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.

Images from a perfect day…..

Saturday began as a beautiful day.  It’s hard to beat 70 degrees and almost no wind around here.  I decided to try to get some images of some more birds at Middle Concho Park.  We went back to that brushy area along the perimeter of the park.  I was rewarded with a Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus).  It was the first I had seen this year.  But they have been around all winter, so they have evaded me, or I just wasn’t looking in the right places.  They will probably be gone by mid-April.  It was flitting in and out of the brush, and stopped momentarily on the barbed wire.

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush

Across the river, there were about 25 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, (Dendrocygna autumnalis).  They were pretty spread out along the shore and in the water so I could only include these two in the frame.  At the distance, I used my Canon EOS 7d with 500mm lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  It is also heavily cropped.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Finally, this Northern Mockingbird, the state bird of Texas, appeared alongside of the car.  Couldn’t resist taking the shot.  Almost full frame.  My 100-400mm hand-held lens was perfect for this image.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

Neither of these last two images would qualify as some of my best, as they are just a little more than grab shots.  But it was just great to get into the great outdoors.  Actually, we saw about 34 different species of birds, but as it happens most of the time ,they are on the move in the trees or making a fast flyby.  Just spotting a bird, does not equate to getting an image.

Humor in Photography

I just had to show you this photo of a Belted Kingfisherthat I came up with Saturday.  Cruising along the river bank of the Spring Creek, I spotted him in a tree on the opposite bank, about 125 yards away.  As I took a closer look through my binoculars, I realized that he had an enormous fish in it’s bill.  I think he was contemplating on what he was going to do with it.  After getting a few shots, I briefly looked away, and then he was flying down the river.  I don’t know if he still had the fish or if he had dropped it.

Now what do I do??

Now what do I do??

Here are a few more or less humorous images from the past.  I will let you enjoy the captions.  First this Northern Mockingbird.

Going my way???

Going my way???

This image of the two Prairie Dogs appeared twice in separate issues of National Wildlife Magazine.

"Blow in my ear and I'll follow you anywhere."

“Blow in my ear and I’ll follow you anywhere.”

These, parked for the summer, dueling snowplows were photographed at Traverse City, Michigan on a visit there a few year ago.

Okay, on three.........

Okay, on three………

This Mexican Ground Squirrel seemed to not like me intruding on his meal.

"Must you stare while I'm eating?"......

“Must you stare while I’m eating?”……

Wild ride at a Professional Bull Riders event in San Angelo, Texas.

"Whoa, stop this thing and let me off!"

“Whoa, stop this thing and let me off!”

I got lucky and nailed this frog at the instant that he grabbed the butterfly.

"The Frog and the Princess""Gotcha, baby"

“The Princess and the Frog”
“Gotcha, baby”

I hope you enjoyed a bit of my weird humor today.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

I Heart Hooters

Of course, I am talking about the other kind of hooters.  What did you think I meant?  I am referring to the Great Horned Owls.  I think they are fascinating.  When I see them looking at me, I always wonder what is going on in their little minds.  Maybe they’re wondering what I am thinking, too.

Anyway, there is an area at Spring Creek Park, here in San Angelo, where over the months, a young Great Horned Owl, or GHO, has been seen frequently.  We were in for a surprise yesterday, Friday, when we happened to look up into a tree and saw two of them sitting side-by-side.  One of them, we believe, is the same one that had been seen on a regular basis.  We recognized it because it’s left eye-lid seems to droop most of the time.  I guess the other one just flew in, and decided it need a bit of companionship.  It is just a tad smaller, too.

Great Horned Owls

Great Horned Owls

After getting several images, we decided to leave them alone and cruise on through the park, and maybe return later.  A few minutes later we heard and saw this red-shafted Northern Flicker in the brush.

Northern Flicker - red-shafted

Northern Flicker – red-shafted

Further along, I couldn’t resist catching a photo of the state bird of Texas, the Northern Mockingbird.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

Turning around, we decided to go back and check in with the owls.  When we returned to their tree, we saw that one had separated itself to another branch about three feet away.  About a month ago, I had purchased a small Leica camera and I thought this might be a good time to try out the zoom lens.  Here is the result, and I guess I made a good investment.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

I hope you enjoy these images, and you can click on any of them too see an enlargement.  Then just click your back button to return to this post.  I will take this time to wish all of you readers a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

More Pre-Easter Photos

I might as well continue where I left off, writing the previous post about Ann’s and my little trip to Middle Concho Park.  Let’s see where was I?  Oh, yes, I wrote about seeing our first Black-crowned Night Heron of the season.  That was pretty neat.  However, after that we continued on the little drive along the river and through the park.  We saw the following species.  I more or less will let the images themselves do most of the talking.  All photographs were taken with my two Canon EOS 7Ds.  Click on the photos to see enlargements.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

We were surprised to see two Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, strolling through the park, paying no attention to us.  They really do whistle, by the way.  The light wasn’t very good but  I shot from the car using my Canon 100-400mm lens.  1/1250 sec. @f5.6, -0.3EV, ISO 160.

