More from Houston trip

My last post described the great wildlife in and around Shannon’s back yard near Houston, Texas.  Here are a few more photos I took during that great week, including this sequence of a Great Egret making a landing in their creek.

Great Egret making a landing.

Great Egret making a landing.

Great Egret landing.

Great Egret landing.

Great Egret fishing in the creek.

Great Egret splashing down.

In the nearby trees a spider was working in the early morning light.

Early morning spider web.

Early morning spider web.

White Ibises were all around us it seemed.  Beautiful, long-billed wading birds found around the gulf coast.  Their favorite food are the river snails found in the creek.

White Ibis

White Ibis

White Ibises

White Ibises

Back in the yard, Shannon’s children are finding some large grubs in her compost bed.  I think they named this one Moe.

Texas-sized grub.

Texas-sized grub.

Shannon and grub.

Shannon and grub.

Shannon goofing off with grub again.

Shannon goofing off with grub.

The woodland birds were waking up and we spotted this nearby Ladder-backed Woodpecker.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

A Snowy Egret made a late appearance.

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

So our four fun days ended there and we returned home to San Angelo with great memories.  Can’t wait to go back.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Sept 11 San Angelo Birding Tour Report

Wow, what a great time we had this morning for the monthly Adult Birding Adventure at San Angelo State Park.  There were only six of us so somebody missed out on some fun birding.  It could be my fault, because I sent reminders a few days earlier that usual, and some people may have forgotten.  I would like to thank Mark Frank from Goodfellow AFB for joining us.  He is a very personable young man and he enjoyed being with all of us seniors.

But here is a full list:

3  Bullock’s Orioles

12  Scissor-tailed Flycatchers

3   Golden-fronted Woodpeckers

1   Greater Roadrunner

4   Black-crested Titmice

2   Pyrrholoxias

12   House finches

12  Red-winged Blackbirds

24   White-winged Doves

3   Northern Cardinals

12   House Sparrows

12   Northern Mockingbirds

6   Canyon Towhees

4   Brown-headed Cowbirds

3   Common Nighthawks

12   Turkey Vultures

1   Northern Harrier

3   Roseate Spoonbills

15   Least Sandpipers

6   Greater Yellowlegs

1   Snowy Plover

10   White-faced Ibises

5   Great Blue Herons

2  Double-crested Cormorants

1   Tri-colored Heron

2   Black-necked Stilts

6   Killdeer

1   Great Egret

1   Mississippi Kite

75   Wilson’s Phalaropes

6   Mourning Doves

8   Common Grackles

4   Barn Swallows

18   Blue-winged Teal

1   Black-chinned Hummingbird

That is a total of 35 species as a group.  In addition Ann and I saw a Swainson’s Hawk on entering the park, then on the way out we saw a Cactus Wren.  Also yesterday, Ann and I saw a Dickcessel at the viewing area. the first that we had seen at that location.

This morning we had started with a stop at the bird blind and spent about 30 minutes there.  Just saw the usual birds there, nothing exciting.  Then after that we drove around to the boat ramp where we had access easily to the shore of O. C. Fisher Lake.  We hiked along ths shore line for maybe a quarter to a half-mile, and that is where we were able to see so many water birds.

Along with the Peregrine Falcon that Ann and I saw several days ago, it has been quite an exciting week.  After hiking this morning as much as we did in this 90 degree heat, I feel that I am getting back in shape after my broken back problem.  I may be able to tackle some of those trails in Big Bend National Park next month.  I guess getting old can be fun after all.  🙂

Happy Birding!!

Gulf Fritillary and shorebirds

I’m not usually into butterflies much.  I guess that’s because I never paid a lot of attention to them.  I don’t know why, as they are beautiful creaatures.  I was watching the birds at the San Angelo State Park wildlife viewing area this morning.  Right outside the window is a plant of Yellow Lantana and as I watched, this butterfly, later identified as a Gulf Fritillary landed on it.  It took it’s time, going from blossom to another.

Gulf Fritillary


He (or she?) was only about eight feet away.  I decided to try and get a good sharp picture, maybe freeze the action.  I turnd on my on-camera flash, set the aperture at f16 and took the shot.  The shutter speed was only 1/250 per sec, but the flash duration was much higher and that is what got the sharp image.  I am very pleased with the result.

Long-billed Curlew


My wife and I are still starting to see more shorebirds at O. C. Fisher lake.  Great Blue Herons, American Avocets, Black-necked Stilts, and some sandpipers that are too far away to identify.  Soon there will be more species like the Long-billed Curlew, White-faced Ibises, Pelicans, etc.  Hopefully it won’t be too long, as I am geting impatient. 

