Birding Report and new promotion.


My birding report is not good today.  I have been unable to get out and do much photography, because of inclement weather the early part of the week.  Then I spent two days hospitalized because of a minor complication.  Then another day of recuperating.  I am fine now, thank you.  For your enjoyment have a look at this Cooper’s Hawk from my archives.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk – 1/500 sec. @ f6.e, -0.3 EV, ISO 5000.

Hopefully between now and my next post, I will be more successful to getting out to do some photography.  The weather is improving so things look favorable.

Now let me mention my new promotion. But first, I would like to thank Doc and C.J, of Brownwood for purchasing the 16×20 stretched canvas print of the Painted Rocks that was promoted the past week.  They sent me this comment about their experience:

“Just wanted to let you know we received our print of “Painted Rocks” today! We love it! Texas archaeology is one of our favorite interests and the Painted Rocks are especially near and dear to our hearts. Fine Art America really was a joy to deal with and they got our print to us super fast! Thank you Bob for creating such a special piece of artwork, we’ll be getting it framed soon and will cherish it for many years to come!” 

Click here: FineArtAmerica to see my new promotion.  It features my award-winning image from the International Water Lily Collection in San Angelo.  You will discover that I shoot more than birds.  I hope you will check it out and enjoy.  Prints of all of my work are available.

Until the next time, Happy Birding!! and happy shooting with your camera.

 

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Last post before Big Bend


Today, along with trying to write this post, I am also getting my various equipment cleaned, sorted, stashed and packed.  We are leaving for the Big Bend area on Wednesday morning.  We are meeting our Tennessee friends in Terlingua, staying at The Chisos Mining Company at Easter Egg Valley.  That is a motel, named after a now defunct mercury mine and the pastel painted cabins that dot the desert.

We will be spending five days and nights, prowling the mountains, canyons and desert of Big Bend National Park and the adjacent Big Bend Ranch State Park.  That area of the state of Texas is a well kept secret I have come to discover.  I say that because I have had people ask me, Texans mind you,  where Big Bend is.  It is in far west Texas, down where the Rio Grande makes it’s big turn from flowing southeast to turning to flow northeast.

As most of my regular readers know, I love going to that area, not only to photograph birds, but also the four-legged wildlife and the magnificent landscapes.  Of course, if I can add to my bird lists, so much the better.  On that note, I will tell you that in the past three days, I have put 53 species on my 2016 Big Year list.  Soooo….. with my goal of 210 for the year, I should get there in the next 12 days.  Right????

Okay, let’s get to the images that I have captured these past three days.  In no particular order.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Let’s start with a rare visitor to this part of Texas, the Green-tailed Towhee.  It’s range is usually in far west Texas, but occasionally one will show up that can’t read a range map and won’t ask for directions.  This one wound up at the blind at San Angelo State Park.

Green-tailed Towhee

Green-tailed Towhee

Also at the blind, this Curve-billed Thrasher.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

This pretty Pyrrhuloxia showed up, too.  I just love trying to spell his name.

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia

Driving into Spring Creek Park we saw this female Golden-fronted Woodpecker working without a net.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker - female

Golden-fronted Woodpecker – female

On another tree branch, just sitting and looking pretty, was this Western Bluebird.

Western Bluebird

Western Bluebird

I have a hard time passing up a photo of a Great Blue Heron.  One of my favorite subjects.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Looking far across the water, Ann spotted what looked like a bird in the brush.  At a distance of about 250 yards, we had to look through our binoculars to see what it was.  It was a challenge to my Canon 7D Mark II, but it and the Tamron 150-600mm lens got the job done.  It was hard to make the ID from that distance, but I see a rounded tip of the tail, and perhaps some black on the top of the head.  I will call it a Cooper’s versus a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

I love the challenge of capturing the tiny birds in the brush.  Here is a neat photo of a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow.

White-crowned Sparrow - juvenile

White-crowned Sparrow – juvenile

Speaking of juveniles, let’s finish up with this young Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – juvenile

That’s it for this post.  Now back to packing up for our trip.  My next post will be around the 13th of January.  I hope to have some fun stuff to show you.

‘Til then, Happy Birding!!

Waiting for spring birds…..


But aren’t we all, waiting for the spring birds?  We are never satisfied.  A few months ago we were waiting for the winter birds.  So it goes, year after year, watching the changing seasons and migratory trends.

But since the spring birds haven’t arrived, Ann and I decided to go look for the winter residents that are still here.  Unfortunately, we picked a very windy day.  It was sunny and the temps were moderate, but the strong breezes kept the birds at a minimum.

