American Robin – A sign of spring?


In my previous post, I posted a photo of an American Robin.  It was the first that I had seen this year.  Yesterday, I saw another.  Are they really a harbinger of spring?

American Robin

American Robin

Actually, the range maps show they are residents of most of Texas, including my area, the year around.  I guess they don’t like to show unless the weather is on the mild side.  Of course, that could also be said of me. 🙂

While we were in the area at Spring Creek Park here in San Angelo, we decided to have another look for the nest of a Great Horned Owl.  Our friend, Randy Hesford, showed us where it was at.  It turned out that the nest is down in the fork of a tree, and can’t be seen unless the female is on the nest, as only her head shows.  I took this shot.  The light was in the wrong place at this particular time.

Great Horned Owl - female on nest.

Great Horned Owl – female on nest.

As you can see, she really blends in, and is very difficult to spot.  It will be really fun to watch for the young owlets to fledge in a couple of months.

Earlier we visited the water treatment ponds at Eldorado, Texas, about 40 miles south of here.  A plethora of water fowl were in attendance.  The ponds are huge, about 250 yards across.  Of course, the ducks are usually on the far side, too, making photography difficult in the bouncing waves.  I didn’t get any photos of them on the water that I was really proud of.  I did get this shot of some Northern Shovelers in flight.

Northern Shovelers

Northern Shovelers

Nearby, this American Kestrel took flight.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

Back in San Angelo, I had an opportunity to photograph the state bird.  The Northen Mockingbird.  For some reason or other, I have a tendency to ignore these birds, probably because there are so many of them.  However, I liked the pose that this one presented.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

That’s it for this time.  Enjoy the photos.  Click on any of them to see enlargements.

 

Happy Birding!!

An exciting weekend……


Ann and I woke up early this morning.  The weather look great, so we had this great idea, to get out to Spring Creek Park early enough to get a look at a Gray Catbird the has been seen regularly.  We got to that designated spot about 7:15.  Alas!  Just as we drove near we spotted a grayish bird fly across the water.  We don’t know if that was the catbird or not, but after 30 minutes of waiting and watching, we decided to get back home for breakfast.  We missed him, but we will try again tomorrow morning.  So stay tuned.  But all was not lost.  During the time it took to get there and watch, we observed a Song Sparrow, Osprey, Ringed-bill Gull, Northern Cardinal, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Mockingbird, Wild Turkey, and several White-tailed Deer.

Over the weekend, we got out a couple of times and although the birding was not great, I got some nice looking photos if I do say so myself.  Here’s a re-cap.

On Friday we got out for a little while but not much was stirring.  However, I got lucky and came up with this nice photo of a Dark-eyed Junco.  This is a slate-colored variety.  He was back-lit and in the shade, but with a little finagling in my digital darkroom I was able to correct the lighting.

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

On Sunday, things were a little better but not as good as usual.  However we decided to hit Spring Creek Park and Middle Concho Park.

First up was this Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

This Great Blue Heron was standing a log and not doing much of anything, but just staring.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Before leaving the lake area we drove by the little beach area at Mary Lee Park.  I tried my luck at photographing gulls in flight.

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

That was it for the Lake Nasworthy area.  We had plenty of time, so off to the San Angelo State Park we went.  We drove around through the area where they had burned off the unwanted Mesquite trees and brush.  Not much stirring, I imagine because of the loss of so much habitat.

We headed in the direction of the Burkett multi-use area.  Along the way it finally got real exciting.  Off to the right of the road was an American Kestrel clinging to the top of stem from a bush.  I was hesitant because these birds are known to not hang around very long.

But since he appeared to be just enjoying himself, I decided to take a chance.  I turned right and drove into this rough area, carefully avoiding driving over any prickly pear.  I swung around enough so I could photograph from my driver’s side window.  One thing I have learned, folks, is to never get out of the car.  The birds will fly for sure.

So, I was in position, about thirty yards away.  Believe it or not, he continued to sit and sway in the wind, at times staring at me.  I managed to get off about forty shots of varying poses.  Here are two of them.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

I love this one………

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

After those forty shots, I was getting brave and decided to do what I tell people not to do.  I got out of the car. Hey, I wanted creep closer.  Instantly, the kestrel took flight.  Of course, I knew it would.  Will I ever learn??

