back to see if the Kiskadee were still there.  I got another shot from a little farther away, but it shows both of the birds.

Great Kiskadees - 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400.

Great Kiskadees – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400.

On the following day, we decided to go to San Angelo State Park.  We were a little later than usual, so we didn’t know how successful we would be.  But luck was with us as we drove along one of the many roads there.  We had been seeing a Kingbird, in the area.  We were thinking Western Kingbird.  But after thinking about it, we realized it was all alone, and we remembered that most of them had already left.  So as you suspect, I had been ignoring it.  But I decided to try and get a good photo and look at it closer.  Well it turned out to be a Cassin’s Kingbird, a bird seldom seen here.  It goes to show you, during migration, anything can show up, such as those Great Kiskadees.  Here, I might add that Randy Hesford saw and photographed a Couch’s Kingbird hanging out with the Kiskadees.  Another rarity.  So here is the photo of the Cassin’s Kingbird.

Cassin's Kingbird - 1/1000 sec, @ f7.1, ISO 200.

Cassin’s Kingbird – 1/1000 sec, @ f7.1, ISO 200.

After driving through the State Park and not getting anything more interesting, we decided we still had time to go to Middle Concho Park.  There I was able to photograph this gorgeous Vermilion Flycatcher.  The amazing part was that I happened to drive close by this tiny live oak tree.  A brilland flash of red caught my left eye.  There, only about eight away, was the tiny bird sitting.  I  quietly got my camera off of my lap and started shooting.  He must have sat there for around three minutes.  He then moved to another branch, just a little farther away, maybe ten feet.  Again, I was able to take my time a get several more images.  Here are two of them.  I hope you like.

Vermilion Flycatcher - 1/1000 sec. @ f5.6, +0.7 EV, ISO 2500

Vermilion Flycatcher – 1/1000 sec. @ f5.6, +0.7 EV, ISO 2500.

Vermilion Flycatcher - 1/1000 sec, @ f6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO 3200

Vermilion Flycatcher – 1/1000 sec, @ f6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO 3200.

The next day we decided to go to South Llano River SP.  They have four different bird viewing blinds.  We usually try to hit all four, as we can see a variety of birds at each one.  We have had better days there, but we saw enough to make the trip worthwhile.  Here are a few images from that little jaunt down to the Junction, Texas area.  Randy Hesford accompanied us, and while were there, we ran into another birder friend, David Hunt.

Northern Cardinal - 1/1000 sec. @ f5.6, +1 EV, ISO 2500.

Northern Cardinal – 1/1000 sec. @ f5.6, +1 EV, ISO 2500.

Yellow Warbler - 1/800 sec, @ f6.3, +0.3, ISO 400.

Yellow Warbler – 1/800 sec, @ f6.3, +0.3, ISO 400.

Vermilion Flycatcher, female - 1/1000 @ f5.6m -0.3 EV, ISO 100.

Vermilion Flycatcher, female – 1/1000 @ f5.6m -0.3 EV, ISO 100.

Black-throated Sparrow - 1/1000 sec, @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 400.

Black-throated Sparrow – 1/1000 sec, @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 400.

Back to San Angelo.  On October 2nd, my 82nd birthday, thank you very much, we decided to run to the State Park again.  I came away with this nice close-up of a Grasshopper Sparrow.

Grasshopper Sparrow - 1/800 sec. @ f5.6, +0.7 EV, ISO 160.

Grasshopper Sparrow – 1/800 sec. @ f5.6, +0.7 EV, ISO 160.

On October 4th, we decided to go back to Middle Concho Park to check on the Vermilion Flycatchers.  I got this shot of a female of the species.

Vermilon Flycatcher, female - 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO 640.

Vermilon Flycatcher, female – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO 640.

Also,

Ladder-backed Woodpecker, female. 1/1000 sec. @f7.1, ISO 1000.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker, female. 1/1000 sec. @f7.1, ISO 1000.

In attendance was this Ladder-backed Woodpecker female.

So that is it for this post.  It is lengthy, and I hope it made up for my lateness. 🙂

Please click on any image to see some great enlargements, especially if you are viewing this on a computer.