A few more pictures.


Black-crested Titmouse

Ann and I just got back from Christoval and we just about got blown off the road.  The temperature is 83 degrees but the wind is about 30 mph, making for some hard driving.  I had to go to the Hummer House and check out my inventory, to see if and what I had sold during the winter months.  By the look of the shelves, maybe I had better go into another line of work. 🙂 

If you’re new to the area, the Hummer House is a little bed and breakfast

Northern Cardinal

 place about a mile south of Christoval on Toenail Trail.  It is also a Humming Bird refuge, hence the name.  A great place to stay, nevertheless, if you want to get away for a night or two.   The humming birds will start arriving there in early to mid-March.  But right now you can see White-tailed Deer, Wild Turkey, and various birds.  This is a good time to watch the turkeys, as they are starting  to strut for the ladies.

Lesser Goldfinch

Before we left we stopped at the San Angelo State Park and checked on the birds at the blind.  Looks like they are getting fed regularly.  While there we saw a few Black-crested Titmice, Red-winged Blackbirds, and a bunch of finches.  I think most of the bird population was hunkered down out of the wind.

I am getting spring fever with the warm days arriving.  But I am sure it will be short lived as I know we are still in store for more cold weather, at least for another month or so.

I am adding three more pictures here that I took earlier in the week.  Hope you enjoy.

By the way, if you click on any photo you can see an enlarged image.

More photos visit www.zellertexasphotos.com

Happy Birding!!

Back From the Big Bend


Wow!!  What a great time we had.  The trip started when we left San Angelo on Sunday morning.  We had a lot of drizzly, wet, and very foggy on the way

Big Bend Moutains

Big Bend Moutains

 down.  When we did get to Big Bend National Park we were greeted to scenes like this one.  The foggy clouds drifting in and out among the mountain peaks.  So since we couldn’t see the birds for awhile I decided to take advantage of the beautiful scenes and get some nice images of the vistas.

The weather was pretty much like this through Monday evening.  But we really dodged the showers.  The sun would come out in sporadic bursts and we would catch sight of various birds and wildlife.  We saw several javelinas, a red coachwhip snake, a coyote, a couple of antelope and mule-eared deer.

Later Tuesday afternoon we saw this juvenile Red-tailed Hawk sitting atop a

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

sotol.  He was maybe a 100 yards off the highway, far enough that he wasn’t disturbed by our presence.  I had time to unload my tripod and 500mm lens and get set up.  I took a few shots of him sitting there, then after about 5 minutes he must have spotted some dinner, so he took off.  I was ready for him and got off several shots of him in flight.  One is pictured here.  Then furthur on we came across this meadowlark, sitting on a barbed-wire fence, just singing his heart out.  I had my 500mm resting on

Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

 the floor between the front seats, so I just pulled to the side of the road.  I hand-held the camera for this shot, as I knew I wouldn’t have too much time to make the photograph.  In actuallity I really wasn’t sure if this is an Eastern or a Western Meadowlark.  I just decided to go with the Western for the sake of “convenience”.

During our stay we stayed at the Chisos Mining Company Motel in Study Butte.   A very nice clean and inexpensive accomodation.  We ate our evening meals at a nearby restaurant by the name of La Kiva.  So named becaused it is partially “under-ground”, it is built into the bank of Terlingua Creek.  Excellent food and drink.  Think “margarita”.   It just so happened that Tuesday was Kareoki Night.  I was somehow talked into doing my part to entertain the locals, and rendered my version of a couple ballads.  It went very well, considering I hadn’t sang in public in about 25 years.

So it is good to be back, but I can be ready in a couple of hours, if  someone wants to invite me to go again.

Happy birding!!

More photos at www.zellertexasphotos.com

Cedar Gap Farm


Today being overcast for the most part this morning, we decided to go do a little clean-up around the Bird Blind at the SA State Park.  I worked the trimmer, Ann done a little weeding.  After that we put feed out, but there wasn’t action after that.  The birds weren’t interested in entertaining us, I guess.

Speaking of an entertaining adventure, you might want to consider a birding trip to Cedar Gap Farm.  To get there from San Angelo, take Hwy 67 north to Ballinger, Hwy 83 to Tascola.  Join Hwy 84, go north about 5 miles or so, watch for Hwy CR150.  I’m not entirely sure about that distance so watch the signs.  Turn right on CR150, then take a left on dirt road Hwy CR563 and follow the signs to Cedar Gap Farm.

There you will find the Bird House, a rather large building.  It is climate-controlled, seats probably up to 75  people if necessary, although the number never reaches that high, unless there is a special tour group or special occasion. Large windows surround the building for easy viewing.  It is open from dawn ’til dusk everyday.  There is no charge, but there is a donation box inside the door, if you care to contribute.

Juvenile Mississippi Kite

Juvenile Mississippi Kite

There is a variety of both western and eastern species that hang out there year round.  Eastern and Spotted Towhee, Scrub Jay,Red-breasted Nuthatch, Indigo, Painted, and Lazuli Buntings to name  just a few.  A nearby pond invites shorebirds.  There are also various trails looping through the Juniper and Mesquite to invite views of the vegetation and wildlife.

