Migration is in full swing….


We definitely are in the midst of the spring migration.  There are some strange anomalies this year.  Many birds are arriving early.  Some, like the Great Kiskadee, decided to move farther north and have made a home here in San Angelo.  We have witnessed the arrivals of the Painted Buntings, Western Kingbirds, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, and Ash-throated Flycatchers to name a few.  We even witnessed a pair of Lesser Nighthawks, that are usually rare to this area.

I am beginning to get back into the swing of things, too, after my long layoff.  As we entered the San Angelo State Park yesterday morning, we saw this Misissippi Kite on a high line.  It was the first one of the season for me.

Mississippi Kite

A few minutes later I captured this photo of a Western Kingbird.

Western Kingbird

Tomorrow morning Ann and I are heading to the Davis Mountains.  There have been great reports of numerous birds that we want to see and photograph.  Again, we will be staying at the Davis Mountains Inn.  If any of our birding readers or FaceBook friend happen to be there in the area, look us up.

By the way, I am offering a 10% discount on prints, coffee mugs and other items at my online store FineArtAmerica.  Just enter this code: SBJNYY  at checkout.  Offer expires May 25, 2017.

I will be back in a week, hopefully with some news and photos from our stay at Fort Davis.

Until then, Happy Birding!!

Internet Dating – 50s Style


BobandAnn-net-resizedto12x12

This post is a little bit off of my usual style, but it will serve as an example of how things can work out, even if a little unorthodox.  But, most importantly, how having faith in the Man upstairs, can make things work out.  We will have our 60th anniversary in a couple of days on August 18.  (In the photo above, note all of the hundreds of tiny bird photos, from my DVD.)

Here is the true story.

I am from Muskegon, Michigan originally.  In March of 1958 I was stationed at Ardmore AFB, Oklahome.  Ann had just moved to Muskegon from her home in Beulah, Michigan.  She did this to attend Muskegon Business School.  She was nineteen year of age.  She just happened to rent an upstairs room and my grandmother’s house.  (You can see where this going, can’t you.)

Yep, my sweet grandmother, decided that she should do the right thing and notify me of the cute girl upstairs.   She provided me of her address, just in case I was interested.  This was in mid March of 1958.  Well, since I was a lonely service man, of course, I was a little interested.  (heck, a lot interested).  I decided to write this lass, and introduce myself as the grandchild of her landlord.  She wrote back immediately with a very nice letter, telling me about herself, etc.  So I wrote her back again.  That started our back and fourth letter swapping.  We struck a neat friendship that blossomed as we got to know each other.  She sent me a couple of pictures of herself.  I thought she had great legs.

Ann – 1958

Ann – 1958

You have to agree, she has great looking legs.  So, anyway, I sent her a couple of mine, as I wanted her to know what she was getting into.  Here I am, dressed to impress.

Bob – 1958

We continued to write each other.  By mid-April we were writing each other every day. Before, I had been writing to about 50 other girls.  (Well that figure may be inaccurate.  Maybe it wasn’t that many  I will need to go back and check my records.  After all, I am nearly 84 years of age, and my memory is a bit fuzzy.)  Anyway, I remember sending both of them a Dear Joan letter.  Things were getting more serious, but I still hadn’t met or even talked to Ann.

In about mid-June, I decided to ask Ann if she would marry me.  Yep, that’s right.  Sight unseen, I knew she was the one for me.  I waited in anticipation for her answer.  Six days later I got the return letter.  She said “I’d be honored to be your wife”.  Wow! I thought, what do I do now?  Well, I got my calendar out and did some calculating.  First,we needed to set a date.

I decided a fast trip home was in order.  I could only get a three-day pass, but that didn’t stop me.  I decided to hitch-hike to Oklahoma City, go to Tinker AFB and get a hop (free-right) on any military aircraft that was heading to Michigan or vicinity.  I figured I would hitch-hike to Muskegon, see my future bride for a few hours, then grab a bus back to Ardmore.  I called my dad and asked him go to Ann’s apartment and inform her of my plans.

Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans.  I made it to Tinker AFB just fine.  But as I was sitting, waiting in the transient lounge a fierce thunder storm hit.  It included rain, very high winds, and large hail.  All flight operations ceased and all aircraft were grounded.  I had no choice but to hitch-hike back to Ardmore when weather cleared.  When I got there I called my dad again and asked him to go to Ann’s place again and tell her of my aborted mission.

Okay, I decided.  Time to go to plan B.  I decided to call her and talk to her on the phone.  This would be the first time I would hear her voice.  I called my dad once again.  (By now, my dad is getting to know Ann quite well.)  My grandmother didn’t have a telephone, so I asked my dad to, once again, go get Ann and bring her back to the house.  I would then call home at a designated time, and Ann and I would have our first conversation…….to make wedding plans.

