Great Horned Owl and others

After I published yesterday’s post about my great birding day, I went back over the images.  I had been in a hurry when I selected that photo of the Great Horned Owl, as I wanted to get the post published.  Now that I have had more time, I have found another image of the owl that is more exceptable.  I had taken photos from different positions.  This one I had nixed because of the twig over the face, but on further review it doesn’t look that bad.  Besides, the exposure turned out a little better.  Shot with my Canon EOS 7D and 100-400mm lens.  1/1600 sec. @ f5.6, +0.7EV, ISO 2000.

Great Horned Owl

Besides that picture, I was able to get these.

House Finch

House Finch, photo taken at the bird blind at San Angelo State Park.  100-400mm lens, 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3EV, ISO 2500.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker also at the bird blind at San Angelo SP.  One of my favorite subjects.  These woodpeckers are so photogenic.  100-400mm lens, 1/1250 sec. @ f5.6, -0.3EV, ISO 1000.

Western Grebe

Western Grebe enjoying the water in the Middle Concho River.  A rare appearance for this bird.  He was a little further downstream, so I had to drive through the boonies, then hike through the brush, cactus and trees to get to the shoreline.  That was while carrying my tripod with the Canon 7D with the heavy 500mm lens and 1.4 teleconverter.  This plus trying to avoid stepping into various varment holes and watching out for rattlesnakes.  1/1000 sec. @ f10, -1 step EV, ISO, 320.


Osprey just hanging out in a favorite tree along the Middle Concho River.  100-400mm lens, 1.1600 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3EV, ISO 320.

There is still time to vote in my Bird ID quiz.  Click here to see the photo and vote.  Results will be published on Friday the 20th.

Tuesday Great Day Birding

I just got home a couple of hours ago and have been going through over 300 images that I took today.  Of course, about 280 of them will be trashed, but I did get a few good ones.  In all, the three of us, Ann, Carl Williams, my neightbor, and I saw/or photographed 43 species of birds.  We never left the San Angelo city limits. 

One of the highlights was to see a Western Grebe in the Middle Concho River.  It is an unusual bird to be seen around here.  It usually abides further west.  Then when we were driving throught Spring Creek Park, Ann pointed up into a tree where a Great Horned Owl was sitting on a branch.  It was back-lit by the sun, but somehow I was able to come up with a barely acceptable print.  Below is a complete list that we reported to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

  1. White-crowned Sparrow   12
  2. Brown-headed Cowbird   4
  3. Bullock’s Oriole   4
  4. House Sparrow   10
  5. House Finch   14
  6. Northern Mockingbird   22
  7. Red-winged Blackbird   12
  8. White-winged Dove   29
  9. Pyrrhuloxia   1
  10. Orange-crowned Warbler   1
  11. Northern Cardinal   3
  12. Golden-fronted Woodpecker   5
  13. Mourning Dove   4
  14. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher   24
  15. Lark Sparrow   10
  16. Barn Swallow   8
  17. Chipping Sparrow   4
  18. Bewick’s Wren   1
  19. Black-throated Sparrow   1
  20. Turkey Vulture   12
  21. Great-tailed Grackle   36
  22. Common Grackle   12
  23. Vesper Sparrow   6
  24. Black-necked Stilt   4
  25. Northern Shoveler   12
  26. Ash-throated Flycatcher   4
  27. Red-tailed Hawk   1
  28. Pied-billed Grebe   3
  29. Inco Dove   2
  30. Curve-billed Thrasher   2
  31. Double-crested Cormorant   10
  32. Neotropic Cormorant   3
  33. Black-crested Titmouse   2
  34. European Starling   3
  35. American Coot   3
  36. Western Grebe   1
  37. Great Blue Heron   3
  38. Savannah Sparrow   2
  39. Yellow-rumped Warbler   1
  40. Black-crowned Night Heron   1
  41. Osprey   1
  42. Eastern Bluebird   1
  43. Great Horned Owl   1

I hope you enjoyed this post.  I will have more photos later in the week.  I was somewhat rushed to get this done to publish it today.  Don’t forget to vote in my weekly Bird ID quiz at this link: or at the “Birding Quiz of the Week”  post on right side of this page.  Results will be published Friday.  Then on Saturday I will have a brand new quiz for you.  I have already written it, and can’t wait for you to see it.

San Angelo State Park – March Birding Tour

On Saturday March 17, San Angelo State Park had their new monthly birding

Northern Cardinal

tour.  I used to lead it until several months ago, when I gave up the job so someone else could take over.  It took awhile to find someone to fulfill the position, so finally one of the park personnel, Ranger Jade, decided that he would give it a try.  We met at 8:30 at the gatehouse and headed for the blind.  Ranger Jade asked me to assist him as this was all new to him.

