Last post before Big Bend

Today, along with trying to write this post, I am also getting my various equipment cleaned, sorted, stashed and packed.  We are leaving for the Big Bend area on Wednesday morning.  We are meeting our Tennessee friends in Terlingua, staying at The Chisos Mining Company at Easter Egg Valley.  That is a motel, named after a now defunct mercury mine and the pastel painted cabins that dot the desert.

We will be spending five days and nights, prowling the mountains, canyons and desert of Big Bend National Park and the adjacent Big Bend Ranch State Park.  That area of the state of Texas is a well kept secret I have come to discover.  I say that because I have had people ask me, Texans mind you,  where Big Bend is.  It is in far west Texas, down where the Rio Grande makes it’s big turn from flowing southeast to turning to flow northeast.

As most of my regular readers know, I love going to that area, not only to photograph birds, but also the four-legged wildlife and the magnificent landscapes.  Of course, if I can add to my bird lists, so much the better.  On that note, I will tell you that in the past three days, I have put 53 species on my 2016 Big Year list.  Soooo….. with my goal of 210 for the year, I should get there in the next 12 days.  Right????

Okay, let’s get to the images that I have captured these past three days.  In no particular order.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Let’s start with a rare visitor to this part of Texas, the Green-tailed Towhee.  It’s range is usually in far west Texas, but occasionally one will show up that can’t read a range map and won’t ask for directions.  This one wound up at the blind at San Angelo State Park.

Green-tailed Towhee

Green-tailed Towhee

Also at the blind, this Curve-billed Thrasher.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

This pretty Pyrrhuloxia showed up, too.  I just love trying to spell his name.



Driving into Spring Creek Park we saw this female Golden-fronted Woodpecker working without a net.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker - female

Golden-fronted Woodpecker – female

On another tree branch, just sitting and looking pretty, was this Western Bluebird.

Western Bluebird

Western Bluebird

I have a hard time passing up a photo of a Great Blue Heron.  One of my favorite subjects.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Looking far across the water, Ann spotted what looked like a bird in the brush.  At a distance of about 250 yards, we had to look through our binoculars to see what it was.  It was a challenge to my Canon 7D Mark II, but it and the Tamron 150-600mm lens got the job done.  It was hard to make the ID from that distance, but I see a rounded tip of the tail, and perhaps some black on the top of the head.  I will call it a Cooper’s versus a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

I love the challenge of capturing the tiny birds in the brush.  Here is a neat photo of a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow.

White-crowned Sparrow - juvenile

White-crowned Sparrow – juvenile

Speaking of juveniles, let’s finish up with this young Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – juvenile

That’s it for this post.  Now back to packing up for our trip.  My next post will be around the 13th of January.  I hope to have some fun stuff to show you.

‘Til then, Happy Birding!!

Green-tailed Towhee – 2nd chance

What a difference a day makes.  I went back out to the photography blind at San Angelo State Park yesterday to see if I could get a better exposed photo of the Green-tailed Towhee.  The sky was cloudy, but it wasn’t raining.  There was an abundance of birds to be seen, and the light was perfect.  There was this Canyon Towhee (Melozone fusca) eating seed that was put on this log.

Canyon Towhee

There also was this Lesser Goldfinch, (Carduelis psaltria), hanging sideways on a branch sticking out of the pond.

Lesser Goldfinch

How about a female Northern Cardinal, (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Northern Cardinal - female

Or a Pyrrhuloxia , Cardinalis sinuatus), a relative to the Northern Cardinal.


Don’t you love the bokeh on the three above above photos?  A few minutes later about a dozen Northern Bobwhites, (Colinus virginianus) came running into the area.  What fun it was watching them scurry around.  This is a photo of one of the females.

Northern Bobwhite - female

Oh, lest I forget why I decided on this post, the Green-tailed Towhee, (pipilo chlorurus), finally made an appearance.  He flew in from the surrounding brush and made himself at home in this bird feeder.  I took this shot, then he was gone.  I haven’t seen him since.

Green-tailed Towhee

I hope you enjoyed looking at these photos.  I have this habit of wanting you to see all of my photos at once.  I don’t have any left for the next post.  So you know where I’ll be tomorrow.  There is no time to rest, but I must keep going to satisfy my readers. 🙂

All images were shot with my Canon EOS 7D with Canon 500mm lens, tripod mounted.  No tele-converter was used.

Click on any of the images to see an enlargement.  Have a Happy Super Bowl Weekend. 🙂

Green-tailed Towhee – Lifer 240

I had always been envious of some other parts of Texas, that had some birds that we didn’t have here in San Angelo.  Here in my area, depending on the time of year, we have 371 different species of birds, so I shouldn’t be disappointed.   But, as they say, the grass always look greener over the fence.

In far west Texas, they have great birds like the Scott’s Orioles, Montezuma Quail, etc.  In east Texas the have exotic shore birds, and the beautiful Green Jay.  But, I should be satisfied that I have 371 species to look for.  Anyway, one of those birds from the west got off course and flew in to visit for a few days.  It is the Green-tailed Towhee, (Pipilo chlorurus).

Yesterday morning I got an e-mail from a fellow bird photographer of mine, Bill Yeates, who had been to the bird blind at San Angelo State Park.  He had spotted, and photographed a Green-tailed Towhee.  I had to see this, so Ann and I set out this morning to see if this bird was still around.  If I could spot it, it would be number 240 on my life-list.

We got to the blind about 9:30, and we didn’t have to wait long.  Sure enough it made it’s appearance from the brush and grass near one of the trees.  In fact, it popped in and out of there about four times during our two-hour stay.  At that time of the morning, this time of year, the lighting in that blind is absolutely horrible.  The sun is fairly low and bright from the left.  This is why, as I mentioned in a previous post, I would rather have cloudy or overcast skies.

But as they say, if you get lemons, try to make lemonade.  I got several images and I was able to pick out these two that are reasonably acceptable.

Green-tailed Towhee

Green-tailed Towhee

These photos aren’t up to my usual standards, but I wanted to show another colorful and unusual bird that we have here in Texas.

Click on either image to see an enlargement.