Ah, the fun of the hunt….


Before I start, I should mention that this post is best viewed on a computer or device where the photos can be clicked and enlarged.

Ann and I sometimes get tired of going to the bird blind at the San Angelo State Park.  No that it has no birds, but they are same ones that we see over and over on each visit.  The past couple of days we went a different way.  We did go to the park, but instead of visiting the blind, we just drove all of the different roads that lace this 7,000 acre area.  We saw many different species that we wouldn’t ordinarily see at the blind; the types that don’t frequent bird feeders.  Here are a few images from that visit.

Scaled Quail

Scaled Quail

Black-throated Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird

We saw several other species, of course, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get photographs of them all.  But after leaving the park, we continued with our adventure by going to a favorite spot of ours near Twin Buttes Reservoir.

Now, fishermen always have their favorite fishing holes that they call their honey holes.  Well, this place that we favor going to is our birding honey hole.  Guaranteed that we will see a variety of birds.  That is except for one thing.  This place in nothing but a large mud hole.  After rains, it is filled with water, but it takes several days for the water to dry up or evaporate.  It is several inches deep, thanks to the adult children that like to take their pickup trucks and play in it.  You know what I mean.

So this day it was rather large, about 25 feet long and about 15 feet wide.  There are three or four trees that surround it.  We parked in a good position, about eight feet away, so I could observe and photograph from my driver’s side window.  Voila!  My mobile bird blind.  We turned off the engine and waited.

The first we noticed was an adult Killdeer.  She was carefully watching over her chicks.  I was able to photograph the chicks from only about seven feet away.

Killdeer - adult

Killdeer – adult

The chicks are only about five inches tall, long legs and big eyes.  Real cuties.

Killdeer - chick

Killdeer – chick

Killdeer -chick

Killdeer -chick

Then other birds started to arrive.

Blue Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak

The bright background on the Grosbeak image gave me fits, but these others gave me no problems.

Lark Bunting

Lark Bunting

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

White-crowned Sparrow ponders taking a drink.

White-crowned Sparrow ponders taking a drink.

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

This above Vermilion Flycatcher was only about five feet away, on a branch near my car window.

Finally, when heading for home, we decided to check out the old K-Mart creek, a water-filled bar ditch near the location near location of that now missing store.  We saw a couple of Yellow-crowned Night Herons, but they flew before I could get photographs.  However, this Green Heron was content to stay feeding in the water.

Green Heron

Green Heron

We called it nice day for hunting.  We netted a total of 36 species, and had a fun time.

Vermilion Flycatcher and others.


This post is best viewed on a computer or device where you can click the photos and see nice enlargements.

Since my last post, Ann and I have mostly been hanging around the local area, looking for more new birds and new photo ops.  I guess we are still unwinding from our Big Bend trip.  The weather here has been fickle, as well.  Around 90° one day, down to a current 51° as I write this around noon on April 28.  A chilly day for west Texas.

Yesterday, though, it was pretty nice, albeit a bit windy.  I caught this Vermilion Flycatcher darting among the trees at Middle Concho Park at Lake Nasworthy.

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

Also nearby, was this Great Blue Heron.  One of my favorite wading bird subjects.  We watched him fish for awhile, but he never came up with anything worthy of eating.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

A few days earlier we were at the south portion of the large San Angelo State Park.  We stopped at the blind but didn’t see anything of interest, but visited with some nice folks from South Dakota.  We left there and decided to just drive through the park, as we sometimes see much more than we will at the blind.  We were not disappointed.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Northern Bobwhite

Northern Bobwhite

When I started to drive away, this Bobwhite started singing so I stopped the car and took another shot.

Northern Bobwhite

Northern Bobwhite

We continued along and finished our drive with this Chipping Sparrow, who were available in great numbers.

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Well, that’s all for this one.  In the words of that former California governor, “Ah’ll be boch”.

Greater Roadrunner, Orioles and others


Here are a few images that I have gotten since we got back from our Big Bend adventure.  We have been watching for new summer residents of the avian variety.  While doing such searching I was able to get a few other images for your enjoyment.  We found this Greater Roadrunner at San Angelo State Park.

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

The Bullock’s Orioles are starting to arrive.  I had seen a female a few weeks earlier, but now there are many of the bright colored males.  They are still hard to photograph among the trees but nevertheless, I managed a couple.

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

I love the Golden-fronted Woodpeckers.  They seem to be everywhere all the time and they are so photogenic.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Same bird, different pose.  He was trying to show me his better side.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

A Lincoln’s Sparrow.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow

A couple of Lark Sparrows.

