Mid-week Bird Images


In between storm alerts, showers, and chores, I have been able to get out among the birds a little bit.  We have been to the ‘mud hole’, the local parks at Lake Nasworthy, and out to the San Angelo State Park.  Some of the birds have been very nice to get in position for some nice photos.

But first, I’d like to mention that my photo of an American Robin, pictured here, is on the front cover of the May issue of “The Messenger”, a local min-news magazine of Woodstock, Nebraska.  I have been published several times, but it never fails to thrill to see my photos in the print media.

American Robin

American Robin

Now back to my photos for this post.  Click on any image to see some eye-popping enlargements, especially if you are viewing this on a computer.

There had been reports of this Summer Tanager existing in Spring Creek Park.  I had failed on previous attempts to find him.  But, finally, we were able to spot him in the trees.  He was moving around rapidly so I only had a few seconds to capture him.  He disappeared only seconds after I got this shot.  The winds messed his usual smooth hair-do a little bit, but not bad enough to make him un-recognizable.

A wind-blown male Summer Tanager.

A wind-blown male Summer Tanager.

A Curve-billed Thrasher is always fun to come across.  I love that fierce look.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

This Spotted Sandpiper was strolling along the ‘mud hole’, just bobbing along.

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

A Bronzed Cowbird was all by himself at Spring Creek Park.

Bronzed Cowbird

Bronzed Cowbird

This is my firsst photo of the year of an Ash-throated Flycatcher.

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Ash-throated Flycatcher

The Lark Sparrows seem to be everywhere.  No problem locating one for a photo op.

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Doves are another species that I tend to ignore.  I came across this one and immediatly realized that I might have been missing something.  A beautiful bird.

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Last but certainly not least, is this Great Horned Owl.  Always a crowd pleaser, we came across this one by surprise when driving through Spring Creek Park.  We just happened to glance up in the trees and there he was, just staring at us.  I quickly maneuvered the car into position where I could get a shot from a distance, so as not to disturb him.  If I got a mesquite thorn in my tires, I still think it was worth it.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  I don’t know if I will get time to publish a post this weekend.  We are leaving early Monday morning to spend a week of birding and photography in and around Big Bend National Park.  We have lodging reservations at the Casitas at Far Flung Outdoor Center in Study Butte.  If any of you birders will be in the area, look us up.  If I don’t post in the next few days, watch for me in about a week and a half.

 

Happy Birding!!!

Return to the Mud Hole


This is a follow-up on my previous post, “Birding at the Mud Hole”.  Ann and I returned to the scene of the crime a couple of days later.  Again there was about the same birds and activity as before.  The water is beginning to recede so it will probably be dry within the week unless we get fresh rains to fill it again.  Fortunately, I was able to get some more images for your enjoyment.

All photos were again taken from the shelter of my mobile bird blind, AKA 2016 Ford Escape.  I have been using my Canon 7D Mark II and a Tamron 150-600mm lens, hand-held or resting on my SafariPak beanbag.  For convenience, and not to have to change settings often because of fast action, I was at shooting at Shutter Priority at about 1/2000 sec and Auto-ISO.  It works well for me and I only need to adjust my EV setting ocassionaly with my thumb on the big wheel.  Then I let the good times roll. :-)  The Auto-ISO on that 7D Mark II, by the way, is excellent.  It is very much worth the price of admission.  As with all images in my posts, click on any image to see enlargements, especially if you are viewing this on a computer.

I must confess, although we did see the Yellow-breasted Chat again, this image was one that I captured during our first visit.

Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat

Identifying birds can sometimes be difficult.  At first, I thought that this was a female Painted Bunting.  But after checking my guides I came to the conclusion that it is, indeed, a first year male.  But, don’t despair, it will soon shed that bland clothing for the beautiful colors that we all know and love in the male.  Oh, for any critics out there, actually he won’t shed the clothes, but his colors will turn.  I still think he is a cutie.

Painted Buntind - first year male

Painted Bunting – first year male

Of course, there always has to be the pre-requisite Northern Mockingbird hanging around.  But he is the Texas state bird, so we are honored to have his presence.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

The White-crown Sparrows are here in abundance right now.  They have a beauty all of their own.

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

This Yellow Warbler presented a challenge.  He was about 30 yards away and was very tiny and amid some foliage.  He was singing his heart out.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

An even bigger challenge was this Pyrrhuloxia.  He was about 80 yards away and atop a tall tree.  He also was warming up his voice.  I steadied the camera on my bean bag and held my breath, much like shooting a rifle.  In my viewfinder, he wasn’t much larger than my focus point.  But thanks to my great Canon equipment and a little darkroom work, I came away with this acceptable image.