Well, to have a private conversation at my parents house is not easy.  My dad has his favorite chair, a huge recliner that is where he spends his time relaxing.  Our phone is, yep, you guessed it.  On a stand, right next to that chair.  There are no other handsets.  I do not know if my dad gave up his seat for her, but I didn’t ask, as I had other things on my mind when she said hello to me…..for the first time.  We chatted a little then I asked her how August 18 would work for her.  I mentioned that date because of my plans that I had strategically worked out, explained in the following paragraph….

I had made some preliminary  plans vis-a-vis our wedding date.  I knew how many paydays I would need to have to get enough money to rent an apartment, buy groceries, and get a round-trip ticket for me.  All the little things need to start a sucessful marriage to get off the ground.  So I had calculated all of this and figured if I could leave on Friday the 15th, after getting paid of course, I could get to Chicago on Saturday.  A friend of mine was heading that way and he would give me a ride there to the Chicago bus station, where I could buy a ticket for the final leg to Muskegon, Michigan.  Ann was to meet me at the bus station, at 2:00 PM the following day, Saturday.  Then we could get married on Monday the 18th.

So, back to our very first telephone conversation.  She said that date would be fantastic.  She would graduate from business school the previous week, so our timing was impeccable.  She said she would make all of the plans, get the license, line up a church and preacher, and send out invitations.  Before I forget, I also went to a jewelry in Ardmore store and paid 79.00 for a set of diamond rings.  Yes, they were real.  Remember this is 1958.

It worked out exactly as planned.  I pulled into the bus station at 2:00 and she was sitting on bench looking pretty much as she did in that picture above. It was like we had known each other forever.  We got a taxi to head for my parents house.  Remember, back then co-habitation (shacking-up) before marriage usually wasn’t done, so I would be staying there until we were married.  She mentioned on the way to the house, that I wouldn’t have much time to relax, as the wedding rehearsal was at 4:00.  She was in a hurry.

All went well, we got to know each other more as the weekend went by.  The wedding on Monday evening was very nice, except for the absence of her parents.  They were up in age and didn’t feel up to making the 150 mile trip from Beulah to Muskegon.  On the following day, Tuesday, we did drive up there, though, so I could meet my in-laws.  They turned out to be awesome people.  There was only one minor snag.  I didn’t have enough money for Ann’s bus ticket back to Ardmore.  I had hoped to get some cash in our wedding gifts.  Alas, there was none.

The Melody Rangers – Ardmore AFB – Me 2nd from the right.  On far right is future steel guitar grat, Stu Basore.

But no fear.  Since I was a professional musician before and during my Air Force career, I had an extra alto saxophone that my parents were keeping for me.  I took it to the local music store, that I used to haunt as a teenager.  I talked the owner into buying that sax so I could buy Ann’s bus ticket.  Problem solved.  We packed all of Ann’s belongings, including dishes, pots and pans, etc. into seven suit cases.  We checked them through on the bus.

Back in Ardmore.  The following day I took Ann out to the airbase.  She got a civil service job working in base supply.  Our landlord, thought we were a sweet couple.  Their son had a cream-puff 1953 Buick Roadmaster that he was willing to sell us for 795.00 and he would tote the note.  I would make payments to him.  The Lord was smiling on us.

So there we were.  All of a sudden we went from, ah, let’s see.  I won’t say a struggling couple, as we didn’t have enough sense to know what struggling meant.  We were just taking each day one at a time, having the time of our lives.  But there we were, Ann had a great job, we had a great car, and I was about to get promoted and add another stripe.  You see, the Good Lord was following our antics all the way, making sure we wouldn’t get lost.  It has now been nearly 60 years.  I wouldn’t recommend our way of getting ‘hitched’ but if I had it to do over, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Wedding photo

Wedding photo.

I hope you enjoyed this fun, but true story of love and adventure.

 

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As many of you know, I am not restricted to bird photography.  One of my award-winning photographs was from the International Water Lily Collection in San Angelo.  It has won many first place awards, besides being one of my best selling photographs.  I am now offering it for a limited time as a stretched canvas print, ready for hanging. It is a special promotion for my WordPress readers that havae been so loyal and faithful over the years.  A saving of $ 23.00.  Click here for more information.

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Watch for another post here soon. 🙂

 

Bob’s Big Return……with a Bang!


Well, after a six week absence, I am finally ready to get back to posting.  I have my health issues corrected and I am feeling great.  Actually, my health problems go back several years, when I had fits of depression, blood pressure issues, numerous IT infections, and finally culminated with skin cancer problems about two months ago that prompted me to take several weeks off.  I really need to thank my adoring wife, Ann,  for putting up with me and supporting me through all of those years.  I also had the support of several close friends, includding Deb and Paul Tappan, Laren Green and many others, plus a host of FaceBook friends who had me in their prayers.  But the most important individual was, of course, Ann.  If it wasn’t for her, I would not be where I am today.  Now at the age of 82, I am feeling much younger.

