An All-new Year begins……..

Well, this is my first blog post of the new year 2017.  Some new photos plus some news about my latest venture, my ‘on-line store’ with Fine Art America.  Actually, a website where you can purchase everything from prints to coffee mugs, all featuring my photography of birds and landscapes.  You can also click the link under Bob Zeller’s Gallery in the side bar.  On the website, in the upper corner, there is a discount code that you may wish to partake of.  So, I am very excited about that.  It is a work in progress, as I will be adding photographs almost daily.  For you birders, you may wish to start a collection of bird coffee mugs.

Besides that, I have been busy getting into the field for more bird photo opportunites.  Here are a few that I captured since the New Year Weekend.

We began at Spring Creek Park early in the morning.  This Black-crowned Night Heron was slowly waking up.

Black-crowned Night Heron - 1/750 sec. @f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 2000.

Black-crowned Night Heron – 1/750 sec. @f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 2000.

We finally were able to spot a Red-breasted Nuthatch high in a tree.

Red-breasted Nuthatch - 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 2500.

Red-breasted Nuthatch – 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 2500.

A male Belted Kingfisher resting on a high line overlooking the water, occasionally diving for the water in an attempt to grab an unsuspecting fish.

Belted Kingfisher - 1/1250 sec. @ f22, ISO 2500

Belted Kingfisher – 1/1250 sec. @ f22, ISO 2500

An Eastern Phoebe perched on a branch, resting for a moment before taking off again.

Eastern Phoebe - 1/1250 sec. @ f11, ISO 1000.

Eastern Phoebe – 1/1250 sec. @ f11, ISO 1000.

I love these colorful Spotted Towhees.  This one at Middle Concho Park.  They stay on the ground most of the time, scratching in the leaves and grass.

Spotted Towhee - 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 640.

Spotted Towhee – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 640.

I got very lucky with this Great Kiskadee as he landed on a branch only about 15 feet away.  They are usually pretty rare here in San Angelo. However, three or four arrived here in late September and seem to have found a home.

Great Kiskadee - 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 125.

Great Kiskadee – 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 125.

I finally got an American Kestrel stop long enough at San Angelo State Park for a photo.  They usually just sit just long enough for me to stop, get my camera off of my lap, and aim.  Moments later, before I can press the shutter, off they go again.

American Kestrel - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 160

American Kestrel – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 160

Another quick and fast tiny bird is the Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  This one made several quick stops and I was ready.  It was a bonus to catch the little red crown.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 640.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 640.

I guess that is all for this post.  I do hope that you will check out my Fine Art America website.  Any proceeds that I earn help me pay for the expenses of keeping up the blog, plus Ann and I can eat for another week. 🙂

Happy Birding!!!

Return to the Mud Hole

This is a follow-up on my previous post, “Birding at the Mud Hole”.  Ann and I returned to the scene of the crime a couple of days later.  Again there was about the same birds and activity as before.  The water is beginning to recede so it will probably be dry within the week unless we get fresh rains to fill it again.  Fortunately, I was able to get some more images for your enjoyment.

All photos were again taken from the shelter of my mobile bird blind, AKA 2016 Ford Escape.  I have been using my Canon 7D Mark II and a Tamron 150-600mm lens, hand-held or resting on my SafariPak beanbag.  For convenience, and not to have to change settings often because of fast action, I was at shooting at Shutter Priority at about 1/2000 sec and Auto-ISO.  It works well for me and I only need to adjust my EV setting ocassionaly with my thumb on the big wheel.  Then I let the good times roll. 🙂  The Auto-ISO on that 7D Mark II, by the way, is excellent.  It is very much worth the price of admission.  As with all images in my posts, click on any image to see enlargements, especially if you are viewing this on a computer.

I must confess, although we did see the Yellow-breasted Chat again, this image was one that I captured during our first visit.

Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat

Identifying birds can sometimes be difficult.  At first, I thought that this was a female Painted Bunting.  But after checking my guides I came to the conclusion that it is, indeed, a first year male.  But, don’t despair, it will soon shed that bland clothing for the beautiful colors that we all know and love in the male.  Oh, for any critics out there, actually he won’t shed the clothes, but his colors will turn.  I still think he is a cutie.

Painted Buntind - first year male

Painted Bunting – first year male

Of course, there always has to be the pre-requisite Northern Mockingbird hanging around.  But he is the Texas state bird, so we are honored to have his presence.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

The White-crown Sparrows are here in abundance right now.  They have a beauty all of their own.

