Greater Roadrunner, Orioles and others


Here are a few images that I have gotten since we got back from our Big Bend adventure.  We have been watching for new summer residents of the avian variety.  While doing such searching I was able to get a few other images for your enjoyment.  We found this Greater Roadrunner at San Angelo State Park.

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

The Bullock’s Orioles are starting to arrive.  I had seen a female a few weeks earlier, but now there are many of the bright colored males.  They are still hard to photograph among the trees but nevertheless, I managed a couple.

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

I love the Golden-fronted Woodpeckers.  They seem to be everywhere all the time and they are so photogenic.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Same bird, different pose.  He was trying to show me his better side.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

A Lincoln’s Sparrow.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow

A couple of Lark Sparrows.

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

The Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are arriving in large numbers and they will be seen soon all over the country-side.  I got a couple of images today.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Last, but not least, a Killdeer playing in the water at a mudhole near Twin Buttes Reservoir.

Killdeer

Killdeer

Enjoy the photos and I will be back soon with a few more.

Birding South Llano River State Park


On Wednesday, Ann and I, along with our neighbor friend, Carl Williams, set out for the South Llano River State Park near Junction, Texas.  A distance of about 100 miles, we covered it nicely in about an hour and a half.  Before I get into the photos from the park, I want to mention the Red-tailed Hawk that I photographed on the way.  We were cruising along about 75mph when we saw the hawk sitting on a wire fence.  I whipped the car into the left lane, drove to the next turn-around and came back around.  As we pulled up to the hawk that was still sitting on the fence, it noticed that Ole Bob was coming with his camera.  He figured he would look better on that stub of a tree branch, even though he was going to get windblown.  The gusts were about 35mph at that time.  I remembered to thank him before I drove off, after I got a few nice photos.

Red-tailed Hawk.

Red-tailed Hawk.

South Llano River State Park is relatively small, only about 200 acres, consisting of many, many oak trees.  It is a popular camping area, but also has four bird blinds and is considered one of the better birding areas.  We decided that we wanted to visit each blind.  I think we spent a total of three hours there and saw thirty-two species in all.  We missed some nice ones, like the Lazuli Bunting, Painted Bunting, and Indigo Bunting.  Some other birders said that those three were around just before we got there.  But it is early yet so we will probably go back in another two or three weeks.

Here are a few images of some that we did see.  They can be viewed best if you will go to the blog, then you can click the images and see some beautiful enlargements.

Summer Tanager - male

Summer Tanager – male

Summer Tanager - female

Summer Tanager – female

The next photo is one of my personal favorites.  The Yellow-rumped Warblers consists of two sub-species, the ‘Myrtle’ and the ‘Audubon’s’.  This image is an Audubon.

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s)

What would a birding trip be with out a bunch of sparrows.  Here are three that we encountered in the park.

Black-throated Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Then last, but not least is the ever-popular Spotted Towhee.

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee

That does it for photos on this post.  I got a few others that I may post later, and I got a lot of throwaways that will never see the light of a computer monitor.

Update on Texas Big Year list:

#141  Neotropic Cormorant

#142 Little Blue Heron

#143  Wilson’s Phalarope

#144  Western Kingbird

#145  Summer Tanager

See complete list on my blog.

 

Monday Morning Images


On Monday morning Ann and I decided that we would start the week with a little birding, and of course that sometimes leads to some photo ops.  We decided to check out the “honey hole” that I told you about before.  We headed out west on Highway 67 to the turnoff that goes to the parks around Twin Buttes Reservoir.  It is about a mile’s drive to the honey hole, or the mud puddle that it actually is.  Amazing.  By the time we had driven a half mile down the road, we had spotted a Northern Bobwhite (pictured below), Northern Mockingbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Mourning Dove, Lark Sparrow, Pyrrhuloxia, Bullock’s Oriole, Painted Bunting, and an Ash-throated Flycatcher.  Nine species, and we had just got started and had not even gotten to our destination.

At the water hole, which has dried up to a puddle about 5′ x 5′, we added a few more before leaving to drive around and over the Twin Buttes dam, reaching the Middle Concho and Spring Creek Parks, where we saw some wading birds.  In total we saw thirty-three different species.  Unfortunately I couldn’t possibly photograph them all.  Here are four of those of what I did get.

Northern Bobwhite is mesquite tree.

Northern Bobwhite is mesquite tree.

Canyon Towhee

Canyon Towhee

"Rats!!  Missed it!!

“Rats!! Missed it!!

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

I hope you enjoyed the photos.  Click on any of them to see enlargements.  To see more photos that I am proud of, click on the FLICKR logo on the right side of this page.  It may be another week before another post as we are taking a few days off before heading to Fredericksberg, Texas to join some close friends for the weekend.

Quiz 1 – Results are in!