White-faced Ibis


In other news, my Epson R1800 Stylus Photo printer was giving me problems for awhile, so I thought maybe it was time for a new one.  I ordered and received a new R1900.  I unpacked it this afternoon and got it running.  It is doing an excellent job.  However, during the interim while waiting for the new one, I corrected the problem on the old R1800.  Instead of shipping the new one back I decided to keep it.  I will keep the old one as a back-up unless I dispose of it by selling it.

Happy birding!!

Summer is here!

Okay, so the calendar says summer arrives on June 21 or somewhere along there, but believe me, it seems like it has arrived.  The temp is supposed to reach the century mark today.

But anyway, we took advantage of the nice warmer temperatures and headed back to Eldorado again to check out the waste water ponds again.  Again there were about seventeen White-faced Ibeses plus two Blacked-necked Stilts for openers.  It was nice to see the Stilts close up.  I’ve seen at least one at O. C. Fisher lake, but the shoreline has receded so far out it is hard to see them.

On the way home we again visited the Hummer House in Christoval.  There were birds of all the species that we are used to seeing at that location.  Lazuli Buntings, Painted Buntings, Tanagers, an Orchard Oriole, a Vermilion Flycatcher, plus many, many others.

I received an e-mail from Joy Steele over on Martin Street to inform me that two Mississippi Kites are again nesting there.  So if you venture over to that neighborhood you very likely can see one of them in the trees.  I have done so in the past.

This Saturday is the monthly birding tour at San Angelo State Park.  Meet at the main South Gatehouse at 9:00AM.  We’ll check out the birds in the park, and I think I can show you a perched Common Nighthawk.  Come one, come all, beginners and vets.  We’ll have a blast!!

Here are a few new photos from the past few days.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.  Happy Birding!

Lazuli Bunting

Lark Bunting

Red-shouldered Hawk

End of a week, Start of a month

Spotted Sandpiper

It’s the end of the week but starting a brand new month.  I’m going to show you a few highlights of the past week.

Yellow-headed Blackbird

On Tuesday Ann and I decided to take our friend Jodie Wolslager on a little birding trip.  We headed to Eldorado first to tour the water waste ponds there.  There are always a good selection of waterfowl there, and you never know when you might get surprised.  Suzanne Johnson had e-mailed us that there were about the thirty-seven White-faced Ibises there the previous day.  By the time we got there the count was down to nine.  But nevertheless I obtained some photos.

White-faced Ibises

We also saw some Yellow-headed Blackbirds, both adult and juvenile.  We saw Spotted Sandpipers and a few other sandpiper types that we were unable to identify for certain.  Also in attendance were probably one thousand Wilson’s Phalaropes.

Leaving there we headed to Christoval and back to our favorite place the Hummer House.  

Wilson's Phalaropes

A great collection of birds there, many more than than what we saw on a previous trip.  Our first Painted Buntings of the season, Summer Tanagers, Pine Siskins, Vermilion Flycatcher. Lesser Goldfinches, plus many others.

This morning Ann and I were out at the San Angelo State Park to give a little presentation on birds for a group of Girl Scouts.  I guess because of the cooler weather this morning, most of the birds stayed away.  However, we were treated to a young male Wild Turkey that entered stage left, and left stage right.  We did see a couple of Bullock’s Orioles though.

Upon leaving the park Ann and I spotted our firse Common Nighthawk of the season.  He was perched as always, parallel on a branch.  I got a few nice photos which I will post one here.  After I took the photos, another birding

Common Nighthawk

 friend of ours, Jimmy Villers, drove up with his wife.  She had never seen a nighthawk before, so she got quite thrill out of it.

Click on any photo to see an enlargement.

Happy Birding!!

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

Well we made it to the Hummer House yesterday.  What a beautiful day for birding it was.   Saw a good collection of birds, but not as plentiful as there will be in a couple of weeks.  We did see a Painted Bunting, among others, but the highlight of the day was seeing the Red-shouldered Hawk nest.  This hawk is not common for this area as it mostly resides to the east of here. 

I hope to make more trips there so I can see the progress of the young ones after they have hatched.  I have posted some of my photos here for your enjoyment.  I am rather proud of them.  One image shows the hawk on the nest, the others are two images of  he or she in a nearby tree.

In other news Susanne Johnson reported 25 White-faced Ibises are (or were) at the water treatment ponds down in Eldorado,  plus some other water and shore birds.  Jodie Wolslager sent me a photo of about 25 Yellow-headed Blackbirds that she saw near the country club.  I had personally never seen such a large flock of those beautiful birds.  I may venture out that way later this evening to see if I can find them.  Also Sue Oliver sent me a photo of a Greater Roadrunner that she took near her house.

