Do your Christmas Shopping with me.


Since Christmas is upon us, I thought I would give you some ideas to think about.  As you know all of my work is for sale.  So with two weeks to go, I think there is still time to partake of some of my bargains.

First, in conjunction with Pixels.com, I am offering a selection of my photos available on greeting cards, coffee mugs, and some home decor.  Check me out at http://pixels.com/artists/1+bob+zeller.

My hard cover book, “Birds, Beasts, and Buttes” is still available from me.  Featuring about 100 of my best photographs.  Original price 65.00, now with a Christmas price of 40.00 plus 10.00 shipping.  No shipping cost needed if you are in San Angelo and I can deliver it.  Contact me at bobzeller@pobox.com.

My DVD, “Bob Zeller’s World of Outdoor Photographs”.  Another 100 photographs accompanied with great music.  Running time about 17 minutes.  25.00 including shipping.  20.00 for San Angelo residents if I don’t need to ship.  Again, contact me at bobzeller@pobox.com.

I hope you will consider some of these.  The profits help pay for my equipment and expenses.

Okay, if you are still with me after me trying to get into your wallet, here are a few photos from the past few days.  Most of those days were pretty overcast, but today the sun is shining, so things are looking up.  By the way, I am still field-testing my new Tamron 150-600mm Gen2 lens.  I think you will agree that it is a fantastic lens and I should keep it.  Enjoy these images, and click on any of them to see enlargements,.

Great Egret - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 1600.

Great Egret – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 1600.

Lesser Black-backed Gull - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 2000

Lesser Black-backed Gull – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 2000

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron - 1/1000 sec. @ 6.3, ISO 6400

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron – 1/1000 sec. @  f6.3, ISO 6400

Adult Black-crowned Night Heron - 1/1000 sec @f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 6400

Adult Black-crowned Night Heron – 1/1000 sec @f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 6400

Dark-eyed Junco - 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, +.03 EV, ISO 6400

Dark-eyed Junco – 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, +.03 EV, ISO 6400

Loggerhead Shrike - 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7 EV ISO 3200

Loggerhead Shrike – 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7 EV ISO 3200

American Kestrel - 1250 sec. @ f6.3, _0,7 EV ISO 2500.

American Kestrel – 1250 sec. @ f6.3, _0,7 EV ISO 2500.

That’s it for this post.  I will be back in about a week or so with another.  Until then……

HAPPY BIRDING!!

 

Testing the new Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DI VC USD G2 lens.


I had heard much about how Tamron had improved the new generation two of their 150-600mm lens.  I had owned the original version since it came out a couple of years ago.  I decided to make the upgrade, so I opened the box with much anticipation.  It appeared to be visually pretty much like the old one.  But on closer inspection, I saw that the tripod ring is removable.  Also, the zoom lens can be locked any position’

I took it out into the field to see how it performed.  Wow!!  First the auto-focus  seems to be much faster and the improved VC, Tamron’s version of image stabilization is advertised to be about four and half stops better without it.  What impressed me most is the improved resolution and sharpness.  The top photo is the original of a House Sparrow straight from the camera with no post processing at all, except for me adding my copyright.  I had the lens attached to my Canon 7D Mark II.  No tripod was used, but I had the camera resting on a bean-bag on the sill of my Ford Escape.  The same set-up was used for all of the images in this post.

House Sparrrow - original and un-retouched.

Chipping Sparrow, female – original and un-retouched.  1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 320.

This is the same image, cropped about 50-60%.  No post processing at all.  I can not see any loss of sharpness or resolution.

House Sparrow - cropped and un-retouched.

Chipping Sparrow, female – cropped and un-retouched.

Here is another.  A Yellow-rumped Warbler.  Cropped, but no other post-processing.  Notice the high ISO of 5000.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 5000

Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 5000.

So, as you can understand, I am as happy as a gopher in soft dirt.  I was very happy with first version and I had used it for two years.  But it was rare for me to be able to crop a photo and not have to do some post-processing.  One more thing before I forget, the lens was extended all the way to 600mm.  No loss of resolution, but that was true of the original version of this lens.  For my bird photography, I am zoomed to the full 600mm most of the time.

Here are several more images from the past week or so, many of them on very overcast and damp days.  And before you ask, yes, most of them have been post-processed.  I can’t get lucky all the time.

Eastern Phoebe - 1/1000 sec. @f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 640.

Eastern Phoebe – 1/1000 sec. @f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 640.

Here was a real challenge.  In the brush at Spring Creek Park, early in the morning.  We could barely see this Hermit Thrush.  The new lens managed to focus in the low light.  Here is the original.

Hermit Thrush - original - 1/800 sec, @ f6.3, + 1.0 EV, ISO 6400

Hermit Thrush – original – 1/800 sec, @ f6.3, + 1.0 EV, ISO 6400

Here is the the cropped and processed image.  I used Topaz DeNoise to remove any noise from using the high ISO of 6400.

