Nicer weather prevailing…….for now


The weather is about to get cooler here in San Angelo again.  But the past week or so there have been some spring-like temperatures.  I managed to get out a few times and with help of my wife, spotted a few birds to photograph.  I like having her along, as it is nice to have that extra pair of eyes when I am driving.

This female Norther Flicker was spotted as we drove out Spillway Road toward the Nature Trail.  As I can’t do much hiking anymore, I don’t walk the trail.  But near the entrance we can usually see many species.  The flicker was about 150 yards away and I wasn’t sure if I could get a decent photograph.  But my Canon 7D MKII and Tamron 150-600mm lens came through for me.  Of course, like most of my long range photos, it is heavily cropped.

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Northern Flicker

This Northern Cardinal was in the same area.  As you can see, he was facing into the early morning sun.

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Northern Cardinal

Back into Spring Creek Park we were driving around the familiar horseshoe drive.  It is a one-way drive, but because I am usually the only person in the park, I drive it backward.  That puts the water on my driver’s side, making photographs much easier.  I don’t have to get out of the car, avoiding flushing the birds.  So, that is how I came about shooting the nice photo of a Great Egret.

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Great Egret

Getting away from the water, we found this Grasshopper Sparrow in the brush.

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Grasshopper Sparrow

These meadowlarks are around in great numbers.  Easily seen as you drive through the countryside and the state park.  As you can see, I prefer photographing birds in their natural habitat.  I don’t mind having the twigs, leaves, etc. in my photos, as long as the birds are easily identifiable.

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Western Meadowlark

I hope you enjoyed this post.  It may be a few days until the next one, as the weather is getting colder for a bit.  Of course, that usually doesn’t prevent me from getting out, but since I have a few domestic chores to attend to………..well, you know how that is. 🙂  But I appreciate all of my readers that stay with me.

So….until then, HAPPY BIRDING!!!

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Great Blue Herons Galore


There is a Great Blue Heron rookery near Lake Nasworthy, near Spring Creek Park.  You can’t miss it if you are driving around the little horseshoe shaped drive, near Spring Creek Marina.  It is a huge collection of nests high in the area across the water.

We checked it out a few days ago and noted that there were about a dozen herons sitting or standing on some of the old nests.  We didn’t see much activity other than that.  I believe they may be getting ready to nest.   In a few days or weeks, there will be many more, as there about thirty old nests still vacant.  In other years, when the young have fledged, we could hear them noisily crying out that they were hungry.  Crying isn’t the exact term.  It sounds more like they are clacking their bills together, making a cacophony the reverberates over the water.

This photo was taken about a week ago.

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Great Blue Heron

I really don’t know if this one is doing a mating call or is just stretching his neck.

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Great Blue Heron

This is an older photo from my files of a Great Blue Heron doing a mating dance.

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Great Blue Heron mating dance.

The kids never get enough to eat.  And as you can see, they are very large.  This will be a common scene in a few months.

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“But ma, we’re still hungry”

But there are many of these herons that can be seen in other areas.  I suspect they may be non-breeding birds or just don’t want to partake in such activities.  We were out to Spring Creek Park this morning and we saw several others.  This one was standing across the river.

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Great Blue Heron

The heron population in this area has been very good to me.  I have taken many successful photographs through the years.  Here are a couple of my ‘best sellers’.

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Great Blue Heron

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Fishing Great Blue Heron

That’s about it for this post.  I hope you enjoyed these pictures.   I will be back in a few days with more for your enjoyment.

HAPPY BIRDING!!!

 

 

 

 

Owl be seeing you…….


Okay, so the titles of my posts get a little corny, but I have to get your attention. 🙂

Ann and I went to Spring Creek Park, here in San Angelo, a few mornings ago.  One of the first things we do is to check out this huge live oak tree.  Half the time there is a Great Horned Owl hanging out there.  Sometimes his spouse joins him and this is one of those days.  We circled the tree from about 20 yards out.  We eventually spotted the male, but he was back in the branches, partially hidden.  I gave up on trying to get a good photo, and started to drive away.  As we did, we were startled to see the female take wing from another part of the tree.  We hadn’t realized she was even sitting in there.

Anyway, we watched as she flew low under other trees in the park and eventually came to rest on some dead limbs of another tree, 500 yards away from her initial perch.  We had a good view of her, and noticed that she was out in the open, about 30 feet above the ground.  We drove over to that location, being careful to not flush her.  We kept our distance, and stopped about 35 yards away where I had a good angle to photograph her.  With my long 150-600mm lens, I do not need to get close with my mobile blind, (My Ford Escape).   She was pretty much back-lit, but the skies were overcast so it made the job easier.  But I was able to correct that in editing.  Here is the result of that confrontation.

