Return to the Great Blue Heron’s Nest

Most of you remember the post that I published a couple of weeks ago of the fledglings on the Great Blue Heron nest.   I assumed that the chick would be gone within another week.  Not so.  I went by there over the weekend and there they were.  As I arrived, the adult was just landing to give the kids a feeding.  What a sight.  Those “little” guys got into a frenzy.  All I could see was flying wing, beaks, feet.  Check this image out.  Is this a riot or what?  There are three chicks plus the adult in this picture.

Hey, Ma, we're still hungry

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm – tripod mounted with Wimberley II Gimball head
  • 1/160 @ f13
  • ISO 200
  • Lens focal distance 500

After they were fed, the adult took off and flew upstream, probably to find another helping for the little critters.  Two of them snookered down for a nap but this one decided he wanted to look around a bit.  I was finally able to focus, (pun intended), on getting a better composition and photograph.

Great Blue Heron - fledgling

  •  Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm tripod mounted on Wimberley II gimbal head.
  • 1/800 @ f10
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance 500mm

I hope you like the photos.  I had my left eye surgery yesterday and I have discovered a whole new world out there.  Now I can get back to doing what I do best, and try to come up with some more new images.  Click on any of the photos for an enlargement.  Also, of course, to vote for one of my photos, click here People’s Choice.

Red-Tailed Hawk Begins 2011

Well, here we go again.  I got my sightings all tallied up to date.  My life list stands at 218.  In 2010 I and Ann saw and identified 181 different species.  As I mentioned in a previous post, our original goal was 200.  We came close and we should make it in 2011, as we are now a bit more esperienced.  I also want to get an accurate count of how many of my 218 life list that I have photographed.

Red-tailed Hawk

We missed a few local ones that we should have seen, but we are planning on making a few more longer trips around the state to get some from other areas.  That includes more visits to the Big Bend NP area, Davis Mountains State Park, the X-Bar ranch, then maybe a trip or two into central Texas.  Possibly a trip to the Gulf Coast.

As far as posting to my blog, I will continue to write posts as frequently as I can.  I should be able to include at least one photograph, but some may be older ones taken some time ago.  But, nevertheless, they will be new to you.  The above image of the Red-tailed Hawk, is another from the series that I took this past week.

You may have noticed that I have far fewer flags on my counter to the right.  I was fooling around, trying to tweak it a little, and I lost all my flags.  So I had to start all over.  So I need all of my friends from all over the world to comment on one of my posts, so I get my flags back.  I promise I won’t lose them again.  Fortunately, my ClusterMap still is up to date, so you can click there and see most of my overseas readers’ locations there.

Happy Birding!!

What? Another Red-tailed Hawk photo?

They’re everywhere!  They’re everywhere!  I told you before that I loved photographing these birds.  Actually, I have a goal of capturing a Northern Harrier that hunts regularly at San Angelo State Park.  However, a decent photo of him continues to elude me.  So this morning on a casual drive through the area I spotted this…..wait for it……yes, another Red Tailed Hawk.  I think this will be one of my favorite images.  For the curious, I shot it at ISO 100, 1/2000 sec, at f7.1, minus 1/3 EV.  Hope you like it.  Click on the image for an enlargement.

Red-tailed Hawk

 Also, I’d like to tell you about another software that discovered, PhotoMatix Pro.  Well, actually I’ve had it for some time, but busy as I am, I never got around to really giving it a test.  Well, I did this weekend.  I took some older photos that I had taken at Big Bend National Park and they hadn’t knocked my sox off.  Well, they are pretty nice now.  Take a look at these two examples.  I will show the original, then a second after using PhotoMatix Pro.

Old Ruins - Big Bend National Park


Old Ruins - Big Bend National Park

 Here’t the second example:

Davis Mountains Scene

Davis Mountains Scene

It is done by a process they call Tone Mapping.  The software is actually a HDR program where you would bracket 3 or 5 images and it would blend all of them together.  However, if you only have one image, you can use just the Tone Mapping option.  You can see that you can salvage a good photo out of one that you would be ready to put into the trash.

Anyway, just thought you’d be interested in knowing about it.  As usual, click on image for an enlargement.

Happy Birding!!

