Running late again……..


After a very action filled ten days, I am finally back to write another post.  Sorry about the long delay, but things happen.  Currently, our A/C is not running.  We have contracted to have a new complete unit installed, but that won’t happen until next Tuesday the 11th.  The installing company did loan us one window unit, and fortunately the temps here are in the low 90s and will be in the 80s in a couple of days.  So we cope.  Also, about ten days ago, I was eating a chicken salad from Wendy’s and unfortunately I bit down on a tiny bit of something hard, perhaps a bone, and I chipped one of my front teeth.  I know have a cute little gap, much like that little “What Me Worry” guy on the front cover of Mad Magazine many years ago.

Of course, part of my delay is that birding was quite slow for a few days. We would go out and wonder where did all of the birds go.  So, for a change of pace, we made a trip to South Llano River State Park.  It is noted for the great birding there.  It really wasn’t that great their either, but with what I got there and what I have photographed the past three days, I feel I can contribute to a nice post for you.  I know you like a lot of pictures.

Right now there are a couple of Great Kiskadees hanging out around Spring Creek Park, here in San Angelo.  A fellow birder, Randy Hesford informed us of them back on September 25.  Kiskadees are very rare here.  Anyway,we went out the following morning and spotted them about 200 yards away across the water.  We were hoping they would come to our side, but they stayed where they were so I tried to get photos with my Tamron 150-600mm lens.  Here is one those distant photos.  Heavily cropped so the image quality is not very good.

Great Kiskadee - 1/1250 sec @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400.

Great Kiskadee – 1/1250 sec @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400.

Nearby a Great Blue Heron was grazing.

Great Blue Heron - 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400

Great Blue Heron – 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400

There was nothing more happening, so we went home.  The following morning we were back to see if the Kiskadee were still there.  I got another shot from a little farther away, but it shows both of the birds.

Great Kiskadees - 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400.

Great Kiskadees – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400.

On the following day, we decided to go to San Angelo State Park.  We were a little later than usual, so we didn’t know how successful we would be.  But luck was with us as we drove along one of the many roads there.  We had been seeing a Kingbird, in the area.  We were thinking Western Kingbird.  But after thinking about it, we realized it was all alone, and we remembered that most of them had already left.  So as you suspect, I had been ignoring it.  But I decided to try and get a good photo and look at it closer.  Well it turned out to be a Cassin’s Kingbird, a bird seldom seen here.  It goes to show you, during migration, anything can show up, such as those Great Kiskadees.  Here, I might add that Randy Hesford saw and photographed a Couch’s Kingbird hanging out with the Kiskadees.  Another rarity.  So here is the photo of the Cassin’s Kingbird.

Cassin's Kingbird - 1/1000 sec, @ f7.1, ISO 200.

Cassin’s Kingbird – 1/1000 sec, @ f7.1, ISO 200.

After driving through the State Park and not getting anything more interesting, we decided we still had time to go to Middle Concho Park.  There I was able to photograph this gorgeous Vermilion Flycatcher.  The amazing part was that I happened to drive close by this tiny live oak tree.  A brilland flash of red caught my left eye.  There, only about eight away, was the tiny bird sitting.  I  quietly got my camera off of my lap and started shooting.  He must have sat there for around three minutes.  He then moved to another branch, just a little farther away, maybe ten feet.  Again, I was able to take my time a get several more images.  Here are two of them.  I hope you like.

Vermilion Flycatcher - 1/1000 sec. @ f5.6, +0.7 EV, ISO 2500

Vermilion Flycatcher – 1/1000 sec. @ f5.6, +0.7 EV, ISO 2500.

Vermilion Flycatcher - 1/1000 sec, @ f6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO 3200

Vermilion Flycatcher – 1/1000 sec, @ f6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO 3200.

The next day we decided to go to South Llano River SP.  They have four different bird viewing blinds.  We usually try to hit all four, as we can see a variety of birds at each one.  We have had better days there, but we saw enough to make the trip worthwhile.  Here are a few images from that little jaunt down to the Junction, Texas area.  Randy Hesford accompanied us, and while were there, we ran into another birder friend, David Hunt.

Northern Cardinal - 1/1000 sec. @ f5.6, +1 EV, ISO 2500.

Northern Cardinal – 1/1000 sec. @ f5.6, +1 EV, ISO 2500.

Yellow Warbler - 1/800 sec, @ f6.3, +0.3, ISO 400.

Yellow Warbler – 1/800 sec, @ f6.3, +0.3, ISO 400.

Vermilion Flycatcher, female - 1/1000 @ f5.6m -0.3 EV, ISO 100.

Vermilion Flycatcher, female – 1/1000 @ f5.6m -0.3 EV, ISO 100.

Black-throated Sparrow - 1/1000 sec, @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 400.

Black-throated Sparrow – 1/1000 sec, @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 400.

Back to San Angelo.  On October 2nd, my 82nd birthday, thank you very much, we decided to run to the State Park again.  I came away with this nice close-up of a Grasshopper Sparrow.

Grasshopper Sparrow - 1/800 sec. @ f5.6, +0.7 EV, ISO 160.