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Great Horned Owl

After that fun experience, we decided to see what else there was to see.  We drove down near a favorite reedy area on the water.  We are rewarded to see a Common Yellowthroat fly up into a nearby tree.  They are one of my favorite of the little birds.  A very shy bird, I was fortunate to catch it in the open.

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Common Yellowthroat

Another bird that is seen in great numbers around here this time of year is the Yellow-rumped Warbler.  We saw this one in another tree.  They move around a lot so it is difficult to catch one sitting very long.  I like the pose of this one.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle variety)

The sparrows are my nemesis.  I have difficulty with the identification of most of them.  So it was with this Rufous-crowned Sparrow.  I had a suspicion that was what it was when I took the photo, but I took to Facebook to get confirmation from some birding friends.  We spotted it in Spring Creek Park amongst the trees.

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Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Those were the only “keepers” of that little foray into the wild.  I’ll be back again in a few days with more.

Until then, HAPPY BIRDING!!!

YEE HAW!! Rodeo Time in San Angelo


This is the time when the rodeo and stock show gets into swing.  Our rodeo runs for a couple weeks with about ten performances.  Plus we have a parade and of course, a carnival at the fairgrounds.  Great fun for everyone.  I did take my camera out there one year.  I sat in the stands with an original Canon 100-400mm zoom lens.  After leaning around the guy in front of me with his ten-gallon hat, I was able to get this shot.

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Bull Rider

But, the birding goes on.  Here are a few shots I have captured since my last post a few days ago.

We have friends down in Eldorado, Texas, about 40 miles south of San Angelo.  Suzanne Johnson called us and said that a Greater Scaup had been seen at the city water ponds there.  We high-tailed down there Monday morning.  We saw several water birds; ruddy ducks, shovelers, coots, pintails,  a Lesser Scaup, but no Greater Scaup.  However, it was fun spotting this Marsh Wren, that was co-operating by hopping around in plain view outside the reeds.  Here are two of my favorite images of him.

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Marsh Wren

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Marsh Wren

 

Those two images were the only keepers that I got on that little trip.

This morning, Thursday, we woke early hoping to get some birding in before the predicted winds got up.  It was very cloudy and it looked like a threat of rain but that didn’t materialize.  But to me, cloudy overcast makes for great photography.  But on the other hand, it can also keep the birds down when it is cool like this morning at 41 degrees.  But we made the best of it.  I managed to get these nice photos.  I hope you like.

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Northern Cardinal

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Golden-fronted Woodpecker

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Ladder-backed Woodpecker

I guess that will do it for this post.  Hopefully, I will be going back out in a few days to grab a few more photographs.

Incidentally, on the birding side, Ann and I have seen 86 different species to begin our quest to see how many different birds we will see for the year.  Our goal is 200.

Also, I should also say that my new book, “My World of Nature”, 52 page soft-cover, of some of my best images, is doing very well.  Contact me at bobzeller@pobox.com for prices.  Click this link to preview it:  http://www.blurb.com/b/9237421-my-world-of-nature

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HAPPY BIRDING!!!!!

No Polar Vortex here


I have been reading about the cold weather approaching the mid-west.  I am a native of Michigan, but I left there in 1955 when enlisting in the Air Force.  So I know what they are going through up there and I am glad I now reside in west Texas.  Brrrrr……

The temps around here are a bit better, hanging around 60 during the day and around 30 at night.  The birding is a bit slow, but if you look carefully you can find little jewels, and actually see perhaps around 30-35 species in a day.

Since my last post a couple of weeks ago I have been lucky and got a few nice photographs.  My favorite of the year so far is this Osprey.  Interestingly, I have photographed an Osprey at the same location, actually on the same branch several times over the years.  It is at a location that overlooks a body of water off of Lake Nasworthy.  With all of the brush, there is a certain tree branch that sticks out above the water and it is a favorite perch for osprey, herons, egrets and an occasional kingfisher.  But of all of those photos, this one that I photographed a few days ago, is my favorite (so far).  I can’t explain why, but maybe it is the pose or the interesting background.

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Osprey

Here are a few more that have made the past couple of weeks interesting for us as we wait for migration to start.

The light was overcast and perfect for photographing this White-breasted Nuthatch.  They are somewhat rare here but they can be found, albeit not easy.