Red-shouldered Hawk on nest

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Great Egret

The Great Egret (Ardea alba) and the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) are the two that are seen most of the time around our area.  However you may come across flocks of Cattle Egrets also.  The Great Egret is the largest of the three.  It has an orange or yellowish beak and black legs, where the Snowy Egret has a blackish beak and black legs.  The Snowy is also quite a bit smaller.

The Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) is a shorter, stubbier bird.  It is found in

Great Egret

 upland habitats and near livestock, where the can get the insects off cattle, etc.  Hence the name.  I have come across flocks of the Cattle Egrets in the desert of Big Bend National Park.  Probably on a migation route. 

Two years ago on one of my trips to the Big Bend, as we were entering the park from the west near Study Butte, we pulled up to the kiosk where you pay your entrance fee to the park.  Lo and behold, there were two Cattle Egrets and one Yellow-headed Blackbird sitting the roof.  I pulled to the side of the road immediately.  The Egrets flew to a nearby Ocotilla and I was able to get some very nice photos.

The two great egret photos were taken near the old K-mart store in southwest San Angelo.  The Snowys were shot at O. C. Fisher lake and the cattle egrets were photographed several years ago in Big Bend National Park.

Click on any photo to see an enlargement.

Snowy Egrets


Cattle Egrets in ocotillo.

Visit to Lake Ivie

Before I get to reporting on our trip Saturday to O. H. Ivie Resevoir, I wish to touch on something personal.  I and Ann have been a little distracted the last few days.  My dearest friend, Deb Tappan of Knoxville, Tennessee, lost her father a few days ago.  She and her husband Paul are more like family to us.  Deb was the one that talked me into me starting this blog.  I didn’t think I could do it, but she pushed, then Ann pushed and this where I am today.  So, Deb and Paul, please know that we are thinking about you.

Suzanne and Sid came up from Eldorado, Saturday morning to join us on our birding  trip.   Both of them wanted to have some fun time before the weather got to changing too much.

We left San Angelo about 9:30 Saturday morning, and saw quite a few birds on the way there.  Lots of various hawk and kestrels.  We visited all of the

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

 various parks around the lake, plus along the Colorado River.  We ended up with seeing 40 species.  Not up to Mary’s and Sue’s total of 61, but more than I expected.  We also saw some species that they didn’t see.  We were able to add six White-faced Ibises, one Northern Flicker, and one Red Head, the latter which is a lifer for me.  The weather was very nice, around 80 degrees, but quite windy.  But that is West Texas for you.

Afterward, on the way home, we left Padgett Park going north and stopped in Valera to eat.  We found this little place, called the Grazin’ Patch.  They have great food.  If you’re in the area and hungry, you would be pleased to give them a try.  They are open Thursday thru Sunday.

Happy Birding!!

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My First Day of Blogging

Juvenile White Ibis

Juvenile White Ibis

I’ve sitting here at the computer, testing the “waters” with my toes. And I guess it’s time to jump in and get this blogging thing started.

This blog will be about Bird Photography and of course, that means that Birding will also be included. Birding is an essential by-product to Bird Photography.

I have been encouraged to start this by my very dear friend, Deb Tappan, of Knoxville, Tennessee.  She is an excellent, outstanding photographer in her own right, but she loves my bird photography.  Hence, she has been encouraging me to do a blog.  Then my wife, Ann, started agreeing with her, so here I am.

Ann and I go birding several times a month. Most of our visits are to San Angelo State Park, which is only about 3 miles from our home. They have a nice bird blind, actually a little building with windows, benches, etc. But we also just like to drive around the park slowly and observe the birds and wildlife.

Another of our favorite places, are the water treatment ponds at Eldorado,  Texas.  That place has become a mecca for attracting rarely seen birds.  In the past few weeks, I have seen two Tri-colored Herons, and one juvenile White Ibis (pictured above).  Both of these species usually are found only along the Gulf Coast.   Then on Labor Day, I photographed a Least Grebe, which was the first sighting ever in the Concho Valley.  I have to credit Suzanne and Sid Johnson, of Eldorado, for sighting them.  They, in turn, notified me so I could come do the photography.

 This being sort of an introductory post, I should mention that we are from Michigan, me being from the city of Muskegon, with Ann being from a little community of Beulah, near Traverse City, Michigan. We arrived here in San Angelo, Texas with the compliments of the U. S. Air Force, in Decembe 1961.   We loved the area so much we decided to make it our home. If you do the math, that makes young senior citizens. But that doesn’t slow us down.

But back to the main subject of birding.  I will try to publish photos regularly.  Then I hope to see and read some comments from you.

‘Till the next time,  Bob Zeller

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