More from the San Angelo State Park

The San Angelo State Park has been our most productive area in the past couple of weeks of birding.  Here are a few of my most recent images.

This Merlin was really nice to pose for me for several images.  When we spotted it, an American Kestrel was sitting on the same branch.  Upon spotting us, the kestrel immediately flew off.  The Merlin was in the act of finishing a meal, and from the looks of a yellow claw that we saw him devour, I suspect he had just finished off another kestrel.  This turned out to me one of my best photos of this species……..if I do say so myself.



A Curve-billed Thrasher, perched in a tree.  It was a chill morning for this one, and he didn’t feel like moving.


Curve-billed Thrasher

The cooler weather didn’t bother this American White Pelican.  Usually they are out more in the middle of the lake, but this one was a bit closer, making for a nice photograph.


American White Pelican

Mourning Doves are very plentiful in the park, and I usually pass them by because they are so common, but I decided that this one deserved to be seen.


Mourning Dove

This Cactus Wren seemed to be working on it’s nearby nest.


Cactus Wren

In one area of the park, there is what we have named our ‘warbler bush’.  It seems that we can always see a warbler, kinglet or some other small bird there.  We just need to park and watch patiently.  This time we were not disappointed and saw many of these Orange-crowned Warblers.


Orange-crowned Warbler

It is always nice to see a Pyrrhuloxia.  Locals that can’t pronounce the name, simply call it the desert cardinal.



Click on my “Gallery” button at the top of this page to see more photos, and information for purchase.  I add more images frequently, so keep checking.  I hope you enjoyed these and would love any comments that you wish to make.  Also refer to my last post if you are interested in purchasing one of my 2018 calendars.

Happy Birding!!

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.

Mourning Doves: Hunting Season

The second in my series about the various dove species in west Texas.  Today is about Mourning Doves. (Zenaida macroura).   Slightly larger than the White-winged Dove, it is grayish-brown in color, with dark spots on the wings towards the tail.  There is a pale blue orbital ring arount the eye.  It is a slender bird, with long, pointed tail.  Fairly narrow body, with pointed wings held close while flapping.

Mourning Doves

  • Photograph taken   May 18, 2007
  • Canon EOS 20D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f9 – ISO 200
  • Lens focal length – 400mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Aperture priority

Mourning Dove

  • Photograph taken  December 28, 2010
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3 – minus 1/3 EV adjustment – ISO 1600
  • Lens focal length – 400mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Shutter priority

Click on either image to see an enlarged image.

White-winged Doves: Hunting Season

Since the dove hunting season has begun here in west Texas, this would be a good time to bring you up to date on the different species that you can find here.  I will do a post each day covering all the different ones.

First up:  White-winged Dove. (Zenaida asiatica).  Medium sized, but larger than the Mourning Dove, it has a short square tail and broad wings.  It is an unmarked pale brown overall color with broad white streaks along the edges of the folded wings.  A bluish hue surrounds the orange eyes.  It sports a long thin bill, slightly down-curved.

White-winged Dove

  • Photographed on September 10, 2010
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f8  ISO  640
  • Lens focal length – 340mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Aperture priority

White-winged Dove

  • Photographed on June 7, 2009
  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f6.3 – ISO 400
  • Lens focal length – 340mm
  • Metering – center weighted
  • Aperture priority

Click on either image to see an enlargement.  Enjoy.

Tale of The Take – Ruddy Ground Dove

I have had a lot of people ask me all along about how I got some of my photos.  I got to thinking that there is a story behind almost all of my images, so what better than to relate to you, my readers, these tales.  So today I start the series, “The Tale of the Take”.   Catchy name, don’t ya think? 🙂

First up will be my exciting narration of how I was able to obtain this image of a very rare Ruddy Ground Dove.  As with a lot of my photos, a lot of luck was involved.

Ruddy Ground Dove

On Sunday afternoon, February 10, 2009, I got an e-mail forwarded from a local birder.  It was from Don and Linda Burt who live on property at Dove Creek, near here.  They gave a phone number and invited anyone to call or come see a rare Ruddy Ground Dove on their place.

Of course, since I am the consumate “have camera, will travel” guy, I gave them a call.  Sure, they said, c’mon out.  I loaded my equipment into our Mercury mini-van, and Ann and I headed out.

Now, at that time, I was pretty new at this past-time of birding.  I absolutely had no idea what a Ruddy Ground Dove looked like.  I didn’t even have the sense to look for pictures of one.  Fortunately, upon arrival, we found half of the Abilene chapter of the Audubon Society already there looking for it.  They thought they saw it in some trees, but couldn’t say for sure.

This was about 2:30PM or so.  Don Burt called me aside and told me to be patient.  He pointed to a fence gate about 30 yards away.  Just wait, he said, because at about 4:00 a flock of Inca Doves would gather near that fence, and the Ruddy Ground Dove would be among them.

I went ahead and got my Canon 40D, my current camera then, out of the car.  I attached my Canon 500mm super-tele with a 1.4 teleconverter.  I mounted the rig onto my Bogen-Manfrotto tripod with a Wimberley gimbal head.  I got it into position for a possible shot, then sat in the shade and waited.  So did the group from Abilene.

Sure enough, right on time, a bunch of Inca Doves flew in and started feeding near that fence.  The Audubon people pointed out to me the Ruddy Ground Dove.  I sure was happy that I wasn’t alone or I probably wouldn’t have recognized it.  I found it in my viewfinder and was able to get several shots.   Pertinent photo data:  Canon 40D SLR.  Shot at f5.6 for 1/1600 second.  ISO 400 in Aperture Priority.

The Ruddy Ground Dove is very rare in the United States, but sightings are on the increase, as they move up from Mexico.  As you can see, except for the markings, it could have been easily mistaken for a Mourning Dove by a novice like me.

Watch for my next thrilling, exciting, Tale of the Take.

West Texas Happy New Year!

Here it is just a few hours left in the year.  I have been ‘outta pocket’ the last couple of days.  Getting end of year tax reports, bookkeeping, etc. to end the year.  But also doing a little birding, trying to get my annual bird count up.  I believe I saw 180 species, but was shooting for 200.  But a new year dawns.  Here are a couple of shots that I got yesterday I thought you might enjoy.

Mourning Dove

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

I want to wish all my readers, far and wide, the most joyous and Happy New Year.