But that ended our day on an exciting note.  It was definitely the highlight of the day.

I hope you enjoyed the story and the photos.  Click on any of them to see nice enlargements.

Happy Birding!!

Footnote:  I always try to live by the rule that you should never disturb the wildlife.  I violated that principal by trying to get out of the car.  I didn’t need to get closer.  I had all of the shots I wanted.  My long lens gets me as close I need to be.  I should have stayed in the car and drove away.  So, in recflection, I am sorry for my actions.

 

The skinny guy might have talent…….


This past week was spent doing a few odd things around the house, and a few hours birding.  Nothing spectacular captured, but after getting home and looking at my results a second time, I realized that there might be some keepers here.   Here are some highlights.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

This American Kestrel was sitting on a utility cable near the entrance to Middle Concho Park.  I love these feisty little raptors.  A ferocity belies their cute appearance.

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

Yes, we do have a few Pelicans this far from the coast.  Nearly every year a few make San Angelo their winter home.  I was especially proud of this image that I captured of one just placidly gliding along.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

This Northern Flicker is the yellow-shafted variety as you can see by the the yellow feathers beneath the tail.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

A female Eastern Bluebird perched on a tree.

Bewick's Wren

Bewick’s Wren

This Bewick’s Wren (pronounced buick’s).  He thought that I couldn’t see him, but my 150-600mm lens sought him out.

Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

The Greater Yellowlegs loves to wade in the waters of the Spring Creek Park.  I wonder where he got the name.

Osprey

Osprey

The Osprey, one of my favorite raptors.  Hope you like this image.  I feel that he is just sitting and pondering the future.  As a matter of fact, the more I look at this photo, the more I like it myself.  Heck, I just may have a bit of artistic talent myself.  Notice in the title of this post that I opted for ‘skinny guy’ over ‘old geezer’.  Hey, I still have my ego to contend with.

Click on any enlargement to see some great enlargements.

Summer Doldrums – American Kestrel


Okay, before I go any farther, some of you be wondering about Part II of my Yakkety-Sax Man story.  Never fear, it is being written as we speak.  Look for it Sunday, July 20.  In the meantime, if you haven’t read Part I, click here.

Now here is today’s post:

They are here.   The Summer Doldrums, soon to be followed by the Dog Days of August.  I don’t know why, but I always get a little restless this time of year.  The Spring Migration is over, now it is hurry up and wait for the reverse Fall Migration.

Which brings me to the subject of what to write about during this period.  It’s not that there isn’t birds out there, but they seem to be in the same mood as me.  They just don’t want to get out and be photographed.  I guess I need a new venue and some new birds.  But since I don’t have either today, I guess I will just show some of my favorite image of that lovable, cute, feisty American Kestrel.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

Another American Kestrel and friends


Another smallish hawk that visits the San Angelo on occasion, is the Prairie Falcon.  It is larger than the American Kestrel that I featured yesterday.  I captured this photo a few years ago, when it made a couple of appearances atop a utility pole a few blocks from where I live.

Prairie Falcon

Prairie Falcon

In this second photo, taken at a different time, you can see that he has caught a small rodent of some kind.

Prairie Falcon

Prairie Falcon

Another small hawk that is seen around here is the Merlin.  The image below was shot in the early morning as you can see by the side light.

Merlin

Merlin

Yesterday I had posted several of my images of the American Kestrel.  I had forgotten that some of you may not have seen this photo that I posted a year or so ago.  I had shot the photo while the bird was perched in a leaf-less shrub.  During post-processing, I done a little of this and a little of that, and ended up with this 3D illusion.  (this is not an HDR proccesed image).  Click to see the enlargement.  I hope you like it.

American Kestrel in 3D

American Kestrel in 3D

American Kestrels – Feisty cuties


We are having rainy weather here in San Angelo.  The nasty, drizzly, dreary kind of stuff that tends to keep a person indoors.  So what does a guy do, when he has hundreds (thousands?) of photos in his files.  I decided to see what I had of interest.  There has been a lot of interest lately in the American Kestrels.  Lo and behold, I discovered that I had a bunch of images that may or not have ever been seen before with the human eye in one of my posts.  In short, I think that I have never posted some of them before.   So here for your enjoyment are a few of those that I think were photographed in early 2011, or somewhere around there.  Click on the images to see some really great enlargements.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

This American Kestrel, as you can see was watching me intently, and shortly he took of from that little branch.  The following two images are immediately after that.

