The More I Practice………


The luckier I get…………

I have been told that I am lucky to get some of these shots that I show you.  I agree part way.  I feel that I am lucky to live in an area where there is a lot of wildlife.  However, a large part of time it is because of careful planning, research, then getting to the right place where I may find what I am looking for.  In other words, I kinda make my own luck.  Also, spending thousands on a photographic education, cameras and equipment makes getting lucky a bit easier.

So let me show you the lucky shots that I have been able to get since my last post.  By the way, even though I have these great close-ups, I am rarely any closer than twenty yards.  I heavily crop all of my images for tight composition.  It is a credit to my great lenses.

A favorite haunt of mine is an area of reeds and cat-tails near Spring Creek Park here in San Angelo.  I knew that there was a Common Yellowthroat residing in there somewhere.  The habitat was perfect plus one had been reported being seen there recently.  So Ann and I got us a burrito at Rosa’s along with some coffee and set out early in the morning.  I parked my mobile blind, AKA Ford Escape, about 20 yards away.  Then we waited…….and waited………and waited.  After about 45 minutes, well after the burritos and coffee were gone, the yellowthroat ventured out in the open.  I swear I saw him yawn.  I had, of course, had my camera ready so I was able to track him through the grass and reeds.  Her is my best image of around fifty attempts.

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Common Yellowthroat

It was a great start to a day of birding.  From there, we traveled out Spillway Road on a hunch.  Last year, a Say’s Phoebe, stayed around near the nature trail.  I didn’t really expect to see it again, but sure enough he was there flitting around in the trees.  Now that was a pure stroke of luck.

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Say’s Phoebe

After that, we ventured into Spring Creek Park proper and observed a Great Egret for awhile.  It was across the water and we watched and waited to see if it might catch a fish for my camera.  A funny note:…while were were a waiting, a car with a couple of other bird watchers stopped for a minute.  Then, they decided to move on and come back “when the egret was moving more”.  That attitude will not net anyone great photos.  In fact, that is the best way to miss good photos.

But anyway, I digress.  We watched for another twenty minutes and decided it wasn’t going to do any serious fishing.  I settled for this nice pose.

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Great Egret

A couple of days later we were back out there again.  We had been told that a Sora had been seen in the same area as the yellowthroat previously.  We knew we were probably in for another long wait, as the Sora is another very secretive bird that rarely shows it self.  At first, after about forty minutes, we decided it wasn’t going to show for us.  We left for another area where I captured this tiny Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  Something had aroused him, possibly a nearby mockingbird, and he was showing his “red hair”.

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet

We decided to go back to look for the Sora.  This time we approached from a different angle and finally spotted him in the open and feeding.   I found a good spot where I could shoot him without getting in the way of oncoming traffic.  There as some plastic trash near him and I waited until he gradually moved where it wouldn’t be in the photo.  For a mud hen he is kinda pretty I think.

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Sora

To round out the week, I got a tip where I might find a Green-tailed Towhee.  Although not a rare bird, it is not seen around here regularly.  So we went to San Angelo State Park where it had been seen.  We had been told of the general location, but not a specific spot, but after a bit of searching we spotted it flitting around in some trees.  I had only one chance before it flew, but I got lucky with again.  The image worked well after I adjusted the light and contrast in my digital darkroom.

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Green-tailed Towhee

If you are following our march to the end of the year goal of seeing 200 different species by then, we are now at 80.  A long way to go as it will get harder.  But we shall prevail! 🙂

I guess that ends this final post for January.  I’ll see you back here in a few days.

‘Til then, HAPPY BIRDING!!

 

Tiny Birds in the Overcast


I love the challenge of photographing the tiny birds.  The past few days have been slightly cooler and overcast.  Most birds are staying hidden, but with a little patience, fun can be had looking for those tiny birds that hang around marshy, reedy areas.  A couple of my favorite birding areas feature that description.

Ann and I stopped at one of those sites, bringing some coffee and burritos along for comfort.  We parked a mere fifteen feet from the water and sat back to watch.  Within ten minutes we detected movement in the cattails.  We watched intently as a Common Yellowthroat started showing himself.  I grabbed my Canon EOS 7D MK II with a Tamron 150-600mm G2 zoom lens and got ready.  The reeds where he was moving around was about twenty feet from the bank.  This is one of the images captured.  Keep in mind, it is heavily cropped, as even with my long lens, I could never get this close.

