Lewis’s Woodpecker and more


Ann and I got out of the house over the weekend to try to do some birding and hopefully get some photos.  We found that because of spring break, our local city parks are over-run with campers, fishermen, and just people enjoying the nice weather.  Also, there was a professional Disc Golf Tournament going on at Middle Concho Park.  But before I get to that, I would like to tell you about seeing the Lewis’s Woodpecker yesterday, Monday, morning at San Angelo State Park.

Anyway, one of our reasons to heading to SASP was to see if the Lewis’s Woodpecker was still in residence.  It was and is, with it being here since mid-November.  I guess he likes it here, far away from his usual range.  He is hanging around in the same copse of three trees.  However, the Lewis’s Woodpecker loves to perch up very high.  Here those three trees, are leafless near the tops and he can see quite far from about 35-40 feet up.  It also makes for difficult photographs.  He appears quite small in the viewfinder and dark against the blank sky.  This photo was hand-held with my Canon 7D Mark II and Tamron 150-600mm lens.  As much as I tried to adjust for the lighting, I still had to do a little brightening in my post-processing, not to mention some drastic cropping.

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewis’s Woodpecker

After getting several images, we drove around through that portion of the park.  It may be because of the lateness of the day, but we didn’t see too many other bird species except for this Vesper Sparrow and…….

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

…….this American Robin.

American Robin

American Robin

Now here are some images from the prior three days.  Even though the parks were getting crowded I did manage to get a few usable photos.

Ring-necked Duck - female

Ring-necked Duck – female

A sleeping Great Horned Owl.

A sleeping Great Horned Owl.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Osprey

Osprey

Click on any of the images to see some nice enlargements.

The day the ice was gone…..


Saturday morning we woke with the sun shining.  The ice was nearly all gone, and a-birding we must go.  We were accompanied by some lady friends/birders/photographers, Christie McCorts-Chambers and Julia Stewart.  Full of enthusiasm, we set a goal of 40 species for the day.

We made a quick stop at the bird blind at San Angelo State Park first.  We saw just the usual resident birds, doves, sparrows, etc., but we had heard that there was a Spotted Towhee nearby.  It didn’t show, so we headed to the north portion of the park, about nine miles away.  With such a nice day, we hoped have a better sighting of the rare Lewis’s Woodpecker that has been hanging around past few weeks.  Fortunately, it was still there, and I was finally able to get acceptable images.

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewis’s Woodpecker

Lewis's Woodpecker in flight.

Lewis’s Woodpecker in flight.

You know, when you get right down to it, the Lewis’s is not the prettiest of the woodpeckers.  But we can’t all be great looking. 🙂

After checking out the area there, we headed to the local parks in the Lake Nasworthy area.  Here are a few highlights from there.

Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck

For birding, the day was great as we saw a total of 41 species total.  We added 17 to our 2015 list bringing it to a total of 44.  A nice start to the year.  As for the photography, with 20-30 mile winds, we didn’t really get that many opportunities, or I should say that, in honesty, I didn’t get very many keepers.  I am picky about the pictures that I show you.

But it was nice to have such a beautiful day, even though the high winds were cool.  The company was great and it was great fun.  And I will never complain about seeing 41 species in one day.  Click on the photos to see enlargements.

Lewis’s Woodpecker – Number 200 for year


We had gotten reports that a Lewis’s Woodpecker was hanging around the the north part of San Angelo State Park.  We decided that it would be worth the drive to get a chance to view it, since I only needed to get one more to hit my goal of 200 birds for the year 2014.  Being that the park is very large, we had a nine mile drive to the north entrance.

Pat Bayles, one of the rangers, saw us at the entrance gate and told us that it was being seen about a quarter of a mile down the road, in a copse of trees near some picnic tables.  We drove down there and as we got there, a friend of ours, Randy Hesford, was already there and he had his camera trained on the bird a couple of hundred yards away.  I grabbed my camera and got out of the car.

The bird moved to another tree about 250 yards away.  The sky was very overcast, but we could make him out easily with our binoculars.  However with the lighting conditions, it was practically just a silhouette through the camera’s viewfinder.  Even adding a couple of stops to my Exposure Compensation, didn’t help much, as you can see in these photos.  I tried to adjust the lighting in my post processing, but with not much success.  Of course, with such a distance, I also had to crop extensively.

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewis’s Woodpecker

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewis’s Woodpecker

By contrast, here is a photo that I took a couple of years ago when a Lewis’s Woodpecker made an appearance here.

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewis’s Woodpecker

Conditions were much better then, and the bird was a litle bit closer.  At least those photos above provide enough to help identify the bird.  So now that I have my 200 for the year, I hope to add more this week during our trip to Fort Davis.

So this is definitely my last post until our return next week.

Quiz result – Woodpecker species


Thanks to all participating in my latest quiz.  Click here to review it.  The bird is a Lewis’s Woodpecker.  It was photographed here in San Angelo, Texas.  It was really out of range for that species.  But, as sometimes happens, he wandered off course during migration, and ended up here.  He was observed for about three days, then he moved on.

I only had one shot at him.  We were driving through Middle Concho park, when Ann spotted high atop a dead tree branch.  After I took the photo, he then flew off into some other trees.  I never saw him again.

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewis’s Woodpecker