Random Images from the past


I have been going through old images again, simply because it is too danged cold to get out and do what I want, and that is to do more photography.  But, alas, I am stuck inside for a day or two, but with a hot cup of hot chocolate, laced with a smidgeon of Kahlua.

Anyway, these images I plucked from the files of October 15.  I don’t think I have posted them before.

Savannah Sparrow

Red-winged Blackbird – female

I usually am not able to get great photos of small birds, but I got lucky with the above female Red-winged Blackbird.  I like the way it is puffed up a bit and showing off more of it’s colors.

juvenile Red-tailed Hawk in tree.

juvenile Red-tailed Hawk in tree.

This juvenile Red-tail Hawk was standing in the crook of the mesquite tree and just looking around, really not paying any attention to me.  I wasn’t close of course, but only about 50 yards away.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Here I liked the colors in the flowers and habitat where this Red-winged Blackbird was perched.   I also like the way I caught a little eye light.  Click on any of the images to see enlargements.

Well, that’s it for this afternoon.  Time to go freshen my ‘toddy’.

By the way, this is being posted the morning of December 27, but it was written the afternoon before.

PLEASE NOTE:  This is an edited post as of 9:00AM Thursday.  I had originally IDed the female blackbird as a Savannah Sparrow.  Mia McPherson sent me an e-mail and told me of my error.  (I was probably influenced by my little sip of hot chocolate and Kahlua.) 🙂

Miscellaneous Monday Moments


I and Ann got out to Middle Concho Park this morning for awhile.  A little quiet at first, but we ended up seeing over twenty birds.  The weather was a little cool but gradually warmed.  Skies were partly cloudy.  We saw this juvenile Red-tailed Hawk zipping around.  At first, we saw him in the fork of a tree.  I managed to get this shot before he flew off to perch atop the utility pole that you see in the second image.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk in tree.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk atop utility pole.

I was able to get a shot of a Red-winged Blackbird amongst some old sunflowers.  Several more shots were throw-aways, because the red of the wing was covered up with the vegetation.

Red-winged Blackbird in the sunflowers.

The following shot of a Great Blue Heron was made several days ago.  I opted to not clone out the bit of spider webbing that you see hanging from the branches.  I much rather keep things looking natural as much as I can.

Great Blue Heron

I hope you enjoyed these photographs.  Click on any of them to see some enlargements.

P.S.  My book, “Birds, Beasts and Buttes”, is now on sale at 20% off thru October 23.  Click HERE  and use the code FANS at checkout.  It is available in either softcover or hardcover.

Red-winged Blackbird and Great Blue Heron chick update


I have to show you this Red-winged Blackbird, (Agelaius phoeniceus), image that I captured a few days ago at Middle Concho Park.  Usually they are off in the reeds making noise and not showing themselves enough to make a nice image.  However, this one I spotted when I was driving along the shore of the Concho River, (on the grass, of course).  He was fluttering around and lit on a small branch sticking out of the water.  Only a few feet away I managed this composition.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird.  1/2000 sec.@ f5.6, +0,7EV, ISO 1600.  Noise eliminated with Topaz DeNoise.  Canon EOS 7D and 100-400mm lens.

I drove downtown to check on the Great Blue Heron nest.  As you may remember I mentioned it in a previous post that there were four chicks alive and well.  Well, they are growing well and being well fed by their doting mother who continually dips into the nearby Concho River for some fish.  Exposure was again made with my Canon EOS 7D and 100-400mm lens.  1/3000 sec. @ f5.6, +0.3, ISO 640.

Click here to vote in the latest Bird ID quiz.  Thursday is the last day to make your selection as the results will be published on Friday.  Let’s see how ya’ll do on this one.

Quiz 1 – Results are in!


Before I get to the main subject of this post, I need a favor from all of you.  You may have noticed that I now have a Bob Zeller Photography Facebook page.  Please check it out by clicking on the link or the link on the right side of this page.  Then do me a favor and click “like” for me.  I am new to all of this stuff, but I understand that if I get 30 “likes” something special will happen.  I don’t know what it is.  Maybe bombs will burst, fireworks will flare, streamers will fall, confetti will fall, I will get the key to the city, or I will get the the man of the year award.  Who knows, but I would like for all of you to have a look. 🙂

Okay, let get to it!  From all of the comments this week, my first Bird ID quiz has been a smash hit.  So I will not keep you in suspense any further.  Here are the results from 45 votes:

  • Lark Sparrow                        17 votes
  • Red-winged Blackbird       18    “
  • Sage Thrasher                          9    “
  • Common Grackle                    1    “
  • Red-shouldered Hawk          0   ”

    Female Red-winged Blackbird

The photo is a female Red-winged Blackbird, (Agelaius phoeniceus).  It sure fooled a lot of people.  The female is actually an attractave bird.  Most females of other species are usally kinda drab.  In the photo you can see just a smidge of red in the shoulder, though not always visible.  I threw in the choice of the Red Shouldered Hawk, to see if I could catch any of you off guard.  It has that reddish spot on the shoulder also.

