Weekend of the Merganzers


I am finishing up the year of 2013 with a few miscellaneous photos from the past weekend.  We hadn’t seen any of the merganzer species in several months.  Of course, we wouldn’t see them during the summer anyway, but it is later than usual, what with it being  just a couple of days away from the New Year Holiday.

Yesterday we ventured out to our usual haunts at the Middle Concho and Spring Creek parks.  Actually we have been seeing several birds lately, but what surprised us yesterday was that as I was taking a long look at a bunch of Northern Shovelers, I notice that one of them looked out of place.  Upon further review thru my long lens, I realized that it was a Common Merganzer swimming right along with the Shovelers, like he belonged to the family.

Common Merganzer

Common Merganzer

This morning, Monday, I had a check-up with my doctor, and on the way home we drove along the Concho River.  There we saw a couple of Hooded Merganzers.  I got out of the car and ventured down along the river bank and managed to get one decent shot.

Hooded Merganzer

Hooded Merganzer

Although the Merganzers were the highlight of the weekend, we did see some more of our favorites, the Great Blue Heron.  I have a hard time resisting photographing them when the opportunities arise.  This one was no exception and I took two while he was just spending time on a tree log.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Enjoy the photos, and click on any of them to see enlargements.  I wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2014.

Hooded Merganzers – New Winter Arrivals


One of my favorite winter water birds is the Hooded Merganzer (Lophodytes cucullatus).  Thanksgiving Day morning, while Ann was cooking our holiday meal, I decided to stay out of her way, and out of the house.  First I went to San Angelo State Park, the first time I had been there in a couple of months.  More on that a little later.  After I left the park, I decided to go by a small lake a few blocks from our house.  I don’t know if it has an official name, but because it is near Sunset Mall on Sunset Drive, I will call it Sunset Lake.

It is a regular place where a lot of waterbirds hang out.  I stopped at a favorite viewing spot on Huntington Street and walked down to the shore.  There more than  a hundred Hooded Merganzers, Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shovelers, and I think I saw some Lesser Scaups.  I was walking and traveling light, so I had my Canon 7D and a Canon 100-400mm zoom lens.  Perfect for the situation.  From my position, though, all of the birds were back-lighted in the morning sun.  But I had to live with it as, because of the residental homes, this is probably the only place that I could get close to the water.

Hooded Merganzer

female Hooded Merganzer

Hooded Merganzer

female Hooded Merganzer

Now back to the subject of San Angelo State Park.  I was very disappointed in the condition of the bird blind.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, Ann and I took upon us the care, maintenance and feeding the blind for a couple of years.  We retired from the job at the end of June 2011.

When I arrived there Thursday morning, I saw one, and only one Savannah Sparrow, and that was the only bird that I observed.  There obviously hadn’t been feed put out in several days (weeks?).  One feeder was broken.  A window in the blind was broken out.  No water was flowing in to the water basin.  Weeds were tall.  I walked around for about 15 minutes and saw not a sign of any other bird, save for that one and only sparrow.

I don’t know what the problem is.  It seems to me that know one really cares about the birding prospects for the park.  The powers-that-be haven’t  grasped the fact that birding is getting to be a very, very popular past-time in Texas.  Texas is one of the leading states for birding, as it is in the migratory paths of most species.  All of the other state parks, are taking advantage by erecting new blinds for photographers and birders.  Therefore, they are getting a lot more revenue that is sorely needed.

So unless San Angelo State Park wakes up, they are going to lose out on a very good source of income.  In the past I have always bragged about the park, but now I have to say that is not the park that it used to be.

So now I have vented, and I feel good about it.  Now, I’ll probably get letters.  So be it.

Super Bowl weekend photos


Merlin on utility pole.

Dismal weather doesn’t hold me back.  We were in and out of the house, just hanging out and driving around.  Friday morning on the way home from breakfast we spotted a Merlin high up on a power pole.  I checked and it is a prairie sub-species.  Later we drove downtown along the river with Jodie Wolslager and saw several Hooded Mergansers again.  This time I got a photo of a female, with the familiar red Don King hairdo.  Also saw a female Belted Kingfisher, and a Ringed Kingfisher.

