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.

Return to the Great Blue Heron’s Nest

Most of you remember the post that I published a couple of weeks ago of the fledglings on the Great Blue Heron nest.   I assumed that the chick would be gone within another week.  Not so.  I went by there over the weekend and there they were.  As I arrived, the adult was just landing to give the kids a feeding.  What a sight.  Those “little” guys got into a frenzy.  All I could see was flying wing, beaks, feet.  Check this image out.  Is this a riot or what?  There are three chicks plus the adult in this picture.

Hey, Ma, we're still hungry

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm – tripod mounted with Wimberley II Gimball head
  • 1/160 @ f13
  • ISO 200
  • Lens focal distance 500

After they were fed, the adult took off and flew upstream, probably to find another helping for the little critters.  Two of them snookered down for a nap but this one decided he wanted to look around a bit.  I was finally able to focus, (pun intended), on getting a better composition and photograph.

Great Blue Heron - fledgling

  •  Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm tripod mounted on Wimberley II gimbal head.
  • 1/800 @ f10
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance 500mm

I hope you like the photos.  I had my left eye surgery yesterday and I have discovered a whole new world out there.  Now I can get back to doing what I do best, and try to come up with some more new images.  Click on any of the photos for an enlargement.  Also, of course, to vote for one of my photos, click here People’s Choice.

I’m Off the Couch.

After a few days of feeling under the weather, then another few days just too darned lazy to write, here I am again.

Honestly, last week I just had a slight sinus infection and a spell of laryngitis that absolutely frustrated me.  I live to talk, and I get quite irritated when I can open my mouth but have nothing come out.  I wasn’t very easy to get along with. 

Curve-billed Thrasher

Then, came the weekend.  I was feeling much better, but I had to lead my monthly birding adventure at the state park.  After that I became a couch potato for the weekend.  The reason??  It was the Masters Tournament from Augusta National Golf Club, in Augusta, Georgia.  This TV tournament is one of my favorites to watch, and I was hoping for another Tiger Woods spectacle.  It almost happened.  Aside from his private life, I think he is the best golfer to come along in years.

So, back to the world of birding and photography.  The birds were not very co-operative Saturday morning at the park.  Could be that they knew about the coming storms or were just down out of the wind.

But good news is coming.  We were doing our regular chores at the bird blind at the park this morning.  We talked to Pat Bales, one of the rangers, and he spotted a Bullock’s Oriole and a Western Kingbird.  Both early this morning.  We had already seen the first Black-chinned Hummingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and a Ash-throated Flycatcher a few days ago, so indications are that the summer birds are moving in.

Northern Cardinal

So I hope to post some pictures of the new arrivals later this week.  I am now ready to get off my duff and get into the field.  That includes, hopefully, a trip to the Eldorado waste water ponds.  A couple of rarities were spotted there over the weekend.  An Upland Sandpiper and a Least Tern.  Both are very unusual species for the area.

The two images in this post were photographed at San Angelo State Park this past Saturday morning during the monthly birding adventure.  Click on either one to see an enlargement.

Birding Big Bend Again March 2011 – Part II

I thought that for this part I would just show you a bunch of photos from the trip.  No bird photos, but some “touristy” images.

We were staying at The Lajitas House, a bed and breakfast type of house that we rented for our stay.  It is located on a bluff overlooking the Rio Grande River.  This first picture is looking upriver from our patio.  Mexico is on the left, of course.

Rio Grande looking upstream from our patio.

The second image is looking across the river towards a little Mexican village.

Looking south across the Rio Grande River

Number three is looking north from our patio.

Looking north or to our right from our patio.

Our patio, where we sat enjoying the sunsets, sipping margaritas, and just relaxing.

The patio of The Lajitas House

Image number five – it doesn’t get any better than this. 🙂

Another view from the patio.

This view is from high in the southern part of the Chisos Mountains.  The cleft in the distant cliffs is Santa Elena Canyon, about 30 miles away.

Looking south from high in the Chisos Mountains

Next photograph is of a line shack on Homer Wilson’s Blue Creek Ranch.  Behind it is Sentinel Peak.

Homer Wilson's line shack below Sentinel Peak

This tunnel is on the highway that leads to Boquillas Canyon and Rio Grande RV campsite on the east side of Big Bend National Park.

Tunnel east of Panther Junction park headquarters.

About twelve miles north of Lajitas on highway 170 is the ghost town of Terlingua.  Someone had made this junk sculpture and mounted it on a post.  A whimsical replication of a wasp, I would say. 🙂

Junk sculpture at Terlingua ghost town.

How about a beautiful sunset shot from our patio.  As I said before, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Sunset from patio of The Lajitas House

I hope you enjoyed these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.  Click on any image for an enlargement.

