A Harbinger of Spring

While driving by Rock Slough Park, near Lake Nasworthy several days ago, we spotted several birds in the little area.  Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Bluebirds, along with this American Robin, (Turdus migratorius).  They say that robins are signs of spring’s arrival.  Maybe so, maybe not.  While we have these species year around here, it makes a for good subject for this post.  Plus, is spring not just around the corner?  🙂

American Robin

Photographed with my Canon EOS 7d with Canon 100-400mm lens.  1/640 sec. @ f8, ISO 250.  Center-weighted metering and aperture priority.  Click on image to see an enlargement.

Sunday Bluebird and a Hawk

A fairly short post again today.  Recently on one of our forays into the parks near Lake Nasworthy, we came across this Eastern Bluebird, (Sialia sialis), sitting on a small tree branch.  He was part of a group of bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings, and American Robins.  It was obviously a popular spot for birds, with the water nearby.

Eastern Bluebird

EXIF data:  Canon 7D with Canon 500mm lens and 1.4 tele-converter, 1/1000 sec. @ f8, +0.7 EV, ISO 160.  Center weighted metering with apertur priority.  Hand-held.

Later, on the outskirts of the park, in an area where there is a disc golf course set up in the trees, we spotted this Red-tailed Hawk  (Buteo jamaicensis), on a tree branch.  We observed it for awhile and I got several photos of it.  After a bit, he decided to fly off, and I was able to capture an in-flight photo.

Red-tailed Hawk in tree

EXIF data:  Canon 7D with Canon 500mm lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  1/1000 sec. @ f8, ISO 125.  Center weighted metering with aperture priority.  Hand-held.

Red-tailed Hawk in flight

EXIF data:  Canon 7D with Canon 100-400mm zoom lens.  1/2000 sec. @ f8, ISO 200.  Center weightd metering and aperture priority.  Hand-held.

I hope you enjoyed the images.  Click on either of them to see an enlargement.

The Day of Many Photographs

I try to be a bit witty sometimes with titles of my posts, but this past Saturday was a day that was memorable.  All kinds of photo ops.  I won’t say to much more, but just show you some of the results.

Photos mostly taken at Spring Creek or Middle Concho Parks here in San Angelo.  The exceptions are the second and third photos which were taken at a small downtown lake.  We were just driving around through the parks, and the birds seemed to be exceptionally cooperative.  Click on the images to see great enlargements.

Black-crested Titmouse

I got lucky, as I often do, as the Black-crested Titmouse was only about 20 feet from the car window.  He was completely oblivious of me.

Lesser Scaup - juvenile

Ring-necked Duck - female

Golden-fronted Woodpecker - female

Sharp-shinned Hawk

The Sharp-shinned Hawk gave me an exposure problem.  On the good side, he was perched only about 20 feet from the road-side.  The bad part, there was a limb that was casting a shadow over his head.

Great Blue Heron on log

Great Egret on the hunt

Both the Great Blue Heron and the Great Egret were about 150 yards away on the opposite side of the river.

Belted Kingfisher

Singing Eastern Bluebird

I decided not to include EXIF information in this post.  I just didn’t want to add the clutter.  If any of you want to know how I shot any particular image, just mention it in your comment.  And I do hope that you will comment.

Birding and New Photos from Middle Concho Park

It is frigid again here this morning, and not expected to get above 40 degrees with winds up to 25mph.  Possible snow flurries forecasted over the weekend, but not expected to stay on the ground very long.  Stay tuned on that.  Maybe San Angelo will have a white Christmas.  If so, maybe I can get out and get some snowy photos.

Anyway, yesterday was beautiful, got into the 60s, so Ann and I took advantage and went to Middle Concho Park to do a little birding.  We saw 28 species this time. (see list below).  A few that were new, that we hadn’t seen for a long time.  Here are some photo highlights.  EXIF data will be at the bottom of this page.

Western Meadowlark


Vermilion Flycatcher - female

Eastern Bluebird - with attitude

Some of these photos are not up to my standards, but they are passable.  For some reason, I wasn’t on my A-game.  I was making exposure mistakes, accidentally moving my settings and not discovering them until it was too late, then had to try to fix the errors in Photoshop.  I guess I was enjoying the weather too much and not paying attention.  We sure saw a lot of birds though, and here is that list.