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia

Just before we left, this Baird’s Sandpiper came gliding in, to do a little feeding along the mud hole.

Baird's Sandpiper

Baird’s Sandpiper

I hope you enjoyed our little visit to the Mud Hole.  I will be returning soon, with more photos from around the area.

 

Happy Birding!!

 

Birding at the Mud Hole


Near the Twin Buttes Reservoir, there is a low depression where water stands after we have had some rains.  Mudders, defined as immature adults that love to play in the mud with their pickup trucks, are always driving their vehicles through it and keeping it pretty well churned up.  The water will usually take three or four days to either soak in or evaporate.  The area is surrounded by five large mesquite trees.  The combination of the trees and convenient water makes it a very nice little birding oasis.   All one has to do is to park close by and watch.  That is, providing you do it on a week day, when the mudders are absent.

So, that is what Ann and I did the past two days.  First we stopped by early in the morning at a local Jack and Jill’s for take-out coffee, a roll and a burrito.  We took them with us to this mud hole, parked and set in for a few hours of birding and photography.  We spent two to three hours each morning.  We saw a total of 28 individual species for the two outings.  I will give you that list at the bottom of this post.  Here is a sampling of the birds that we saw.  Click on any image to see enlargements.

The Yellow Warbler is one of favorite of the warbler species.  It is always a joy to see this one in the trees.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

I missed a shot of a beautiful mature male Blue Grosbeak.  But this young one perched on a branch nearby.  Just as I got him in the view-finder and focused he decided to fly.  I punched the shutter just in time to catch him as he took off.

Blue Grosbeak - first year

Blue Grosbeak – first year

Another favorite summer bird is the Painted Bunting.  This is the first one that we saw this year as they are just starting to arrive.  Thae harsh early morning sunlight did me know favors but I got this acceptable image.

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

The Orchard Orioles are also new arrivals. The adult male stayed deep in the trees and I didn’t get an acceptable shot of him, but this first year male gave me an opportunity.

Bullock's Oriole - female

Orchard Oriole – first year male

I always admire the Canyon Towhees.  They are rather quiet and somewhat bland in color, but I still think they have a cerain beauty about them.

Canyon Towhee

Canyon Towhee

There were plenty of Lark Buntings around.  This is a female.  I had posted a photo of a beautiful male in my previous post.

Lark Bunting - female

Lark Bunting – female

I believe this one was named by a Mr. Richard Cissell.  Kidding!!  This weirdly named Dickcissell is another difficult bird to find.  I love the coloring.

Dickcissell

Dickcissell

Ann spotted this flash of yellow in the trees.  I was trying to spot it, too, and it finally lit on this branch only about ten feet away.  Only then, did I realize what it was.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  A Yellow-breasted Chat, although not rare, is usually pretty shy and most of the time, very difficult to find.  This is only the second time I have ever seen one and had the opportunity to photograph it.

Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat

This Cactus Wren was still around, working on it’s nest.

Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren

Here is the complete list of the birds we observed during those two days:

  1. White-winged Dove
  2. Great-tailed Grackle
  3. Northern Mockingbird
  4. Killdeer
  5. Lark Sparrow
  6. Cactus Wren
  7. Blue Grosbeak
  8. White-crowned Sparrow
  9. Vesper Sparrow
  10. Barn Swallow
  11. Brown-headed Cowbird
  12. Lark Bunting
  13. Ash-throated Flycatcher
  14. Pyrrhuloxia
  15. Painted Bunting
  16. Bullock’s Oriole
  17. Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  18. Northern Bobwhite
  19. Bronzed Cowbird
  20. Golden-fronted Woodpecker
  21. Yellow Warbler
  22. Western Kingbird
  23. Yellow-breasted Chat
  24. Dickcissell
  25. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  26. Canyon Towhee
  27. Curve-billed Thrasher
  28. Orchard Oriole

Back after a brief rest……


I have been reminded that it has been about ten days since I last posted.  Sorry about that, folks.  It has been a somewhat traumatic ten days.  I was diagnosed with a severe urinary tract infection nearly two weeks ago.  An anti-biotic was prescribed.  It was the type that can have a nauseous side effect.  And it did.  We had previously made plans for a three-day trip to the Big Bend, leaving the 26th.  Up until that date, we were trying to decide if we had to cancel, as I was having some difficulty.  We decided not to cancel, and on the 26th we left, after Ann loaded the car.  I wasn’t feeling really great, but decided the worse that could happen would me spending a restful three days in a motel bed.

