Eurasian Collared-Dove: Hunting Season


Fourth in a series about dove species in west Texas. Eurasian Collared-Dove. (Streptopelia decaocto).   Common in San Angelo area but not in great numbers.  In fact, upon investigation this the only usable image that I have in my files.  The largest of the local dove species, it is pale tan in color with a black half-collar.

Eurasian Collared-Dove

  • Photographed  March 11, 2009
  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 5/100 sec. @ f8 – ISO 400
  • Lens focal length – 365mm
  • Metering – spot
  • Aperture priority

Click image to see an enlargement.

White-winged Doves: Hunting Season


Since the dove hunting season has begun here in west Texas, this would be a good time to bring you up to date on the different species that you can find here.  I will do a post each day covering all the different ones.

First up:  White-winged Dove. (Zenaida asiatica).  Medium sized, but larger than the Mourning Dove, it has a short square tail and broad wings.  It is an unmarked pale brown overall color with broad white streaks along the edges of the folded wings.  A bluish hue surrounds the orange eyes.  It sports a long thin bill, slightly down-curved.

White-winged Dove

  • Photographed on September 10, 2010
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f8  ISO  640
  • Lens focal length – 340mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Aperture priority

White-winged Dove

  • Photographed on June 7, 2009
  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f6.3 – ISO 400
  • Lens focal length – 340mm
  • Metering – center weighted
  • Aperture priority

Click on either image to see an enlargement.  Enjoy.

Porcupines in trees, Peregrine Falcons aloft


A little excitement for Ann and I.  First we came across a Porcupine in a mesquite tree.  It was a little sleepy-eyed.  I worked around it for about half an hour trying to find a point whereas I could focus through the tree branches.  There was pretty dense brush.  I picked a spot where I could see a little between some branches, and where I wouldn’t have to be bothered with a pesky Diamondback Rattlesnake crawling on my feet.  I tried hand-holding my 100-400mm lens but then opted to just set up my 500mm on a tripod.  The first picture is the one I got this morning, looking at it head-on.  The second photo is one I shot about one year ago.  A much easier photograph to get.

Porcupine

Porcupine

 After spending time there, we loaded up and headed around near the boat ramp to check on the Roseate Spoonbills.  All three of them are still hanging around.  While there, we spotted a Peregrine Falcon, and possibly another.  It was racing all over the lake, from one end to the other, harrassing other birds, and hunting.  At one point, an American Kestrel took after it and we had a little “dogfight” until one or both gave up and they broke it off.

On the way out of the park we saw this beautiful Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.  Click on any photo to see an enlargement.  Enjoy.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Good Morning, Christmas Eve


Well, this is Christmas Eve morning.  It will probably be another day or two before I post again, so I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  Ann is in

Western Meadowlark

the kitchen doing some cooking for us for the holiday, and I am trying to decide whether to be naughty or nice. 🙂   I gave up on today’s crossword, something rare for me.  I can usually handle them with a bit of ease, although sometimes I spend nearly all day on some of them, but this one this morning is a real kicker.  Anyone know a 5-letter word for “matter components”?  The third and fourth letter an “o” and an “m”.

Yesterday, Suzanne and Sid from Eldorado stopped by.  They were in town doing shopping, but had a few hours to kill, so they wanted to go birding.  We started out to Lake Nasworthy because they wanted to see the Black-bellied

Northern Mockingbird

 Whistling Ducks that have been hanging around out there.

Then we ended up out at San Angelo State Park, just driving around to see what there was to see.  Hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls, a Says Phoebe that eluded my camera, several Northern Mockingbirds and Western Meadowlarks.  Also watched a Northern Harrier do a little hunting.  The weather was beautiful at about 75 degrees.  This morning, by the way, right now it’s 34 degrees with a real light snow.  Now you know why I have a little cabin fever.

I’ll put a couple of photographs here.  Neither of them were taken yesterday, however the Western (or maybe Eastern) Meadowlark was photographed at the park on a previous trip.  The Northern Mockingbird was photographed in our front yard earlier this year.