On a recent trip there I was fortunate to see a juvenile Mississippi Kite atop a

Mississippi Kite feeding young

Mississippi Kite feeding young

 utility pole.  He was crying for his mother who was circling high overhead.  Periodically it would swoop down to feed a little insect or tidbit.  I set up my tripod with my camera and 500mm super-tele lens.  I focused on the youngster, and waited for mama to begin her approach.  When she did, I rattled off several exposures at 6.5 frames per second, and got some nice images of lunch being served.  You can see those photographs here.

Cedar Gap Farm is owned by Homer and Earline Hutto.  Contact them at 325-572-4738 or 325-669-2879 or e-mail: cedargapfarm@aol.com.

By the way, Ann and I did see approximately 250 American White Pelicans at O. C. Fisher Lake today.  I hope they’ll hang around for awhile.

Happy Birding!!

See more photos at www.zellertexasphotos.com.

The Hummer House


Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

If you are thinking that this place is for a chorus that doesn’t know the words, you are wrong.  The Hummer House is a quaint bed and breakfast located at Christoval, Texas.  Well, actually it is about a mile outside of Christoval, which is about twenty miles south of San Angelo, Texas.

I spent part of the day there yesterday.  It is part of the Brown Ranch, owned by Dan and Cathy Brown.  It is aptly named for the proliferation of various Hummingbird species that reside there in season.  That would be from about mid-March until late September.  Dan and Cathy put out a couple dozen hummingbird feeders. and the hummingbirds return each year to this refuge.  Also other bird species and wildlife abound there.  Deer and wild turkey are regular visitors every evening. 

There is a bird viewing room that measures about 25 feet long with a large

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

window over-looking the feeders and a small pond.  It will seat about 40 people, either spectators that like to watch, or photographers.  I am one of the latter and this is one of my favorite places to spend time with my cameras.

The viewing area is open to the public, for a small fee.  Guests of the bed and breakfast can use it at no charge.  But you must call ahead or you won’t able to get through the gate.  Because of the popularity of the place, Dan and Cathy were forced to lock the gate and put a key-pad on it.  When you make your reservation to visit the viewing area, they will furnish you  the number.

The guest quarters consist of three separate cottages.  The Hummer House that accomodates 4-6 adults, The Lodge for 8-10 adults, and The Hideway, a romantic little place for 1-2 guests.  All are luxurously appointed and stocked with basic cooking ingredients, breakfast foods, fresh fruit, etc.  My wife, Ann, and I stay there 2-3 times a year.

Because of the high population of hummingbirds and other species, it is a popular place for the people that do bird-banding.  Literally thousands of birds are banded there every year.  Bird-banding is done to keep up with the immigration habits of different bird species.

So for a great birding experience, in the air-conditioned comfort of this wonderful place, check it out.

Happy Birding!!

See more photos at www.zellertexasphotos.com

San Angelo State Park


Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Since I do a large percent of my birding and photography at San Angelo State Park, I feel compelled to tell a little bit about it.  I imagine a large percentage of you readers have never heard of it, let alone visit it.

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

It was created in 1952 when O. C. Fisher Dam and Reservoir were completed for flood control.  In 1995 it was officially opened as San Angelo State Park.  It is comprised of 7,677 acres, mostly undeveloped land.  But the developed part is a gem. 

IMG_4660_blog_sasp

Picnic site

There you can find wildlife of all types, white-tailed deer,  rattlesnake, javelina, bobcat, porcupine, jackrabbits, prairie dogs, and many more than I have space to list.  There is a herd of bison, and part of the Official Texas State Longhorn Herd  resides there. 

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

Did I mention that there many types of birds in the park.  There are 356 species of birds in the Concho Valley and you can see most of them in the park at various times of the year.

Also available are many campsites, some dry camps, other full-featured hook-ups.  Picnic tables abound for the day-trippers.  Air-conditioned cabins are for rent for visitors who don’t happen to own an RV or other camping gear.

Air-conditioned Cabin

Air-conditioned Cabin

Kurt Kemp and his staff do a wonderful and efficient job of maintaining the numerous areas of the park.  At the South Entrance gate-house you can find maps, souvenirs, and get park information.

Plans for the future include additional bird-blinds for the birding enthusiast and bird photographers.  An amphitheater is under construction, and when completed, it will be available for outdoor events, including weddings.

So all in all, I would say that the future of San Angelo State Park looks rosy indeed.  Now if only we could get a little more rain on the North Concho River water-shed, the level of the lake would rise.  Then we could make use of the many boat ramps that are currently hundreds of yards from the shoreline.  At that time, boating can truly be added to the already long list of activities for park visitors.

In birding news, I and Gary Lindahl, saw our first Purple Finch this morning.

Happy Birding!!

For more photos visit www.zellertesasphotos.com