Great Blue Heron

Then, we spotted a Great Blue Heron, and of course, it was on the opposite side of the river.  I unloaded the tripod and got the shot with my Canon 500mm lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  1/1250 sec. @ f6.3 -0.3EV, ISO 100.

Black-crested Titmouse

We spotted this Black-crested Titmouse in a tree, preening his feathers.  He was a little cutie.  It looks like he could use a little grooming job done on him.  Again, I got this shot from the car window using my Canon 100-400mm zoom lens.  1/640 sec. @f6.3, ISO 200.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

We came upon a Ladder-backed Woodpecker scurrying around in a tree.  It was moving pretty fast, so I stopped the car and got out and moved around a bit, trying not to attract the bird’s attention.  I finally found a spot to shoot it through some branches.  I used my trusty Canon 100-400mm zoom lens again.  1/500 sec. @ f8, -0.3EV, ISO 500.

Great Egret

Along the way, we again spotted a Great Egret doing some stalking for prey.  Where else, but across the river again.  What is it about the other side of the river?  Seriously, in all honesty, the best shot was when they are on the other side of the river, even though the distance is about 150 yards.  If they were on this (my) side of the river, it would have been difficult to find a good shooting position.  So I needed to get my tripod out again for the long shot.  Canon 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-converter.  I love this shot, the way the egret stands out from the background.  1/1250 sec. @f5.6, -0.3EV, ISO 100.

Here was an easy one.  I passed a tree and the Northern Mockingbird was only about 10 feet away on a tree branch.  Easy shot.  Handled easily with my Canon 100-400mm zoom lens.  1/400 sec. @ f22, -0.3EV, ISO 3200.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

On the way out of the park, I spotted another Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and I couldn’t resist getting that final shot.  So we then headed for the house so I could get busy planning for this post.  Canon 100-400mm zoom lens.  1/500 sec. @ f8, -0.3EV, ISO 160.

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  Happy Easter everyone. 🙂

Northern Mockingbird Editing

I have decided that I want to frame the photo of the Northern Mockingbird that I featured in a previous post.

Northern Mockingbird before editing

But as I looked at it, I thought the composition looked a bit weighted too much to the left side.  I decided to remove the branch in the left corner, trim off a bit of the branch that leaves the frame at the left, and eliminate a shadow in the lower right corner.  Like this:

Northern Mockingbird - future edits

Below is the finished product.  I think it looks better.  What do you think.

Northern Mockingbird - final product

I then cropped to a 12×16 that I will put in a 16×20 frame with a  2  1/4 inch double-mat all around.  Voila!!

(Click any image to see an enlargement.)

Great Horned Owlet II

Before I forget, please note my new on-line photo gallery.  I think you will like it.  Click this link PhotoGallery, then add it to your favorites.  🙂

I apologize for the confusion in yesterday’s post about the link.

You probably have seen my previous post about the young Great Horned Owl.  Yesterday morning we took a little drive through Spring Creek Park, and we saw the little creature again.  This time he/she had roamed into an area of trees that were “owned” by a bunch of Northern Mockingbirds.  They were chasing him, and actually physically bumping him when ever he lit on a tree branch.  He couldn’t sit still for a minute, before one of the mockingbirds ran into him, trying to knock him off of his perch.  I managed to get this photo, plus a few others, before I decided he had enough to contend with, without having to fear me also.

  •  Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400 zoom lens
  • 1/500 sec. @ f5.6
  • ISO 200
  • Lens focal distance 370mm

More about X-Bar Ranch Nature Retreat

Sunrise at X-Bar Ranch Nature Retreat

Click here for X-Bar Ranch Nature Retreat information.  Ann and I made a visit last week and spent a few days birding and photographing.   I had told you about it briefly in a post last week.  Here are some photos that I promised you. 
We spent most of our time around the lodge area, about 50 feet from the cabin that we stayed in.  It was amazing how many bird species that we saw in that tiny area.  We could have driven around the ranch on our own, but we will do that on another visit, as we were afraid of missing a new bird.
We were the only guests there, so we had the entire place to our own.  Stan Meador, the general manager, welcomed us and saw to our needs, then basically just left us alone.  Stan returned on Tuesday morning, and took us in his pickup truck for a tour of the ranch.
Besides the birding opportunities, there is hunting, hiking, biking, and camping.  As a matter of fact, Eddie Salter, a national champion turkey hunter and guide from Hunter’s Specialties had just finished filming a hunt to be shown in January 2012 on the Outdoor Channel.
At the bottom of this post I have listed the total species that we saw there.  Click on any photograph to see an enlargement.

