Green Heron plus voting results…………..


The votes are coming in and it looks like my old original Texas Tweeties is going to win by a landslide.  It just shows that change isn’t always better.  As we say here in Texas, it is better to dance with the lady that you brought. 🙂

Here are a couple of images of a Green Heron that I took this morning at Middle Concho Park.  It was beneath me resting on a log sticking out from the river bank.  I was in the shade of a tree looking down at his dark color, and there was a glare from the water.  I exposed at plus 2/3 EV to give more light to the bird, but then had to darken the water in during processing.  The EXIF data was the same for both except my camera gave me an f6.3 for the first and f5.6 for the second.

Green Heon

Green Heron

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/1000 sec. at f6.3 and f5.6 respectively
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal lens 400mm
  • Metering – spot
  • Shutter priority

I hope you like the pictures.  Click on either one for an enlargement.  Also, thanks to all who voted in my poll.

New Action at K-mart Creek


Last year, as many of you know, I wrote some posts about this drainage ditch in front of an empty K-mart Building near here.  There was usually then a constant flow down the arroyo so there was many water birds that frequented there.  Herons, Sandpipers, Egrets, etc.  But for the last year or so, since this drought got a huge foothold over west Texas, it has been dry as a bone.

Not so, right now.  Since we got about three inches in the area about a week ago there is a little water back in there.  So it was a pleasant surprise when we drove by there, on our way home from picking up breakfast from the Golden Arches, that we spotted a Yellow-crowned Night Heron.  He was back-lit from the morning sun and the light wasn’t perfect, but with a little post-processing I came up with these usable images.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/125 sec. @ f6.3 – minus 1/3 EV adjustment
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance 400mm
  • Metering – spot
  • Aperture priority

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/200 sec. @ f6.3 – minus 1/3 EV adjustment
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance 400mm
  • Metering – spot
  • Aperture priority

One thing that I have gotten used to, it to adjust my EV to minus 1/3.  I like to use that as my default, or starting point, rather than no adjustment.  I like the way my tonal qualities are just a tad under exposed, I guess.  I am not saying I am right, but it’s something I prefer to do.  I didn’t used to do that, and I am not really sure when I started doing it.

By the way, the heron was gone later in the afternoon when I drove by there again.   I’ll keep my eyes on it.  Click on either image to see an enlargement.

More Egrets – Ya Gotta Love ‘Em


Two more egret photos from our little foray down to the Eldorado, Texas water treatment ponds.

Great Egret

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens – with 1.4 tele-converter
  • 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3 – minus 1/3 EV adjustment
  • ISO 100
  • Lens focal distance – 700mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Shutter priority

Snowy Egret

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens – with 1.4 tele-converter
  • 1/2000 sec. @ f5.6 – minus 1/3 EV adjustment
  • ISO 125
  • Lens focal distance – 700mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Shutter priority

I hope you like the photos.  Click on either of them for an enlargement.

Middle Concho Park Re-visited


Yesterday Ann and I decided to go back to Middle Concho Park to see if there was any action, now that we have had a little rain there.  One thing that impressed us was how green everything was.  That is what a couple of inches of rain can do.  There still wasn’t a heck of a lot of bird activity.  I guess we’re anxious for the fall migration.

However, we got lucky and spotted a Vermilion Flycatcher.  And even better, it sat long enough for me to get the big gun out of the back seat.  I had to lean against a tree so I could hand-hold it steady enough.  I knew I wouldn’t have time to set up a tripod, and I didn’t want to press my luck.  The bird looked a bit bedraggled and weather-beaten.

Vermilion Flycatcher

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens with 1.4 tele-converter
  • 1/2000 sec. @ f5.6
  • ISO  800
  • Lens focal distance  700mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Shutter priority

On leaving the park, there is a marshy, wetland area.  Lots of reeds, cattails, water lilies.  I got out of the car to try to get some photos of the blossoms, when I spooked an American Bittern from the growth right in front of me.  He flew about 80 yards away but still stayed visible for me to get this shot.

American Bittern

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/2500 sec. @ f5.6 – minus 1/3 EV adjustment
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance  400mm
  • Metering – spot
  • Shutter priority

After that little excitement, I went ahead and took this shot of one of the water lily blossooms.  They were all bright yellow, and the sun was beating down from almost overhead.  I would have prefered an overcast or cloudy sky, but I try to make do with what I have to work with.