Before I get to the main subject of this post, I need a favor from all of you.  You may have noticed that I now have a Bob Zeller Photography Facebook page.  Please check it out by clicking on the link or the link on the right side of this page.  Then do me a favor and click “like” for me.  I am new to all of this stuff, but I understand that if I get 30 “likes” something special will happen.  I don’t know what it is.  Maybe bombs will burst, fireworks will flare, streamers will fall, confetti will fall, I will get the key to the city, or I will get the the man of the year award.  Who knows, but I would like for all of you to have a look. 🙂

Okay, let get to it!  From all of the comments this week, my first Bird ID quiz has been a smash hit.  So I will not keep you in suspense any further.  Here are the results from 45 votes:

  • Lark Sparrow                        17 votes
  • Red-winged Blackbird       18    “
  • Sage Thrasher                          9    “
  • Common Grackle                    1    “
  • Red-shouldered Hawk          0   ”

    Female Red-winged Blackbird

The photo is a female Red-winged Blackbird, (Agelaius phoeniceus).  It sure fooled a lot of people.  The female is actually an attractave bird.  Most females of other species are usally kinda drab.  In the photo you can see just a smidge of red in the shoulder, though not always visible.  I threw in the choice of the Red Shouldered Hawk, to see if I could catch any of you off guard.  It has that reddish spot on the shoulder also.

I appreciate all of you that have voted.  Check back in tomorrow, Saturday April 21, to see what I have in store for you in Quiz #2.  Ann and I spent a couple of hours last night dreaming up the dastardly thing.  Heh! Heh!

Lark Sparrow

For those that thought it was a Lark Sparrow, here is what one looks like.

Sage Thrasher

And above, the third place Sage Thrasher.  The fourth place Common Grackle needs no introduction, besides, I don’t have a picture of one. 🙂  Click on any image to see enlargements.

Sparrows, Sparrows, Sparrows


Since this blog is basically about birding, and bird photography, I have been sitting here pondering what to put in my next (this) post.  Thinking back, I didn’t know a sparrow from a pigeon before I got into serious birding.  Well, I guess pigeons were bigger, right?   Anyway, now I have come to appreciate just how many species of birds there really are.  In the area where I live, according to the people that know these things, there are thirty different species of sparrows alone.

To be perfectly fair, actually they are not all sparrows.  Four of those species classified in the sparrow family are towhees, three are longspurs, and one is a junco.  That still leaves twenty-two named sparrows, just here in the Concho Valley.  There are more than fifty species including other regions of the country. 

Like any other non-birder, I thought all sparrow looked alike.  Wrong!  Since I now consider myself a birder, albeit a little new at it, I have discovered that there are really many beautiful sparrows to be seen and photographed.  You can see from the following examples.

House Sparrow

Pictured above is the common House Sparrow (Passer domesticus).  Now I ask, isn’t this a pretty little bird.  Nice rich colors of brown, with that little patch of gray on his head, and that black chest, not to be confused with the Black-throated Sparrow.

Black-throated Sparrow

The above is the afore-mentioned Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata).   Another little cutie.

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)  Another pretty bird with distinctive markings that you can’t miss.

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

Field Sparrow

Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla).  So these are five of my favorites.  Now when you see a sparrow, take a closer look, and you may be surprised at what you see.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Memorial Day – New Images


This has been a rather quiet holiday weekend for Ann and I.  Yesterday, Sunday, I spent most of the day in front of the TV.  As I have done for as many years as I can remember, except for the three that I spent in the Air force near Istanbul, Turkey, I watched the Indianapolis 500 auto race.  When I was a kid my dad and would spend Memorial Day listening to that great race on radio, then later watching it on TV.  So it’s a little like a tradition for me.  Of course, like everything else, it has changed over the years.  I remember that 50 years ago, I think it was Jim Hurtabise qualified at 150 miles per hour.  It was thought then, that would be an unsurpassed record.   Yeah, right.  This year, Helio Castroneves qualified right at 228 miles per hour.  That’s 235 mph on the back stretch.  Hmmm…..

This morning, the actual Memorial Day, Ann and I done our daily enjoyable task of going to San Angelo State Park to get the feed out for the birds at the wildlife viewing area.  Since we had nothing better to do this day, we decided to spend a few hours doing a little driving around the park.

Western Diamond Back Rattlesnake

Even though it is getting a little warm we still found that the birds are still active.  We saw no snakes though.  I mention this because a few days ago as we were driving down the path from the bird blind, we came upon a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake.  It was sunning itself in the path, and as we approached, it started to move back into the deep grass.  But not before I got a photo of it that I have posted here.  So beware when you are hiking there.  These snakes, if alerted they will move out of the way.  But if you surprise one, it will coil into a defensive posture.  You will hear the rattle, and they can strike out to the length of their body, maybe a few inches further if they put enough force behind the strike.  They can come out of their shoes, so to speak.

Lark Sparrow

In my experience, when wading through deep grass, watch carefully, but don’t be afraid to be a little noisy, as they may sense you coming and move away.  But my wife, Ann, doesn’t take chances.  She makes sure that she walks behind me.  🙂

But, today, as I said, no rattle snakes.  I got a couple of new photos that I will post here.  One of my best photograph of a Lark Sparrow.  This one stayed in place long enough for me to pick up my big 500mm lens.  I took the shot hand-held from the window of the mini-van.  Later I got this cute shot of a Western Kingbird.

Western Kingbird

Click on any photo to see an enlargement.

So we hope that everybody has enjoyable holiday.

Happy Birding!!