Grasshopper Sparrow – 1/800 sec. @ f5.6, +0.7 EV, ISO 160.

On October 4th, we decided to go back to Middle Concho Park to check on the Vermilion Flycatchers.  I got this shot of a female of the species.

Vermilon Flycatcher, female - 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO 640.

Vermilon Flycatcher, female – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO 640.

Also,

Ladder-backed Woodpecker, female. 1/1000 sec. @f7.1, ISO 1000.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker, female. 1/1000 sec. @f7.1, ISO 1000.

In attendance was this Ladder-backed Woodpecker female.

So that is it for this post.  It is lengthy, and I hope it made up for my lateness. 🙂

Please click on any image to see some great enlargements, especially if you are viewing this on a computer.

Birding South Llano River State Park


On Wednesday morning, Ann and I, accompanied by a birding friend, Randy Hesford, decided to head to South Llano River State Park for a few hours of birding.  We set out at 8:00 for the 90 mile drive.  The skies were bright and sunny, with a slight breeze.

We arrived there at approximately 9:30, checked in at the headquarters and headed for the first of the park’s four blinds, the Agarita blind.  Immediately we found that it would be a great place to photograph birds.  Many were in attendance and we saw a lifer for Ann and I.  An Olive Sparrow.  We were quite lucky, as it scurried from beneath some scrubby brush, stay around for about two minutes, then disappeared to never be seen again that morning.  Fortunately, I got a photograph.

Olive Sparrow

Olive Sparrow

That brought my life list up to 286.  Not great, but respectable.  I still may get to 300 during my lifetime.  Much higher if I was able to travel to the southeastern part of the state and to the gulf coast.  Time will tell.

Anyway to get on with my story, we were kept busy at the Agarita blind.  I managed to get quite a few photographs before we headed for the second of the four blinds, Juniper blind.  There we saw a Western Scrub-jay and Dark-eyed Junco.  They only made very brief appearances and I didn’t get photos.  Only a few other birds made appearances there and at the the third and fourth blinds, the Acorn and Lora’s blinds.  We were mildly disappointed in that, but we were perhaps rushing the season.  We are used to seeing much more at all four blinds.  Some more photos that I captured were

the Field Sparrow…….

 

Field Sparrow

Field Sparrow

the Spotted Towhee…..

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee

an American Robin…..

American Robin

American Robin

a Northern Cardinal….

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

a female Northern Cardinal……

Northern Cardinal - female

Northern Cardinal – female

and a Black-throated Sparrow.

Black-throated Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

In addition to all of the above, we also saw at the blinds, a Black-crested Titmouse, Pine Sisken, Whitewing Dove, House Finch, American Goldfinch, Chipping Sparrow, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and a White-crowned Sparrow.  In addition, Randy spotted a  Brown Thrasher, and a Carolina Chickadee.  Ann and I missed those, much to our dismay.

After leaving the blinds, we drove through the park and along the river where we saw a Belted Kingfisher, a Ladder-backed Woodpecker, a Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and a Bewick’s Wren.

That was all that we actually saw in the park itself.  Along the highway coming and going, we added Common Raven, Black Vulture, Northern Mockingbird, American Kestrel, and Turkey Vulture.  So in total for the trip, we saw only a total of 28 species.  I am sure when we return later in the spring we will be seeing much more.

After we left the park, we drove into Junction and stopped at Lum’s Barbeque restaurant.  We satisfied ourseves with huge chopped barbequed beef sandwiches, topped with onions and tasty jalopenos.  A great finish to a fun trip.

Until the next time, Happy Birding!!

 

Birding South Llano River State Park


Note:  This post is best viewed on your computer.  You can then click the images to see the fine detail in the fourteen different enlargements.

We have visited the South Llano River State Park on a few other occasions, but I have never posted about it.  It is located about five miles south of Junction, Texas.  Junction is about 95 miles southeast of San Angelo.  What I like about visiting that park is that they have four distinct blinds.  It seems that each blind has it’s own characteristic.  Each presents it’s own lighting positives or negatives, depending on what time of day you visit each one.  Plus, it seems that, although it may be my imagination, sometimes you might find a bird in one blind, that you won’t find in the others.  So we always visit each blind each time we make the trip.

On our visit this past weekend, it seemed that the Agarita Blind, (they each have a name), seemed to have the most bird activity.  On other days one of the others may be more bird active.

But as I said, with so much activity in the Agarita Blind, we didn’t spend much time at the others.  Here is a sampling of the birds that I photographed, in no particular order.

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee

Black-throated Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Northern Cardinal - female

Northern Cardinal – female

Field Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Western Scrub Jay

Western Scrub Jay

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

Bewick's Wren

Bewick’s Wren

Black-crested Titmouse

Black-crested Titmouse

American Goldfinch - adult breeding female

American Goldfinch – adult breeding female

After arriving back in San Angelo, we drove by our “K-Mart Creek” and saw this Norther Pintail to finish our day.

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail

All in all, it was a great way to start the week, and we added six more to our 2015 Big Year list, to bring our new total to 92.  I hope you enjoyed this.  I appreciate any and all comments.