Hermit Thrush after post-processing. Noise from the high ISO was removed using DeNoise.

Hermit Thrush after post-processing.

This handsome devil was perched atop a telephone, about 200 yards away.  He was probably digesting his breakfast that he got at the local Carrion CarryOut.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 320.

Another high ISO image, this American Gold finch gave me a fit, trying to get him in focus back in the deep brush, as he continually moved around.

American Goldfinch - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 5000.

American Goldfinch – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 5000.

This Northern Cardinal brightened the morning.

Northern Cardinal - 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 640.

Northern Cardinal – 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 640.

This juvenile White-crowned Sparrow was trying to stay hidden, without sucess, in the twigs.

White-crowned Sparrow - 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 640.

White-crowned Sparrow, juvenile – 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 640.

Ya gotta love the Vermilion Flycatchers.  They are little cuties.

Vermilion Flycatcher, female. 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 250.

Vermilion Flycatcher, female. 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 250.

One of the most difficult raptors to photograph is the American Kestrel.  Very elusive, always on the move and hard to get close to.  This image from about 120 yards.

American Kestrel - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 160.

American Kestrel – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 160.

After using this lens for about a week now, I am thoroughly happy with it.  I can’t wait to get out and shoot some more photos.  I hope you enjoyed these images.  Please click on any photo to see some very nice enlargements.

Until the next post, Happy Birding and Happy Shooting.

Comments are appreciated.

 

What?? Shoot birds on an overcast day??


I have been thinking about the subject of this post for quite awhile.  Photographing birds on a heavily clouded, overcast day.  Today was one of them.  It reminded me of a close friend that almost refuses to try any photography if the sun isn’t shining.  The way to be sucessful is to forget about the color of the sky.  Think about the subject, your birds, and focus (pun intended) on photographing them, and not on the color of the sky.  If you want to photograph a blue sky, wait for a clear day.  If you want to photograph birds, be prepared to do just that.  You just do what you usually do.  In my case, I shoot shutter priority, set the shutter on about 1000/sec or higher depending on the lighting. I set auto ISO, and just let that exposure float along.  That is basically how I shoot birds regardless of the weather.

I also am prepared to boost the EV adjustment to the right about 1/3 or 2/3 stops.  Sometimes it may be necessary to go higher.  It may produce higher ISO exposures, but what’s the big deal?  Most popular SLRs have no problem with that.  It’s not going to keep me at home.  Like I said, just shoot what you would do on a normal day; cope with the usual exposure problems.  Focus on the birds and let the exposures fall where they may.  YOu will notice also, that in overcast weather, the color is nicely saturated.

On the subject of high ISOs, I know of a photographer that refuses to shoot if it is a high ISO day.  Hogwash!!  What kind of a photographer thinks that.  Not the kind that is very successful.  I hope my friend that doesn’t like overcast days, will think about what I have said, and go give it a chance.  Other than that quirk, she is a talented photographer.

Okay, now that I am through ranting, I will tell you about today.  I woke up with a forecast for the day, of cloudy with a 20% chance of rain.  The forecast held true.  It was very cloudy, looking like it could rain at any time.  In fact, a few times there was a hint of a few sprinkles on the windshield.  But they disappeared in a minute or two.  As usual, I didn’t want to stay home.  I am shooting with my Canon 7D Mk II and a Gen 2, Tamron 150-600mm Lens.  I will post the exposure data along with each image.  Click on any of those images to see enlargements.

We started out at Spring Creek Park at about 8:00 AM.  We were apprehensive about whether we would see any birds at all.  Most of the tiny birds were keeping themselves hidden.  However there were a few other hardy ones.  This yellow-shafted Northern Flicker was in a bush and I was able to get him in focus.

Northern Flicker - 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 6400

Northern Flicker – 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 6400

The resident Great Horned Owl made an appearance again.

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

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

After seeing that owl, we decided to go to San Angelo State Park, since it was pretty wet in and we were driving through some sloppy areas.  The state park provided some more paved roads.

White-crowned Sparrow - 1250 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7 EV, ISO 1000.

White-crowned Sparrow – 1250 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7 EV, ISO 1000.

Northern Cardinal, female - 1250 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 4000.

Northern Cardinal, female – 1250 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 4000.

As were taking a little drive through one of the picnic areas, we happened to glance towards the lake and saw hundreds of American White Pelicans and what looked like hundreds more of Double-crested Cormorants.  In this photo, I decided to change to aperture priority an set the camera to f8 to provide more depth of field, to capture more of this vast armada of water fowl.  This is just a small portion of the crowd.