American Kestrel in flight.

American Kestrel in flight.

American Kestrel in flight.

American Kestrel in flight.

In the next two, this Kestrel can’t make up his mind whether to trust me or not.  He keeps looking back at me.  I wonder if he strained his neck in the second image.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

I think this one below is getting ready to go on a hunt.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

Hunt accomplished.  Looks like a good meal to me.

American Kestrel with a noon time lunch.

American Kestrel with a noon time lunch.

A successful hunt, catching a small field mouse.  I hope you enjoyed these photos.  I’ll be back another day with maybe more surprises.  It depends on how long these rainy days last.

A Milestone – My 600th Post


I guess it is fitting that I close out 2012 with my 600th post of this blog.  Looking back, I wonder how did I come up with something to write about that many times.  For my first post, back in 2009, I sat and thought for a long time.  How do I get my feet wet here.  But I started typing and the words and thoughts came through.  That’s been the way if has been ever since.  Sometimes, though, I get carried away and let my sense of humor show through.  I can’t say that anybody ever complained, so I guess I am doing it right.

As of this writing, I have had 91,647 hits from readers in 142 countries.  Of the top 1000 birding blogs, Texas Tweeties is number 233.  I wish I could thank all of them in their individual languages, but of course, that is not to be.  But if you can understand my English, I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart.  It is you readers that continue to keep this blog going for another year.

But let’s get back to what I do best.  Make nice wildlife photos for you to see.  Today will be no different from my past posts.  These following photos were taken Saturday morning at Middle Concho and Spring Lake parks right here in San Angelo, Texas.  I hope you enjoy.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

The trees are quite barren now, so it is a bit easier to spot the birds.  Case in point, the American Kestrel above, and the Red-tailed Hawk in the photo below.  However, there is some added difficulty is trying to focus between the branches.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

One of the Great Horned Owls was all alone during this trip to the park.  He had his eyes open and very much aware of me.

Great-horned Owl

Great-horned Owl

Finally, uncommon for this area, was this Red-breasted Merganzer cruising along the river.  The photo quality is not very great as he was near the opposite river bank and I had to heavily crop it.

Red-breasted Merganzer

Red-breasted Merganzer

Thus ends the year 2013 on this Texas Tweeties blog.  But, stay tuned, I hope to make 2013 better than ever.

Vermilion Flycatcher and more


First I want to thank all of the well wishers that commented about my surgery last week.  It is nice to know that I have so many loyal followers out there.  So, having said that, on Monday morning after a week of re-cooperating, Ann and I ventured out to do a bit of birding, and maybe get some photo ops.

We first stopped at the San  Angelo State Park, where we haven’t been for several weeks.  There was almost no activity around the bird blind there, so after a quick drive around we headed to Middle Concho and Spring Creek parks.  Never a problem there, when it comes to seeing birds.  Of course, getting some decent photographs is another thing.  I wasn’t very successful in that department.  The highlight was getting this photo of a Vermilion Flycatcher.  If you follow me on Facebook, you probably have already seen it, as I was anxious to show it off yesterday.  I believe it is my best photo of the species to date.

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

After getting that shot, I figured that would be a hard act to follow.  As usual at those parks, I had another opportunity to photograph a Great Blue Heron.  This one was wading in the Middle Concho River.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Earlier in the day, while we were still out at San Angelo State Park, Ann had to make a pit stop at one of the restrooms.  While I waited in the car, I watched this American Kestrel flying around about 125 yards away.  It would go from one tree to another.  As it finally lit on this fence post for a few seconds, I was able to photograph it with my Canon EOS 7D and 500mm lens and 1.4 tele-converter, from my car window.

American Kestrel on fence post.

American Kestrel on fence post.

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  Click on any of them to see enlargements.  The birding total talley for the morning was 34.  Here is the total list if you are interested.  This includes birds from the parks mentioned above, plus a little pond in The Bluffs residential area.