I appreciate all of you that have voted.  Check back in tomorrow, Saturday April 21, to see what I have in store for you in Quiz #2.  Ann and I spent a couple of hours last night dreaming up the dastardly thing.  Heh! Heh!

Lark Sparrow

For those that thought it was a Lark Sparrow, here is what one looks like.

Sage Thrasher

And above, the third place Sage Thrasher.  The fourth place Common Grackle needs no introduction, besides, I don’t have a picture of one. 🙂  Click on any image to see enlargements.

Eared and Pied-billed Grebes


Since I ended up getting a nice photo of an Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) Sunday morning, I thought I would show it to you along with another type, the Pied-Billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps).  An interesting thing about grebes is that they spend most of their time on the water.  Because of lobes on their feet that help them to be better swimmers, they are rather ungainly trying to walk on land.  They use floating nests among reeds and other growth.  When preening, they eat their own feathers and feed them to their young.

Eared Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe - adult

Pied-billed Grebe - adult winter

Pied-billed Grebe - juvenile

Adult pied-bills can be identified by the dark band around the bill.  Winter adults and juveniles do not have that band.  Grebes are rarely seen in flight.

I hope you enjoy these photographs, and also those that you can see by clicking on the Flickr Logo on the right side of this page.

Flight of the Cattle Egret


Yesterday Ann and I made a return trip to the water treatment ponds down at Eldorado, Texas.  Our purpose was to try to get a look at the Black Scoter that was seen there for a few days.  This time we did get a chance to see it.  But as we watched, and as I was preparing to photograph it, it flew off.  Since the ponds cover several acres, and there are five seperate areas we didn’t see it again amidst the hundred of duck species that were there.  So a photograph will have to wait for another time.  It was a lifer for both Ann and I.

However, the juvenile Cattle Egret was still there.  I got a few images of it feeding in the reeds, but my prize was this photo of it in flight.

Cattle Egret in flight

Esposure was with my Canon 7D with a Canon 100-400mm lens.  1/500 sec. @ f8, ISO 250.  Spot metering and aperture priority.

We also saw a Greater Roadrunner running with a captured Red-winged Blackbird in it’s beak.  No photo.  Running too fast for me.  Total species for the two hours again was 27.

  • Ruddy Duck
  • Black Scoter
  • Bufflehead
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • American Coot
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Gadwall
  • Ring-necked Duck
  • Eared Grebe
  • Redhead
  • Greater Roadrunner
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Canvasback
  • Northern Pintail
  • Wilson’s Snipe
  • Meadowlark
  • Egyptian Goose
  • Cattle Egret
  • Mockingbird
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Vermilion Flycatcher
  • Rock Wren
  • Song Sparrow

We also saw one that we can’t identify.  Here are two images of it.  If there are any expert birders out there, tell me what you think.

I hope you enjoyed the photos.  Click on any of them for an enlargement.

Big News from Eldorado Ponds


Black Scoter, Barnegat Inlet N.J.

Image via Wikipedia

We got an e-mail from Suaanne Johnson in Eldorado last evening.  It seems another rarity was seen there at the water treatment ponds.  Suzanne and her husband, Sid, were birding there and spotted a Black Scoter (Melanitta nigra).  They got pictures and had the sighting verified with the proper authorities.  The Black Scoter (male pictured above) is normally seen only on the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines.  So the female that they saw apparently was lost.

Ann and I drove down there this morning, but we weren’t able to see it.  I probably took off and got back on course to it’s normal habitat.

Wilson's Snipe

But while we were there, we saw this Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata) in the weeds along the shorline of one of the ponds.  Then further along this juvenile Cattle Egret  (Bubulcus ibis) appeared.  He looked like he lost his momma, but he was large enough to fly, as he did shortly after I took this photo.

juvenile Cattle Egret

Soe even though the Black Scoter eluded us, I feel satisfied that I got the above photographs.  Our total birding species count was 23.  We were there for only two hours.  Following is the list:

The EXIF data was identical for both images except for the ISO, which was 100 for the egret and 640 for the snipe.  Otherwise the camera was my Canon 7D, Canon 100-400mm lens, 1/640 sec. @f7.1.  Spot metering with aperture priority.  Of course, the image of the Black Scoter is not mine.

