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.

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia

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!!

Easter Weekend Photos


I decided to get out Saturday morning and see if anything was happening at San Angelo State Park.  It had been several weeks since we had visited the bird blind there.  I got a few images there, then we drove through the park to see what birds if any, might be hanging around.  I really wasn’t very impressed at the time that I had anything of quality.  I uploaded what I had and I found that some of them weren’t too bad.  I’ll let you have a look at them.

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

Canyon Towhee

Canyon Towhee

Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwings

Lark Bunting

Lark Bunting

I hope you enjoyed these pictures.  Click on any of them to see an enlargement.

 

 

Canyon Towhee – Plain but Pretty


I thought I would try to get out one last post before getting ready for a short trip to Roswell, New Mexico, to visit Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  I have been busy putting together my forthcoming book, so I haven’t got out to get some fresh photographs.  That, I hope to accomplish in New Mexico next week.

I love the Canyon Towhees (Melozone fusca). They are rather plain in appearance until you take closer look.  They have little rufous crowns, cinnamon undertail coverts, buffy throat, and overall a dull grayish brown.  Put it all together and they are a little cutie.  Here are three of my favorite images taken at San Angelo State Park.

Canyon Towhee

Canyon Towhee

Canyon Towhee

I hope you enjoy these photos.  I will be out of town for a few days so my next post will probably be next weekend.  But I will be thinking of you guys while basking in the 100 degree heat of southeastern New Mexico.  I also hope to come back with some new images to show you, and also have some late additions to add to my book.  The book is coming along nicely.  Cross your eyes and knees that I have it out by late July.

Click on any image to see some nice enlargements.

Green-tailed Towhee – 2nd chance


What a difference a day makes.  I went back out to the photography blind at San Angelo State Park yesterday to see if I could get a better exposed photo of the Green-tailed Towhee.  The sky was cloudy, but it wasn’t raining.  There was an abundance of birds to be seen, and the light was perfect.  There was this Canyon Towhee (Melozone fusca) eating seed that was put on this log.

Canyon Towhee

There also was this Lesser Goldfinch, (Carduelis psaltria), hanging sideways on a branch sticking out of the pond.

Lesser Goldfinch

How about a female Northern Cardinal, (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Northern Cardinal - female

Or a Pyrrhuloxia , Cardinalis sinuatus), a relative to the Northern Cardinal.

Pyrrhuloxia

Don’t you love the bokeh on the three above above photos?  A few minutes later about a dozen Northern Bobwhites, (Colinus virginianus) came running into the area.  What fun it was watching them scurry around.  This is a photo of one of the females.

Northern Bobwhite - female

Oh, lest I forget why I decided on this post, the Green-tailed Towhee, (pipilo chlorurus), finally made an appearance.  He flew in from the surrounding brush and made himself at home in this bird feeder.  I took this shot, then he was gone.  I haven’t seen him since.

Green-tailed Towhee

I hope you enjoyed looking at these photos.  I have this habit of wanting you to see all of my photos at once.  I don’t have any left for the next post.  So you know where I’ll be tomorrow.  There is no time to rest, but I must keep going to satisfy my readers. 🙂

All images were shot with my Canon EOS 7D with Canon 500mm lens, tripod mounted.  No tele-converter was used.

Click on any of the images to see an enlargement.  Have a Happy Super Bowl Weekend. 🙂

Three birds and a rabbit


As any photographer has a habit of doing, I always shoot many images when I am in the field.  Sometimes it takes me a long time to go back and peruse all of them to see what I have.  Here I have four that I have chosen for this post.  I have included pertinent exposure info under each photograph.

  • Common Nighthawk
  • Canon 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm lens – hand-held
  • Shutter priority
  • 1/2500 @ f6.3
  • ISO 320
  • Partial metering

  • Canyon Towhee
  • Canon 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm lens – hand-held
  • Aperture priority
  • 1/500 @ f13
  • ISO 2000
  • Partial metering

  • Cottontail Rabbit
  • Canon 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm lens – hand-held
  • Program mode
  • 1/320 sec @ f9
  • ISO 250

Click on any image to see an enlargement.  Enjoy.

More about X-Bar Ranch Nature Retreat


Sunrise at X-Bar Ranch Nature Retreat

Click here for X-Bar Ranch Nature Retreat information.  Ann and I made a visit last week and spent a few days birding and photographing.   I had told you about it briefly in a post last week.  Here are some photos that I promised you. 
 
We spent most of our time around the lodge area, about 50 feet from the cabin that we stayed in.  It was amazing how many bird species that we saw in that tiny area.  We could have driven around the ranch on our own, but we will do that on another visit, as we were afraid of missing a new bird.
 
We were the only guests there, so we had the entire place to our own.  Stan Meador, the general manager, welcomed us and saw to our needs, then basically just left us alone.  Stan returned on Tuesday morning, and took us in his pickup truck for a tour of the ranch.
 
Besides the birding opportunities, there is hunting, hiking, biking, and camping.  As a matter of fact, Eddie Salter, a national champion turkey hunter and guide from Hunter’s Specialties had just finished filming a hunt to be shown in January 2012 on the Outdoor Channel.
 
At the bottom of this post I have listed the total species that we saw there.  Click on any photograph to see an enlargement.
 

Painted Bunting

Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Northern Mockingbird
Chipping Sparrow
Western Scrub Jay
House Finch in flight
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Canyon Towhee
Northern Bobwhite
 
 
Happy Birding!!
 
Location:     X-Bar Ranch
Observation date:     4/18/11
Notes:     These are our observations at the Lodge April 18, 19, & 20th.<br>from
the north & south ends of the porch!
Number of species:     37
 
Northern Bobwhite     8
Wild Turkey     4
Turkey Vulture     6
American Kestrel     1
Eurasian Collared-Dove     2
White-winged Dove     6
Mourning Dove     10
Black-chinned Hummingbird     4
Golden-fronted Woodpecker     1
Eastern Phoebe     1
Eastern Kingbird     1
Western Scrub-Jay     7
Barn Swallow     2
Black-crested Titmouse     4
Bewick’s Wren     2
Hermit Thrush     2
Northern Mockingbird     6
Orange-crowned Warbler     2
Nashville Warbler     1
Yellow Warbler     2
Yellow-rumped Warbler     3
Spotted/Eastern Towhee     5
Rufous-crowned Sparrow     2
Canyon Towhee     2
Chipping Sparrow     6
Lark Sparrow     2
Savannah Sparrow     2
White-crowned Sparrow     2
Summer Tanager     3
Northern Cardinal     6
Pyrrhuloxia     1
Blue Grosbeak     1
Painted Bunting     4
Great-tailed Grackle     2
Brown-headed Cowbird     1
Scott’s Oriole     2
House Finch     10
House Sparrow     2
 
 

Canyon Towhee (Pipilo fuscus)


I don’t mind saying so, but once in awhile I come up with some mighty cute pictures.  I’d like to share this one of a Canyon Towhee, that I photographed several weeks ago.

The Canyon Towhee looks somewhat drab at times, but I love the muted grays and browns.  This species is a ground dweller, hangs out in dense brush but feeds on the ground nearby.  They are similar to the California Towhee, and until recently, they were considered a single species, Brown Towhee.  Click on image to see an enlargement.  Enjoy.

Canyon Towhee