Recent Odds and Ends…..


The weather is continuing to be warm, read very warm, and the birds continue to be stressed and they keep to themselves hidden somewhere in the trees and landscape.  However, that doesn’t stop Ann and I from getting out a couple of hours each morning.  Although not getting many images, I have lucked out and got a few nice ones.  Here is a collection, mostly from the past several months that I believe that I may not have ever posted here.  Some may be even older.  My Facebook readers will probably recognize many of them.  If you can, PLEASE view this on a computer.  That way if you click on any image, you can see some very beautiful enlargements.

This Painted Bunting we found at an old mudhole that was on the verge of drying up.  If I were to go there this morning, I am sure it would be dry.  Anyway, I think this is one of my favorite photos of this bird, and I think it is a great start to this blog post.

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

This Greater Roadrunner that I photographed yesterday at San Angelo State Park ranks as one of my best of that species.  I love the way the light enhanced the various colors of the feathers.

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

Since I have been spending more time in the house, I have been at the computer going through images from the past few months, that I hadn’t edited or sorted.  This Pyrrhuloxia was photographed in the early morning light of July 21 of this year.

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia

We came across this Greater Roadrunner one day at San Angelo State Park.  He was so close to me that I opted to get a portrait of him.  I found it quite interesting.

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

I never pass up a chance to photograph these tiny Vermilion Flycatchers

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

In the birding community, the females don’t usually get their due.  The female Grosbeak, in my opinion is a beautiful bird as you might agree.

Blue Grosbeak - female

Blue Grosbeak – female

One of the cutest birds that I know of, is the Black-crested Titmouse.  But they also are very feisty and you don’t like to be messed with.

Black-crestedd Titmouse

Black-crested Titmouse

At the Hummer House down near Christoval, Texas I as enjoying photographing the many, many hummgbirds there.  I thought this image moved the cute meter up a notch.

Black-chinnedd Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Of all of my Great Horned Owl photos, I rank this image as one of my personal favorites.  I try to photograph this species at every opportunity.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

This photo would fool you.  As a juvenile Curve-billed Thrasher, it has neither the curved bill nor the orange eye of the adult.

Curve-billed Thrasher - juvenile

Curve-billed Thrasher – juvenile

Another bird that is difficult photograph is the Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  To happen to catch one with the red crown showing is a bonus.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Another one with the same degree of difficulty is the cute little Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

When I was much younger and not at all interested in birds of any kind, I used to think that all the little ones were sparrows.  The medium size up was all pigeons.  The really big birds. think large and XX large, were all eagles.  Then the ones on water were all ducks.   But now that I am getting more educated in the avian species, boy, am I ever getting surprised.   I have found that there are over fifty different species of sparrows alone. Wow! Holey-moly, Batgirl!!  Who’da thought!  Well, this Grasshopper Sparrow is one of the more unusual ones.

Grasshsopper Sparrow

Grasshsopper Sparrow

I think that will be all for this post.  I hope you have enjoyed reading and seeing the photographs.

’til next time,

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.

‘Twas the days after Christmas……


I hope all of my readers around the world had a very happy Christmas.  Ann and I did.  We did what we love to do.  We went birding.  We are alone.  No children and nearest relatives over 1,000 miles away.  Our best friends live a bit farther.  But we have no complaints, as we enjoy each other’s company.

So anyway, the weather Christmas was absolutely beautiful  We first ventured to two local parks near Lake Nasworthy.  When I say local, I don’t mean that they are in the middle of town.  More likely they are at the edge of town, out towards our airport.  But since our home is near that edge of town, these parks are just minutes away.  They abound with wildlife; birds, water fowl, wild turkey, and bobcats, etc.

Today, Sunday, I will post here a few of the images that I have gotten the past few days, including Christmas Day and the days after.

This Song Sparrow was in the reeds along the lake.  It looked pretty tiny in my viewfinder.  But I was using my Canon 7D Mark II and a Tamron 150-600mm lens.  I shoot using spot focusing and if I can get that tiny dot on a bird, I can get some good results, images sharp enough that I can crop close for photos like this.  By the way, you can click on any image to see nice enlargements.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

There were plenty of meadowlarks around.  Again, they prefer showing me  their backside instead of their beautiful yellow breasts.

Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

The Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are rare around here this time of year, but they do sometimes make appearances.  This one was with a group of three, and I had a challenge to get photos.  They were flitting all over the place.  I finally got out of the car and was trying to get shots over the hood.  After a about twenty-five, or more, efforts this was the best of the bunch.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

At the southern end of Spring Creek Park is a small narrow cove.  It was there that Ann and I spotted three Black-crowned Night Herons, one adult and two juveniles.  They were across the water, about 200 yards away.  This juvenile was the only one that I could get a clear open shot.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron – juvenile

Co-incidentally, at the northern end of Middle Concho Park, there is another little cove.  This one much smaller and narrower.  As we were driving along the nearer edge, this Wilson’s Snipe startled me, flew up and across to the far side.  I was able to see where it landed and was able to get some photos, from about 50 yards.  They are little cuties, and I love to photograph them.

