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!!!

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!!

Fun April Birding


Migration is underway and we are still waiting for many spring birds.  Scissor-tailed Flycatchers have been sighted.  We saw three ourselves, but too far away for photos.  However, Ash-throated Flycatchers are beginning to appear in large numbers.  I got my first nice photo of one a couple of days ago.

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Ash-throated Flycatcher

We had to make our regular stop at Spring Creek Park to check on our family of Great Horned Owls.  We caught the female off the nest, taking a break from caring for junior.

Great Horned Owl - female

Great Horned Owl – female

Meanwhile, back at the nest it is ‘home alone’ all over again.  The kid seems to be gaining weight.  I would estimate him to be about three weeks old.

Great Horned Owlet

Great Horned Owlet

Later, back on the nest, the mother seems to be daring me to step over that twig.

Great Horned Owl - mother on nest

Great Horned Owl – mother on nest

I would like to mention that for these photos, I was around fifty yards away.  With my long lens, there is no need for me to get closer and agitate the birds.

Nearby, I captured this Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in some bushes.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

We headed to San Angelo State Park where I managed to capture a few more resident birds.

Driving along the base of the O. C. Fisher Reservoir dam, Ann spotted a Rock Wren flitting around the rocks.  I had never been able to get a nice close-up of one before.  Up on those rocks, they are hard to see, and difficult to get one in the viewfinder of my camera.  But my perseverance paid off, and I was able to get this one, again with my long 150-600mm Tamron lens.  The image is still quite cropped to get this close-up.

Rock Wren

Rock Wren

Elsewhere in the park, I got these photographs.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Lincoln's Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow

American Robin

American Robin

We finished the day by catching this hard to spell and hard to pronounce,  Pyrrhuloxia.

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia

So that’s all for today.  Tomorrow we are off to the South Llano River State Park.  Reports are coming in of several migratory birds there.  Plus, there’s alway great food at Lum’s Bar-B-Que before coming home.  I’ll report on the journey in a few days.

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!!

Valentine’s Day Weekend birding


While trying to get my new computer up and running, I just had to take a few breaks to get out for some birding and photography.  I needed to relieve the stress. But I certainly have a feeling of accomplishment.  I had a few glitches and problems, but along with encouragement and help from my dear friend, Deb, up in Tennessee, and my wife, Ann, the job got done.

Because of time limitations, we just hit the local parks for a few hours.  I managed to come away with a few usable photos.  Also I believe we added about three more birds to our 2016 list.  We are at 103 now for the year.  The weather was really gorgeous.  Hard to believe it is only mid-February.

First a Pied-billed Grebe in Lake Nasworthy at Spring Creek Park.  These little guys are cuties.

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

A Great Blue Heron at same location.  He sat on this buoy for quite awhile.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

A Northern Flicker pecking away at something on the ground.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

One of several Black-crested Titmouses along the brushy fence line.  They re cute, but very feisty.

Black-crested Titmouse

Black-crested Titmouse

The first spring American Robin for us, at Middle Concho Park.

American Robin

American Robin

I hope you enjoy these photos.  Click on any of them to see enlargements.

‘Till next time, Happy Birding!

American Robin – a Harbinger of Spring


What can be a better sign of spring than to see that traditional early bird, the American Robin, (Turdus migratorius).  This one was looking for an early worm out in Middle Concho Park last Sunday morning.

American Robin

American Robin

Actually, now that I take a closer look, by the looks of that fat belly, I believe he has already had his fill of worms.  For the shot, I hand-held my Canon EOS 7D with a 500mm lens w/1.4 teleconverter.  Because the bird was outside the passenger side of the car, I was unable to use my window support and had to shoot across Ann’s lap.  Exposure 1/640 sec. @ f9 +0.07 EV adjustment.  ISO 400.  Shooting distance about 40 feet.  Click the image to see an enlargement.

My publisher has announced a $10.00 discount on my book, “Birds, Beasts and Buttes”.  Click on this link:   http://www.blurb.com/b/3431406-birds-beasts-and-buttes.    Use Promo Code SHARE10 at checkout.  Offer good through March 31.

