Green Heron at Golden Arches

In previous posts I told you about K-Mart Creek that runs along an old vacated K-Mart building.  That same creek, which is actually an arroyo, skirts along behind a Firestone Tire Store.  From there it crosses under Southwest Blvd. and flows behind a McDonalds Restaurant.  It was there, after breakfast yesterday morning, that as we were leaving, Ann and I spotted this Green Heron walking along looking for crayfish, or ‘crawdads‘ as they are sometimes called here.  As you can see in the third photo he caught his Happy Meal.

Green Heron

Green Heron

Green Heron with crayfish

In all, I captured about 50 images of the hunt.  During that time I watched him eat about three of those morsels.  I left him alone after that, thinking that someday I might see him in the drive-thru.

As a side note, did you know that vultures have their own fast food place?  It is called ‘Carrion Carry-out” 🙂  (I just had to toss that in.)

Click on any of the images to see enlargements.  By the way, I captured all three with my Canon EOS 7D and 100-400mm lens.  I had left the car and walked along the opposite bank.  Also, they were photographed in RAW and these images are otherwise untouched except for minor sharpening and cropping.

A few random shots from the week

I didn’t get many really earth-shaking photos this recent week.  However, it was just as much fun, as usual, just to get out, communicate with nature, and see what might turn up.  But I can show you a few highlights.

Earlier in the week I went to check on the nest of Yellow-crowned Night Herons.  They were in the act of fledging, leaving the nest.  This photo is what you might call the class of 2012 picture.  As for most of those pictures that I had obtained, the lighting was difficult.  But thankful for a little fill-flash and post editing I managed to get an acceptable image.

fledged Yellow-crowned Night Herons
Class of ’12

I went back a few hours later and the birds were away from the nest completely.  I searched the big trees and found that they were scattered among the branches.  I also discovered another previously unseen nest, containing some more newborn.  I will leave it alone as it is far too high in the way and deep in the foliage to attempt any photograph.

Common Nighthawk

From there we went out by Twin Buttes Reservoir.  We hadn’t been out there in quite some time as, because like O. C. Fisher Reservoir, the water was pretty scarce.  As we drove through the area, we spotted this Common Nighthawk perched in a shady spot on a tree limb.

In mid-week we decided to make a run through Spring Creek and Middle Concho Parks.  Again nothing that was outstanding, but we happened to be there later in the heat of the day.  We’re talking nearly 100 degrees and the birds were smarter than us.  However, I photographed this Green Heron feeding in a small inlet of the river.  He was so unaware that I was able to nearly fill the frame with this shot.  I barely needed to do any cropping.  I was only about 35 feet away, shooting from my car window.

Green Heron

On Thursday, the day began with cloudy skies, cooler with a possibility of showers.  We had planned on making a trip to Eden, Texas, about 40 miles to our southeast.  We had read about a man that took it upon himself to beautify some land and build what he calls, a butterfly garden.  It was beautiful, full of all kinds of blooming shrubs, cacti and numerous tiny pools.  It should have been a natural haven teeming with birds, but by the time we arrived the weather had really cooled, and light rain was coming down.

We decided that we didn’t want to spend too much time there, but planned on returning at a later date.  We decided that there was time to make a run across to Eldorado, a distance of about 70 miles to the water treatment ponds there.  There is always something to see there.  The weather had cleared in that area, but it was very, very windy.  The large ponds of water actually had whitecaps on them.  Most of the water fowl was making use of the protection of the lee of the banks.  But we did catch sight of a couple of Redheads in open water.  I got this shot of one about 200 feet away.  It could have been a bit better if I would have had time to re-adjust my shutter speed for the action.  I really had to do a bunch of tweaking in my post editing to produce this image.


So we will wait and see what next week will bring, but I hope everyone enjoyed seeing these photographs.  You may click on any image to see an enlargement.

Last Man, er, Heron Standing

On Sunday Morning after breakfast, Ann and I decided to check out the Great Blue Heron nest downtown on the Concho River.  We wanted to see if the young ones had fledged.  All three nests were empty except for this one, with a lone bird sitting like a sentinel.  He had probably fledged and just came back to take a rest.

