White-winged Doves: Hunting Season


Since the dove hunting season has begun here in west Texas, this would be a good time to bring you up to date on the different species that you can find here.  I will do a post each day covering all the different ones.

First up:  White-winged Dove. (Zenaida asiatica).  Medium sized, but larger than the Mourning Dove, it has a short square tail and broad wings.  It is an unmarked pale brown overall color with broad white streaks along the edges of the folded wings.  A bluish hue surrounds the orange eyes.  It sports a long thin bill, slightly down-curved.

White-winged Dove

  • Photographed on September 10, 2010
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f8  ISO  640
  • Lens focal length – 340mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Aperture priority

White-winged Dove

  • Photographed on June 7, 2009
  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f6.3 – ISO 400
  • Lens focal length – 340mm
  • Metering – center weighted
  • Aperture priority

Click on either image to see an enlargement.  Enjoy.

Blue, Blue Grosbeaks


Blue Grosbeak  (Passerina caerulea).  One of my favorite blue birds that is not a bluebird.  It is of course, one of the grosbeaks.  The grosbeaks are in the bunting family, and the Blue Grosbeak is a  close relative of the Indigo Bunting.  I have several images in my files, but I don’t think I had ever posted any of them, so I will show you these three.  These birds are plentiful around San Angelo, however, these particular images were captured at the bird viewing area at the Davis Mountains State Park, near Fort Davis, Texas.

I love shooting with my long 500mm lens at large apertures.  I then get that nice blurred bokeh in the background.  I hope you enjoy.  Click an any image to see an enlargement.

Blue Grosbeak 1

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/250 sec. @ f6.3
  • ISO 800
  • Lens focal distance  370mm
  • Metering – center weighted
  • Aperture priority

Blue Grosbeak 2

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon EOS 500mm IS lens with 1.4 tele-converter
  • 1/160 sec. @ f6.3
  • ISO 800
  • Lens focal distance 700mm
  • Metering – spot
  • Aperture priorty

Blue Grosbeak 3

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens with 1.4 tele-converter
  • 1/125 sec. @ f6,3
  • ISO 800
  • Lens focal distance  700mm
  • Metering – spot
  • Aperture priority

Denizens of the west Texas plains


Here are three residents of the west Texas plains that you may see in your travels through the area.  But first I digress to my post of yesterday.  I have received various comments after saying that I felt twenty something years younger than I feel.  I credit that to my sense of humor that many of you have noticed.

I have always had more talents than any of my six siblings.  I don’t know why I am so different from them.  I was the only one with any creative talents.  I was the only one with musical talents.   I was so different that I asked my mother if I was adopted.  She said “Yes, but they brought you back”. 🙂  Also, I think I may have been a preemie.  I don’t think my folks had an incubator, so they tossed me into a crock-pot. 🙂

But enough about me.  Here are those photos that I mentioned above at the beginning.  You may have seen these before.  In any case I came across the originals, and re-edited them.  I hope you like.  Just click on any image to see an enlargement.

Pronghorned Antelope

The Pronghorned Antelope can be found in the high plains around Marfa, Alpine, and Fort Davis, Texas.

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/2500 sec. @ f7.1
  • ISO  400
  • Lens focal distance  365mm
  • Metering – center weighted
  • Aperture priority

Red-tailed Hawk

The Red-tailed Hawk is seen in great numbers.  Usually perched high atop utilital poles, sotol cactus, or trees.  One of the larger hawks found in the area.  Always beautiful to see.

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens
  • 1/800 sec. @ f6.3
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance  500mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Aperture priority

Bobcat

The Bobcat can be found almost everywhere in Texas.  They stay hidden, preferring to be loners.  So you can be very lucky, as I was, to see them in the wide open.

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon EOS 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/1000 sec @ f5/6 – plus 1/3 EV adjustment
  • ISO 640
  • Lens focal distance  400mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Aperture priority

 

New day – new pictures


I haven’t been doing much these hot days, except going back through my literally thousands of pictures.  You guys should feel sorry for me.  Here I slave over a hot computer, just to entertain you.  What do I get out of it?  Well, actually I get some great comments from all of you.  I appreciate them all.  It is good for my ego.

Several of you like my sense of humor.  It’s true that I have a great sense of humor, but like I told Holly, I try to keep it under control.  After all, there are a lot of comedians out of work.  But I need to keep occupied until the temps cool down a little below the 100 degree mark.  I want to get my cameras back outside and back in action.