Click on any photo to see an enlargement.  Have a great weekend. 🙂

Foggy Monday Birds and a Beast


Okay, okay, I know I haven’t posted in a few days.  I’ve been waiting for a sunshine-filled happy day.  As I am writing this, it may not happen for awhile.  This morning it is very, very foggy.  However, I am hoping for the sun to break through later today.  So I will fill in with the latest birding results from yesterday, posted at the end of this post, and a couple of pictures.

Nine-banded Armadillo

What is a post without some pictures, right?  Yesterday, after doing a little birding, we were on our way out of San Angelo State Park, when we observed a couple of Armadillos rooting around, looking for something edible.  The above image  pictures one of them.  Also, a little earlier, while at the bird blind, I photographed this Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus).  I believe that it is a 1st year male. Click on either photo to see an enlargement. 

Red-winged Blackbird

The following is a list of birds that we saw and reported yesterday.

Location:     San Angelo State Park
Observation date:     1/16/11
Number of species:     24

Northern Shoveler     6
American White Pelican     20
Great Blue Heron     2
Red-tailed Hawk     1
American Kestrel     2
American Coot     12
Killdeer     2
Greater Yellowlegs     2
Least Sandpiper     6
Ring-billed Gull     50
White-winged Dove     6
Greater Roadrunner     1
Ladder-backed Woodpecker     1
Northern Mockingbird     10
Curve-billed Thrasher     1
Spotted Towhee     1
Canyon Towhee     1
White-crowned Sparrow     12
Northern Cardinal     4
Pyrrhuloxia     5
Red-winged Blackbird     10
Western Meadowlark     1
House Finch     6
House Sparrow     8

Happy Birding!!

Cooper’s Hawk


First I’d like mention that in the future, all, if any, of our bird counts will be listed at the bottom of my posts.  Also, I have decided to dispense with my Bird of the Week series, because I intend to put the desired information with photos that I post daily.

This is a photograph of a Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii).  Ann and I were at the bird-blind at San Angelo State Park yesterday morning.  As we sat and watched, all of a sudden the birds that regularly visit left in a rush.  The reason was that the hawk had swooped in.  He lit in the tree branch, hopefully to catch a meal.  After finding that the birds were in hiding, he eventually flew off, but not before I was able to get a few photos.  I hope you like it.  Click on it for an enlargement.

Cooper's Hawk

Sibley’s describes this hawk as a medium-size accipiter with a relatively large head, long tail and holds wings straight when soaring.  They and the Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) are similar to the Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentillis) in shape, habits, and plummage.  Northern Goshawks are not usually found in the Concho Valley.  All are agile when pursuing small birds through trees and bushes.  I identified this as a Cooper’s because of the flatter  head and thinner streaks on the breast.

We were only able to spend an hour at the San Angelo State Park bird-blind this morning.  Because of that our bird count that follows is a bit shorter.  Only 14 species.   Just the usual suspects today.  Still waiting and hoping for some Pine Siskins to make an appearance.

Tuesday January 4, 2011 – Total species  14 

White-winged Dove     6
Mourning Dove     2
Black-crested Titmouse     2
Northern Mockingbird     7
Curve-billed Thrasher     2
Spotted Towhee     1
Canyon Towhee     2
White-crowned Sparrow     12
Northern Cardinal     8
Pyrrhuloxia     6
Red-winged Blackbird     100
Western Meadowlark     8
House Finch     12
House Sparrow     2

Happy Birding!!

Northern Bobwhite – Jan 3 birding list


When Ann and I arrived at San Angelo State Park yesterday (Sunday) morning, we saw this Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus).   Actually, there were two, but as they scurried away I was only able to capture one.  There is also another species of quail in this area; Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata).  I haven’t seen one in quite awhile, but I am sure they are here, lurking about in the tall grass somewhere.

Northern Bobwhite

Scaled Quail

The above photo appeared in Texas Farm and Ranch Magazine a couple of years ago. Tomorrow look for a photo of a Cooper’s Hawk that I photographed this morning.   Click on any image for an enlargement.

Here is the bird count for this morning Monday, January 3.

Cooper’s Hawk     1
Red-tailed Hawk     2
White-winged Dove     4
Black-crested Titmouse     2
Northern Mockingbird     4
Curve-billed Thrasher     1
Canyon Towhee     1
White-crowned Sparrow     6
Northern Cardinal     6
Pyrrhuloxia     4
Red-winged Blackbird     20
Common Grackle     10
Brown-headed Cowbird     1
House Finch     6
House Sparrow     4

Happy Birding