Ground Squirrel and San Angelo State Park

I was leaving San Angelo State Park one day, and as I drove by some trees this Mexican Ground Squirrel was muching on a mesquite bean pod.  He looked at me as if I was being rude to watch as he ate.  Embarrassed that he caught me looking, I moved on. 🙂

Mexican Ground Squirrel

Seriously, soon there may not be any mesquites left in the park.  They are not a native specie, but were brought in many years ago, probably accidentally on truck tires, carried by birds, etc.  They are a very thirsty plant.  They multiply, their roots run deep and they use up all of the ground water.   The Concho River is the source for O. C. Fisher lake, and the mesquites along the water shed and in the park are spelling the demise of the river and the lake.  To that end, a program is under way to eradicate all of the mesquites in the along the watershed and the park.  The park itself, encompasses more than seven thousand acres.  I worry for the loss of habitat, but those authorities in the know, say that there are enough native species left to sustain the wildlife.

Cabin at San Angelo State Park

More native species will be brought in to some areas.  With the mesquites and salt cedar gone, someday, along with some good rains, perhaps the river will flow again, the lake will fill, and the boat ramps will reach the water. 

O. C. Fisher Lake at San Angelo State Park

In other good news, a showing of my framed photographs will continue for another month at the Crockett National Bank in downtown San Angelo.  Originally I was invited to show for the months of December and January only, but it has been so well received that I have been extended indefinitely.  So if you get to San Angelo, drop in and have a look.  All of my work there is for sale, and I also have prints available in any size.

Click on the photos to see enlargements.

American Kestrel with Happy Meal

Ann and I made a trip out to San Angelo State Park late Saturday morning.  There we met another professional photographer, Bill Plunkett.  He and his wife have been doing some very extensive traveling and stopped off here in San Angelo.  For examples of his work from all over the continent and more, check his website,

I got lucky again.  While driving around the park, we didn’t see much bird activity until we came upon this dead tree near O. C. Fisher Lake.  There was this American Kestrel perched, trying to devour a mouse that he had caught.  I was fortunate to capture the action before he flew away.

American Kestrel with mouse

I hope you enjoy the photo.  Click on it to see an enlargement.

Happy Birding!!

Sunshine and Cool Birds

Yesterday morning, Friday, Ann and I woke to a nice clear, sunshiny day.  The temp was still only about 20 degrees.  We waited a bit until it was up to about 28 then we headed to San Angelo State Park.  First we needed to put seed in the feeders.  We do that on a regular basis, not just to feed the birds, but for the main purpose of attracting birds for the numerous birders that frequent the popular bird blind.

Cactus Wren in the snow

I also wanted to take advantage of the snow still on the ground, to get some wintery photographs.  My vision was to catch a Northern Cardinal perched on a snow-covered branch.  But a vision was all it was, as there wasn’t any snow on the tree branches.  All we had was about an inch of it on the ground.  But I did get a couple of nice photos of some birds in the snow.  One was the Cactus Wren.  The other was a White-crowned Sparrow that seemed to be staring at some large cat tracks.  Perhaps a Bobcat??

A cool White-crown Sparrow

At the blind, I scared off a small Opossum as I approched.  The water trough, which is about 2 feet deep was frozen solid.  I tried to break through it, but to no avail.  I would have to wait and let the warming sun do it’s job.  O. C. Fisher lake, which is dwindling by the day, looked like it was frozen all the way across.  Leaving there, we stopped by the Prairie Dog village.  A few of them were sitting on the mounds, pondering if they should venture across the snow.

A young Black-tailed Prairie Dog

But, today the snow will probably leave for the most part.  The sun is shining brightly and the temperature is climbing again.  Will spring be just around the corner??  Enjoy the photos, and click on any of them to see enlargements.

Happy Birding!!  🙂

Gulf Fritillary and shorebirds

I’m not usually into butterflies much.  I guess that’s because I never paid a lot of attention to them.  I don’t know why, as they are beautiful creaatures.  I was watching the birds at the San Angelo State Park wildlife viewing area this morning.  Right outside the window is a plant of Yellow Lantana and as I watched, this butterfly, later identified as a Gulf Fritillary landed on it.  It took it’s time, going from blossom to another.

Gulf Fritillary


He (or she?) was only about eight feet away.  I decided to try and get a good sharp picture, maybe freeze the action.  I turnd on my on-camera flash, set the aperture at f16 and took the shot.  The shutter speed was only 1/250 per sec, but the flash duration was much higher and that is what got the sharp image.  I am very pleased with the result.

Long-billed Curlew


My wife and I are still starting to see more shorebirds at O. C. Fisher lake.  Great Blue Herons, American Avocets, Black-necked Stilts, and some sandpipers that are too far away to identify.  Soon there will be more species like the Long-billed Curlew, White-faced Ibises, Pelicans, etc.  Hopefully it won’t be too long, as I am geting impatient. 

White-faced Ibis


In other news, my Epson R1800 Stylus Photo printer was giving me problems for awhile, so I thought maybe it was time for a new one.  I ordered and received a new R1900.  I unpacked it this afternoon and got it running.  It is doing an excellent job.  However, during the interim while waiting for the new one, I corrected the problem on the old R1800.  Instead of shipping the new one back I decided to keep it.  I will keep the old one as a back-up unless I dispose of it by selling it.

Happy birding!!