So, today I have some pictures that I have gotten from my archives.  I don’t know if you have seen them before, but I put them on my 500px  page also.  I took all of these with my Canon 40D, so I know they are probably at least three years old.  Of course, if I’m not too lazy, I could look at my EXIF data and find out for sure. 🙂

Gee, I can remember way back in the old days, before “EXIF”, “HTTP”, “HTML” and “BLT”, we had to write all our camera data down on little cards if we wanted to remember it.  Then we had to save all them film negatives.  I still have shoe boxes full of them.  I guess I am aging myself here, I guess.  One young lady commented to me this morning, that she reminded her of a Grandpa she never had. 🙂 I take that as a compliment.  Let’s face it.  I am 76 years young, but still feel about twenty years younger.  That’s what a good sense of humor can do for you.

Lesser Goldfinch

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f7.1
  • ISO 640
  • Lens focal distance  340mm
  • Metering – center weighted
  • Aperture priority

Bullock's Oriole

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f7.1
  • ISO  800
  • Lens focal distance  400mm
  • Metering – center weighted
  • Aperture priority

Curve-billed Thrasher

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/800 sec. @ f6.3
  • ISO  400
  • Lens focal distance  375mm
  • Metering – center weighted
  • Aperture priority

So that’s it for another day or so.  But keep watching, you never know when I might pop in with another surprise post.  Oh, by the way, click on those images and have a look at the enlarged views.  One more thing, my 2012 calendars shipped already.  I’ll have them soon.

I just thought of a neat idea.  An Early Bird Special.  I still have some of my DVDs left, you remember those I made, bird photos set to some great music.  If you send me a check for 20.00US, I not only will send you the calendar, but I will throw in one of those DVDs at no extra charge.  But remember, if you already have the DVD, I still will send you one, but it is not a re-issue.  It is still the same one.

So send a check for 20.00 US, plus your address, and include your e-mail address as well.  Upon receipt I will send you one of my 2012 Bird Calendars plus my Bird photograph DVD, with some great music.  Make check payable to Bob Zeller.  Mail to 4401 White Ash Ln., San Angelo, TX 76904-4528.

Knoxville, Tennessee – Where it all started…….


For most of my photographic life, I had mostly been interested in creating images of scenics, animals, aircraft, most anything except birds.  It never entered my mind that there was so much to offer in photographing the avian varieties.  My bird knowledge was sparrows, pigeons, or ducks.  That simple.  Just those three “species”.  Then one day it all changed……..

To digress a bit, several years ago I came in contact with a person who is now a very dear friend of mine.   A  lady from Knoxville, Tennessee who is an awesome photographer, Deb Tappan.  (Click that link to see her work).   Ann and I paid a visit to Deb and her husband Paul, in early 2006.  They showed us a great time with visits to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the surrounding areas.

While visiting, I noticed that in front of their home was these trees with a variety of birds of all colors;  finches, cardinals, etc.  Deb suggested that I try to photograph them through the window.  She removed the screen and I was enthralled with the birds, and I started snapping the pictures.  After we returned to San Angelo, I loaded them into my computer.  I realized then that I had to identify them if I was going to show them anywhere.  So I bought bird guides and got to work.  I was hooked then.

A few months later, we made a return to Knoxville, determined to get several more photos of the birds there.  Again, Deb and Paul, showed us some great spots.  One of them was the Tellico Reservoir Recreation Area on the big Tennessee River.  Wow!  What a time we had!  Deb and I each set up our cameras on our tripods.  Trying to photograph all of the herons and osprey was a challenge.  The challenge was trying to decide which way to aim the camera, as the birds were flying from all directions.  We had really found the mother lode. 🙂

After that trip I realized that I had finally found the genre of photography that I seemed to excel at.  Now my cameras and binoculars are alway at my side.  Ann and I are hooked on birding, as I am hooked on photographing every bird we spot.   I guess I owe it all to Deb for taking that screen off of her window so I could get a few snapshots.

Here are a few shots from that memorable day on the Tennessee River.  All images were captured with my Canon EOS 40D.  I attached my Canon 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-converter, making it into a working 700mm super tele-photo.  I then mounted this rig on a Bogen-Manfrotto tripod with a Wimberley II Gimbal head.  The data was ISO was 400, aperture priority, and center weighted metering for all images.  The shutter speed and aperture is noted under each photograph.