Field Sparrow




It went quite well.  There were nine of us this time, but I think when the word gets out, there will be larger turn-outs.  This time they made the birding tour part of a spring break celebration of sorts.  They also had a nature tour, and a bison tour going on also.  Because of this the birding was somewhat abbreviated.  Most of the time was spent at the blind and with a quick drive by the lake to check out the water birds.   We only saw 25 species.  This is the complete list.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

  1. Canyon Towhee   1
  2. White-crowned Sparrow   12
  3. Northern Mockinbird   12
  4. Yellow-headed Blackbird   1
  5. Red-winged Blackbird   13
  6. Phrrhuloxia   3
  7. Mourning Dove   6
  8. White-winged Dove   8
  9. House Finch   15
  10. House Sparrow   10
  11. American Avocet   3
  12. Northern Shoveler  50+
  13. Northern Harrier   1
  14. Ruby-crowned Kinglet   1
  15. Field Sparrow   1
  16. Vesper Sparrow   6
  17. European Starling   4
  18. Golden-fronted Woodpecker   2
  19. Killdeer   2
  20. Western Meadowlark   6
  21. Turkey Vulture   4
  22. Black-crested Titmouse   1
  23. Ring-necked Duck   1
  24. Barn Swallow   4
  25. Curve-billed Thrasher   1

    Curve-billedl Thrasher

Click on any image to see an enlargement.  In the future the birding tours will be on a regular schedule of the third Saturday of each month, meeting at the South Gate at 8:30AM.

Great Blue Herons and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker

I haven’t posted for a few days, but that is because the weather has been so danged nice, I just couldn’t sit at the computer.  I’ll probably be posting only about three or four times a week now, instead of my nearly daily doses during cold weather.

Ann and I went out yesterday, with the goal of hitting our favorite birding spots with a couple of little short stops along the way.  We ended up seeing 44 species during an approximately 4 hour span.

Great Blue Heron

We started off with spending about a hour at the bird blind at San Angelo State Park.  We wanted to see if the Green-tailed Towhee was still hanging around.  It was.  After we left there to head to Spring Creek Park, we stopped briefly at a pond in the Bluffs Addition, and saw our first American Wigeon of the year.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

After stopping at that pond, we then proceeded to Spring Creek and then the Middle Concho Park.  Among the highlights was the spotting of two Western Bluebirds, a specie that is normally found west of San Angelo.  Actually, the previous day when visiting the park with a neighbor friend, we saw seven of those.   Aside from the pictured Ladder-backed Woodpecker, we also saw six Great Blue Herons, one of those is pictured above.

All in all, it was a very fun day.  If you’re interested, here is a complete list of our species for the four hour adventure.  Click on either image to see a glorious enlargement.

  1. Great Blue Heron   6
  2. Cinnamon Teal   7
  3. Green-winged Teal   4
  4. Gadwall   16
  5. American Coot   22
  6. Malard   7
  7. Northern Shoveler   30
  8. Northern Mockingbird   14
  9. Eared Grebe   1
  10. Western Bluebird   2
  11. Pied-billed Grebe   6
  12. House Finch   20
  13. Red-winged Blackbird   10
  14. Eastern Bluebird   12
  15. American Goldfinch   4
  16. Blue Jay   2
  17. European Starling   12
  18. Black Vulture   2
  19. Forster’s Tern   5
  20. Ring-billed Gulls   220
  21. Double-crested Cormorant   6
  22. Mute Swan   1
  23. Northern Cardinal   2
  24. Western Meadowlark   15
  25. White-crowned Sparrow   30
  26. Phyrrhuloxia   2
  27. Belted Kingfisher   1
  28. Golden-fronted Woodpecker   6
  29. Yellow-rumped Warbler   3
  30. Vermilion Flycatcher   1
  31. Curved-bill Thrasher   2
  32. Northern Flicker   2
  33. Osprey   1  (flyover)
  34. Ring-necked Duck   2
  35. American Wigeon   4
  36. Great-tailed Grackle   6
  37. House Sparrow   6
  38. Black-crested Titmouse   4
  39. Canyon Towhee   2
  40. Green-tailed Towhee   1
  41. Mourning Dove   1
  42. Ladder-backed Woodpecker   1
  43. Savannah Sparrow   14
  44. Eastern Phoebe   1

About the photos:  Both photos taken with my Canon 7D.

Great Blue Heron:  500mm lens with 1.4 tele-converter.  1/3200 sec. @ f8, -1.7EV, ISO 100.  I accidently adjusted the EV un-necessarily and had to correct in post processing.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker:  100-400mm zoom lens.  1/500 sec. @ f7.1, +0.3EV, ISO 500.

More birding formation.  I found out this morning that a Snowy Owl has been seen, photographed and verified, near Lake Ray Hubbard near Dallas, Texas.  Since it is about 300 miles east of San Angelo, I will not go to have a look.  Maybe it will head west…………. 🙂  Hey, we can always hope. 🙂

The Magnificent Great Egret

Yesterday as we were driving near the Concho River in Middle Concho Park, I spotted this Great Egret, (Ardea alba), hunting in the grass and reeds along the opposite bank, about 125 yards away.  I always love to photograph these magnificent birds.  I was able to swing the car along the river bank so I could get the images from my side window.  We watched (and photographed) him for several minutes, until he left for better hunting grounds.