Birding Big Bend Again March 2011 – Part I

Back from our favorite haunts again.  Our stay at the Lajitas House was just great.  Large, spacious, quiet and comfortable.  We sat and watched birds and quail come up on our patio.  At night the stars were so bright it was almost blinding.

Scaled Quail on the patio

The first day, Tuesday, we went into Big Bend NP to check out some birding places.  We stopped at the ruins of Sam Neal’s house that stood over 100 years ago.  The vegetation and trees are all grown up, but there is a little shaded area that is frequented by birds of all types.  Thrashers, thrushers, sparrows, towhees. 

Common Black-hawk

While there we visited with another birder/photographer, Cindy McIntyre,  ( from Maine.  She is a Big Bend NP ranger.  She had been to Rio Grande Village, an RV camping area on the on eastern side of the park.  She told us about two rare Common Black-hawks that were nesting there.  She said the site was easy to see, as the park service had the area marked with signage, to protect the birds.

Vermilion Flycatcher

So as you would guess, on Wednesday we headed over there.  Sure enough.  We spotted one hawk almost immediately.  It was sitting on a branch in plain sight.  A great photo opportunity, and I took advantage of it.  It was also another lifer for me, number 222.  Previously, I thought I had already reached 222 but found that I had erroneously added a Purple Finch to my list, when I have actually never seen that bird.

In a nearby area, we saw several Vermilion Flycatchers moving around.  They are tiny, flighty, creatures that can’t sit one spot more than a couple of seconds, and also dificult to get close to.  However, I was able to get my 500mm with a tele-converter, mounted on a tripod, about 35 yards away.

Click on any photo so see an enlargement.

Coming soon, Part II.  I will tell you some more about the trip and our experiences.

Off to the Big Bend again

This will probably be my last post for perhaps a week or so.  We are heading to the Big Bend country of west Texas Monday morning.  This time we are renting the Lajitas House at where else, Lajitas, Texas.  Check this link to see what we will be enjoying for three days:   I am sure we will be sitting on that patio sipping a margarita or two, and aiming my camera at all the great surounding areas.

We will probably check out all of our favorite places in Big Bend National Park;  Santa Elena Canyou where we may see some Peregrine Falcons.  Rio Grande Village camping area is a great birding area, plus we may see a Bobcat or a Coyote.  There is also a great Nature Trail with a board-walk crossing some wetlands.

Floating the Rio Grande - photographed from another raft.

I don’t think we are planning on rafting the Rio Grande this trip but here is a photo of Ann and I preparing to go on a previous trip.  The little half-day float trip that we ususally do is really easy.  Just a few little water rapids splashing over the bow, just enough to make it fun, without worrying about capsizing.

Ann and I preparing to run the rapids of the Rio Grande River

The ruins of the Sam Neil Ranch is a great place to see lots of small birds.  You may also be surprised by a bunch of Collared Peccaries, commonly known as Javelinas.  You may smell them before you see them.  However, they are also quite noisy.

This jacal, or dugout, is on the Old Maverick Road.  It has an interesting history.  It was built by Roberto Luna after his marriage, who lived there until his death in1953 at the age of 103.  He farmed off the land.

Roberto Luna's jacal.

You can’t ignore the Chisos Mountains, the dominant range that is visible from every point in the park.  Elevations around 8,000 feet.  The Basin is an area in the middle of the mountains where the Lodge and camping area are located.  The floor of the Basin is at an elevation of 5,000 feet so you are surrounded by the peaks.  Great birding there, also.

Chisos Mountains

Driving west from Lajitas to Presidio on Hwy 170 is one of most spectacular scenic drives in the country.  At one point, called locally the Big Hill, you are about 450 feet above the Rio Grande River.  This drive is a must if you are in the area.  Here is a photo of Ann standing precariously above the river.  Don’t step back, dear. 🙂

Ann at the Big Hill

So,when we get back, maybe I will have some more interesting images to show you.   By the way, click on any of the above images to see enlargements.

I am still transferring pictures into my iPad.   Holy Moley, Batman, I hadn’t realized how many images I had wanted to move.  I have come across some pictures that I forgot I had.

Who was that masked….er…bird.????

Loggerhead Shrike. (Lanius ludovicianus).  This black-masked little bird may look like the Lone Ranger, but he is far from it.  No white hat on him.  He is pretty barbaric;  impaling his prey of reptiles, amphibians, or rodents on barbed wire or thorns.

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike

Happy Birding!!

Pied-billed Grebe

I’m a little slow getting new posts published.  I have been busy going through old photos and transfering them to my new iPad.  I intend to use it as a portfolio per se, to show my work to interested buyers.  Anyway, I came across these two images and realized that I had never published any grebe photos.  So let me introduce you to the Pied-billed Grebe(Podilymbus podiceps).  They are residents the year around and nest in local lakes and ponds.  A bit on the shy side, they tend to hide or dive under the water when spotted.