We at first, thought of heading out on the nearby country roads, as we had heard of some nesting Golden Eagles about twenty some miles south of us.  Now, that would have been something, but with the high winds, and the fact that the directions we had to the location were wrong, it turned out to be a bust.  We have new directions so maybe soon we can be successsful.

So we head to our usual haunts, the local parks near Lake Nasworthy.  As was the other areas, the 25 mph winds and stronger gusts kept most of the avian population down.  However, there we did see a few that gave cause to some nice photographs.

A couple of Great Blue Herons, in two different locations.  Usually we see a combined total of around 6-8 when going out there.  This one was hunkered down out of the wind next to the lake bank.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

This one was in a more sheltered area.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

This Pied-billed Grebe unperturbed in a calmer area of water.  He was far off and the image is very tightly cropped, so the image quality has suffered.  I show it because it was the only duck on the open water, except for a few Double-crested Cormorants.

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Back in the trees this Cooper’s Hawk thought he was out of sight of me.  I had seen him a few minutes earlier in the open and he took flight to this location.  I actually had to search for an opening that I could focus between some trees.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

I, at first, considered that it might be a Sharp-shinned Hawk, and I really hoped that that was what it was as I could have added it to my 2015 list.  But, alas, and I am an honest man, but to me the large size and the flatish head tells me it is indeed a Cooper’s.

Cold wet days are in store again for us so I don’t know if I will have a post by the weekend.  We shall see.  After that we are heading west to Fort Davis Mountains on Monday with hopes of getting some fine photos and seeing some of the winter birds there.  We will be returning next Thursday so it may be a week before my next post.  Until then, stay warm and dry and, Happy Birding!

New Photos, plus some from the past.


We went birding on Sunday and decided to visit San Angelo State Park first.  While we were at the blind a Cooper’s Hawk swooped in on a raid to try to snatch one of the smaller birds.  As far as I know he was successful, but he decided to hang around for awhile.  He never showed himself in an open pose, but I could see him peeking out from branches about one hundred feet away.  I was able to get this shot.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

We then drove through the North section of the park, intent on seeing the Lewis’s Woodpecker again.  Again, he was still in the area, but not high in some trees where he has been hanging around since early November.  So we drove around looking for him, then when we were in another area. about 500 yards away from the original spot, we saw him in the distance.  Too far for a photograph.  Other than that, Sunday was mostly a bust as far as getting any good pictures.

On Tuesday, Ann and I drove out to the parks around Lake Nasworthy.  Birds were again a little scarce but there were many Great Blue Herons.  I had received my Tamron 150-600m lens back from the factory, where they had upgraded the firmware in it, and I was anxious to try it out.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Also we stopped by the the beach at Mary Lee Park to see if there were any gulls besides the resident Ring-bills.  Occasionally a Herring Gull or a Boneparte’s Gull will make an appearance, so I always check.  No other gull species but we did see a Forster’s Tern in the distance, sitting on a buoy.  This Ring-billed Gull was practicing his hand-stand.

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Since I didn’t get many new bird photos for you, I decided to add some more from my archives.  Here are a few that may be new to you.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Red-naped Sapsucker

Red-naped Sapsucker

Pine Sisken

Pine Sisken

I nearly identified this Hermit Thrush as a Swainson’s, as I thought the eye-ring was more ‘buffy’ in appearance and the spots were more triangular, consistent of a Swainson’s.  But the coloring of the feathers really favor a Hermit Thrush.

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush

 

Ah, The Surprises of Birding…….


One thing that I love about birding is that no outing is the same as another.  You never know what to expect.  You can go a few days and not see anything interesting, then the next day, you see several little surprises.

Today was a great example.  We had went out a bit Sunday, saw several of the usual residents, but nothing about them was interesting.  Today, since it looks like the last sunny day for awhile we decided to go spend a few hours looking for better photo opportunities than we had before.

The biggest surprise was coming upon this Cooper’s Hawk, enjoying a bath in shallow water.  This was something I had never seen before.  He would seemingly sit in the water for a bit, then start splashing around like a sparrow would.

Cooper's Hawk enjoying a little bath.

Cooper’s Hawk enjoying a little bath.

Cooper's Hawk, just splashing around.

Cooper’s Hawk, just splashing around.

Then as we drove into Spring Creek Park we remembered that we had seen an owl in a live oak tree previously, but dense foliage prevented any useful photograph.  Today, guess what!  He was waiting for us, sitting on an open branch posing for his portrait.  I was able to get my vehicle about 25 feet away and get several shots.  Ya gotta love them eyes. 🙂

Great Horned Owl portrait.

Great Horned Owl portrait.