Black-crowned Night Heron

  •  1/1000 sec, @ f7.1

Osprey with fish

  • 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1

Great Blue Heron

  • 1/3200 sec. @ f6.3

juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron

  • 1/800 sec. @ f7.1

There you have it.  I still dabble in scenics, etc., but I guess my heart is in wildlife.  I am glad that I have so many people that enjoy my work, so keep your comments coming.  That is what inspires me. 🙂

Green Heron


Green Heron (Butorides virescens).  This delightful little bird was photographed locally in San Angelo, Texas.  They are present nearly year around here.  This one pictured is a mature adult.

Green Heron

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f6.3
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance  365mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Aperture priority

Enjoy and click image to see an enlargement.

Cattle and Snowy Egrets


I am still editing old images that were taken a couple of years ago.  They may have been seen in a previous blog post.  But with new software I think I am improving the images for sharpness and definition.  This first one is a Cattle Egret.  The photo was taken at Big Bend National Park.  We were just entering the park, and there were several of the egrets perched in some Ocotillo bushes a few yard off of the road.

Cattle Egret

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f22 – minus 1/3 EV adjustment
  • ISO  500
  • Lens focal distance 400mm
  • Metering – center weighted
  • Aperture priority

This image of a Snowy Egret was taken below the Lake Nasworthy dam in San Angelo, Texas.  He was intent on his fishing and was oblivious of me.  I was able to get within 50 feet to get the photograph.

Snow Egret

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens with 1.4 tele-converter
  • 1/3200 sec. @ f6.3
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance  700mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Aperture priority

I hope you again enjoy the images.  Click on either of them for enlargements.

Those clownish Acorn Woodpeckers


One of the funniest looking birds is the Acorn Woodpecker.  (Melanerpes formicivorus).  It can be found on the Pacific coast and southwestern states.  These photographs were obtained in July of 2009 at Fort Davis State Park, in the Davis Mountains of west Texas.  It is named for it’s habit of storing acorns by drilling holes in trees, buildings, utility posts, etc.

Acorn Woodpecker

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 500mm lens with 1.4 tele-converter – tripod mounted
  • 1/125 sec. @ f6.3
  • ISO 800
  • Lens focal distance 700mm
  • Metering – Spot
  • Aperture Priority

    Acorn Woodpecker

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/200 sec. @ f6.3
  • ISO 800
  • Lens focal distance 380mm
  • Metering – Partial
  • Aperture Priority

    Acorn Woodpecker

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/250 sec, @ f7.1
  • ISO 800
  • Lens focal distance – 400mm
  • Metering – Center weighted average
  • Aperture priority

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

 

Have camera, will travel


Everybody knows how much fun it is to see and photograph new or unusual birds.  I am no different.  I will, at the drop of a hat, jump in the car and head for some reported sighting of a rare bird or a nest of hatchlings.  Within limitations, of course.  I won’t suddenly book plane reservations to go see a miniscule, rare bird that was seen in the far off jungles somewhere.  But if I am within driving distance here in west Texas, count me in.

Such was the case a few days ago.  I got word from friends that a rare Lucifer Hummingbird (Calothorax lucifer) was visiting a feeder at a private residence down in Junction, Texas.  The property owner was posting the info on TexBirds.com and inviting everybody that was interested to drop by.  Because of other commitments, we weren’t able to go right away.  But Saturday evening, the Johnsons from Eldorado called us and wanted to go early Sunday morning.  We agreed to get up early, get breakfast at the Golden Arches and head down to pick them up.  We then headed to Junction, by way of Menard, doing a little birding on the way.

We finally arrived at the people’s home in Junction about 10:00AM, a distance of about 120 miles from San Angelo.  The Lucifer had been reported to be still in the area earlier in the morning.  We parked and observed the feeders for over an hour, but alas, apparently the Lucifer had left the building to head elsewhere.  So, with much disappointment, we returned to San Angelo

But that’s not always the case.  Most of the time we can be very successful in spotting our quarry, albeit sometimes with a little help.  A few years ago, Don Burt reported a very rare Ruddy Ground Dove (Columbina talpacoti) on his place over at Dove Creek.  I called and asked if I could come out and see if I could photograph it.  He answered to the affirmative and we headed out.  (Story continues below.)

