Say it isn’t so, Bob, say it isn’t so…….


Well sorry to say, it is so.  I am suspending my blog, at least for a short period.  You might say I am taking a sabbatical for several weeks, perhaps a couple of months.  I am undergoing a series of procedures to cure some skin cancer on my face and neck.  I am hoping to get back to work by the end of April, as Ann and I want to spend a few days in the Davis Mountains during the first week of May.

Because of this, I obviously need to keep myself out of the sun as much as possible.  My face looks like it has been run over by a garbage truck with a full load.  It is very uncomfortable, and that makes it hard for me to concentrate on anything to do with writing creatively.  I do hope to get outdoors anyway, perhaps earlier in the day, or when it is cloudier.  I am not fit right now to be seen in public.  But in the end, it will be worth the discomfort.

Anyway, to ease your disappointment, I have a few images from the past couple of weeks that I will show you here.  Click on any photo to see an enlargement.

Burrowing Owl

American Kestrel

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Carolina Wren

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-winged Blackbird – female

American Robin in early morning light.

Horned Lark

Osprey, with lunch

Red-tailed Hawk

Great Horned Owl – peeking from behind a freshly cut branch.

So there you have it, something to hold you over for a few weeks.  See ya then….

Happy Birding.

Happy 6th Anniversary Texas Tweeties!!!


I just realized that this Texas Tweeties blog is six years old today.  My, oh, my, how time flies. This is my 860th post.  I must ask myself, how in heck did I come up with something to write about 860 times?  It all started when my dear friend, Deb Tappan, up there in Knoxville, Tennessee told me that I should write a blog.  And, of course, my wife, Ann, chimed in and said, “Do it, do it!”  Well, I couldn’t very well turn down my two best friends, could I?

Me and my two best friends, my wife, Ann and Deb.

Me and my two best friends, my wife, Ann and Deb. (photo by Paul Tappan.)

I wanted a catchy name that would connect with the birds and birders.  Deb came up with name Texas Tweeties.  At first, I thought people would confuse that with Twitter.  But that hasn’t been the case.  For the record, I don’t Twitter.  I might tweek, squeak, whistle, burp and make other funny noises, but I don’t Twitter.

So I jumped in and got my writing juices flowing.  I don’t remember what my first post was about, but I thought afterwards, heck, this ain’t so hard.  This is from a guy that for many, many years, I was such an introvert that my worst fear was that someone would ask me to say grace before a dinner occasion. 🙂

Anyway, 6 years, 860 posts.  As of this date, I have been read by 181,394 people in 161 countries, and I only write in one language.  There must be a heck of a lot of bi-linguals out there.

But I am having a bunch of fun doing this.  Of course, the blog is about photography, too, but my wildlife and birding pursuits go hand in hand with it.  I also, have been know to go off on a tangent and rant about some other thing, but as most of you know I stick to birding most of the time.

That being said, I must say that my friend Deb was the cause of me getting into bird photography.  Ann and I were visiting her home.  Outside her living room window was a large cedar tree of some type and all of these colorful birds were hanging around it and under it.  Deb encouraged me to open the window and take some shots with my camera.  Wow!  I was stunned with all of those colorful species.

Up to then, my bird vocabulary was ducks, pigeons, or sparrows.  My major photography interest was flowers and landscapes.  Well, my world changed after that visit.  I started photographing birds as often as possible.  Then, I needed to be able to know what I was photographing, and voila!!, another friend got Ann and I into the birding hobby.  You know, learning to identify them.  Holy Mackeral!!  I found that there are in the vicinity of 914 species of birds in North America, nearly 649 of them found in Texas alone, and 383 recorded sightings here in Tom Green County where I live.  So far, I have learned to identify ony 283 species.  I don’t have and accurate figure on how many of them I have photographed but probably near that last number.

Anyway, I am getting away from the purpose of this post and that is to celebrate another Texas Tweeties birthday.   I appreciate all of my readers, from near and abroad, for staying with me and continuing to hopefully, enjoy my meanderings, my strange jokes and my photographs.

Let’s try for another year. Happy Birding to all!!

Birding fun in Uvalde, Texas


Okay, boys and girls, hang on to your hats.  I have a brazilion photos to show you from our two day trip to Uvalde, Texas.  At only about 195 miles south of San Angelo, it has much to offer in the way of birding.

Green Jay

Green Jay

First, I would like to mention that we arrived Wednesday afternoon at the Live Oaks Bed and Breakfast.  Owned and operated by Pat and Gaye Morris, it is a perfect way to spend a few days.  All the amenities that you would expect, plus a great breakfast.  Four rooms inside the main house, and three individual casitas of which we stayed in one called “Treehouse”.  No, silly people, we weren’t in a tree, but a wonderful little comfy cabin.  Click the above link for more information.