Great Blue Heron

We checked the rest of the river and  found one of them doing a little fishing.  As we watched for about 15 minutes, he just kept picking up trash and twigs.  I got this series of photos when he came up empty.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

We ventured further along and spotted this Green Heron.

Green Heron

Green Heron

I am so thankful that Ann and I live in an area where we can get in the car and drive only a few blocks, or just a few miles to see such a diverse collection of birds and wildlife.  Because of the large quantity of photos in this post, I am not going to go into detail about my various exposures.

I had my two Canon 7Ds in the car, one with my 500mm f4 lens and the other with my Canon 100-400mm lens.  I put both of them to good use.  I didn’t photograph from the car on this trip.  I was able to get out of the car and set up the tripod at various locations.  Ann acted as my ‘gofer’ in this regard and was a great help.

All images were shot in RAW and post processed in Photoshop CS6.  Minimal adjustments were made, only for lighting, some sharpening and minor color tweaking.

The city is in the process of re-doing the banks of the river downtown; installing riff-raff and decorative rocks and fountains.  To do this they have nearly drained the river except for a small channel that flows down the center.  When finished, it will be more beautiful than what it already was.

Blog Post Number 500 and Quiz #3 Results

Well, I made it.  This is my 500th post to my Texas Tweeties blog.  I am going to be popping champagne and toasting all of my loyal readers, in 129 countries, plus all of the new ones that subscribed today.  So all of you out there in the blogosphere, have a little drink of your choice and raise your glass with me to another 500 posts.

Snowy Egret

I guess the first order of business is giving you the results of my third quiz that ended last night.  As of this Friday morning, the results were:

  1. Snowy Egret          21
  2. Cattle Egret              9
  3. Great Egret               4
  4. Forsters Tern           1
  5. White Ibis                 0

Those that thought it was a Snowy Egret, congrats, you are right.

Cattle Egret

Great Egret

Forsters Tern

I’m sorry, but I didn’t have an image of a White Ibis.

Thursday morning we drove out to Spring Creek Park and we saw another Green Heron in some reeds.  Check out these photos.

Green Heron

Green Heron

Green Heron in flight

Green Heron in flight

So I hope you enjoyed this post and the photos.  Tune in tomorrow for Quiz #4.  It will be another challenge.  Click on the above photos to see an enlargement.

FOS Green Heron and Bullock’s Oriole

Durng the past week or so, Ann and I have seen our first of the season Green Heron, (Butorides virescens), and Bullock’s Oriole, (Icterus bullockii).  We had been watching for both of them, as we knew it was the proper time for their arrival.

Green Heron

Green Heron, photographed at Middle Concho Park in San Angelo, Texas. Bird was on opposite side of the Middle Concho River, about 20 feet above the river in a tree. Tripod mounted Canon 7D, 500mm f4 lens with 1.4 teleconverter. Exposure 1/1000 sec. @f5.6, -0.3EV, ISO 200.   Aperture priority.

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole is our predominant oriole around this area, but the other species make occasional visits.  Photographed in Middle Concho Park in San Angelo, Texas.  Canon EOS 7D and 500mm f4 lens with 1.4 tele-converter.  Exposure 1/1600 sec. @ f5.6, ISO 100.  Shot in aperture priority.  Handheld from window of my car.

Tomorrow I will publish the results of my 2nd bird quiz.  If you haven’t voted yet you can do so at this link:   BirdQuiz.   Then on Saturday stay tuned for the exciting Quiz 3.  Click on either of the above images to see an enlargement.

The delightful Green Herons

I am having problems lately trying to decide what to post on my blog.  I haven’t been getting out as much as usual these cooler months, so therefore I don’t have new photographs as often as usual.  My wife even complained about the blog yesterday about the Northern Cardinal.  She said it was too short.

Today, I am going back to the archives again.  I don’t remember the last time I wrote about the Green Herons, (Butorides virescens).  They are the shortest of the herons at only 19 inches in length.  But they are delightful to watch.  When they are intent on their hunting, they are almost oblivious to anyone near.

About three years ago, we had our annual Water Lily Festival, at the International Water Lily Garden here in San Angelo, Texas.  There were about 200 people, including city dignitaries, in attendance.  There are five large pools of blooming water lilies from all over the world.  But what stole the show, was a pair of juvenile Green Herons that flew in and started to flit among the water lily pads looking for minnows, etc., much to the delight of the large crowd.