Yesterday morning, Ann and I went to the bird blind at the state park to

Wstern Meadowlark

check on the feed supply and ran into a couple of new-comers to San Angelo.  They are Mike and Diane Coleman, who have moved here from Fallon, Nevada, and birding is one of their hobbies.  We then drove through the park for a bit and saw some beautiful Western Meadowlarks plus some other interesting sights.  We saw a Northerh Harrier soaring near the lake, apparently hunting prey, and saw another Harrier sitting on a large rock near the shore of the lake, chowing down on a large fish.

I am going to put some photos here.  The weather, for the most part, was damp and chilly so a few of the photos were taken from the car. 

Sharp-shinned Hawk

The Sharp-shinned Hawk was photographed at park’s bird blind.  It flew in, scaring the crap out of all of the other birds, and landed in a smaller tree.  At the time I had my Canon 7D with my 100-400mm zoom lens in myhands.  For the shot my vision was limited by a tree, but I had just enough room to place my center focus point on the hawk and came up with a good enough image to be able to identify it.

The Great Blue Heron, with it’s breeding plumage was high up on a lamp pole

Great Blue Heron

 along the Concho River downtown.  For that photo I got out of the van.  I sought out a vantage point fron behind some trees and hand-held my 7D with my 500mm lens.  I then had Ann help me get up off the ground so I wouldn’t fall into the river.  It’s hell to get old. 🙂

The Roadrunner was photographed from the window of the van as we were driving around the park.  He had just caught what looked like a large grasshopper.  The Western Meadowlark was in a tree nearby also.  So enjoy the photos.  Click on any of them to see enlargements.

Belted Kingfisher - female

Happy Birding!!

Hooded Merganser - female

Greater Roadrunner

Northern Mockingbird

No Anhinga today…but


No Anhinga today, but never the less, I did come up with a couple of nice photos to show you.  We decided to brave the cold, drizzly weather this afternoon.  Ah, what fools we are.  Are all birders like us, or are we the only nut cases out here. 🙂  Our goal was to find and photograph the Anhinga.  It was drizzly enough that we had our windshield wipers on slow intermittent.   We prowled up and down the Concho River, saw a lot of the usual cormorants, then spotted two Hooded Mergansers.  This is one of the photos here.  I used my Canon 7D, 500mm f4 lens hand-held.  I even got a nice 8×10 print out it.  I’ve also shown here another of the Great Egret photos from yesterday.  That photo, by the way, was shot with my 100-400mm lens.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, you can click on my images and see a larger photograph.

Hooded Merganzer

Great Egret

Happy Birding!!

More photos at www.zellertexasphotos.com

Merganzers and Ring-necked Ducks


Yesterday afternoon, while the weather was still nice, we went back to the Sunset Lake.  A beautiful warm, windless afternoon, and the ducks were still plentiful.  A plethora of Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails, Scaups, Ring-necked Ducks, Buffleheads, and in the middle of all, one  lone Hooded Merganzer.  The merganzer was a lifer for me, and I managed to get a nice photograph.  The pictures you in see in yesterday’s post were taken with my Canon 100-400mm lens.  When we went back yesterday, I took my 500mm f4 IS  lens.  I attached a 1.4 teleconverter, then set up my tripod.

That Canon 7D continues to amaze me.  Outstanding pictures, if I do say so myself.  But the credit goes to the camera and lens.  The Hooded Merganzer was the most difficult.  He was far out in the lake, much farther than the other ducks, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to crop close enough to get a usable image.  But as you can see below, I didn’t need to worry.

Hooded Merganzer

Ring-necked Duck

In other news, I received an e-mail from Sue Oliver.  She said that she saw three Tundra Swans, out at Lake Nasworthy near the Red Bluff housing area.  That is quite a find.  I may try to get out to check and see if they are still hanging around

Happy Birding!!