Great Egret - on the hunt

Great Egret - departure

Disappointed to see the egret leave, we continued on.  After a while, we came upon this female Ladder-backed Woodpecker, (Picoides scalaris), hanging under a mesquite tree limb.  He seemed, and sounded, like he was quite busy.  I grabbed a few shots, then we went on our way and left her alone to do her feeding or hammering or whatever she was enjoying doing.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker - female

As we continued on our way around the park we saw several other species, though none that sparked my creative juices to photograph.  Then just as we were ready to leave I spotted this female Golden-fronted Woodpecker in the top of a tree, singing her heart out.  For this shot, I had been out of the car stretching my legs, and had my camera in hand.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker - female

So ended another day of enjoying the outdoors and getting a few more photographs.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Great Egret (both photos):  Canon EOS 7d with Canon 500mm f4 lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  1/1000 sec. @ f8, -0.3EV, ISO 250.  Center-weighted metering and aperture priority.  Hand-held with aid of Puffin’ Pad window support.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker:  Canon EOS 7d with Canon 100-400mm zoom lens.   1/1250 sec. @ f8, -0.3EV, ISO 400.  Center-weighted metering and aperture priority.  Hand-held.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker:  Canon EOS 7d with Canon 100-400mm zoom lens.  1/500 sec. @ f11, ISO 320.  Spot metering and aperture priority.  Hand-held.

The Great Blue Heron – plus……Lifer 241

We took a run out to Middle Concho Park today.  One of the highlights was catching a photo op of the Great Blue Heron, (Ardea herodias).  The Great Blue is I believe my favorite of all of the herons to photograph.  This one flew up from the river and lit high in the top of a tree on the other side.  I love the way the light breeze was blowing his plumage.  He was about 125 yards away.

I was in the car, but I was facing the wrong way to get a shot from the drivers side.  I got out and hand-held my Canon 70D with 500mm lens and 1.4 tele-converter, resting against the hood of the car.  Exposure was 1/1250 sec. @ f8 with a ISO of 125.  Center-weighted metering and aperture priority.  Click on the image to see a beautiful enlargement.

Great Blue Heron

As I said above, that was one of the highlights.  There were others and one was the spotting of not one, but two Brown Creepers, (Certhia americana).  The Brown Creeper is another rarity for the San Angelo area, so I was very pleased to see these two.  And, by the way, since I had never saw one before this was lifer number 241 for me, if anyone is keeping count.  I did get photos for confirmation, but they are not publishable quality by my standards.  They are good enough for identification purposes.

It was a good birding day.  In all we saw these 35 species:

  1. American Coots   35+
  2. Northern Shoveler   50+
  3. Gadwall   12
  4. Northern Mockingbird   4
  5. House Finch   12
  6. Great Blue Heron   9
  7. Pied-billed Grebe   6
  8. Cinnamon Teal   11
  9. Great-tailed Grackle   4
  10. Belted Kingfisher   2
  11. Ladder-backed Woodpecker   2
  12. Common Grackles   6
  13. Red-winged Blackbird   2
  14. Golden-fronted Woodpecker   6
  15. Great Egret   2
  16. Green-winged Teal   8
  17. Brown Creeper   2  (lifer)
  18. Meadowlark   6
  19. Yellow-rumped Warbler   2
  20. Eastern Bluebird   2
  21. Cooper’s Hawk   1
  22. European Starlings   8
  23. Black-crested Titmouse   3
  24. Dark-eyed Juncos – slate   12
  25. Mallard   2
  26. Northern Cardinal   2
  27. Blue Jay   1
  28. Savannah Sparrow   1
  29. American Robins   2
  30. Forster’s Terns   2
  31. Ring-billed Gulls   50+
  32. Northern Pintail   2
  33. Hooded Merganzer   1
  34. Ring-necked Ducks   50+
  35. White-winged Dove   1

Woodpecker and San Angelo Blind.

I made a quick trip to the San Angelo State Park this morning.  Jim Miller  had told me that the windows had been replaced and I wanted to check them out.  I agree with him, they are more solid than before and should last awhile.  While there, Ann and I decided to check out the birds.  I managed to get this photo of a Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes auarifrons).  

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Photographed with Canon EOS 7d and Canon 100-400mm lens.  I was shooting into the sun but by using spot metering I managed to get a pretty decent shot.  I put my center focusing point on the bird and the camera done it’s job.  Camera to subject distance about 22 feet, 1/500 sec @ f8, ISO 640.  Aperture priority.

I shot the image in RAW and did the post processing in Photoshop CS5.

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.

Ladder-backed Woodpeckers

The two dominant woodpeckers of this area around San Angelo, are the Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes auriforns) and Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Picoides scalaris).  Other woodpeckers are pretty much rarities here.  However, the Flickers and Sapsuckers are around in pretty good numbers.  But, today I just wanted to show some of my latest photos of the Ladder-backed.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Have a fun NFL weekend. 🙂

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.