This is a collection of photos that I have of these herons.  Some were taken at that celebration.  Others are from around the San Angelo area.

Green Heron - juvenile with tiny fish

Green Heron - juvenile

Green Heron - adult

Green Heron - on log in river

In the above photo, what appears as little spots are actually little highlights of water in the river.  I was looking down at the heron from about six feet above him.

Green Heron - juvenile on large water lily pad

There you have it.  I hope you enjoyed these photos of the Green Herons.  Click on any of them for enlargements.

Little But Proud – Green Herons

After my previous post about the Black-crowned Herons, several people remarked about the similarities between the juveniles and the Green Herons (Butorides virescens).   Here are several photos of some Green Herons that I have taken over the past year or two.  Something that I didn’t mention before, neither of these species is what you would call majestic, like the much larger Great Blue Heron which stands nearly 4 feet tall.  The Black-crowned is only 25 inches tall, and these Green Herons pictured below are still smaller at 19 inches.

Green Heron - adult

Green Heron - young adult

Green Heron - juvenile

Green Heron - juvenile

Green Heron - juvenile

Green Heron - juvenile

A little story about the 3rd and 4th photos from the top.  (I know you love a story.) 🙂

It was during the annual Lily-Fest at the International Water Lily Collection here in San Angelo.  It was the year 2009.  The festival is to bring the vast ponds of beautiful water lily blossoms to the attention of the masses.  They have music, vendors, etc.  But it seemed that at this presentation, two Green Herons decided to steal the show.  They flew into the ponds, of which there are five.  They skipped from one water lily pad to another, to the joy of the 300 or so people in attendance.  They were oblivious to the crowd as they tried to catch the little minnows that were in the water.

I hoped you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed bringing them to you.  Click on any of them to see an enlargement.

Jovial Black-crowned Night Herons

I can’t say for sure that they are jovial, but these Black-crowned Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax), seem to be enjoying themselves.  A couple of the images look like they are laughing, and I haven’t even told one of my corny jokes yet.  Anyway, I have been culling images since it is cold and windy around here today.  There are many species of Herons besides my favorite, the Great Blue.  The Black-crowned is probably my second best favorite.

Except for the image of the juvenile standing in a pool of water, the rest were all taken in Knoville, Tennessee on the Tennessee River.  Ann and I were visiting a dear friend of mine there, and she and her husband took us there.  There must have been nearly one hundred of the herons flying all over the place.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron - juvenile

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron - juvenile

Black-crowned Night Heron

I used my Canon 7D and 500mm lens mounted on a tripod with a Wimberley II Gimbal head, for all of the shots except for the juvie 2nd from top.  A litle story about that particular image.

Ann and I were driving slowly down River Drive, along the Concho River here in San Angelo.  Near the Irving Street crossing there is a low-water crossing and a small dam.  I spotted the juvenile, and at first I thought it was a Green Heron.  Anyway, it was close enough that I could use my 100-400mm lens.  I had to walk down a steep embankment of about 8 feet.  The path that I took was hard-packed sandy dirt.  I started to slide, right into a huge mesquite tree growing into the bank of the river.  The tree stopped me from going into the river.  I sure know how to make my life exciting. 🙂

But as my other photographic friends, like Mia McPherson, can attest, sometimes a guy has to get a little down and dirty.

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.

Green Heron plus voting results…………..

The votes are coming in and it looks like my old original Texas Tweeties is going to win by a landslide.  It just shows that change isn’t always better.  As we say here in Texas, it is better to dance with the lady that you brought. 🙂

Here are a couple of images of a Green Heron that I took this morning at Middle Concho Park.  It was beneath me resting on a log sticking out from the river bank.  I was in the shade of a tree looking down at his dark color, and there was a glare from the water.  I exposed at plus 2/3 EV to give more light to the bird, but then had to darken the water in during processing.  The EXIF data was the same for both except my camera gave me an f6.3 for the first and f5.6 for the second.

Green Heon

Green Heron

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/1000 sec. at f6.3 and f5.6 respectively
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal lens 400mm
  • Metering – spot
  • Shutter priority

I hope you like the pictures.  Click on either one for an enlargement.  Also, thanks to all who voted in my poll.