As I now look out the window, the snow is coming down a little heavier and actually starting to stick.  The roofs and lawns are starting to look whiter.  Maybe we’ll have a white Christmas, something of a rarity around here.  I guess I’ll stay in for a bit and look for another way of getting in trouble. 🙂

Oh, I just remembered, the 5-letter word for “matter components” is “atoms”.   Of course…… how could I miss that one?  I knew I would get it sooner or later. 🙂

Happy Birding

Cedar Gap Farm


Today being overcast for the most part this morning, we decided to go do a little clean-up around the Bird Blind at the SA State Park.  I worked the trimmer, Ann done a little weeding.  After that we put feed out, but there wasn’t action after that.  The birds weren’t interested in entertaining us, I guess.

Speaking of an entertaining adventure, you might want to consider a birding trip to Cedar Gap Farm.  To get there from San Angelo, take Hwy 67 north to Ballinger, Hwy 83 to Tascola.  Join Hwy 84, go north about 5 miles or so, watch for Hwy CR150.  I’m not entirely sure about that distance so watch the signs.  Turn right on CR150, then take a left on dirt road Hwy CR563 and follow the signs to Cedar Gap Farm.

There you will find the Bird House, a rather large building.  It is climate-controlled, seats probably up to 75  people if necessary, although the number never reaches that high, unless there is a special tour group or special occasion. Large windows surround the building for easy viewing.  It is open from dawn ’til dusk everyday.  There is no charge, but there is a donation box inside the door, if you care to contribute.

Juvenile Mississippi Kite

Juvenile Mississippi Kite

There is a variety of both western and eastern species that hang out there year round.  Eastern and Spotted Towhee, Scrub Jay,Red-breasted Nuthatch, Indigo, Painted, and Lazuli Buntings to name  just a few.  A nearby pond invites shorebirds.  There are also various trails looping through the Juniper and Mesquite to invite views of the vegetation and wildlife.

On a recent trip there I was fortunate to see a juvenile Mississippi Kite atop a

Mississippi Kite feeding young

Mississippi Kite feeding young

 utility pole.  He was crying for his mother who was circling high overhead.  Periodically it would swoop down to feed a little insect or tidbit.  I set up my tripod with my camera and 500mm super-tele lens.  I focused on the youngster, and waited for mama to begin her approach.  When she did, I rattled off several exposures at 6.5 frames per second, and got some nice images of lunch being served.  You can see those photographs here.

Cedar Gap Farm is owned by Homer and Earline Hutto.  Contact them at 325-572-4738 or 325-669-2879 or e-mail: cedargapfarm@aol.com.

By the way, Ann and I did see approximately 250 American White Pelicans at O. C. Fisher Lake today.  I hope they’ll hang around for awhile.

Happy Birding!!

See more photos at www.zellertexasphotos.com.

San Angelo State Park


Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Since I do a large percent of my birding and photography at San Angelo State Park, I feel compelled to tell a little bit about it.  I imagine a large percentage of you readers have never heard of it, let alone visit it.

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

It was created in 1952 when O. C. Fisher Dam and Reservoir were completed for flood control.  In 1995 it was officially opened as San Angelo State Park.  It is comprised of 7,677 acres, mostly undeveloped land.  But the developed part is a gem. 

IMG_4660_blog_sasp

Picnic site

There you can find wildlife of all types, white-tailed deer,  rattlesnake, javelina, bobcat, porcupine, jackrabbits, prairie dogs, and many more than I have space to list.  There is a herd of bison, and part of the Official Texas State Longhorn Herd  resides there. 

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

Did I mention that there many types of birds in the park.  There are 356 species of birds in the Concho Valley and you can see most of them in the park at various times of the year.

Also available are many campsites, some dry camps, other full-featured hook-ups.  Picnic tables abound for the day-trippers.  Air-conditioned cabins are for rent for visitors who don’t happen to own an RV or other camping gear.

Air-conditioned Cabin

Air-conditioned Cabin

Kurt Kemp and his staff do a wonderful and efficient job of maintaining the numerous areas of the park.  At the South Entrance gate-house you can find maps, souvenirs, and get park information.

Plans for the future include additional bird-blinds for the birding enthusiast and bird photographers.  An amphitheater is under construction, and when completed, it will be available for outdoor events, including weddings.

So all in all, I would say that the future of San Angelo State Park looks rosy indeed.  Now if only we could get a little more rain on the North Concho River water-shed, the level of the lake would rise.  Then we could make use of the many boat ramps that are currently hundreds of yards from the shoreline.  At that time, boating can truly be added to the already long list of activities for park visitors.

In birding news, I and Gary Lindahl, saw our first Purple Finch this morning.

Happy Birding!!

For more photos visit www.zellertesasphotos.com