  • Mockingbird   8
  • Black Vulture  2
  • American Coot   100+
  • Gadwall   25+
  • House Finch   50+
  • Pied-billed Grebe   14
  • Great Egret   3
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler   75+
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker   8
  • Western Meadowlark   35
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker   1
  • American Goldfinch  15
  • Lesser Goldfinch   6
  • Eastern Bluebirds   75+
  • Northern Shovelers   24
  • Double-crested Cormorants   10
  • Great Blue Heron   2
  • White-crowned Sparrow   24
  • White-winged Dove  50+
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  • Red-tailed Hawk   1
  • Great-tailed Grackle  20
  • Marsh Wren   1
  • Vermilion Flycatcher   4
  • Bewick’s Wren   1
  • Ring-billed Gull   20
  • Red-winged Blackbird   24
  • Mute Swan   3

About the photos:  All photos were taken with my Canon 7D and 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-converter.  Aperture priority and partial metering.  Handheld from the window of my car.

Western Meadowlark.   1/640 sec. @ f6.3   ISO 400

Vermilion Flycatcher.  1/4000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV,  ISO  400  Distance  50 feet.

Eastern Bluebird  1/5000 sec. @f5.6  ISO 400  Distance 30 feet.

More on Eastern Bluebirds

While on the subject of Eastern Bluebirds, I looked through my archives and found two more images that I don’t think I have ever posted.  These were taken at Spring Creek Park a couple years ago.  Suzanne and Sid Johnson were with us, and we had found a spot where there many of these birds flitting around.  I was able to unload my tripod and sat it up in a location where I had a good view all around.  I was using my Canon 7D and 500mm f4 lens with the 1.4 converter.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Now I think that if I am going to show you anymore bluebird images, I need to get out and find some more to photograph.  In the meantime, I was told by Melissa, that she was going to do a post about bluebirds.  So watch for it soon.  Also check out the birds at John English Photography.  He has some amazing images there.

“Just a bluebird, on my shoulder….”

Well, heck, so it ain’t on my shoulder, but I think I heard that line in a song sometime ago.  Besides, I wanted to have a catchy title to get your attention.  This Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) was actually sitting on tree branch about 40 feet away from the car.  It was taken two days ago during our little trip to Spring Creek Park.

This is one of the few photos that I got that day that I was really able to get in exact focus with that 500mm and 2X tele-converter.  If you remember, I told you that I had to use manual focus.  Now, remember, at my age, I am certainly not new to manual focus.  In my earlier days of photography, I don’t think auto-focus was invented yet.  But nevertheless, when you are dealing with long lenses, in the 1,000mm range, manual focus is very delicate.

In this case, the bird wasn’t too far off and was well lit, except for the shadow over it’s face.  If only it would have moved about six inches to it’s left, it would have been perfect.  But birds have a will of their own, so I was stuck with the pose.  For a stable support, I put my Puffin’ Pad on the window sill, turned off the car engine, and took my time turning the focusing ring.  Fortunately, the bluebird was comfortable, and in no hurry to fly off.  He also was in no hurry to move those six inches.  I took about 12 images, with that shadow in various positions across it’s face.  This photograph was the one that minimizes it the best.

Eastern Bluebird

Photo EXIF data:  Canon 7D, 500mm lens w/2X tele-converter.  1/640 sec. @ f8, plus 0.7 EV,  ISO 400. Aperture priority.

Birding at Lake Nasworthy

Our two favorite spots at Lake Nasworthy to bird and to photograph birds, are at two of the parks there, Spring Creek and Middle Concho.  This past Sunday morning Ann and I decided to take in the nice weather and visit both places.  It was enroute home from those places that we encountered the Black Vultures that I featured in yesterday’s post.

We entered Spring Creek Park first, and we didn’t see many birds early on.  However, we saw about seventy Wild Turkeys further down the road.  They were drinking from the creek, then heading back into the nearby woods.  We didn’t see any of the herons or water birds that we usually come upon, but because of the beautiful weather, there were numerous fisherman in their boats, trawling along the water.  That probably spooked the wildlife somewhat.  But that is okay, as the park is for everybody.