  1. American Coot
  2. Ring-necked Duck
  3. Gadwall
  4. Pied-billed Grebe
  5. American Wigeon
  6. Northern Mockingbird
  7. Hooded Merganzer
  8. Golden-fronted Woodpecker
  9. House Sparrow
  10. House Finch
  11. Mourning Dove
  12. Northern Cardinal
  13. Red-winged Blackbird
  14. American Kestrel
  15. European Starling
  16. Killdeer
  17. Belted Kingfisher
  18. Double-crested Cormorant
  19. Northern Shoveler
  20. Great Blue Heron
  21. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  22. Eastern Bluebird
  23. Eastern Phoebe
  24. White-winged Dove
  25. Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  26. Cedar Waxwing
  27. Vermilion Flycatcher
  28. Western Meadowlark
  29. Mute Swan
  30. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  31. Red-tailed Hawk
  32. Wild Turkey
  33. Black Vulture
  34. Ring-billed Gulls

American Kestrel and Western Meadowlark


I got this photo of an elusive American Kestrel near the entrance to Spring Creek Park here in San Angelo, Texas.  As I drove up, it was high on a wire off to the right side of my car.  I stopped and contemplated how I would get the shot.  I couldn’t shoot out the passenger side from where I was sitting in the driver’s seat.  I was worried that it would fly off any second.  I decided to take a chance.  I drove slowly forward a couple hundred feet and made a U-turn and came back.  Miraculously, it was still there.  I was shaking as I slowly aimed my Canon EOS 7D with 500mm lens and 1.4 tele-converter out the window, supporting it with my Noodle.  I was able to fire off a half dozen exposures before he flew.  I failed to get the take-off, but I did get this handsome image.5413_web-kestrel-bob-zeller

There were many birds around that morning and I also came up with another shot of a Western Meadowlark.5425_web-meadowlark-bob-zeller

The meadowlark was beneath a tree along with several of it’s friends, and the lighting was tricky.

Both images are cropped heavily.  The kestrel was about 35 feet off the ground and probably a total of about 150 feet away.  The meadowlark was perhaps about 60 feet away on the ground.  Feel free to click on either image to see an enlargement.

Damp Birding at Miles, Texas


Monday morning Ann and I traveled to Miles, Texas to see several ducks, geese and other water fowl that was reported to be on a large flooded area north of town.  It started a light drizzle on the way, and I had to put the wipers on to keep the windshield clear.  We kept on going, nevertheless, because as they say, you never know how things will turn out.

Well, by the time we got there the drizzle had nearly stopped, but the skies remained heavily overcast and slightly foggy.  With the poor visibility, it was hard to make IDs on most of the ducks in the water, as they were several hundred yards away.  However, we did make out plenty of Northern Shovelers, a half dozen or so of American Avocets, some Snow Geese and Greater White-fronted Geese.  With there being several hundred birds, I am sure that if we could have seen better we would have added many more to our list.

When we left, we decided to take a longer drive home, through some country roads that we hadn’t traveled in a long time.  We were rewarded with the Red-tailed Hawk and American Kestrel that are pictured below.  This first photo of the red-tailed was shot with my 500mm lens and 1.4 teleconverter making it a total focal length of 700mm.

Red-tailed Hawk

This next photo was using my 100-400mm lens set at the 400mm focal length.  This image is heavily cropped.

Red-tailed Hawk

By the way, I believe this Red-tailed Hawk to be a light morph.  After the hawk flew, which I completely missed the shot, we continued towards San Angelo.  We came across this American Kestrel on a power line.  I only had time to grab my 7D with the 100-400mmlens.  I also had to crop this image extensively.

American Kestrel

So even though our primary ‘target’ was pretty well enveloped in drizzle, we still had a fun trip.  We will probably return to Miles later.  In the meantime, here is the total list for our little trip.  We should double it the next time.

  1. Northern Shoveler
  2. American Avocet
  3. Blue-winged Teal
  4. Killdeer
  5. Sandpipers (unidentified)
  6. Northern Harrier
  7. Gadwall
  8. Meadowlark
  9. Red-tailed Hawk
  10. American Kestrel
  11. Snow Goose
  12. Greater White-fronted Goose