Another bird that I have had extreme difficulty getting good close-ups of,  is the Belted Kingfisher.  Always the bird was too far away and as I would attempt a long shot, he would delightfully wink at me and head for another tree.  Today, I finally got a chance.  Our driving path took us closer to the water, and there he was, sitting on a branch over-hanging the creek and watching intently for a wet meal.  This was the closest that I had ever been, and I was sweating bullets when I got him in the view-finder.  Again, luck was with me and I was able to get this nice close-up plus a few others.

Belted Kingfisher watching for a meal.

Belted Kingfisher watching for a meal.

So even if you have a so-so day at birding, heck, get out there again as you never know what you will be confronted with.

If you reading this on your computer, click the images to see some very nice enlargements.

Happy Birding!!

Good day for birding on Friday


I had gotten an e-mail from a friend, saying that he had seen some Mississippi Kites along the Concho River downtown.  So after eating an early breakfast at Stango’s in town, we decided to prowl along the river to see if we could see one of the kites.  We got more than we expected.

First of all, we spotted a Coopers’s Hawk across the river.  I almost missed him as he was partly hidden from branches, but enough of him showed up in the early morning light.  Although a long way across, I tried to get him in my viewfinder and snapped of a few shots.  Fortuntely I was using my new Tamron 150-600mm lens.  I was at the extreme end at 600mm, and this is the result I got.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

We saw a Green Heron fly by us and settle down by the water, so we followed it and stopped along the road.  I got out of the car and walked closer to the shore.  It was across the water about 100 yards away.  Again, the Tamron lens came through for me.

Green Heron

Green Heron

We saw a couple of Great Blue Herons, but I didn’t like the images.  They were too contrasty in the light.  Oh yes, we did see a couple of Mississippi Kites, but they were too far away, even for my long lens.

We then decided to head to Spring Creek Park, where we had previously seen the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.  They had decided to fly elsewhere, but we saw another Eastern Phoebe.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Then we came across another bird, that we thought was another phoebe.  I took several photos of it, and only after we got home and I was able to enlarge the image for a closer look, did I discover it was an Eastern Wood Pewee.  You can see the similarities.

Eastern Wood Pewee

Eastern Wood Pewee

After that we drove down near where the river gets wider.  Ann saw this larger heron type bird fly across us and land near the the opposite shore.  At first, I thought it was another Great Blue Heron, when it flew over the car.  An illusion of course, as it turned out to be a smaller juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron.  Unfortunately, it was right next to a piece of trash, and it wasn’t going to walk around it.  Neither could I figure out how to remove such a large portion of the photo, so I just decided to leave it as.

1st year Yellow-crowned Night Heron

1st year Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Leaving that park, we headed over to Middle Concho Park, actually just on the other side of the river.  There wasn’t much going on there, except this little Black-crested Titmouse in a small tree.

Black-crested Titmouse

Black-crested Titmouse

We will be going out this weekend for more fun and birding so stay tuned for whatever we may come across.  Click on any image to see enlargements.

Patience Pays in Photography


This Friday afternoon it was quite cloudy and cool.  Ann had finished grocery shopping and we wanted to visit San Angelo State Park and see how much water had been caught in our previously dry O. C. Fisher reservoir, after recent rains.  After driving out there, we found the gates were locked.  The park was closed for use of the dove hunters.  So that will wait for another day.

After that I thought we should return to our favorite birding places near Lake Nasworthy.  We stopped at Middle Concho Park for a little drive around.  With the cool wind blowing and cloudy skies, I didn’t hope for much.  But I told Ann, patience is the key.  We may not see many birds, but we may get a surprise or two.  As I predicted we saw nary a bird, until we were about to leave that park and we saw a hawk swoop thru the trees.  We saw the approximate area that it went, so I drove towards that spot, watching the trees.  After some close searching, we spotted a Cooper’s Hawk in a tree.  It was the first Cooper’s that I had seen in several months.  I was able to maneuver my vehicle so I could photograph it from a distance with my Canon EOS 7D and 500mm lens.  Here is the result, a nice image of that beautiful bird.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

We left that park and ventured over to it’s sister, the Spring Creek Park.  Driving through there we saw this Great Blue Heron, one of my favorite birds to photograph.  It was hunting across the river.  At one moment it decided to show off it’s wings and I took this shot, among others.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

We decided to go home, but since it was early and we had extra time, we decided to drive to Twin Buttes reservoir and see if our luck would continue.  In a small tree we spotted this red-shafted Northern Flicker.

Northern Flicker - red-shafted

Northern Flicker – red-shafted

Then, lo and behold, in the same tree on another branch was this Ladder-backed Woodpecker.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

So when you are out in the field, thinking that there is nothing going on, just be patient.  You never know what might suddenly appear.

All of my images are cropped and post-processed in Photoshop CS5.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.