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White-breasted Nuthatch

I am always on the lookout for these tiny hawks.  The American Kestrel is a feisty little guy that is quick and hard to capture.  It doesn’t stay perched for very long periods.

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American Kestrel

Now, the Common Yellowthroat is really difficult to catch.  They usually hang around reedy areas, but sometimes can be found in thick brush as this one was.  Very shy, they don’t show themselves often.

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Common Yellowthroat

Did I mention getting a bit lucky?  While driving through Spring Creek Park here near San Angelo,  I spotted this Ladder-backed Woodpecker.  I had gotten several photos of one in the past, but never had I been in position to get such a close-up as this one.  I was still about 50 yards away, but with good light, I was in great position to reach it with my Tamron 150-600mm lens.

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Ladder-backed Woodpecker

As you all know, I really like the challenge of photographing the tiny birds.  Even the sparrows.  There are around 35 species of them, and each of them has a certain little something that sets them apart from each other.  I still can’t recognize them all, partly because only a few of them frequent San Angelo.  This photo is a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow.

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White-crowned Sparrow, juvenile

I will finish this post wit this photo of a Great-horned Owl.  He hangs out is a particular live oak tree in Spring Creek Park.  I have seen him on several occasions this month in that tree.  Most of the time he appears to be ‘snoozing’ and has his eyes closed.  This time he was wary of me.  He does make it hard, though.  He changes his position often and Ann and I have to search very carefully.  A few time we have nearly given up of seeing him before we finally spot him, hidden and camoflagged.

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Great Horned Owl

So, you can see, even though it appears that the birding might be a bit slow, we have had very exciting days.  As they say, the fun is in the hunt.

Until the next time……..HAPPY BIRDING!!

 

 

Funny Name…..Pretty Bird


There is a pretty bird that resides out here in west Texas that really gets your attention, both in appearance and the name.  I am talking about the Pyrrhuloxia.  It is pronounced Pi-ro-lox’-ia.  I posted a photo in my previous post, and now I have another that I captured yesterday morning.  It is one of my favorite birds to photograph.

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Pyrrhuloxia

We were at Spring Creek Park near Lake Nasworthy, when it was spotted.  While we were there I also captured this image of another Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  If you look close you can see a bit of the red crown peeking through.  They are feisty little birds and I love the challenge of photographing them.

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Cruising through the park again, we had to check out a large live oak tree.  There is a Great Horned Owl that likes to roost in it.  He not there all the time, but it pays to check it out on a regular basis.  This day, he was there.  This time he was barely visible.  I circled the tree for the best vantage for an open shot.  This image below was the best.  Any other position his face was hidden.

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Great Horned Owl

It was a bit on the cool side and the wind, though not very strong, was out of the Northwest.  I guess it kept most of the birds down in the shelter of the grasses.  But, I feel I had a good session, if I could come away with a good photo or two.

On the subject of bird photos, my book is doing quite well.  (wasn’t that neat how I shifted into the subject of my book?)

A 52-page soft-covered book of some of my best wildlife photos.  Special WordPress reader price of $ 35.00 plus 7.00 shipping.  E-mail me at bobzeller@pobox.com for more info is you are interested.

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Click this link to see a preview:  http://www.blurb.com/b/9237421-my-world-of-nature

You can also order from the publisher there for an increased price.

Creepy Creeping Creepers


Tuesday we were back at it, trolling Spring Creek Park here in San Angelo, on the hunt for wildlife.  Another beautiful day in west Texas.

This time the day started out a bit slow, but then we hit the brushy side of the park and the little birds came alive.  I was busy trying to get a Dark-eyed Junco in focus when Ann called out from her position in the back seat.  “There’s a creeper.”  Yes, a Brown Creeper, one of the most difficult birds to spot and photograph.

It is difficult to spot them.  You have to be lucky enough, to catch their movement.  I don’t know if I have seen flying overhead.  They like to scurry up a trunk of a tree in a spiral, going around and around the bark.  When the reach the top, they fly back down to the bottom of the next tree and repeat their maneuver.

Photographing them is another matter.  Their constant movement makes it difficult to keep it in the viewfinder, let alone keep it in focus.  But, some days, all the stars and planets are aligned and I get lucky.  I set my camera on high speed, about 10 shots per second, set my single spot focus when I saw him at the bottom, then tracked him to the top.  After missing about 50 shots, I finally nailed these two.

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Brown Creeper

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Brown Creeper

Not too bad for an old man, if I do say so myself.

The rest of the morning was pretty uneventful so we headed back to the house to await another day.

Until that day,

HAPPY BIRDING!!!