Water Lily Blossom

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/2500 sec. @ f10 – minus 1/3 EV adjustment
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance  190mm
  • Metering – spot
  • Shutter priority

After that, before coming home, we stopped at a new nearby restaurant, The Stillwater Bar and Grill.  It’s located right on the water.  We sat on the patio, enjoyed the scenery and had a fine lunch.  It was a nice way for us to cap off a nice morning.  Ann and I heartily recommend it if anybody is out that way.

Eldorado Water Treatment Ponds – Willet


Willet. (Tringa semipalmata).  There are two species of this shorebird.  The Eastern Willet and the Western Willet.  These photos of course, are of the Western species. They are larger and more stockier than the greater Yellowlegs.  And of course, they have gray legs.  They prefer to stay around wet prairies and fields.

I am into birding as much as I am into photography.  These photos may not be as esthetic as I may like them to be, but they do represent what a Willet is supposed to look like.  They were both taken when we made our trip to the water treatment ponds at Eldorado on Wednesday.  I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to get as close to him as I did.

As I am want to do, when photographing birds, I make sure that I can stop the action if necessary.  Shorebirds, sandpipers, and others are always on the move, feeding and bobbing around.  So I opted to shoot in shutter priority, which doesn’t always provide the depth of field, or the larger apertures that I sometimes like.  You know, the larger openings that would provide me a more blurred background.  But having said that, the rocky background probably was to close to the bird to make much difference anyway.  I was shooting at f6.3 and I could only go to f5.6 with my set-up.  But, nevertheless, I think you will enjoy these images.

The photo EXIF data is the same for each one.  You may click on either image to see an enlargement.

Willet

Willet

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens with 1.4 tele-converter
  • 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3
  • ISO 500
  • Lens focal distance  700mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Shutter priority

Eldorado Water Treatment Ponds – Snowy Egret


Ann and I went down to Eldorado to bird and photograph at their water treatment ponds.  It is one of our favorite places to go, even though it is about a 40 mile drive.  The place consists of four large ponds, each approximately 100 yards wide and about 200 yards long.  These are just guesses on the dimensions but I opine they are pretty close.  There is a little driving lane around each pond, so you can use your car as a bird blind.

The one thing I like about going there, is that you never know what you might see.  Yesterday we saw three Snowy Egrets, one Great Egret, one Great Blue Heron, one Willet, three Killdeer, several Black Terns, several Spotted Sandpipers, plus various swallows, sparrows and vultures.  Today, I will feature a couple of images that I obtained of a Snowy Egret (Egretta thula).  Quite a bit smaller than the Great Egret, it has black legs, yellow feet, and a black beak with yellow lores.  Exception is the juvenile has yellow legs with a black edge.

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Llano, Texas – Bald Eagles


About two and a half years ago, Feb. 7, 2008, to be exact, Ann and I, decided to make a trip down to Llano, Texas, a distance of 130 miles.  A pair of nesting Bald Eagles have been going there annually, for the past six or seven years, always using the same nest.  We had been there a few months previously, when they had arrived to start re-building the nest.  During that time, we had watched them haul up branches, sometimes the size of 2x4s.

This time we were interested in seeing the young eaglets.  We got glimpses, but they were pretty tiny, and mostly hidden from view.  To see the eagles, a person has to watch from the side of Highway 71, about 7 miles from Llano.  For best viewing use binoculars or long lenses.  Because of the large amounts of people that flock to see the eagles, the highway department has cleared a spot off the road to allow for parking, so is not to impede traffic.

As usual, there were 3 or 4 other photographers there, each with a long lens set-up because the nest is about 200 yards from the highway, high in a tree.  Some were using Nikons, but I didn’t hold that against them. 🙂  Seriously, we were all friends and enjoyed swapping tales and talking photography.  For best lighting it is best to get there early in the morning.  Also, to get the better spot to set up a camera. It can get a bit crowded.

It was pretty cold and nippy that morning, so it wasn’t long before Ann opted to sit in the car and read a book.  I was thankful that I had dressed for the coolness.  At least, the sun was bright and shining.

As we watched, one of the adults was going and bringing food for the young ones.  We watched him/her bring up a whole leg of a deer, a large duck or goose, and a large fish of some kind.  Those kids were going to be well fed.