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Common Yellowthroat

A few minutes later I got glimpses of an Orange-crowned Warbler.  He would’t completely expose himself, so we played hide and seek.

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Orange-crowned Warbler

After staying there for nearly an hour and seeing various wrens, cardinals, warblers etc., we moved to another location.  This spot was more brushy as it was farther from the water.  Again, with patience, after a few minutes we saw some action.  More Kinglets, Warblers starting to flit around.  One of two favorite prizes of that sitting was this very cooperative Blue-Gray Gnatcher.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

The other was this Verdin.  I had been on a quest to get a nice photo of one of these secretive birds but they had alluded me until now.  Check this out.

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I know I have preached this before, but again, don’t let overcast weather keep you from your appointed birding rounds.  The light is fantastic.  No harsh shadows and the color is great.

In other news, my new coffee table book, “Birds, Beasts and Other Stuff” is available now.  110 pages of photos illustrating my photographic career. Hard cover. For a special “WordPress Reader discounted price of 60.00 plus tax and shipping, contact me at bobzeller.pobox.com.

Also you can order from the publisher at: https://www.blurb.com/b/9899713-birds-beasts-and-other-stuff

 

New -Book-Photo

So, that is about it for this post.  I hope you enjoyed the photos and will consider purchasing the book.  You will not be disappointed.

‘Til then,

HAPPY BIRDING!!!

Birding is fun again…..


It is great to begin the year feeling great.  Much different from last year when my health issues were taking up most of my time.  Now, although those issues haven’t disappeared, all is under control now and I feel fine.

Birding activity has increased now, mostly around the Lake Nasworthy and Twin Buttes Reservoir areas.  I can’t understand the lack of birds at San Angelo State Park, but we haven’t been seeing much there.  In fact, the last couple of times we visited, we didn’t stay long but left to go to our above mentioned favorite areas.  I might mention that we rarely visit the bird blind, for the reasons mentioned below.  We prefer to just drive through the park and watch for bird activity.

As far as the blind at San Angelo State Park, is is not maintained properly.  Some volunteers stop out there, usually later in the morning to put seed in the feeders.  Otherwise it is not kept up on a regular basis; mowing, cleaning windows, etc.  The water feature is usually not running.  Even though a local service organization build a handi-cap oriented viewing spot, overall, the blind is still treated like a step-child.  The park management concentrates on hiking trails and star watching activities.  The Friends of the Park, place preferences on the equine area.  But nobody considers any birding related activities.

Birding is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the state.  I know of many people come to the park to see the many birds that frequent the Concho Valley.  I think the managaement would do well to promote that more in the park.

About ten years ago (or more), Ann and I took on the responsibilty of maintaining the blind and viewing area.  Since we were retired and since we only live three miles away, we were there daily at 8:00AM to put feed out.  We kept the place clean and the grass trimmed and weed-whacked.  We kept the water running in the water feature.  Once a month, I lead a birding walk on a Saturday morning.  But after a couple of years, going out there on a daily basis, and getting up in age, we eventually decided to let someone else take over.

So, I say to anybody that wants to travel to San Angelo to bird, we do have lots of birds.  For example, yesterday Ann and I saw 38 species in about a three hour period.  But we visited the public parks around the Lake Nasworthy that I mentioned in the second paragraph of this post.  So come on down……..:-)

Speaking of those 38 species, here are a few example from the past few days:

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet

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Common Yellowthroat

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Cattle Egret

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Greata Egret

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Eastern Bluebird

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Golden-fronted Woodpecker

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Loggerhead Shrike

Those six are a pretty good sampling of the birds around here.   As for my rant about San Angelo State Park, I am a great fan and supporter of the park.  I just wanted to mention about the quality of birding there, if you happen to be a camper there.  Don’t depend on the blind to be very productive.

In other news, the first draft of my new book, “Birds, Beasts and Other Stuff” is at the printers and I should received it in a day or two.  I will peruse it to make sure I like everything, then I will order a bulk shipment.  So hopefully, by the end of the month I will have a supply on hand.  It is a 110 page hard-back book, packed with some of my newest best photos.

On that note, I still have a few copies of my original book, “Birds, Beasts and Buttes”, first published in 2013.  On sale at a reduced price of 45.00.  (Original 65.00).  Contact me at bobzeller@pobox.com if interested.

HAPPY BIRDING!!