Painted Bunting

Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Northern Mockingbird
Chipping Sparrow
Western Scrub Jay
House Finch in flight
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Canyon Towhee
Northern Bobwhite
Happy Birding!!
Location:     X-Bar Ranch
Observation date:     4/18/11
Notes:     These are our observations at the Lodge April 18, 19, & 20th.<br>from
the north & south ends of the porch!
Number of species:     37
Northern Bobwhite     8
Wild Turkey     4
Turkey Vulture     6
American Kestrel     1
Eurasian Collared-Dove     2
White-winged Dove     6
Mourning Dove     10
Black-chinned Hummingbird     4
Golden-fronted Woodpecker     1
Eastern Phoebe     1
Eastern Kingbird     1
Western Scrub-Jay     7
Barn Swallow     2
Black-crested Titmouse     4
Bewick’s Wren     2
Hermit Thrush     2
Northern Mockingbird     6
Orange-crowned Warbler     2
Nashville Warbler     1
Yellow Warbler     2
Yellow-rumped Warbler     3
Spotted/Eastern Towhee     5
Rufous-crowned Sparrow     2
Canyon Towhee     2
Chipping Sparrow     6
Lark Sparrow     2
Savannah Sparrow     2
White-crowned Sparrow     2
Summer Tanager     3
Northern Cardinal     6
Pyrrhuloxia     1
Blue Grosbeak     1
Painted Bunting     4
Great-tailed Grackle     2
Brown-headed Cowbird     1
Scott’s Oriole     2
House Finch     10
House Sparrow     2

Listen to the Mockingbird………

The Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is the state bird of Texas, and also for a few other states.  And true to it’s name it really can do a heck of a job of miming other birds.  The one that dominates our back yard, can do a great bluejay, and others of our backyard birds.  I can go out there and make random whistles and it will mock me.  My wife says that I am always harrassing him.  But not true, just conversing with him.  He is very territorial about our/his yard.  And that’s the reason we don’t have very many other visiting birds hanging around long.  If we put seed out, he won’t touch it, but neither will he let any other bird have it.

My Stokes Field Guide to North American Birds describes the bird as slim ,flat-crowned, long-tailed, long-legged  with a fairly thick relatively short bill.   Gray above, whitish below, two white wingbars, white base to primaries creates a patch on edge of folded wing.   Indistinct gray eyeline, yellowish eye.  In flight, the distinctive white patches on outer wings are very visible.

Here are some of my favorite photos:

Going my way???

Fledgling Northern Mockingbird

Fledgling Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

I hope you have enjoyed these photos.  Click on the images to see enlargements.

Happy Birding!!

No Time to Make Dessert

You ever have one of those days.  So much to do, so little time.  It all started this morning when it took me a little extra time to do the daily crossword.  My original plan was to first go to breakfast at Roxies’.  Yes, that is the name of the diner where we eat our first meal of the day.  In your mind, picture a Roxie, picture a little diner, you will then say that sure looks like a Roxies’ Diner.  🙂

Phoebe (Says or Eastern)

Then after breakfast,  the important stuff;

 1. do the crossword, (a must),

2. go feed the birds at the park, 

3.  fill the van’s gas tank,

4. wash the van,

5. take a new photo of the Santa Elena Canyon over to the Frame-up Gallery to get it framed,

6. check on my exhibit at Crocket National Bank to see if I need to leave some more cards,

7. come home then and try to do a post for my blog.

Well, you know about the best laid plans…….   I just finished number 2.   It is 3:00 PM and I am just getting started on number 7.  I had to skip numbers 3 throught 6.  I didn’t fill the gas tank; I think I can make it to Roxies’ (remember her?) tomorrow morning.  I post-poned washing the van, ‘cuz it gonna rain tonight.   I can wait about going to the Frame-up Gallery.  Ditto to see about my exhibit at the bank.

The reason that it took so long to feed the birds (#2) was it turned out to be a gorgeous sunny day, a perfect day for birding.  So after feeding the birds that’s what we did.  We saw 29 different species.  That includes the pictured  Phoebe.  Can anyone say definitely which it is?  An Eastern Phoebe or a Says Phoebe.  Ann’s list that she sends to E-bird, is below for your information.

So now it is almost 4:00PM and almost finished with this post.  I am pretty warn out and I think it is almost time for a margarita.  It’s a good thing that I don’t cook, because there definitely would  be no time to make dessert. 🙂

Location:     San Angelo State Park
Observation date:     1/24/11
Number of species:     29

Northern Shoveler     30
Northern Bobwhite     8
American White Pelican     30
Great Blue Heron     5
Black Vulture     70
Northern Harrier     1
Red-tailed Hawk     1
American Coot     3
Greater Yellowlegs     2
Least Sandpiper     24
Ring-billed Gull     12
White-winged Dove     6
Mourning Dove     4
Greater Roadrunner     1
Eastern Phoebe     1
Say’s Phoebe     1
Black-crested Titmouse     2
Northern Mockingbird     12
Curve-billed Thrasher     1
Phainopepla     1
Spotted Towhee     1
Chipping Sparrow     3
White-crowned Sparrow     18
Northern Cardinal     6
Pyrrhuloxia     8
Red-winged Blackbird     120
Western Meadowlark     6
House Finch     12
House Sparrow     6

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(