I got many images, of course, but none that really showed much of the eaglets.  As I said, they usually were hidden by one or both of the adults, and also because of the depth of the nest.  By the way, those eagles nests, or aeries, are huge.  This one probably measured 8 feet across.  I have chosen this image to show you.  First the original, to show you how far away it was.  Remember I was using the equivelent of a 700mm telephoto lens.  The second photo is of course, my cropped and edited version.

Bald Eagle from 200 yards thru 700mm lens

Bald Eagle - cropped close-up

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens with 1.4 tele-converter – tripod mounted
  • 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance  700mm
  • Metering  – pattern
  • Aperture priority
  • Bogen-Manfrotto tripod
  • Wimberley II gimbal head

Click in either image to enlarge.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo


Yellow-billed Cuckoo. (Coccyzus americanus).  This woodland cuckoo preys mostly on tent caterpillars.  Also likes insects, bird eggs and tree frogs. When it is heard on summer afternoons, it is supposed to be a sign of coming rains.   It summers throughout the country except for the west and northwest.  Their migratory path is back down into Mexico.

This image created at San Angelo State Park, San Angelo, Texas on May 28, 2011.  Click on the photo to see an enlargement.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens with 1.4 tele-converter
  • 1/800 sec. @ f5.6
  • ISO 500
  • Lens focal distance  700mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Aperture priority

HOORAY! Birding rained out!


Today was supposed to be our monthly birding tour at San Angelo State Park.  As you know up until yesterday, our rainfall for the year stood at 2.94 inches.  Then yesterday, as I mentioned in my previous post, we received .47 inch to bring the total to 3.41 for the year.

Okay, so this morning Ann and I headed for the park to do our thing.  There was just a slight sprinkling of rain on our windshield.  We thought nothing of it, although the clouds looked threatening.  From experience, that in itself, does not worry people in west Texas.  We receive these promises of rain quite frequently and usually nothing happens.

We met five other birders at the parking lot, and based on what we have seen the past few weeks, we thought the best place to see any birds would be at the bird blind itself, instead of taking our usual drive around.  We headed for the blind at about five minutes before 9:00AM.  We just got settled in when the thunder and lightning exploded around us and the rains hit.  A thunderous downpour that lasted until 9:45AM.  Forty-five minutes of a big gully-washing rain.  Water eventually was standing a couple of inches deep all around the blind.

Finallly it subsided enough that we could make it to our cars and head for home.  When we got to the house, I immediately checked the gauge (everyone around here keeps a rain gauge).  It read about 2 and 1/4 inch.  It was still raining, and it finally reached 2.85 before it stopped.  A really great rain that the town needed badly.

There was flash flooding all over town.  At one spot near our house there is a low-water crossing where an arroyo crossed the road.  A senseless person, who didn’t pay attention to warnings, tried to drive through.  The car got wash off the road and floated down the arroyo for several hundred yards before it ran into a culvert.  No injuries that I know of.

Now this rain was far from being a drought buster, but it sure raised the spirits of the people here.  But if there is any bad news to come out of it, may be that it was pretty much localized mainly in San Angelo.  Even though there were reports of some neighborhoods receiving up to five inches, the United States Weather Bureau, located at the airport about a mile south of town reported only one inch.  Actually .99 inch.  So our official total for the year is now 4.40 inches.  A very long way from normal.

So were happy to cancel the birding, to get the rain.  The bird count before the storm hit was, I think, about six doves and three house finches.

This Wilson’s Warbler was photographed several months ago.

Wilson's Warbler

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f6.3
  • ISO 640
  • Lens focal distance  400mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Aperture priority

The Day it Finally Rained……….


I stole that title from a head-line in our local newspaper, the San Angelo Standard-Times.

Last night we finally had some thundestorms come dancing through. The weather bureau at the airport recorded .47 inch.  Nearly a half an inch.  Not much, and only a teaser, but we take what we can get.  We now have a total of 3.41 inches for the year.

Here is a recent picture of a Golden-fronted Woodpecker that I thought you may enjoy.  It is one my favorite woodpeckers, because it is so photogenic.  Click image to see an enlargement.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens with 1.4 tele-converter
  • 1/400 sec. @ f7.1
  • ISO 800
  • Lens focal distance  700mm
  • Metering – center weighted
  • Aperture priority