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson’s Snipe

Back to driving along the brush line in Spring Creek Park, we came across some more Ruby-crowned Kinglets.  It seems that I have seen more kinglets this year than in the past.  They, like the gnatcatchers, are quick and flighty, never sitting still.  I got lucky again and got this capture.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

A Northern Flicker in one of it’s favorite perches.  High above on a dead tree.

 

Northern Flicker - red-shafted variety.

Northern Flicker – red-shafted variety.

I will end this post with this delightful photo of one of my favorite little birds.  The Eastern Phoebe.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

I do hope you enjoyed these photos from our Christmas weekend.  The weather here in San Angelo is going to have big changes the next couple of days, so I don’t know when I will get out again.  But if the sun shines, and there is no winds to speak of, it can be beautiful even if the temperatures get down real low.  I will be watching for opportunities.

My 2015 list didn’t make the goal of 210 that I had hoped for.  We are still a 185, with the prospects of adding more pretty small.  Too many medical issues kept me in for part of the year.  But in about a week, 2016 will begin with new hopes for a longer list.

I hope to publish another post before the end of the year.

Til then, Happy Birding!

Northern Cardinal and more…….


Birding the past week has been delightful.  Our species daily counts are getting up there, one time reaching 40.  But most importantly, I was able to get some nice photographs.  Most of the photos were taken in the local parks around Lake Nasworthy.  San Angelo State Park has been closed as they are burning off nearly 25% of the park to rid it of unwanted brush and mesquite.  In the long run, that should help the flora and fauna rebound, beneficial to all.

Let’s start with this Northern Cardinal. always a favorite to photograph.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Some Western Bluebirds arrived to add to the beauty of the avian population.

Western Bluebird

Western Bluebird

The Yellow-rumped Warblers are here in large numbers now.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - Myrtle variety

Yellow-rumped Warbler – Myrtle variety

It seems that I have seen an increase in Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, compared to prior years.  Of course, it may be just me, getting more familiar with each specie as the years go by. 🙂

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

As we were driving along the fence line at Spring Creek park we were surprised to come upon this Blue-gray Gnatcatcher……

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

…….and this cute Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  I love the challenge of photographing these tiny birds.  They are quick, flighty never sitting still for more than a fraction of a second.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

A few rare Pine Warblers are still around.  Maybe they have found a home here for the winter.

Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler

Eastern Phoebes are always around, entertaining us with it’s quick flights from tree to tree, then resting for a few seconds before moving on.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Another Yellow-rumped Warbler,this one a beautiful Audubon variety.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - Audubon variety

Yellow-rumped Warbler – Audubon variety

One of my favorite wading birds is the Great Blue Heron.  They are plentiful here, being seen at most of the lakes and waterways.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Wild Turkeys abound here in the Concho Valley.  I usually ignore them because they are so common.  But as we passed the narrow little inlet several took off to fly to the other side.  This group numbered about 30 and they were taking off about one at a time.  I decided to stop and try to catch a photo of one of them in flight.  I was lucky.  I say that because of all 30 or more, I was able to catch only one good image.  I was rattling off hi-speed shots as each bird blew.  Here is the best of the bunch.

Wild Turkey - hen in flight

Wild Turkey – hen in flight

So that’s it for today.  I hope to get more for another post before Christmas.  Click any image to see an enlargement.

Happy birding!!

Catching a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher


It has been about four years since I had seen a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.  That was on a trip to the Big Bend National Park.  On our local Tom Green County Bird Checklist, it is listed as “rare, very hard to find, not present every year”.  So it was a thrill when Ann and I saw a pair of them Wednesday morning.  We were at Spring Creek Park, prowling along the perimeter, driving slowly by the thick brush and vegetation.  It was very quiet when some movement in the thicket caught our attention.  I stopped the car about 20 feet away.  We saw a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, then a Bewick’s Wren.

We were thinking that was the complete show, when we saw a blueish flash fluttering in the bushes.  They were the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.  They left the brush and flew into a nearby pecan tree, but quickly returned to the thick brush.  We could see them but not very distinctly.  Then we got lucky.  One of them hopped out onto the wire fence that ran along the brush line.  I was able to get the following images  before we lost them again.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

I hope you enjoyed these photos as much as I did obtaining them.  Click on any of  them to see enlargements.