Long-tailed Duck – another lifer


As I mentioned in a recent blog, I often get calls telling me of new discoveries.  Yesterday I received an e-mail from Suzanne Johnson down in Eldorado, about 45 miles south of San Angelo, informing us that a Long-tailed Duck was making a stop-over.  It is a bird that usually winters on either the Atlantic or Pacific coasts, then spends the rest of the year in the far north.  Ann and I hopped into the car and headed that way this morning, as it is a bird that neither of us had ever seen before.  It took a bit of patience and searching but we saw it at the waste water ponds outside of town.

Again, I got lucky.  We searched for about 30 minutes, and as I was about to give up, I saw a bird splash down in the water.  I zipped my big lens around just in time to get it in focus.  It was my bird, i.e., the Long-tailed Duck.  It was windy, the water a bit choppy as the ponds are large, but I managed to get a couple of images of it.  Not great photos, but good enough to prove the Identification..

Long-tailed Duck

Long-tailed Duck

Long-tailed Duck accompanied by a couple of Eared Grebes.

Long-tailed Duck accompanied by a couple of Eared Grebes.

We then came home after seeing about 15 other species in the ponds.  Later this afternoon, I got a call from friends in Eola, about 25 miles west, to come over and shoot photos of their cotton harvest.  Since they were half-way finished and cold weather on the way I though I would get over there and get the job done.

Cotton fields surround home on west Texas farm.

Cotton fields surround home on west Texas farm.

If the above photo was an aerial view, you would see that the home is surrounded by a sea of cotton fields.

Modules of compressed cotton harvested on cotton farm.

Modules of compressed cotton harvested on cotton farm.

Pictured are 19 modules of compressed cotton, freshly harvested.  14 are full, 5 are nearly finished.  Each the size of a school bus.  And they are only half finished.  Looks like a good harvest.  (The modules appear shorter because of the long telephoto lens I was using.)

On the way home from that project, we spotted this Merlin atop a warning sign.  I barely had time to get the camera off of my lap and grab a shot, before it took off.

Merlin

Merlin

The Long-tailed Duck is number 262 on my life list if any of you are interested.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.  By the way, the WARNING sign is for buried cable in the area.

A Coot, A Wigeon, and a Heron


Here are a few more images from our little birding trips earlier this week..

American Coot

American Coot, (Fulica americana).  Mia McPherson told me that this specie is one of the hardest to photograph, because getting the exposure right is so difficult, with the dark blacks, and that white bill.  I can certainly agree with her.  On several occasions I have tried to get decent images, and I came up short.  This time I think I may have got it right.  Photographed with my Canon EOS 7D with Canon 500mm f4 lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  1/1000 sec. @ f8, ISO 250.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron, (Ardea herodias).  I photographed this wading bird in the waning light.  He seems to be just content to stand and just enjoy the day.  Actually, I don’t think the light was really waning, but I have always wanted to say that, so I reduced the exposure to make it look that way.  It sounds poetic.  Canon EOS 7D with Canon 500mm f4 lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, -0.7EV,  ISO 100.

American Wigeon

American Wigeon, (Anas americana).  I caught this guy swimming in a small neighborhood lake, hanging out with some Ring-necked Ducks.  They were pretty far away, so this photo is tightly cropped.  In the original image, he was just a smidgeon of a wigeon.  Canon EOS 7D with Canon 500mm f4 lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  1/6400 sec. @ f5.6, ISO 800.