Recent photos and another first……

Click on the post title to see it in it’s entirety and all of the photos.  Also click on the images to see enlargements.

I have been shooting more than I have been thinking about something to write about.  So I will just write about the pictures I have taken the past week.

First I need to mention, that it is said that there never has been a nesting pair of American Coots in this area.  Well, that has changed.  At a pond at San Angelo State Park there are a pair of adults and at least five young ones.  Here is a photo that I captured of one of the babies.

American Coot - a very young one.

American Coot – a very young one.

On another day at the bird blind in the park I captured this amazingly beautiful European Starling.  I don’t often compliment starlings on their looks, but you have to admit there is a certain beauty about him.

European Starling

European Starling

Then I got lucky with a cute pose of the Northern Cardinal.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

This Golden-fronted Woodpecker always is a feast of color to look at.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

After leaving the blind, we drove through the park a bit and caught this Greater Roadrunner with a grasshopper.  I have a hard time resisting photographing these popular birds.

Great Roadrunner

Great Roadrunner

Upon leaving the park, Ann spotted this Common Nighthawk on a branch.  Our first sighting of one this year.  That brings our 2014 Big Year total to 167.

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

All photos were taken with my Canon EOS 70D and Tamron 150-600mm lens.  Hope you enjoy.


Great Egret grazing with Coots

While browsing along the Concho River I spotted this Great Egret, (Ardea alba), stalking prey among some feeding American Coots, Fulica americana).  Since I was across the river, about 150 yards away, they were oblivious of me.  They looked so peaceful, co-existing in their own world, I thought it would make for some good photographs.

Great Egret and American Coot

Great Egret and American Coots

Photographed with my Canon EOS 7D and Canon 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4 tele-converter.  Exposure 1/1000 sec. @ f11, -1.3EV, ISO 400.  I love to under-expose these whites then post-process in Photoshop CS5.  That’s just me.  I hope you like.  Click either image to see enlargements.

A Coot, A Wigeon, and a Heron

Here are a few more images from our little birding trips earlier this week..

American Coot

American Coot, (Fulica americana).  Mia McPherson told me that this specie is one of the hardest to photograph, because getting the exposure right is so difficult, with the dark blacks, and that white bill.  I can certainly agree with her.  On several occasions I have tried to get decent images, and I came up short.  This time I think I may have got it right.  Photographed with my Canon EOS 7D with Canon 500mm f4 lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  1/1000 sec. @ f8, ISO 250.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron, (Ardea herodias).  I photographed this wading bird in the waning light.  He seems to be just content to stand and just enjoy the day.  Actually, I don’t think the light was really waning, but I have always wanted to say that, so I reduced the exposure to make it look that way.  It sounds poetic.  Canon EOS 7D with Canon 500mm f4 lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, -0.7EV,  ISO 100.

American Wigeon

American Wigeon, (Anas americana).  I caught this guy swimming in a small neighborhood lake, hanging out with some Ring-necked Ducks.  They were pretty far away, so this photo is tightly cropped.  In the original image, he was just a smidgeon of a wigeon.  Canon EOS 7D with Canon 500mm f4 lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  1/6400 sec. @ f5.6, ISO 800.

A salute to the American Coot

One of the most ignored ducks, at least around here, is the American Coot (Fulica americana).  They are everywhere, in nearly every body of water around.  So today, I thought I would give them a little press time.  I guess I ignore them, mostly because there are so many.  I would be out driving looking for photo ops.  I would see the ducks, and I would say to Ann, “Aw, them ‘er just some more coots.”, and we would just drive on, failing to appreciate them.

So on Saturday, New Years Eve day, we took a little drive thru the parks.  Since the temps here reached the 80 degree mark, there were a lot of people in attendance.   Pic-nickers, hikers, bikers, and disc golfers.  The activity was keeping most of the birds away.  But guess what?  The coots were there, not bothered at all.  They just done their thing of calmly swiming along, and occasionally diving for some morsel of some kind.  So I am ashamed to admit, I only photographed them as a last resort.

American Coot swiming

American Coot diving

American Coot swiming again

Photographed with my Canon EOS 7D.  Canon 500mm lens with 1.4 tele-converter.  Exposure:  1/2500 sec. @ f8, -0.3EV, aperture priority.  Handheld from window of my car, with Puffin’ Pad window support.

Yesterday’s birding and new lifer

Ann and I decided that another nice day deserved to be spent birding.  We spent a couple of hours at Middle Concho and Spring Creek parks, then we got a call on our cell phone from Suzanne Johnson down at Eldorado.  A Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), had been spotted at the water treatment ponds.  So we left immediately to get down there.  We saw it and I got a nice photo of it.  It was lifer number 239 for me.

Common Goldeneye

Canon EOS 7D with Canon 500mm f4 IS lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  Exposure 1/1600 sec. @ f8, -0.3EV, ISO 400.  Partial metering and aperture priority.  Captured from our car, using a Puffin Pad window support.  Distance to subject was about 100 yards.

