Good start to the year……..


This past weekend, the last of January, Ann and I decided to see if we could add a few more to our 2016 list. We did, and ended up with 98 for the month.  Not bad, but heck, that’s better than last January when we only had about 75.  So we’re happy with the start.  Oh, I know what some of you are thinking.  If we lived in east or south Texas we probably would have about 150 already.  But it is what it is.  We love being where we are.  We love the challenge of actually having to go out and hunt for the birds.

So back to the details.  We started out at Spring Creek Park.  We had been told of a location where a Great Horned Owl was nesting.  We had no trouble finding it,but it was located about seventy-five yards back in the trees.  I lugged my camera and tripod back in to find a line of sight where I had a somewhat un-obstructed view.  Not easy to do.  I wanted to be able to train my long lens on the nest. Here is the result, from about 50 yards.

Great Horned Owl on nest.

Great Horned Owl on nest.

I will continue to monitor the nest to see some young ones come along soon.  The adults incubate the eggs for 30-45 days.  Then they will feed them for another month or so.  I also want to scout the area for another view, perhaps more free of tree branches, but still far enough away so as not to disturb the owl.

After photographing the owl for about fifteen minutes, I stole away quietly.  We then head for another area near the water where we had seen a bit of activity the past several days.  There in the early morning light we saw this happy Carolina Wren.

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

singing Carolina Wren

singing Carolina Wren

Nearby, several Cedar Waxwings flew into a tree.  One of them obliged me by flying down to perch near the water for a few minutes…….

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

as did this Northern Mockingbird.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

After the tree was free of the waxwings, this little Eastern Phoebe decided to stop by.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

After spending about two hours there, we decided we had time to drive to the north portion of San Angelo State Park.  It had been several weeks since we had visited that area. We had the place to ourselves.  That part of the park isn’t visited as much since it was much farther away.  We spent a couple of hours there, too.  We love to get off the beaten paths and drive through the boonies.  We spotted this Ladder-backed Woodpecker working hard at something.

Ladderbacked Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker – female

Also a Vesper Sparrow…..

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

…….and a juvenile White-crown Sparrow.

White-crowned Sparrow - juvenile

White-crowned Sparrow – juvenile

So that’s about it for this post.  Hope you enjoyed it.  I welcome any comments.  Also, click on any image to see enlargements.

Bird of the Week – Eastern Bluebird


One of my favorite small birds is the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis).   Stokes Field guide to the Birds of North America describes it as small, broad-necked, short-legged thrush with a short tail and short bill.  It resides here in Texas year around.  Upperparts bright blue, underparts a rich reddish brown on throat, breast and flanks, contrasting with a white belly.  It loves the open woods and woods edges and farmlands.  Enjoy the photos.  Click on either one for an enlargement.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Both photos were shot in Aperture Priority at f6.3.  Top photo, ISO 400, 1/800 sec.  Bottom photo ISO 800, 1/640 sec.  Canon EOS 7D, 500mm  f4 lens with 1.4 converter.   Bogen-Manfrotto tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head.

Bird of the Week – Greater Roadrunner


Today I have picked the Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) as my Bird of the Week.  I was able to get some photographs recently and I will show them here.  This bird is in the cuckoo family, and better known as the bird that is always trying to outwit the wolf in the cartoons, with his familiar “Beep, beep!”

Greater Roadrunner

The Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America describes the Greater Roadrunner as a large, very long-tailed bird with relatively long neck and thick legs.  The skin behind the eye is bluish, and sometimes  other colors show up in certain lighting. 

Greater Roadrunner

Other traits is that the roadrunner doesn’t require water.  He gets moisture through his diet.  He can fly short distances, mostly gliding with his wings and tail spread.  His voice is not the comical beep, beep, but actually a deep mellow cooing wooh wooh whoa whoa.  He loves the arid areas of the south and southwest parts of the country.

Greater Roadrunner

I hope you have enjoyed this narrative and pictures.  If you have, please leave a comment.  Click on any images to see enlargements.  Now I am outa here.  Beep! Beep!  🙂

Bird of the Week – Red-tailed Hawk


Red-Tailed Hawk(Buteo jamaicensis)  This is the hawk that which all other others are compared.  The benchmark, so to speak.  It is one of the largest of the hawks, perhaps the largest.  You can often see it perched along the roadside,  on utility poles, trees, or other high points.  It hunts mostly mammals from these perches, and also from the air.  They are a beautiful bird in flight, their red tail glinting in the sun. 

This image was shot during a trip to Ballinger, Texas.  The hawk was in the grass along the roadside, apparently in the act of feeding on something.  As I slowed, he started to fly.  I was prepared with my Canon EOS 40D with a Canon 100-400mm zoome lens.  I was able to lock-on my auto-focus and pan with him as he flew, continually pressing the shutter.  ISO 400, 1/3200 sec. at f6.3.

Red-tailed Hawk

Sibley’s describes them as stocky, broad winged, with bulging secondaries.  The adult has the distinctive red tail, where the juvenile is much paler.  It sports a length of 19 inches, a wingspan an impressive four feet and one inch.  It weighs in at 2.4 lbs.  More information on these gorgeous birds can be found by clicking on the link at the beginning of this post.

This image was photographed with my Canon EOS 40D, hand-held with a Canon 500mm lens with 1.4 tele-converter.  Exposure was 1/800 sec. at f6.3 with ISO of 400.

Red-tailed Hawk

I hope you enjoy this information about a majestic bird.  Click on either image for an enlargement.  In the future, my Bird of the Week posts will be on Thursdays, instead of previously mentioned Fridays.

Happy birding!!

Bird of the Week – Great Egret


Today I inaugurate my new series Bird of the Week.  Hopefully each Friday, I will post a photograph of a bird that I will choose at random.  I will provide a photograph or two, along with some useful information.  I think this may become informative for all, including myself, as I will be doing a bit of research to provide information.  Also you may click on the Bold Bird Name to go to a Wikipedia link for detailed info, if available.  My own resources will be my handy Bird Guides.  So here we go.

Great Egret. (Ardea alba).  The Great Egret is one my personal favorite water birds.  Long-legged and graceful.  Tall, slender and long-necked.  Length 39″, wing-span 51″, weight 1.9 lbs.  All white, yellow bill and black legs and feet.  When foraging, they will walk slowly thru open water or reedy areas, watching for fish.  When they spot their quarry, they use their bill as a spear, instantly stabbing their prey.

This first photo was taken along the Concho River in downtown San Angelo.  I was walking along the bank.  I spotted the egret flying down the river.  I hand-held my Canon 7D with the 100-400mm zoom lens.  I picked him up in my view-finder, the auto-focus locked on, and I just panned with him as he flew by.  I got lucky, with the background.  When this image was captured, the background was blurred of course, but also there was a large building completely in shadow.  Hence the completely black background.  The stats are ISO 1600, 1/500 sec at f9.

Great Egret

 This image ISO 100, 1/640 at f8 .  Canon 7D, 100-400mm zoom lens.

Great Egret

This final shot is an older one that I shot with a Canon Powershot SX10 that I tried for awhile.  ISO 80, 1/640 at f5.7  

Great Egret

Click on any image for an enlargement.