Bird of The Week – Osprey

Osprey.  (Pandion haliaetusThis raptor is our subject this week.  It feeds on mammals, fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects, according to Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America.  A large long-winged hawk with a short, fairly slender body.   It is 23 inches long,  has a wing-span of 63 inches, and weighs 3.5 pounds.  It is dark in color above, with  white breast and white crown.  Click on the above link for more info.

Osprey eating lunch

This unique species captures fish by hovering, then plunging feet-first into water, as shown in the following series of photographs that I captured as he caught a meal in the Concho River in San Angelo, Texas.  These first three photos show him hitting the water as he sights his prey.

In this fourth photo, you can see that he has a fish tucked underneath.

In these final three images you can see it hanging freely as he flys away.  The weight of the catch nearly drags him down near the water in the last photo.

These images were captured with my Canon EOS 40D about two years ago.  I had my 100-400mm lens on the camera.  I picked the osprey up in the viewfinder as he started to make his pass.  I was shooting in the multiple image mode of about four frames per second.   I panned with him and kept the shutter pressed down.   EXIF info is ISO 400, 1/1250 per sec at f8.

But, he wasn’t finished.  He then circled around and made this “victory” pass.

Osprey with victorious catch

As a side note, Holly at  suggested several weeks ago that I publish a series of “action” photos showing a raptor catching a fish.  I hope you enjoyed them.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Happy birding!!

Love those Hawks

I have this love of hawks and other raptors, regardless of the species.  I was riding around yesterday and spotted the top two birds.  The first is an American Kestrel. They are a cute but ferocious little bird.   He was perched in the top of a tree.  I hand-held my Canon 7D with a 500mm lens and 1.4 teleconverter attached.  Exposure information,1/1600 sec at f7.1, ISO 100.

American Kestrel

Later, out by O. C. Fisher Lake we saw this Red-Tailed Hawk sitting atop a sign.  I am especially fond of this image, as he was posed so naturally and I was relatively close to him.  Canon 7D with Canon 100-400mm lens, 1/1600 sec. at f6.3, ISO 150, -1/3 EV.

Red-tailed Hawk - jevenile

This Osprey was photographed two years ago near Lake Nasworthy, here in San Angelo.  There will be a story about this photograph this coming Thursday, as the Osprey will be the subject of my Bird of The Week series.  Watch for it. 

Osprey with catch

The all photos were edited in Photoshop Elements, but with the first two I also used Focus Magic, and Topaz DeNoise, and OnOne PhotoTune.  Three very good plug-ins.  Click on any image to see an enlargment.  Enjoy.

Happy Birding!!

Bird of the Week – Great Egret

Today I inaugurate my new series Bird of the Week.  Hopefully each Friday, I will post a photograph of a bird that I will choose at random.  I will provide a photograph or two, along with some useful information.  I think this may become informative for all, including myself, as I will be doing a bit of research to provide information.  Also you may click on the Bold Bird Name to go to a Wikipedia link for detailed info, if available.  My own resources will be my handy Bird Guides.  So here we go.

Great Egret. (Ardea alba).  The Great Egret is one my personal favorite water birds.  Long-legged and graceful.  Tall, slender and long-necked.  Length 39″, wing-span 51″, weight 1.9 lbs.  All white, yellow bill and black legs and feet.  When foraging, they will walk slowly thru open water or reedy areas, watching for fish.  When they spot their quarry, they use their bill as a spear, instantly stabbing their prey.

This first photo was taken along the Concho River in downtown San Angelo.  I was walking along the bank.  I spotted the egret flying down the river.  I hand-held my Canon 7D with the 100-400mm zoom lens.  I picked him up in my view-finder, the auto-focus locked on, and I just panned with him as he flew by.  I got lucky, with the background.  When this image was captured, the background was blurred of course, but also there was a large building completely in shadow.  Hence the completely black background.  The stats are ISO 1600, 1/500 sec at f9.

Great Egret

 This image ISO 100, 1/640 at f8 .  Canon 7D, 100-400mm zoom lens.

Great Egret

This final shot is an older one that I shot with a Canon Powershot SX10 that I tried for awhile.  ISO 80, 1/640 at f5.7  

Great Egret

Click on any image for an enlargement.