Total of 40 bird species spotted:

  1.  American Coot
  2.  Northern Mockingbird
  3.  Great Blue Heron
  4.  Pied-billed Grebe
  5.  Golden-fronted Woodpecker
  6.  Cinnamon Teal
  7.  Gadwall
  8.  Northern Shoveler
  9.  Great Egret
  10.  Green-winged Teal
  11.  Wilson’s Snipe
  12.  Great-tailed Grackle
  13.  Red-tailed Hawk
  14.  European Starling
  15.  Western Meadowlark
  16.  Double-crested Cormorants
  17.  Yellow-rumped Warbler
  18.  House Finch
  19.  Savannah Sparrow
  20.  Eastern Bluebird
  21.  Vermilion Flycatcher
  22.  Ring-billed Gull
  23.  American Coot
  24.  Wild Turkey
  25.  White-winged Dove
  26.  Northern Flicker
  27.  Red-winged Blackbird
  28.  American Goldfinch
  29.  Lesser Scaup
  30.  Eared Grebe
  31.  Northern Pintail
  32.  Horned Grebe
  33.  Ruddy Duck
  34.  Canvasback
  35.  Common Goldeneye
  36.  Ringed-neck Duck
  37.  Killdeer
  38.  Lark Bunting
  39.  Egyptian Goose
  40.  Eurasian Collared Dove

More photos from – Middle Concho – Spring Creek

I had gotten several photos during our recent trip to Middle Concho/Spring Creek park, that I described in a previous post.  (Click here)   Here are a few more.

Great Blue Heron - breeding plumage

This Great Blue Heron was sitting on the other side of the river on a dead tree limb.  Exposure was 1/1000 sec. @ f8, ISO400.  Canon 7D.  Canon 500mm lens with 1.4 tele-converter, tripod mounted.

Cinnamon Teal and American Coot

The Cinnamon Teal and the American Coot were feeding in these shallow reeds, along with several of their friends and relatives.  Exposure 1/500 sec. @ f5.6, ISO 400.  Canon 7D.  Canon 500mm lens with 1.4 tele-converter.  I propped the camera on the hood of my car, using a SaharaSack camera support.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher sitting on a branch watching over everything.  Exposure was 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 400.  Canon 7D.  Canon 500mm lens with 1.4 tele-converter, photographed from window, using Puffin Pad camera support.

Great Egret and American Coots

Great Egret, wading in the shallows across the river.  Two American Coots swimming casually by.  Exposure  1/1000 sec. @ f16, ISO 400.  Canon 7D.  Canon 500mm lens with 1.4 tele-converter.  Tripod mounted.

I hope you enjoyed these images.  It certainly was fun doing the work.  Click on any of them to see enlargements.

I have added more images for you to see on my Flicker page.  Click here to view them at your pleasure.

Also I still have some of my gorgeous 2012 calendars left.  To order one follow the directions at the side bar on this page.

A Better Day for Photography – And Birding

Ah, the pleasure of it all.  The showery, foggy, drizzly weather finally left the building for a bit yesterday.  The temp reached 70 degrees, however it stayed cloudy, and that was perfect for me.  The better to make photographs.

Shortly after lunch, Ann and I decided we had enough cabin fever and decided to drive to Middle Concho park and see what was hanging out around there.  Here are two photos that I managed two capture. A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) and a Great Egret (Ardea alba).  Co-incidentally they were both high in a tree (separate) when I photographed them.  Actually we had counted 3 egrets and about 6 herons flying up and down the river as we drove through.

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

I photographed these in the RAW format and post editing was in Photoshop CS5.  I used my Canon 7D with 500mm lens and 1.4 converter.  Tripod mounted.  The cloudy skies made for excellent light, as there were no harsh shadows.  Both birds were across the river, about 100 yards away and about 20 feet above the ground.  Both images have been cropped.

As for our birding, we saw a total of 20 species during our two-hour stay of mostly doing photography.  We were surprised to see one lone Bufflehead swimming along in the river.  And of course, the place was over-run with American Coots.  But as they say, ’tis the season.  Here is our total list.

  • Great Blue Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Cinnamon Teal
  • American Coot
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Northern Shoveler
  • White-winged Dove
  • Black Vulture
  • Grackles
  • American Robin
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • House Finch
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Western Meadowlark
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Bufflehead
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker
  • Gadwall
  • American Goldfinch

Hopefully, we can make it out again before the weather changes this weekend.

Images from Middle Concho Park

Ann and I took a brief visit to Middle Concho Park a couple of days ago.  Birds from the migration are starting to return.  Eastern Bluebirds, American Coots, grebes, etc.  Also I got this image of a Red-shafted Northern Flicker (Colapts auratus).  It was the first flicker that I had seen this season.

Northern Flicker - Red-shafted sub-species

Further along we spotted this female Golden-fronted Woodpecker looking for bugs on a tree branch.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker - female

Photo EXIF data:

Flicker:  Canon EOS 7D with Canon 100-400mm lens, 1/640 sec. @ f8 , ISO 125 minus 1/3 EV.  Spot metering with aperture priority.

Woodpecker:  Canon EOS 7d with Canon 500mm f4 IS lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  1/1600 sec @ f9, ISO 400.  Partial metering with aperture priority.

Click on either image to see an enlargement.