Ruddy Ground Dove

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 500mm lens with 1.4 tele-converter – tripod mounted
  • 1/1600 sec. @ f5.6
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal length 700mm
  • Aperture priority
  • Metering – center weighted average

Now I must admit, at this time, I was very, very new to birding, but very avid.  I was getting excited about photographing new birds, but I wasn’t always very smart about it.  In this case when we headed that way, I had now idea what the bird we were going to see looked like.  Duh…  I could have looked at a bird guide, but at that time I am not even sure I owned such a book.

But, good luck shined upon this naive, amateur birder.  Upon arrival to Don’s house, half of the members of the Abilene, Texas, Audubon Bird Society were already there.  I knew a couple of them and they graciously showed us what we were looking for.  We went around with them, and we eventually spotted the bird.  It was being a bit evasive, flying amongst the trees.

The property owner, Don Burt, called me aside.  He said, “Bob, around four o’clock that dove is going to show up along with a bunch of Inca Doves.  Why don’t you set up that big lens of yours about right here, and focus on that fence gate down there”.   So I did.  Right at the scheduled time the Incas flew in and right there along with them was the Ruddy Ground Dove.  I was able to get some very usable images of it.  Probably, the best of anyone there, as no one else had the long lens that I had.  So, even though I was a bit ignorant to begin with, I came out with what I wanted.

We are fortunate to have good friends, Sid and Suzanne Johnson, who live in Eldorado, Texas.  They are very avid birders, and they keep us up to date on the happenings down there.  It seems that Eldorado is a bit of a hot spot when it comes to having unusual birds appear.  We have driven down there to see Brown Pelicans, which normally reside near the Gulf of Mexico.   Other non-resident arrivals there that I have photographed have been, Horned Grebes and Tri-colored Herons.

I am not limited to rare sightings for travels.  A nest of new-borns will always pique my interests.  Usually word gets to me if  something is seen by friends, that they feel I would like to see.  A nest of young Red-tailed Hawks at Dove Creek got me going a few weeks ago.  The recent nest of Great Blue Herons near the Concho River was definitely of interest to me and I got some great photographs that you probably saw on my blog.

Last year Suzanne Johnson, our eagle-eyed friend, spotted a rare Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens) at San Angelo State Park.  I and Ann promptly headed there, only three miles from our home.  It was in the area that Suzanne had described, but it was moving from the top of one tree to another.  It took us quite a bit of hopping around with the tripod in hand, but eventually I got a fine photograph of it.

Phainopepla

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm lens with 1.4 teleconverter – tripod mounted
  • 11000 sec @ f5.6
  • ISO 125
  • Lens focal distance 700mm
  • Aperture priority
  • Metering – unrecorded

Right now I am on a quest to photograph some Crested Caracaras that are near, (you guessed it), Eldorado.  We have been there and have managed to see them from a great distance, but not in range for a good photograph.  But I am persistent and we know where they are nesting, and we will be back.

Well, I must go!  Red phone ringing!! 🙂

Bird of The Week – Osprey


Osprey.  (Pandion haliaetusThis raptor is our subject this week.  It feeds on mammals, fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects, according to Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America.  A large long-winged hawk with a short, fairly slender body.   It is 23 inches long,  has a wing-span of 63 inches, and weighs 3.5 pounds.  It is dark in color above, with  white breast and white crown.  Click on the above link for more info.

Osprey eating lunch

This unique species captures fish by hovering, then plunging feet-first into water, as shown in the following series of photographs that I captured as he caught a meal in the Concho River in San Angelo, Texas.  These first three photos show him hitting the water as he sights his prey.

In this fourth photo, you can see that he has a fish tucked underneath.

In these final three images you can see it hanging freely as he flys away.  The weight of the catch nearly drags him down near the water in the last photo.

These images were captured with my Canon EOS 40D about two years ago.  I had my 100-400mm lens on the camera.  I picked the osprey up in the viewfinder as he started to make his pass.  I was shooting in the multiple image mode of about four frames per second.   I panned with him and kept the shutter pressed down.   EXIF info is ISO 400, 1/1250 per sec at f8.

But, he wasn’t finished.  He then circled around and made this “victory” pass.

Osprey with victorious catch

As a side note, Holly at http://photobyholly.wordpress.com/  suggested several weeks ago that I publish a series of “action” photos showing a raptor catching a fish.  I hope you enjoyed them.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Happy birding!!