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

The Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are arriving in large numbers and they will be seen soon all over the country-side.  I got a couple of images today.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Last, but not least, a Killdeer playing in the water at a mudhole near Twin Buttes Reservoir.

Killdeer

Killdeer

Enjoy the photos and I will be back soon with a few more.

Big Bend the Beautiful


I have been busy the past three days processing photos from our trip last week to the Big Bend Country.  All I can say is that I have never seen this area look so beautiful in all of the many years that Ann and I have been visiting there.  Right from the git-go, driving down from Marathon and entering Big Bend National Park this is what greeted us; and it lasted for nearly all of the 35 miles or so to the park headquarters at Panther Junction.

Texas Bluebonnets along the highway into Big Bend National Park.

Texas Bluebonnets along the highway into Big Bend National Park.

What a way to start our little vacation!  I am not going to go into a great narrative in this post.  Mostly, I will let the photos do the talking.  Here is some more of the beauty.  By the way, if you are reading this on your computer, by all means please click on each photo and you will see beautiful enlargements.

Ocotillo - a sea of red.

Ocotillo shrubs – a sea of red.

Ocotillo and the Chisos Mountains.  You can see Mt. Casa Grande in the distance.

Ocotillo and the Chisos Mountains. You can see Mt. Casa Grande in the distance.

On a couple of mornings we went to the ghost town in Terlingua for breakfast.  A small place that we liked, served good hot coffee and a vast assortment of burritos.  It got us off to a good start for the day.  I took this photo from there one morning, before we left.

Sunrise from the ghost town at Terlingua, Texas.

Sunrise from the ghost town at Terlingua, Texas.

Now, speaking of eating, and before I get into the rest of this post, if any of you make this trip and you like pizza, don’t pass up this little place.  Don’t judge it by the appearance, like we did for so many years.  Inside is the best pizza around, made from scratch and the beer is cold.  I few miles south of the ghost town of Terlingua.  Opens at 5:00PM Wednesday through Sunday.  And no, Nancy, the owner is not paying me for this.

Long Draw Pizza

Long Draw Pizza

So, we did get into some birding.  After all, that was the main reason for coming.

Bell's Vireo at Cottonwood Campground

Bell’s Vireo at Cottonwood Campground

Summer Tanager at Rio Grande Village.

Summer Tanager at Rio Grande Village.

Ocotillo and canyon in ackground.

Ocotillo and canyon in ackground.

Ocotillo and Mule Ears Peak.

Ocotillo and Mule Ears Peak.

If you think I like ocotillo plants, you are right.  We have two that reach a height of about 20 feet, in our yard back home in San Angelo.  Okay, back to some birds.

Cattle Egret in early morning sun at the ghost town of Terlingua.

Cattle Egret in early morning sun at the ghost town of Terlingua.

Cattle egrets are named for the fact that they are usually found among milling cattle.  We have often found them in the desert of Big Bend National Park before, but I don’t think they stay long and are just on the way to nearby ranches.

Cactus Wren with an insect lunch.

Cactus Wren with an insect lunch.

Pyrrhuloxia trying to hide in the bushes.

Pyrrhuloxia trying to hide in the bushes.

Scaaled Quail - also locally know as a blue quail.

Scaaled Quail – also locally know as a blue quail.

Gambel's Quail.  Found along Highway 170 in Big Bend Ranch State Park near Redford, Texas.

Gambel’s Quail. Found along Highway 170 in Big Bend Ranch State Park near Redford, Texas.

Sunrise over the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park.

Sunrise over the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park.

I hope you enjoyed this brief trip through the Big Bend Country of far West Texas.  For us, we had a blast.  A gorgeous part of the state that Ann and I visit again and again.  For those who are following our birding exploits, we added sixteen new species for the year.  Our list is currently now at 140.  As you know, our goal is 210.  We are gaining on it.

Good Friday Birding


I received my Canon 7D Mark II back from the factory Thursday evening.  I had a mishap a few weeks ago, and I had messed up the focus system.  I sent it off to Canon, and in eight days they had it repaired and back to me.  A great turn-a-round time.  Anyway, I was anxious to see if all was in working order.  It was, and I must say that I am so impressed with difference in the IQ of it over the 70D, which, by the way, produces darned fine images.  It performed greatly while I was using it as a back-up until I got the Mark II back.