We decided to come to Uvalde when a Facebook friend, Bob Shackleford mentioned that his place was nearly overrun with Green Jays.  That really got my attention, as that was one bird that have dreamed of seeing and photographing for years.  I contacted him and invited myself to visit him when we came to Uvalde.  He has this delightful little bird blind, and sure enough there were more than enough Green Jays to satisfy any photographer.

Bob Shackleford's bird blind

Bob Shackleford’s bird blind

We were able to check in early Wednesday afternoon, so I called Bob and we decided to pay him and his wife, Marianne, a visit.  He wanted us to try out the blind immediately, and for a few minutes, I was rewarded with photo opportunities right away.

Green Jay

Green Jay

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

We didn’t stay in the blind very long since it was very hot, and we wanted to visit with Bob and Anne (pronounced Anna) a bit longer, before we had to go check in to our little casita.  Before we left, we made arrangements to return the following day which was my birthday, and spend the day.  Anne, had already baked a cake for my birthday.  How great is that?

Green Jay

Green Jay

The following morning, after a sumptuous breakfast, cooked by Gaye, we headed back to the Shacklefords.  We headed right for Bob’s “Chicken House Bird Blind”.  Of course, I first photographed another Green Jay, then a few others.  Here are a few highlights.

Green Jay

Green Jay

Northern Cardinal, female

Northern Cardinal, female

Yellow-rumped Warbler - Audubon variety

Yellow-rumped Warbler – Audubon variety

Black-crested Titmouse

Black-crested Titmouse

Later, after going back to our room for a brief nap, we returned to have supper with the Shacklefords.  Wow!  That man knows how to use a barbeque grill.  He grilled some chicken breasts along with a bunch of veggies.  Then to top it off we had some of Anne’s pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting and pecans.  Fantastic!

After that, Bob mentioned that we should drive out along the highway, as we could probably find some various hawks.  So we all piled into our little Ford Escape and headed out.  Here are some of the highlights of that drive.  There are many.  I forgot to mention, click on any of the photos in this post and you will see beautiful enlargements.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk in flight

Red-tailed Hawk in flight

Forgive the clipped wings in the above photo, but I thought it was too beautiful to leave out of this post.

Scaled Quail - in late afternoon light.

Scaled Quail – in late afternoon light.

Harris's Hawk

Harris’s Hawk

Two Crested Caracaras share a utility pole crossbar.

Two Crested Caracaras share a utility pole crossbar.

Swainson's Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk

A drive along a country drive wouldn’t be complete with seeing one of these vultures.

Black Vulture surveys the landscape.

Black Vulture surveys the landscape.

After saying goodbye to the Shacklefords, and promising to return in a few months we headed to our room, feeling great about our birding and photographic adventures.  We had hoped to see a Great Kiskadee, but that will have to wait until the next time.

The next morning after another great breakfast, I began my first day as an eighty-year old, and we headed back to San Angelo.  We were making good time, so we made a brief stop at the South Llano River State Park.  They have wonderful bird blinds there so we had time to check out one of them.

Nashville Warbler photographed at South Llano State Park

Nashville Warbler photographed at South Llano River State Park

For the trip, we saw a total of 40 species of birds.  We added two to my life list: Green Jay and Long-billed Thrasher.  That life list now stands at 275.  Maybe I can get to 300 before I turn 90.

For my 2014 Birding Big Year list, I added those two plus the Crested Caracara and the Harris’s Hawk, bring the total to 189.  Only eleven to go to make my goal of at least 200 species seen this year.

I feel great and I think it is going to be fun being an 80 year-old.  That is as long as I stay away from those senior centers and not let those old people influence me. 🙂

Sometimes I get lucky…….


It is always nice to be at the right place at the right time.  Case in point.  Ann and I were prowling through Spring Creek Park, trawling for bird photo opportunites.  As we neared the fence line separating the park property from the wooded area we spotted movement which proved to be a bobcat moving deeper into the woods.  I stopped our Ford Escape and tried to get a better look.  The cat stopped about thirty-five yards into the brush, turned and peered back at me.  I could see his head, which was surrounded with branches, twigs, etc.  I started to drive on, thinking there was no way I could get a photo.  But I changed my mind and stopped the car again.  By resting my Canon 70D with the Tamron 150-600mm lens on the driver’s side window, I could barely get the center focus point on his head.  I pressed the shutter and hoped for the best.  Here is the result.  I hope you like it.