But we persisted, continued driving slowly through both parks.  We finally came upon an area in Middle Concho Park, where amongst the trees there was more bird activity.  I stopped the car, got my camera out and set up a tripod in a small clearing where I would have a good view of nearby trees.  I was using my Canon EOS 7D with 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-converter giving me a working focal length of 700mm.

The trees were still pretty dense, so I could hear many birds, and see them flying between the trees, but I wasn’t very lucky at getting many photo ops.  I did finally get these two “keepers”.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker with pecan

This female Golden-fronted Woodpecker was making herself heard, then she flew up onto this dead limb, with a pecan in her mouth. Exposure 1/2500 sec. @f8 with ISO 400 and aperture priority.

Eastern Bluebird

Swinging my camera around on my Wimberley gimbal tripod head about 45 degrees, there was a flurry of activity and I spotted about a half dozen Eastern Bluebirds.  They were in a shaded area, and one of them settled on a visible branch.  Exposure was 1/1000 sec. @f8 plus 1/3 EV – ISO 400.  If I would have had the time, I probably would have opened up the lens a bit more, but with a little help in post processing I managed to get it lightened enough.

From the birding aspect, during the 2 – 3 hours we spent there we managed to see these 24 species:

So, all in all, we had a fun morning.  The weather was gorgeous, and it was wonderful just to get out and enjoy nature.  Click on either image to see an enlargement.

Pictures from Middle Concho Park

On Thursday morning Ann and I made a journey to Middle Concho Park.  With cooler temperatures we thought we could enjoy the drive through there.  We saw a few bird species that we hadn’t seen in several weeks.  Notably were some Vermilion Flycatchers, both adult male and some juveniles.  Also one Eastern Bluebird, an Eastern Phoebe, finches and herons.

"Welcome to my pad".

  • First year Green heron
  • Photographed  September 8, 2011
  • Canon EOS 7d
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/1250 sec. @ f8 – ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance  400mm
  • Metering – spot
  • Shutter priority

Male Vermilion Flycatcher

  • Male Vermilion Flycatcher
  • Photographed  September 8, 2011
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm lens with 1.4 tele-converter
  • 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1 – minus 1/3 EV adjustment
  • ISO 100
  • Lens focal distance  700mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Shutter priority

Enjoy.  Click on either image to see an enlargement.

Bird of the Week – Eastern Bluebird

One of my favorite small birds is the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis).   Stokes Field guide to the Birds of North America describes it as small, broad-necked, short-legged thrush with a short tail and short bill.  It resides here in Texas year around.  Upperparts bright blue, underparts a rich reddish brown on throat, breast and flanks, contrasting with a white belly.  It loves the open woods and woods edges and farmlands.  Enjoy the photos.  Click on either one for an enlargement.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Both photos were shot in Aperture Priority at f6.3.  Top photo, ISO 400, 1/800 sec.  Bottom photo ISO 800, 1/640 sec.  Canon EOS 7D, 500mm  f4 lens with 1.4 converter.   Bogen-Manfrotto tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head.

San Angelo Birding Trip Sat. Dec. 4

I’ve gotten behind on my postss.  This is a busy time of the year for me.  I ‘ve been trying to get some birding time in, so when Suzanne and Sid Johnson said they wanted to get together Saturday it was a welcome respite.  We started at San Angelo State Park, at the bird blind, then  headed for the boat ramp.  I think we saw around 27 species in all at the park.

Following that we head for the park near Spring Creek Marina.  Lots of Eastern Bluebirds, Orange-crowned Warblers, Eastern Phoebes, Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, and several others.  I forgot to mention, that we had stopped at what we call Huntington Lake, and there were waterbirds or ducks of almost every description.  Wigeons, Ducks, Merganzers, just to name a few.

All total for the five hours we spent was 43 species according to Ann’s count.  As for photos, I didn’t get too much as I got into the birding aspect more than usual.  I don’t think that any of what we saw presented a large photograph opportunity.  However, I did come away with a nice small image of a Belted-Kingfisher and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker.

Beltedd Kingfisher

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Click on either image to see an enlargement.

Happy Birding!!