So, anyway, we headed out to the local parks around Lake Nasworthy.  We didn’t stay there long.  We had forgotten about the long Easter weekend, and those parks were crowded with campers, hikers, RVers, walkers, bicyclists, fishermen, etc.  Not much chance of doing any nature photography there.

We went with Plan B and headed out to San Angelo State Park.  Not too many people there, mainly because of the absence of the lake.  Just the mile-wide dry lake bed.

We checked out the blind and caught a few birds there.  These three images needed very little post processing.  Just a bit light adjusting, and a tad more contrast.  Like I said, the Canon 7D Mark II is just amazing.

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia

Canyon Towhee

Canyon Towhee

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee

After spending about some time in the blind, we decided to just take a drive around the park to see what else we might come across.

We saw a Rock Wren up in the rocks of O.C. Fisher Dam.  Very difficult to see, and only if you happen to catch movement.  Ann spotted it, looking very tiny.  Actually too tiny, and too far away for a usuable photo.

A little later we did spot our first of the year Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.  I knew they were due to arrive, as usual, around the first of April.  It was in a small tree way off to the left of us.  I got this shot of him before he flew off.  I didn’t get a really tack-sharp photo, but that was my fault.  Hey, I’m not perfect.  Anyway, here is the result.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  If you are viewing them on your computer, or iPad, click on the images to see some nice enlargements.

Happy Easter!  and Happy Birding!!

Nesting Great Horned Owl


I left Ann at home this morning, as she wanted to catch up on her household chores.  She was understandably jealous, that I was going to go birding and shooting without her, but someone had to do it.

We had discovered a Great Horned Owl’s nest in the fork of a tree a couple of days ago.  I am thinking that there are may be some owlets hidden there.  Great Horned Owls lay there egg sometime in January thru February.  The incubation period is from 28-35 days.  So based on that, the little guys should be ready to fledge.

I saw no sign of owlets, however the mother, I presume, flew from the nest as I approached from about 50 yards away.  I stayed back a good distance and watched as she landed in a nearby tree.  I got my Canon 70D and 150-600mm lens and cautiously got out of the car.  I hand-held the camera, steadying myself against a nearby tree and shot this photo.  The advantage of a long lens, of course, that I can get images from a good distance without disturbing the bird.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

I watched from behind a tree for awhile, then she took flight and flew back to the nest.  Again with my long lens, I was able to catch her peeking at me from her shelter.  Even though I was around 50 feet away she was obviously aware of me.

Great Horned Owl in her nest.

Great Horned Owl in her nest.

Since there was no sign of any owlets, I left her to her motherly duties and left the scene.

I drove through the local parks and saw several of the usual resident species.  I got a couple more photos to show you.

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

Ladder-backed Woodpecker - female

Ladder-backed Woodpecker – female

It was a fun morning even though Ann wasn’t with me.  I missed her doing most of the spotting.  But I done all right by myself, anyway.  Of course, the highlight was photographing the owl.

A little this and that…..


Since my last post I have been trying to catch up on springtime duties around the house.  Mowing lawn, weeding, etc.  So our birding outings have been limited, but we managed to get a few images to show for it.

We ventured out to the north portion of San Angelo State Park today for awhile.  The Lewis’s Woodpecker has finally left, I believe.  We haven’t seen him in over a week anyway.  However, we did see 24 species of birds.

Black-throated Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

IMG_0823-net-wren-cactus-bob-zeller

Cactus Wren watching over her nest.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow

This next photo is unique.  The prickly pear is growing from a mesquite tree limb.  A bird probably dropped a piece or a seed from a cactus into the bark and it took root.  Believe me, prickly pear will take root anywhere you want.  Actually, you can just lay a piece on the ground, forget about it, and it will start growing on the spot.

Prickly Pear growing from mesquite branch.

Prickly Pear growing from mesquite branch.

Mexican Ground Squirrel

Mexican Ground Squirrel

The ground squirrel was photographed a couple of days ago at Middle Concho Park here in San Angelo, as was this image of a Ladder-backed Woodpecker.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker - female

Ladder-backed Woodpecker – female

Ann and I are getting antsy to travel again.  So in two weeks we are heading back to the Big Bend country of far west Texas.  We will visit Big Bend National Park and the surrounding area for about 3-4 days.  We hope to again see this Common Blackhawk that I photographed a couple of years ago.

Common Blackhawk

Common Blackhawk

A rarity in Texas, it has again been seen in it’s favorite area in the Rio Grande Village RV Park.  I think this is the fifth or sixth year that they have nested there, but not sure.  I hope you enjoy the photo.

Okay, that’s it for now.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Happy Birding!!