YEE HAW!! Rodeo Time in San Angelo


This is the time when the rodeo and stock show gets into swing.  Our rodeo runs for a couple weeks with about ten performances.  Plus we have a parade and of course, a carnival at the fairgrounds.  Great fun for everyone.  I did take my camera out there one year.  I sat in the stands with an original Canon 100-400mm zoom lens.  After leaning around the guy in front of me with his ten-gallon hat, I was able to get this shot.

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Bull Rider

But, the birding goes on.  Here are a few shots I have captured since my last post a few days ago.

We have friends down in Eldorado, Texas, about 40 miles south of San Angelo.  Suzanne Johnson called us and said that a Greater Scaup had been seen at the city water ponds there.  We high-tailed down there Monday morning.  We saw several water birds; ruddy ducks, shovelers, coots, pintails,  a Lesser Scaup, but no Greater Scaup.  However, it was fun spotting this Marsh Wren, that was co-operating by hopping around in plain view outside the reeds.  Here are two of my favorite images of him.

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Marsh Wren

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Marsh Wren

 

Those two images were the only keepers that I got on that little trip.

This morning, Thursday, we woke early hoping to get some birding in before the predicted winds got up.  It was very cloudy and it looked like a threat of rain but that didn’t materialize.  But to me, cloudy overcast makes for great photography.  But on the other hand, it can also keep the birds down when it is cool like this morning at 41 degrees.  But we made the best of it.  I managed to get these nice photos.  I hope you like.

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Northern Cardinal

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Golden-fronted Woodpecker

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Ladder-backed Woodpecker

I guess that will do it for this post.  Hopefully, I will be going back out in a few days to grab a few more photographs.

Incidentally, on the birding side, Ann and I have seen 86 different species to begin our quest to see how many different birds we will see for the year.  Our goal is 200.

Also, I should also say that my new book, “My World of Nature”, 52 page soft-cover, of some of my best images, is doing very well.  Contact me at bobzeller@pobox.com for prices.  Click this link to preview it:  http://www.blurb.com/b/9237421-my-world-of-nature

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HAPPY BIRDING!!!!!

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No Polar Vortex here


I have been reading about the cold weather approaching the mid-west.  I am a native of Michigan, but I left there in 1955 when enlisting in the Air Force.  So I know what they are going through up there and I am glad I now reside in west Texas.  Brrrrr……

The temps around here are a bit better, hanging around 60 during the day and around 30 at night.  The birding is a bit slow, but if you look carefully you can find little jewels, and actually see perhaps around 30-35 species in a day.

Since my last post a couple of weeks ago I have been lucky and got a few nice photographs.  My favorite of the year so far is this Osprey.  Interestingly, I have photographed an Osprey at the same location, actually on the same branch several times over the years.  It is at a location that overlooks a body of water off of Lake Nasworthy.  With all of the brush, there is a certain tree branch that sticks out above the water and it is a favorite perch for osprey, herons, egrets and an occasional kingfisher.  But of all of those photos, this one that I photographed a few days ago, is my favorite (so far).  I can’t explain why, but maybe it is the pose or the interesting background.

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Osprey

Here are a few more that have made the past couple of weeks interesting for us as we wait for migration to start.

The light was overcast and perfect for photographing this White-breasted Nuthatch.  They are somewhat rare here but they can be found, albeit not easy.

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White-breasted Nuthatch

I am always on the lookout for these tiny hawks.  The American Kestrel is a feisty little guy that is quick and hard to capture.  It doesn’t stay perched for very long periods.

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American Kestrel

Now, the Common Yellowthroat is really difficult to catch.  They usually hang around reedy areas, but sometimes can be found in thick brush as this one was.  Very shy, they don’t show themselves often.

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Common Yellowthroat

Did I mention getting a bit lucky?  While driving through Spring Creek Park here near San Angelo,  I spotted this Ladder-backed Woodpecker.  I had gotten several photos of one in the past, but never had I been in position to get such a close-up as this one.  I was still about 50 yards away, but with good light, I was in great position to reach it with my Tamron 150-600mm lens.

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Ladder-backed Woodpecker

As you all know, I really like the challenge of photographing the tiny birds.  Even the sparrows.  There are around 35 species of them, and each of them has a certain little something that sets them apart from each other.  I still can’t recognize them all, partly because only a few of them frequent San Angelo.  This photo is a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow.

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White-crowned Sparrow, juvenile

I will finish this post wit this photo of a Great-horned Owl.  He hangs out is a particular live oak tree in Spring Creek Park.  I have seen him on several occasions this month in that tree.  Most of the time he appears to be ‘snoozing’ and has his eyes closed.  This time he was wary of me.  He does make it hard, though.  He changes his position often and Ann and I have to search very carefully.  A few time we have nearly given up of seeing him before we finally spot him, hidden and camoflagged.

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Great Horned Owl

So, you can see, even though it appears that the birding might be a bit slow, we have had very exciting days.  As they say, the fun is in the hunt.

Until the next time……..HAPPY BIRDING!!