During the past several weeks, although I was slowed down a bit, I was able to amass a collection of photos during short visits to surrounding areas.  I am not going to post them in any particular order, but feel free to click on any of them to see some nice enlargements.  If you are interested in any prints, they are available at my on-line store.  Prices starting at 17.56.  I would be greatly honored if you decide to hang one in your home.  If you would just like to have one of my beautiful coffee mugs, check them out here

Okay, let’s start with this wonderful image of a Vermilion Flycatcher.

Vermilion Flycatcher – 1/640 sec, @ f7.1, ISO 800.

By the way, for those that would like to know, my basic equipment for my bird photography is a Canon EOS 7D Mk II and a Tamron 150-600mm Gen 2 zoom lens.

I love the Summer Tanagers.  Evern the female pictured here, has  distinct beauty of her own.

Summer Tanager – female – 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 3200.

It is migration time in Texas, and the Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are returning.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 125.

This is probably a Western Meadowlark.  However I am not positive as the Eastern is so nearly identical that I have a hard time discerning which is which.

Western Meadowlark – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 800.

I was proud of this image of the secluded White-eyed Vireo.  Very hard to catch one for a decent photo.

White-eyed Vireo – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 2500.

The Lark Sparrow is one of the most recognizable of the sparrows.  That distinct marking of the head that reminds me of a football helmet.

Lark-Sparrow – 1/640 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 200.

The Northern Bobwhite is one of the quail family that is much in abundance in this area.  Some of you photographers may have noticed that I have no qualms about shooting at high ISOs.  My Canon 7D Mark II handles high ISOs very well.  But if there is excessive digital noise, I use a Photoshop plug-in, Topaz DeNoise, that removes it rather nicely.

Northern Bobwhite – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 3200.

Great Kiskadees are, or have been, very rare to the Concho Valley.  They were practically unheard of around here.  But back in late September of 2016, four of them made there way to the Lake Nasworthy area.  By late March of this year we thought they had disappeared.  But on April 4, Ann and I were cruising around Spring Creek Park.  She said that she could hear one nearby.  I thought she imagining it, but she opened her iPad’s  iBird Pro app.  She played the sound for me, and one of them answered and flew to a nearby tree for this shot.  I guess they have found a home here.

Great Kiskadee – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 400.

Sometimes I  pass up chances if a bird or subject feels like it is too far away.  Such was the case with this Osprey.  He was very tiny, even in the viewfinder, but I made sure my camera and lens was firmly seated on my bean bag on my window sill.  With spot focusing I squeezed off the shot and it proved to be sharp enough to make a nice enlargement.

Osprey – 1/1000 sec. @f7.1, ISO 320.

This was my first photograph of the year of an Ash-throated Flycatcher.  There was a rumor of a similar Brown-crested Flycatcher in the area.  I discounted it as it would have been a rarity for here.  I don’t know of any recorded, confirmed sighting ever in this area.  However, “show me the picture”, and I will believe.

Ash-throated Flycatcher – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 800.

I love the little Kinglets, but they sure as heck really hard to photograph.  Always on the move.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 3200.

Bluebirds.  A crowd favorite.

Eastern Bluebird – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 640.

I was lucky to catch this Nashville Warbler when he was showing a bit of his rusty crown, which is usually hidden.

Nashville Warbler – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 640.

The Chipping Sparrow is another sparrow which is easily recognized.

Chipping Sparrow – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 800.

There are two sub-species of the Yellow-rumped Warbler; Audubon and Myrtle.  This one with the brilliant yellow “chin” is an Audubon.

Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 3200.

The problem with this Rock Wren is they are very hard to see.  We find them in the rocks, or riff-raff, on the side of O. C. Fisher Dam.  We know they are there, so we must be patient and watch for movement along the huge structure.  Finally, when we get a glimpse, it is easier to track them as they move along the rocks.

Rock Wren – 1/800 sec @ f7.1, ISO 1250

This little Bewick’s Wren was singing his little heart out.

Bewick’s Wren – 1/640 sec @ f6.3, ISO 320.

I watched this Great Horned Owl patiently for several minutes.  I was about 200 yards away so there was no way that I was going to agitate him.  I was waiting for him to open his eyes.  I moved his head many times but never opened them.  After about 15 minutes I gave it up and left the building.

Great Horned Owl – 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 800.

Well, I think that is it for this post.  It felt wonderful to be posting again.  This particular post has a record number of photos, nineteen.  That is the most I have ever published in one post.  I hope you enjoyed every one of them.