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

This Yellow Warbler presented a challenge.  He was about 30 yards away and was very tiny and amid some foliage.  He was singing his heart out.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

An even bigger challenge was this Pyrrhuloxia.  He was about 80 yards away and atop a tall tree.  He also was warming up his voice.  I steadied the camera on my bean bag and held my breath, much like shooting a rifle.  In my viewfinder, he wasn’t much larger than my focus point.  But thanks to my great Canon equipment and a little darkroom work, I came away with this acceptable image.



Just before we left, this Baird’s Sandpiper came gliding in, to do a little feeding along the mud hole.

Baird's Sandpiper

Baird’s Sandpiper

I hope you enjoyed our little visit to the Mud Hole.  I will be returning soon, with more photos from around the area.


Happy Birding!!


Happy New Year and Flying Turkeys

Well, today we bid goodbye to 2015.  It has been a great year although it didn’t go as well as I had planned it back on January 1st.  But does it ever go like a person wants it to go?  Ha! Dream on…… 🙂  But I am happy that I am still waking up atop the grass.  At my age that is a fine thing.  I spent the year photographing, buying new equipment, and selling old equipment.

The new equipment is paying off.  (You can never have enough cameras) My new camera is a  Canon EOS 7D Mark II, of which I actually bought two, are amazing.  They can take photos, make videos, (still learning that), make time-relapse photos, and make coffee in the morning.  Well, maybe that last part was an exaggeration, but I am still not finished with reading the manual. 🙂

One thing that I can do is to get amazing photos of birds in flight.  That is one thing that I love to do.  This camera has the capabilities to shoot at an amazing 10 frames per second, and that makes the job a bit easier.

Yesterday, December 30, Ann and I were out at Spring Creek Park.  As we drove through slowly we came upon a flock of Wild Turkeys.  As I slowed, they became nervous, and a few seconds later they took flight to fly across the water about 100 yards, to land in another spot.

I had my Tamron 150-600mm super telephoto lens on the camera, as I always do when I am in the birding/photography mode.  I was able to snatch the camera from my lap and aim the camera towards the flying birds.  The spot-auto focus instantly locked on to a few of them as they passed.  The hard part was keeping the birds in the viewfinder.

I think you will be pleased with these two, of several photos that I captured.  The other twelve or so, will never again see the light of a computer monitor. 🙂 The tech data for photographers that are interested is:  Shutter speed 1/8000 sec., Aperture f6.3 with an EV adjustment of -0.3, at an ISO of 1600.  Spot-exposure and spot-focus. Click the photos to see beautiful enlargements.

Wild Turkey in flight

Wild Turkey in flight

Wild Turkeys in flight

Wild Turkeys in flight

I must say, that I was impressed with the results.  Both images are available as 12×16 prints.  They will look amazing framed.  Of course, I have those prints for sale. (hint, hint).  You can always contact me if you are interested, and that goes for all of the photos that you see on this blog.

So that’s all for this brief post.  Happy New Year to all!

Happy Birding!!  (and photographing!)

Good Friday Birding

I received my Canon 7D Mark II back from the factory Thursday evening.  I had a mishap a few weeks ago, and I had messed up the focus system.  I sent it off to Canon, and in eight days they had it repaired and back to me.  A great turn-a-round time.  Anyway, I was anxious to see if all was in working order.  It was, and I must say that I am so impressed with difference in the IQ of it over the 70D, which, by the way, produces darned fine images.  It performed greatly while I was using it as a back-up until I got the Mark II back.

So, anyway, we headed out to the local parks around Lake Nasworthy.  We didn’t stay there long.  We had forgotten about the long Easter weekend, and those parks were crowded with campers, hikers, RVers, walkers, bicyclists, fishermen, etc.  Not much chance of doing any nature photography there.

We went with Plan B and headed out to San Angelo State Park.  Not too many people there, mainly because of the absence of the lake.  Just the mile-wide dry lake bed.

We checked out the blind and caught a few birds there.  These three images needed very little post processing.  Just a bit light adjusting, and a tad more contrast.  Like I said, the Canon 7D Mark II is just amazing.



Canyon Towhee

Canyon Towhee

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee

After spending about some time in the blind, we decided to just take a drive around the park to see what else we might come across.

We saw a Rock Wren up in the rocks of O.C. Fisher Dam.  Very difficult to see, and only if you happen to catch movement.  Ann spotted it, looking very tiny.  Actually too tiny, and too far away for a usuable photo.

A little later we did spot our first of the year Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.  I knew they were due to arrive, as usual, around the first of April.  It was in a small tree way off to the left of us.  I got this shot of him before he flew off.  I didn’t get a really tack-sharp photo, but that was my fault.  Hey, I’m not perfect.  Anyway, here is the result.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  If you are viewing them on your computer, or iPad, click on the images to see some nice enlargements.

Happy Easter!  and Happy Birding!!