 

 

Funny Name…..Pretty Bird


There is a pretty bird that resides out here in west Texas that really gets your attention, both in appearance and the name.  I am talking about the Pyrrhuloxia.  It is pronounced Pi-ro-lox’-ia.  I posted a photo in my previous post, and now I have another that I captured yesterday morning.  It is one of my favorite birds to photograph.

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Pyrrhuloxia

We were at Spring Creek Park near Lake Nasworthy, when it was spotted.  While we were there I also captured this image of another Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  If you look close you can see a bit of the red crown peeking through.  They are feisty little birds and I love the challenge of photographing them.

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Cruising through the park again, we had to check out a large live oak tree.  There is a Great Horned Owl that likes to roost in it.  He not there all the time, but it pays to check it out on a regular basis.  This day, he was there.  This time he was barely visible.  I circled the tree for the best vantage for an open shot.  This image below was the best.  Any other position his face was hidden.

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Great Horned Owl

It was a bit on the cool side and the wind, though not very strong, was out of the Northwest.  I guess it kept most of the birds down in the shelter of the grasses.  But, I feel I had a good session, if I could come away with a good photo or two.

On the subject of bird photos, my book is doing quite well.  (wasn’t that neat how I shifted into the subject of my book?)

A 52-page soft-covered book of some of my best wildlife photos.  Special WordPress reader price of $ 35.00 plus 7.00 shipping.  E-mail me at bobzeller@pobox.com for more info is you are interested.

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Click this link to see a preview:  http://www.blurb.com/b/9237421-my-world-of-nature

You can also order from the publisher there for an increased price.

Creepy Creeping Creepers


Tuesday we were back at it, trolling Spring Creek Park here in San Angelo, on the hunt for wildlife.  Another beautiful day in west Texas.

This time the day started out a bit slow, but then we hit the brushy side of the park and the little birds came alive.  I was busy trying to get a Dark-eyed Junco in focus when Ann called out from her position in the back seat.  “There’s a creeper.”  Yes, a Brown Creeper, one of the most difficult birds to spot and photograph.

It is difficult to spot them.  You have to be lucky enough, to catch their movement.  I don’t know if I have seen flying overhead.  They like to scurry up a trunk of a tree in a spiral, going around and around the bark.  When the reach the top, they fly back down to the bottom of the next tree and repeat their maneuver.

Photographing them is another matter.  Their constant movement makes it difficult to keep it in the viewfinder, let alone keep it in focus.  But, some days, all the stars and planets are aligned and I get lucky.  I set my camera on high speed, about 10 shots per second, set my single spot focus when I saw him at the bottom, then tracked him to the top.  After missing about 50 shots, I finally nailed these two.

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Brown Creeper

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Brown Creeper

Not too bad for an old man, if I do say so myself.

The rest of the morning was pretty uneventful so we headed back to the house to await another day.

Until that day,

HAPPY BIRDING!!!

2019 – A New Beginning


Well, here we are.  This is my first post of 2019.  Hopefully, there will be many more.  2018 was not my best year as there were too many distractions healthwise, etc.  but I am not one to dwell on the past.

This year started with a lot of inclement weather.  Here in west Texas, that can mean tornados, thunder, lightening, rain, hail, snow, warm days, very warm days, cold days, and very cold days.  And that was only the first three days of the year.

But finally, January 4 dawned brightly. Skies cleared, temperatures climbed and the birds came out from hiding.  Ann and I decided it was time for us to get out, too.  I packed my cameras and Ann into the car and headed for the parks around Lake Nasworthy.  We might have gone to San Angelo State Park, but it was closed for hunting.

We fared very well for the past three days, seeing 46 different species and getting some good photographs.  So, let’s get right to it, and show you the highlights.

It was still a little early when we entered Spring Creek Park.  The tiny birds were just awakening, that included this cute Blue-gray Gnatacatcher.  They are very quick and difficult to photograph.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Next, is this Pyrrhuloxia.  For birders, this one of the most sought after.  They dwell in southwest Texas and Mexico, so we get visitors from other areas of Texas and United States, looking to see one.

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Pyrrhuloxia

It is hard to ignore the busy Ladder-backed Woodpecker.  Always pecking away at the bark, searching for any tiny morsel.  They are very quiet vocally, going about their work, but you can usually hear them tapping in the tree.

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Ladder-backed Woodpecker – female

The Spotted Towhee is a very shy bird.  But if you are lucky, you can catch one when it sneaks out from the brush.

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Spotted Towhee

Who can resist the cute level rising when these tiny bird Ruby-crowned Kinglets show their presence.  Occasionally, when they get excited, they will show that tiny red crown.

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Although the Red-breasted Nuthatch show to be rare here in the Concho Valley, they do make appearances occasionally, and it is a delight to try to photograph them as the scurry up and down the trees.

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Red-breasted Nuthatch

This was the only raptor that we saw during the weekend.  However, it is one of my favorites.  There was a little wind blowing and it gave the Osprey a little hair lift.

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Osprey

So that ended our first little foray of the year, into the wild.  I hope you enjoyed the photos.  I will be back with more.

Happy Birding!