Ruby-crowned Kinglet

It has been a pretty week and week-end.  Now I can relax for a few days.  Over the past three days there was the annual Stribling Art Extravaganza, an art show and sale.  I had entered two framed images, as I do every year.  On Sunday I made my usual trip down at 4:00PM to pick up my un-sold work.  Voila!  I discovered that both pieces had been sold.  What a nice surprise.  In previous shows, I had sold only one, or none at all.

The local parks were very busy with campers, hikers, etc.  Spring breaks are finishing up, I guess.  We did take a short drive, though, and I got a few images but most weren’t anything to write home about.  I got this shot of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) on Friday.  It beats by far, one that I had gotten a week or so earlier.  They are so difficult to photograph.  First of all, they are tiny and hard to see.  After you locate one, then it is hard to focus on it because they are constantly on the move, hopping from one branch to another.

On Saturday morning, Gene and Ethel Berger, who are dear friends of ours, asked us to stop by their lake house out at Lake Nasworthy.  They wanted to show us their beds of Texas Bluebonnets.  They were spectacular as this

Texas Bluebonnets

photograph shows.  Maybe I can get out this week and get more photos of some before they bloom out.  It is the state wildflower and they are blooming profusely now around the area.  This photograph, by the way, was taken on Sunday morning.  I had taken a few on Saturday, but wasn’t satisfied with the results and so I decided to sneak back there for another attempt.

This week promises to be another busy one.  I have been putting off some errands and chores, so I must get caught up.  The car needs washing since the rains are all over for awhile, and I need to do some trimming around the bird blind at San Angelo State Park.  I am going to lead a birding trip for the Abilene Audubon Society on Saturday morning.  They are going to be traveling 90 miles to get here so I feel I better give them a good show.  It should be fun, although I think that all of them are a much better birder than I am.  I am hoping to learn from them.

So have a great week, everyone.  Click on any of the photos to see an enlargement of each.

Rock Pigeon (Dove): Hunting Season

Fifth and final in the series about the dove species of west Texas.  Rock Pigeon (Columba livia).  Formerly was named the Rock Dove.  Many people still refer them to as doves.  Stokes Field Guide to North American Birds describes them as heavy-bodied, broad-shouldered, short-tailed pigeons with relatively short necks and short stubby bills.  Dark gray head, irridescent necks, pale gray back.  Two dark wingbars show on lower back.

National Audubon Society‘s Sibley’s guide to Birds still refer to it as the Rock Dove or (Feral Pigeon).   The third or bottom photo below shows the rare Brown adult.

Rock Pigeon

  • Photographed  November 5, 2007
  • Canon EOS 20D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens with 1.4 tele-converter
  • 1/250 sec. @ f6.3 – ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance – 700mm
  • Metering – average
  • Aperture priority

Rock Pigeon

  • Photographed July 5, 2008
  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f7.1 – ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance – 390mm
  • Metering – center weighted average
  • Aperture priority

Rock Pigeon (rare brown adult)

  • Photographed  July 3, 2010
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens
  • 1.640 sec. @ f13 – ISO 800
  • Lens focal distance – 500mm
  • Metering – spot
  • Aperture  priority

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.

Saturday Morning Birding Tour

Just a few updates about our State Park Birding monthly tour today.  The weather was a bit chilly and windy, but we still had a total of eight people.  We also had a new-comer.  Brenda Liverick mistakenly thought that today was the day for the Bison Tour.  She instead joined us for the birding.  It turned out that she enjoyed very much.

The birds were staying down in the brush, I guess because of the windy, chilly weather, but neverless our sharpeyed birders spotted quite a few.  Besides the usual Red-winged Blackbirds, finches, etc., we also spotted a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  At one point several American White Pelicans took to the air and put on a great show.

In other news, Bill Yeates sent me this great photograph of a Female House Finch that he captured at the Llano State Park bird blind.   Thanks, Bill, for sending it.

House Finch - female

I hope to see more of our local birders for the next Adult Birding Tour in January.

Goldfinches have arrived.

Ann and I spent a couple of hours doing some birding at San Angelo State Park‘s bird blind.  We saw the collection of the regular birds that stay here year round, but was surprised by this winter adult American Goldfinch (carduelis tristis).  We actually spotted two.  Also of late, we have seen a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  Soon we should start seeing Pine Siskens.

adult winter American Goldfinch

But the target of many of my searches out there continues to evade me.  I am speaking of the Northern Harrier.  Again, I almost had a great shot of it as it appeared sitting on a fence.  But before I could get the camera on it, it was gone.  I rattled off a few shots as it left, but they were just blurred streaks.  I swear I heard it’s laughter as it went away.  I am determined to get a nice frameable photograph of that cotton-pickin’ bird.  I’ll get lucky soon.

Information on the Goldfinch photo is, 1/1600 sec @ f5.6, -1/3 EV, ISO 800.  Canon 7D with Canon 100-400 lens.  Edited in Photoshop Elements, Focus Magic, Topaz DeNoise.  Click on the image to see an enlargement.

My secondary quest, besides trying to add to my life list of 218, is to photograph all of those birds.  Cindy Kilpatrick, better know to you as “missus76k” in my blogroll, asked me how many of the 218 had I photographed.  Well in doing some checking, I think I have gotten about 190 images of that 218.  Of course, some of the photos aren’t anything to write home about, as quite a few were just good enough for identification.  But, eventually, I would like to have at least an 8×10 of each. 

Happy birding!!