For San Angelo residents, call me 325-944-1839.  I have some autographed books on hand.  The sale price is 47.95 hardcover, 37.95 soft-cover, plus sales tax.

Quiz #2 – Final Results


Here we go again.  This second quiz garnered more votes than the first one, so it seems that the interest in them are growing.  I, for one, am really enjoying them, but of course I have an advantage.  I know the answer.  But I hope more of you are starting to use some photo guides to help you along.  It is not cheating to do so.  I encourage it.  This is the original picture that you were asked to identify.

So after a world-wide vote of 84 votes, here is the final tabulation:

  1. Spotted Towhee                                 39
  2. Black-headed Grosbeak                  19
  3. American Robin                                18
  4. Orchard Oriole                                     7
  5. Dark-eyed Junco                                 1

The correct answer is Spotted Towhee.  That means that nearly half of you readers got it right.  That’s not bad, as the wrong answers were birds that are very similar. as these pictures show.

Black-headed Grosbeak

American Robin

Orchard Oriole

Dark-eyed Junco 

So that does it for Quiz #2.  I will let you digest this for the evening.  Tune in tomorow, Saturday morning for the always exciting, Quiz #3. 🙂

A Harbinger of Spring


While driving by Rock Slough Park, near Lake Nasworthy several days ago, we spotted several birds in the little area.  Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Bluebirds, along with this American Robin, (Turdus migratorius).  They say that robins are signs of spring’s arrival.  Maybe so, maybe not.  While we have these species year around here, it makes a for good subject for this post.  Plus, is spring not just around the corner?  🙂

American Robin

Photographed with my Canon EOS 7d with Canon 100-400mm lens.  1/640 sec. @ f8, ISO 250.  Center-weighted metering and aperture priority.  Click on image to see an enlargement.

Sunday Bluebird and a Hawk


A fairly short post again today.  Recently on one of our forays into the parks near Lake Nasworthy, we came across this Eastern Bluebird, (Sialia sialis), sitting on a small tree branch.  He was part of a group of bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings, and American Robins.  It was obviously a popular spot for birds, with the water nearby.

Eastern Bluebird

EXIF data:  Canon 7D with Canon 500mm lens and 1.4 tele-converter, 1/1000 sec. @ f8, +0.7 EV, ISO 160.  Center weighted metering with apertur priority.  Hand-held.

Later, on the outskirts of the park, in an area where there is a disc golf course set up in the trees, we spotted this Red-tailed Hawk  (Buteo jamaicensis), on a tree branch.  We observed it for awhile and I got several photos of it.  After a bit, he decided to fly off, and I was able to capture an in-flight photo.

Red-tailed Hawk in tree

EXIF data:  Canon 7D with Canon 500mm lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  1/1000 sec. @ f8, ISO 125.  Center weighted metering with aperture priority.  Hand-held.

Red-tailed Hawk in flight

EXIF data:  Canon 7D with Canon 100-400mm zoom lens.  1/2000 sec. @ f8, ISO 200.  Center weightd metering and aperture priority.  Hand-held.

I hope you enjoyed the images.  Click on either of them to see an enlargement.

Two more from Middle Concho Park


Friday opened cool and cloudy, but by 11:00AM it was bright and sunny.  We decided to return to Middle Concho Park where we had seen so many species the day before.  Again there were an abundance of birds.  We birded there for an hour or so, then we drove over to the adjacent Spring Creek Park.  Here are two photographs that I captured there.  A Blue Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri), and an American Robin (Turdus migratorius).

Blue Jay

American Robin

As I said the good news was that it was bright and sunny.  On the downside I didn’t have the best light that I would have had if it had remained cloudy.  Boy, I sure am hard to please, aren’t I??  But it did make it difficult to expose properly for the Blue Jay.  As you can see, it worked out okay, though.  The American Robin was in open shade where the light was more even, so the job was easier.

During our birding, we saw a couple of hawks, several herons and egrets and others.  In all, we saw 21 species, as I have listed below.

I hope you enjoyed the photos and narrative about our birding exploits.  Have a great weekend.