Well, that was not to be.  I started to have serious problems with light-headedness, nausea, and nearly passing out as soon as we arrived.  The EMTs were called to the motel, and after much discussion, we decided to return to San Angelo the following morning, with orders to see the doctor to have the meds changed.  We ended up going to the Emergency Room here in San Angelo.  By then, we were informed that the urinary tract infection was gone and to stop the meds.  To be brief, it was determined that the unsteadiness, headaches, etc., were caused by a serious sinus infection.  We had been thinking that the all the problems were caused by the prescribed antibiotics.

The sinus infections has improved although not completely gone, and I have been able to get back out the past few days and catch up on the avian populations in the San Angelo area.  We are now seeing returning grosbeaks, buntings, flycatchers and others.  All good signs of returning summer birds.

Here are a few images that I have captured since my last post.  These are from San Angelo State Park.  Please click on the images to see enlargements at their best.

Lark Bunting

Lark Bunting

Northern Bobwhite

Northern Bobwhite

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

Blue Grosbeak - female

Blue Grosbeak – female

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Ash-throated Flycatcher

On Sunday, May 1, we ventured out to the Twin Buttes Reservoir.  I managed to get these photos although we were constantly near a bunch of noisy off-roaders in the vehicles.  Of course, the area is open to everybody, but I think a few of them were trying to make it uncomfortable for us.

Lark Spararow

Lark Spararow

Lark Bunting

Lark Bunting

Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren

Killdeer

Killdeer

By the way, lest I forget, during the few hours that we were in Big Bend National Park, I came away with the only photo of the short trip.  this Cassin’s Kingbird on an ocotillo branch in the desert.

Cassin's Kingbird

Cassin’s Kingbird

I Love Love Migration!


Boy Oh Boy, do I love this time of the year!  I don’t know why, but there seems to be an abundance of birds around the lakes and parks here in San Angelo.  It could be that all of the violent storms in east Texas could have pushed more migrating birds in this direction; or it could be that Ann and I have, with practice, developed our birding instincts and sharpened our eyes.  Whatever it is, I have been pleased at all of the photographs I have been managing to capture.

So enough talk, and let’s get to them.  Remember to click on any image to see enlargements, especially if you are viewing this on a computer.

I am going to start off with this action photo of a Western Kingbird.  By the way, it was the first of that specie that we have seen this year.  A new arrival, and a beauty.

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird

I chose that picture to get you excited and so you would watch with anticipation for the next photos.  The next photo is of the same bird, just relaxing.

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird

From Mary Lee Park at Lake Nasworthy, some Willets.

Willets

Willets

Willet in flight

Willet in flight

From K-Mart Creek.  My name for the water in the bar ditch near the old K-Mart site, a Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

The next few photos are from other local parks and San Angelo State Park.  This is a Canyon Towhee.

Canyon Towhee

Canyon Towhee

This Cotton-tailed Rabbit seems to be thinking, where the heck did all of these birds come from?

Cotton-tailed Rabbit

Cotton-tailed Rabbit

Great Horned Owl.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

Bell’s Vireo sings from a tree branch.

Bell's Vireo

Bell’s Vireo

Yellow-headed Blackbird grazing in the grass.

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Black-crowned Night Heron staring at the water, hoping to catch a meal.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Last but certainly not least, this image of a cute Grasshopper Sparrow.

Grasshopper Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow

You may remember that Ann and I saw 44 species on a recent outing.  Today, April 21, we surpassed that with a total of 50 for four hours of birding, and that doesn’t count the rabbit.:-)

I hope you enjoyed the photos.  A reminder, any and all photos are available for sale.  Just contact me, if you would be proud to have one of my works hanging on your wall.

 

Happy Birding!!

Surprising San Angelo State Park


Back in about 2007 the water was high in O.C. Fisher Reservoir at the park.  Mesquite, cactus, and other trees and plants were in abundance.  There was plenty of fish in the lake and the park was healthy.  All species of wildlife thrived.  A person could go out there to go birding or to photograph that wildlife with great success.  It was nothing to see an osprey or a hawk on any given visit.

Then the great drought hit the area.  It has been only a couple of years or so ago that the lake was bone dry.  Not a drop of water to be seen.  You could walk across the lake without getting your feet damp.  Then it was decided to destroy most of the mesquite and underbrush.  That was done with several controlled burns.  The park took on the image of a burned-out forest fire.