Pelicans and Cormorants - 1/800 sec. @ f10, ISO 1000

Pelicans and Cormorants – 1/800 sec. @ f10, ISO 1000

That exposure set-up worked out fine, but I made a rookie error and forgot to set the camera back to my original setting of Shutter priority for the rest of the session.  But no harm, no foul, as the following photos came out very nice.  Buy this time, it was getting near noon, but the weather hadn’t changed except for the temperature, which was a little warmer.  Still very cloudy with occasional mist.

Eastern Meadowlark - 1/800 sec, @ f8, +0.7 EV, ISO 1250.

Eastern Meadowlark – 1/800 sec, @ f8, +0.7 EV, ISO 1250.

Curve-billed Thrasher - 1/1000 sec. @ f8, +0.7, ISO 1600.

Curve-billed Thrasher – 1/1000 sec. @ f8, +0.7, ISO 1600.

Lincoln's Sparrow - 1/640 @ f8, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400.

Lincoln’s Sparrow – 1/640 @ f8, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400.

As you can see, you can get great photos if you dis-regard the cloudy skies and just take what comes at you.  My ISOs varied, of course depending on whether the bird was in the open or in open shade or in the brush completely.  I came home happily with some good results for my efforts.  One additional thing I should mention, I am not foolish enough to shoot if it is raining.  Cameras and water do not mix well.

I hope you enjoyed this post and the images.  As I said, click any of the images to see some very nice enlargements.

Until the next post, Happy Birding!

Mid-November Musings


Of course, I could have said mid-November blues, but that sounds so discouraging.  Again, our high record temperatures here in the San Angelo area, has kept the birding slow.  The northern birds are reluctant to  come this far south until the temps get down a bit.  Fortunately, that time is coming next week.  Unfortunately it took me the past two weeks to amass enough photographs for this post.  The good news, fortunately I did get a nice collection to show you from our sporadic trips into the field.

Let’s see, my last post was on October 29.  Sorry, folks, I didn’t mean to wait so long, but here we go.  I am just going to post photos more or less in the order I got them.  By the way, click on any of them to see some very nice enlargements.

On October 30 we took a little time, early in the morning, to run to Spring Creek Park.  We had been watching for the Great Horned Owl that frequents the area.  We almost missed him when he appeared in a nearly bare tree near the water.  Of course, some little twigs almost got in the way.  I think that he thought he was hidden.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV at 6400 ISO.

Continuing along the water, we saw this Great Egret doing a little hunting of his own from a tree branch.

Great Egret

Great Egret – 1/000 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3 EV at 500 ISO.

We didn’t get out again until November 3.  This time we visited San Angelo State Park.  The only usable image I captured then was this beautiful female Pyrrhuloxia.

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 1000.

On November 4 we ventured to Middle Concho Park.  There I found this gorgeous Great Blue Heron just hanging out along the shore line.  It was another beautiful day, just right for basking in the sun near Lake Nasworthy.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 1250.

On the way home we spotted this Osprey high on a utility pole.

Osprey

Osprey – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 1600

November 13 found us back at Spring Creek Park, where we happened to meet fellow birder, Randy Hesford.  We were sitting under some trees eating a burrito and sipping coffee, when he drove up next to us.  He had just spotted a Wood Duck and wanted to give us directions to where we could see it.  I hadn’t seen one in the past couple of years, and I grabbed at the chance.  All bird photographers have nemesis birds, birds that they have difficulty finding and getting good photos.  This duck is one of my nemesis birds, and I was happy to get this photo.  It wasn’t that easy,though.  I had to leave my blind, aka my Ford Escape, and hike to the shoreline, hoping I wouldn’t spook him.  Before getting out of my vehicle, I grabbed my other camera, another Canon 7D Mark II, only with a 100-400mm zoom lens.  It is a lighter setup, easier to handle when I am walking.

Wood Duck

Wood Duck – 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 640.

We didn’t get back out to Spring Creek Park again until the 17th of November.  We were searching for some Golden-crowned Kinglets that have been seen, but they eluded us.  Instead I was fortunate to see three little Dark-eyed Juncos hopping among the branches of a tiny tree.

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 4000.

From there we decided to go over to Middle Concho Park.  There, we spotted this red-shafted Norther Flicker high atop a tree.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker – 1/1000 @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, at ISO 320.

We finished the day with this beautiful Western Bluebird.

Western Bluebird

Western Bluebird – 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, +0.3 EV, at ISO 3200.

I hope you enjoyed these photos from the past couple of weeks.  With the exception of the Wood Duck, all other photos were with an identical Canon 7D Mark II and my Tamron 150-600mm lens.  Incidentally, I have upgraded that lens to a second generation Tamron 150-600mm lens.  It has some refinements over the original and I will be using it in the future.

So, until my next post, Happy Birding!!

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!!