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!!

 

Nothing could be finah, than to see a Carolina…..


A Carolina Wren.  That’s what I am talking about.  We have seen several over the weeks, but never was able to get a quality image.  This one posed quite beautifully for me on a fence post before moving inside the wire fence.

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

It was good day for birding.  We saw 28 species including our first of the year sighting of a Vermilion Flycatcher.  Yesterday we saw our first Bullock’s Oriole, a female at the north unit of San Angelo State Park.

Today, though, we headed to Spring Creek Park and that is where we saw the above Carolina Wrens.

Here are some photos from the past few days, since my last post to this blog.

Black-throated Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Osprey

Osprey

Northern Flicker (red-shafted sub-specie)

Northern Flicker (red-shafted sub-specie)

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

How about another photo of an Osprey.  This time is being protective of that fish dinner he is working on.

Osprey

Osprey

So now the weather is more spring-like and I think we will be seeing more of the spring and summer species arrive.  Our 2015 Big Year list stands at 118 right now.  Our goal by December 31 is to reach 210.  With nine months to go it should be no problem……right??

Until the next post…….Happy Birding

Lewis’s Woodpecker and more


Ann and I got out of the house over the weekend to try to do some birding and hopefully get some photos.  We found that because of spring break, our local city parks are over-run with campers, fishermen, and just people enjoying the nice weather.  Also, there was a professional Disc Golf Tournament going on at Middle Concho Park.  But before I get to that, I would like to tell you about seeing the Lewis’s Woodpecker yesterday, Monday, morning at San Angelo State Park.

Anyway, one of our reasons to heading to SASP was to see if the Lewis’s Woodpecker was still in residence.  It was and is, with it being here since mid-November.  I guess he likes it here, far away from his usual range.  He is hanging around in the same copse of three trees.  However, the Lewis’s Woodpecker loves to perch up very high.  Here those three trees, are leafless near the tops and he can see quite far from about 35-40 feet up.  It also makes for difficult photographs.  He appears quite small in the viewfinder and dark against the blank sky.  This photo was hand-held with my Canon 7D Mark II and Tamron 150-600mm lens.  As much as I tried to adjust for the lighting, I still had to do a little brightening in my post-processing, not to mention some drastic cropping.

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewis’s Woodpecker

After getting several images, we drove around through that portion of the park.  It may be because of the lateness of the day, but we didn’t see too many other bird species except for this Vesper Sparrow and…….

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

…….this American Robin.

American Robin

American Robin

Now here are some images from the prior three days.  Even though the parks were getting crowded I did manage to get a few usable photos.

Ring-necked Duck - female

Ring-necked Duck – female

A sleeping Great Horned Owl.

A sleeping Great Horned Owl.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Osprey

Osprey

Click on any of the images to see some nice enlargements.