Then several months ago, we were blessed with a deluge.  Huge amounts of rain fell on the North Concho River watershed, and the lake, in days, got back to the level of 2007, and perhaps a bit more.  We are now getting some more periodic rainfalls and the park is coming back.  Everything is looking much greener.  Of course, it will be much longer for the fish to return in large amounts, but the birds and wildlife is making a great comeback.  And that is what this post is all about.

Ann and I spent the past couple of days there checking out the birds.  Yesterday, we saw 44 different species of birds, and we didn’t even stop at the bird blind.  We probably could have added a few more there.  We just took a very leisure drive throught the south section of the park.  Here are a few images from that drive.  As always, click on any image to see beautiful enlargements, especially if you are reading this on a computer.

Driving near the area where the ‘buffalo roam’, in other words the fenced off part of the park where the bison are kept, we were surprised to see a couple of Cattle Egrets meandering near the animals.  This specie is not around every year, but I love their plummage.

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

The Bobwhites were calling and we could hear one nearly every part of the park we visited.  this one was in a nearby tree.

Northern Bobwhite

Northern Bobwhite

A Pyrrhuloxia quietly watching over the area.

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia

A Curve-billed Thrasher.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

This Greater Roadrunner was calling, perhaps for a mate.  First time I had come across one making any kind of a sound.

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

In another area we were surprised by four Yellow-headed Blackbirds.  Another specie that we hadn’t seen in a couple of years.  During migration it not unusual to come up with some surprises.  They were deep in the grass so photographing them was difficult.  Here is one of the better images.

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Driving towards the boat ramp, actually the only one of more than a dozen that is actually near the water, we spotted this Killdeer in the parking lot.  We discovered that it was sitting on two eggs.  This bird is peculiar in that it doesn’t use a nest per se.  It just picks a spot on the ground, usually a gravel surface, and drops the eggs there.

Killdeer sitting on two eggs.

Killdeer sitting on two eggs.

And speaking of eggs and young birds, we have been returning to Spring Creek Park periodically to check on the offspring of a Great Horned Owl.  Here is my latest photo, taken two days ago.  It appears to be around four weeks old in my humble opinion.  As you can see it is standing on the nest.  It’s ears are beginning to shape up.  It won’t be long before it ventures out farther on a tree limb.

Great Horned Owlet

Great Horned Owlet

That’s it for this post.  Try to make it out to San Angelo State Park soon, and you may see some of these 44 species that Ann and I saw yesterday:

  • White-winged Dove
  • Blue Jay
  • Great-tailed Grackle
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Mourning Dove
  • Cactus Wren
  • Pyrrhuloxia
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker
  • Barn Swallow
  • Canyon Towhee
  • Song Sparrow
  • Ash-throated Flycatcher
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • House Sparrow
  • Northern Bobwhite
  • Vesper Sparrow
  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  • Killdeer
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • American Coot
  • Gadwall
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • House Finch
  • Lark Sparrow
  • American Pippet
  • Common Raven
  • Great Horned Owl
  • Curve-billed Thrasher
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Yellow-headed Blackbird
  • Black Vulture
  • European Starling
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Greater Roadrunner
  • Black-throated Sparrow
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Bewick’s Wren
  • Black-crested Titmouse

 

 

 

South Llano River SP report


We traveled to the South Llano River State Park as we had planned.  However, we picked the wrong day to go.  The morning that we left, was the morning that the weather decided to take a wrong turn.  A cool front moved in and strong winds changed to come out of the north.  Needless to say, the birding there was not up to the usual standards for that park.  But that didn’t keep birders, including us, away.  The blinds were crowded with “snow-birds”.  Those people from the northern states that spent the winter there and hadn’t decided to go home yet.  I can’t say that I blame them from hearing reports of winter staying longer in the northern states.

A few pictures that I managed to get.

American Robin

American Robin

Field Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

We did manage to add three more photos to our 2016 list.  That helped salvage the day:  A Black-chinned Hummingbird, a Purple Martin, and a Yellow-throated Vireo.

Back here in San Angelo, we got out to bird in the local areas.  We saw various birds, including a 1st year Orchard Oriole.  It was too far away for a decent photo, although I got a salvageable image to make an ID.  That was another for our 2016 list.  Also we spotted another owl’s nest and I got this photo from about 75 yards away.  It is tightly cropped for the close-up.

Great Horned Owl - female on nest.

Great Horned Owl – female on nest

Driving around the San Angelo State Park I picked a couple more images.

White-winged Dove

White-winged Dove

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

That’s about it for the past few days.  Migration is starting so we will be watching for some Bullock’s Orioles and perhaps some Painted Buntings and several more species by the end of the month.  Let’s hope.:-)

Happy Birding!!