Young Pied-billed Grebe

Adult Pied-billed Grebe

In other news we had our monthly birding tour at San Angelo State Park.  We had a total of nine people and here is the results.

Location:     San Angelo State Park
Observation date:     3/12/11
Number of species:     30

Gadwall     1
Cinnamon Teal     2
Northern Shoveler     75
Green-winged Teal     20
Ruddy Duck     6
American White Pelican     200
Great Blue Heron     2
Black Vulture     6
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Killdeer     6
American Avocet     3
Greater Yellowlegs     24
Least Sandpiper     10
Long-billed Dowitcher     24
Ring-billed Gull     100
White-winged Dove     6
Mourning Dove     2
Golden-fronted Woodpecker     1
Black-crested Titmouse     2
Rock Wren     1
Northern Mockingbird     6
Rufous-crowned Sparrow     1
Canyon Towhee     1
White-crowned Sparrow     12
Northern Cardinal     2
Pyrrhuloxia     1
Red-winged Blackbird     30
Brown-headed Cowbird     6
House Finch     10
House Sparrow     3

Red-tailed Hawk and Birding results

First, I want to say that this may be my last post for about a week.  Ann, Jodie Wolslager and I are heading for New Mexico to visit some birding and wildlife areas there.  I hope to come back with some nice photos and new experiences to tell you about.

This morning we had our monthly Adult Birding Adventure at San Angelo State Park.  We had one of the largest participant turn-outs ever.  However, the bird activity left a little to be desired.  Plenty activity at the bird blind though.  By Ann’s count we had a grand total of 29 species.  Not bad for an off-day.  A total list appears at the bottom of this post.

Red-tailed Hawk

In keeping with my habit of including a photograph with each post, I submit this in-flight image of a Red-tailed Hawk, from my archives.  Did I ever tell you that I love to photograph raptors??  Click on the photo to see an enlargement.

By the way, I am overwhelmed by the comments to Holly’s Blog about in-flight photography, referring to the advice and tips that I gave her.  See    I thank one and all  for reading the tips.  I only hope that every one has good results from them.  I do need to clarify one thing.  My tips were based on my own experience with a Canon DSLR.  I remember that Holly shoots a Nikon, but I think that most DSLRs have a tracking type of auto-focus.

Happy birding and picture taking!!  🙂

Location:     San Angelo State Park
Observation date:     2/12/11
Number of species:     29

Mallard     3
Blue-winged Teal     20
Northern Shoveler     18
American White Pelican     12
Great Blue Heron     2
Black Vulture     6
Turkey Vulture     3
Red-tailed Hawk     1
American Coot     2
Killdeer     2
Greater Yellowlegs     3
Least Sandpiper     10
Ring-billed Gull     100
White-winged Dove     2
Mourning Dove     4
Ladder-backed Woodpecker     2
Black-crested Titmouse     2
Rock Wren     1
Bewick’s Wren     1
Northern Mockingbird     6
Curve-billed Thrasher     1
Canyon Towhee     1
White-crowned Sparrow     24
Northern Cardinal     6
Pyrrhuloxia     4
Red-winged Blackbird     12
Western Meadowlark     10
House Finch     18
House Sparrow     6

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Concho River – Black-crowned Night Herons

The beautiful Conch River winds itself through downtown San Angelo, Texas.  I have not been down there in quite awhile, due to Ann’s and my responsibiities to the San Angelo State Park.  It seems activities there have taken over our lives to a certain extent.  Anyway, Friday evening an individual called me saying that he had seen some baby Black-crowned Night Herons perhaps nesting along the shore of the Concho River.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Ann and I decided to investigate, so we drove downtown the following morning to cruise along the river and observe.  We stopped near the location that the man had described over the telephone.  I immediately spotted an adult Black-crowned Night Heron up in a tree above the river.  About a hundred yards away there were two Great Blue Herons in another tree.  In still another tree were four Doubled-crested Cormorants

Great Blue Heron

I was surprised that there was so much bird activity along that river.  We didn’t see the young black-crowns unti were deciding to go home, then we spotted one juvenile sitting on a little dam at a low-water crossing.  Click on any of the images to see enlargements.  Below is a listing of the 12 birds that we saw along the river that morning.  We probably would have gotten many more if we could have stayed longer.

Black-crown Night Heron - juvenile

Happy Birding!!

Number of species:     12

Northern Shoveler     18
Ring-necked Duck     12
Pied-billed Grebe     4
Double-crested Cormorant     12
Great Blue Heron     4
Black-crowned Night-Heron     2
Common Ground-Dove     4
Blue Jay     4
Northern Mockingbird     4
Northern Cardinal     6
Common Grackle     6
Great-tailed Grackle     12