The day the ice was gone…..

Saturday morning we woke with the sun shining.  The ice was nearly all gone, and a-birding we must go.  We were accompanied by some lady friends/birders/photographers, Christie McCorts-Chambers and Julia Stewart.  Full of enthusiasm, we set a goal of 40 species for the day.

We made a quick stop at the bird blind at San Angelo State Park first.  We saw just the usual resident birds, doves, sparrows, etc., but we had heard that there was a Spotted Towhee nearby.  It didn’t show, so we headed to the north portion of the park, about nine miles away.  With such a nice day, we hoped have a better sighting of the rare Lewis’s Woodpecker that has been hanging around past few weeks.  Fortunately, it was still there, and I was finally able to get acceptable images.

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewis’s Woodpecker

Lewis's Woodpecker in flight.

Lewis’s Woodpecker in flight.

You know, when you get right down to it, the Lewis’s is not the prettiest of the woodpeckers.  But we can’t all be great looking. 🙂

After checking out the area there, we headed to the local parks in the Lake Nasworthy area.  Here are a few highlights from there.

Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck

For birding, the day was great as we saw a total of 41 species total.  We added 17 to our 2015 list bringing it to a total of 44.  A nice start to the year.  As for the photography, with 20-30 mile winds, we didn’t really get that many opportunities, or I should say that, in honesty, I didn’t get very many keepers.  I am picky about the pictures that I show you.

But it was nice to have such a beautiful day, even though the high winds were cool.  The company was great and it was great fun.  And I will never complain about seeing 41 species in one day.  Click on the photos to see enlargements.

The Day of Many Photographs

I try to be a bit witty sometimes with titles of my posts, but this past Saturday was a day that was memorable.  All kinds of photo ops.  I won’t say to much more, but just show you some of the results.

Photos mostly taken at Spring Creek or Middle Concho Parks here in San Angelo.  The exceptions are the second and third photos which were taken at a small downtown lake.  We were just driving around through the parks, and the birds seemed to be exceptionally cooperative.  Click on the images to see great enlargements.

Black-crested Titmouse

I got lucky, as I often do, as the Black-crested Titmouse was only about 20 feet from the car window.  He was completely oblivious of me.

Lesser Scaup - juvenile

Ring-necked Duck - female

Golden-fronted Woodpecker - female

Sharp-shinned Hawk

The Sharp-shinned Hawk gave me an exposure problem.  On the good side, he was perched only about 20 feet from the road-side.  The bad part, there was a limb that was casting a shadow over his head.

Great Blue Heron on log

Great Egret on the hunt

Both the Great Blue Heron and the Great Egret were about 150 yards away on the opposite side of the river.

Belted Kingfisher

Singing Eastern Bluebird

I decided not to include EXIF information in this post.  I just didn’t want to add the clutter.  If any of you want to know how I shot any particular image, just mention it in your comment.  And I do hope that you will comment.

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.

Merganzers and Ring-necked Ducks

Yesterday afternoon, while the weather was still nice, we went back to the Sunset Lake.  A beautiful warm, windless afternoon, and the ducks were still plentiful.  A plethora of Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails, Scaups, Ring-necked Ducks, Buffleheads, and in the middle of all, one  lone Hooded Merganzer.  The merganzer was a lifer for me, and I managed to get a nice photograph.  The pictures you in see in yesterday’s post were taken with my Canon 100-400mm lens.  When we went back yesterday, I took my 500mm f4 IS  lens.  I attached a 1.4 teleconverter, then set up my tripod.

That Canon 7D continues to amaze me.  Outstanding pictures, if I do say so myself.  But the credit goes to the camera and lens.  The Hooded Merganzer was the most difficult.  He was far out in the lake, much farther than the other ducks, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to crop close enough to get a usable image.  But as you can see below, I didn’t need to worry.

Hooded Merganzer

Ring-necked Duck

In other news, I received an e-mail from Sue Oliver.  She said that she saw three Tundra Swans, out at Lake Nasworthy near the Red Bluff housing area.  That is quite a find.  I may try to get out to check and see if they are still hanging around

Happy Birding!!