Bobcat

Bobcat

Exposure was 1/1000 sec @ f6.3,  ISO 2500, 600mm.

Nighthawks – A Mother and Child


Today has been a drizzly day.  We started to the blind at San Angelo State Park, then thought better of it.  From the direction of the wind, I knew that the drizzly rain would be blowing right back into my lens.  Then, besides, we considered that the birds probably wouldn’t be very active.

So back to the house.  Rats!  Just couldn’t think of anything to write about so started browsing through my archives.  I came across these images that I had taken several years ago, long before I started shooting RAW.  The JPEG files looked good so I started editing them

But here is the story.  About 8:30AM one morning, I got a call from a lady that was opening up her store over near the Village Shopping Center.  She had parked in back of the building, and was going to enter her rear door.  As she walked up, she spotted to creatures on the ground near the structure.  She called me and asked me to come over and identify them.

As I drove up then, at first I couldn’t make out what they were from the car.  As I walked up, though, I recognized them immediately.  They were an adult Common Nighthawk and a young one. Nighthawks don’t nest in the usual sense.  They lay there eggs on the bare ground, usually in some pebbles, etc.  I suspect the nesting area of these two were nearby, at the base of the building wall somewhere.  But there was no way of knowing for sure.

I got my cameras out of the car and commenced trying to get photos.  At first, the chick skittered away from the mom.  I tried to keep a reasonable distance, as I could see he/she was getting stressed.  Finally, the mother moved back closer.  These are two of the many exposures I was to get.

Adult Common Nighthawk with chick

Adult Common Nighthawk with chick

Common Nighthawk chick

Common Nighthawk chick

I hope you enjoy this post and photos.  Ann and I are leaving Monday morning to go back to Fort Davis.  As you know, we tried this trip a couple of weeks ago, but had to return home after I had a medical problem.  Looking back, I believe that I had got bitten by some spider, etc., and had an allergic reaction.  But all is well now, and I hope to have success in getting some new photos of the birds from that area.  So I won’t be blogging until later in the week, probably around next Friday.

Gray-footed Chipmunk and other photos


As usual, click on the title to see the entire text and numerous more photos.  Click on those photos to see enlargements.

Ann and I visited the bird blind at San Angelo State Park over the weekend.  We met our friend Bill Yeates while we were there.  The light was awesome for photos and we got several nice bird photos.  But, also, while we were there, Bill and I happened to see an unfamiliar creature in the grass.  It didn’t look like our regular Mexican Ground Squirrels that are so plentiful.  When it emerged into the open, we realized it was some kind of chipmunk.  The surprising thing is, there aren’t supposed to be chipmunks in the area.  I took a few photos, (see below), and then showed the image to the resident park ranger.  He said that it was a Gray-footed Chipmunk and it had never been seen in the park or in the area.  They should be in the Guadalupe Mountains in far west Texas.  How or why it is here, is anyone’s guess.

Gray-footed Squirrel

Gray-footed Chipmunk

Gray-footed Squirrel

Gray-footed Chipmunk

Below is probably the best photo of a male House Finch that I was able to get in a long time.  They are so common and plentiful around here that I tend to ignore them.  I got it shortly after photographing the chipmunk.

House Finch

House Finch

I edited a few more photos from our Pedernales Falls trip and they are ready to be published here.

Orange-crowned Warbler (winter, oresta)

Orange-crowned Warbler
(winter, oresta)

Painted Bunting - female

Painted Bunting – female

Yellow Warbler peeks from the leaves.

Yellow Warbler peeks from the leaves.

After getting home from Pedernales Falls State Park, we made a quick trip to our regular birding areas around Lake Nasworthy.  We came upon this beautiful Green Heron.

Green Heron

Green Heron

Green Heron

Green Heron

Green Heron

Green Heron

For those that are following our progress on our “Big Year” in Texas quest, we are at 166 with the addition of a Western Sandpiper and a Blue Grosbeak.

 

Painted Bunting


Click on the title of this post to see more photos.

We just saw our first Painted Bunting of the season.  It brought to mind that I haven’t posted any photos of them in a long time.  Here is the first one that photographed, just a couple of days ago at the bird blind at San Angelo State Park.  To me it is one of the most beautiful of all birds.  It really looks like it was hand-painted.  Mother Nature did a great job, even though it looks like she smeared it a a bit and maybe got outside the lines.

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

Here are a few more photos that I have taken of the Painted Bunting over the past few years.

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting singing in tree top

Painted Bunting singing in tree top

Painted Bunting - bathing

Painted Bunting – bathing

Painted Bunting on log

Painted Bunting on log

I hope you enjoyed viewing these photos.  Please feel free to comment.