Some Miscellaneous Stuff.


My wife just reminded me that I hadn’t posted for quite awhile.  After doing some extensive research, I found that she is correct.  It has been nearly a month.  I guess the dog days of summer got ahold of me.  One thing, though, and I think it is a plausible excuse.  I have some cancerous spots on the left side of my face that I am treating.  That involves smearing that Efudex chemical on my face for three weeks.  It is painful, itchy and downright distracting.  I quit that part of the treatment a couple of days ago, now I am using a soothing ointment to help with the healing.  Hopefully it should be cleared completely in another two to three weeks.

Because I am suppose do avoid the sun during the duration of the treatment, I haven’t been out too much.  But using a wide-brim hat, I did make a few short trips.

Some news items concerning San Angelo State Park.  It has pretty much recovered from the drastic storm that hit it about a month ago.  They are still trimming broken tree branches and doing general cleanup, but overall it looks pretty good.  A few days ago they replaced the busted fence around the bird blind, and repaired some other  damage to the building itself.

Here are a few images that I have gotten during those brief outings to the park.  Click on any one of them to see some nice enlargements.

Greater Roadrunner

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Loggerhead Shrike

Common Nighthawk

Green Heron

Western Kingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Loggerhead Shrike

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – juvenile

The birds are returning to the blind, now that it is back to normal operation again.  The fall and winter birds should be returning very soon.

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Summer Birding at San Angelo State Park


I have been birding at San Angelo State Park for about ten years.  I have seen highs and lows.  The highs were in the years of 2007-2008.  Then O. C. Fisher lake started drying up.  Gone were a lot of the water loving birds, herons, ducks, etc.  You could literally walk across the lake and not get your feet wet.  Then there was a program where spraying was done to kill the mesquite.  Those trees and shrubs started dying and losing foliage, which was cover for some birds.  About that time, we had some welcome storms that brought water back into the lake.  The water reached the levels of 2007.  That was welcome as the water fowl started to return.  But now with withering temperatures we had recently, the lake is slowly dropping again.

I am not saying that birding is bad, but the birds that once were plentiful have had their numbers decreasing.   There was a time when we would always see large numbers of hawks, osprey, and other birds of prey.  Now we rarely see a raptor.  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any.  It is just to show that they are scarce.  In our searches we have discovered one Swainson’s Hawk, two Red-tailed Hawks, and until yesterday we knew of only one Great Horned Owl that was hangout near the Isabell Harte picnic area.  That increased by one yesterday when I tell you of a nice experience we had.

Great Horned Owl

Yesterday morning, Ann and I decided to got to the park early, to check out the bird blind.  It had been recently damaged in a storm, but it was now open again to the public.  We drove down the lane to the structure and turned into the little parking area.  Lo and behold, sitting on the fence next to the blind and about ten feet from the door, was the Great Horned Owl, pictured above.  We sat in the car, or what I call our mobile blind.  I was able to get that shot and several others from there.  I was only about 35 feet from the bird, and to get out of the car would probably spook it.  We observed it for about 10 minutes, not wanting to disturb it.  However, after a few minutes, a volunteer that puts birdseed in the feeders drove up.  That spooked the owl and off he flew.  but it was an amazing experience, to be that close.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

We were at the blind for about an hour and we saw Painted Buntings, Northern Bobwhite,  Northern Cardinals, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Curve-billed Thrasher, Bell’s Vireo, Bewick’s Wren, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, (pictured above) and the usual doves, sparrows, etc.

After leaving the blind, we took a drive all through the park, seeking birds that don’t frequent the blind.  Here are a few photos from those drives during the past couple of weeks.

Blue Grosbeak

Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk

Of course, I have so others that I haven’t processed yet, and some others that are just throw-aways.  But we saw around 40-45 species in the past couple of weeks.  Others that deserve mentions are Common Nighthawks, Western Kingbirds, Scissor-tailed Flycatachers, Black-throated Sparrows, Green Heron, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Greater Roadrunner, Wild Turkey, Pyrrhuloxia, Canyon Towhee, Bullock’s Oriole, plus the various doves and sparrows.

Looking back at what I have written, I suppose that I may have painted a bleak picture of the birding.  But then I realized that most of the birds are here, just not in large numbers, such as the raptors.  You just have to look a bit harder to see them.  But, isn’t that the fun of the hunt????

So, I believe the birding at San Angelo State Park, is alive and well.

For information on purchasing prints click on the Bob’s Gallery button at the top of this page, or this link:https://bobzeller.wordpress.com/photo-album-guide/

Happy Birding!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Catch me live, in living color…..


To begin this post, I would like to let you know that yesterday, Thursday June 29, I was honored to be featured and interviewed on a local TV program, Concho Vally Live on KLST.  I spoke about photography, and showed several of my photographs.  Here is a link to see that interview if you want to finally meet and see me up close.  You will see that I am not the handsome hunk that you thought I was.  http://www.conchovalleyhomepage.com/concho-valley-live/photography-talk-with-bob-zeller-concho-valley-live-june-29-2017/754138109

It went pretty well except the person in charge, loaded the photos so they would loop rather than show individually, so each photo showed for only 5 seconds.  You will see that I had a difficult task to try to describe  of them.  Ashley Cunha did a great job doing the interview, though.   But I must say, she had the advantage of reading from the teleprompter, whereas I had to wing it.  I hope you enjoy seeing the show.

In other news, many of you have probably heard about the storm that hit San Angelo a week ago.  It was really devastating, millions of dollars damage through out the city.  We were one of the lucky ones.  Our flag pole got snapped in half, a portion of our fence blew down, and our roof lost a couple of shingles.  Other parts of town lost building, roofs, signage, etc.

San Angelo State Park, where we do most of our birding, and where I get many of my photographs, sustained major damage.  Trees uprooted, RVs destroyed or damaged.  The trails are impassable for the present, and of course closed until cleanup can be completed.  The park itself, was closed for about three days, then it opened yesterday, but only to travel paved roads.  Most of the RV sites have been cleaned up.  Here are a few photos that showed the damage.  The bird blind took a “direct hit’ I was told.  The roof was partially blown off and the fence was down.  I wasn’t permitted to take the trail back there to get a photo.

San Angelo SP storm damage

San Angelo SP  storm damage.

San Angelo SP storm damage

San Angelo SP

Fortunately, there were no serious injuries.  One lady obtained a cut on her head, when she got slammed around when her RV trailer got tipped over.  For me, this was one of the worst storms I had seen in years, in terms of the widespread damage.

This morning Ann and I finally made a serious attempt to see some birds and for me to get a couple of photographs.  Birding was slow but a couple of shots made it worthwhile.  Here are those results.

Swainson’s Hawk

Common Nighthawk

That is all for this post.  To see more photos, or make purchases, click the “Bob’s Gallery” button at the top of the page.  Enjoy!

A Pre-Valentine’s Day Post


I am getting back into my routine since returning from the Big Bend.  The weather is moving up and down like a Disney roller-coaster.  93° last Saturday.  Maybe 45° today.  No matter, I try to get out for an hour or two, or three nearly every day.  The birding is improving, but having said that, it will probably be another wait for the spring birds to arrive.  But let me show you the photos I have gotten since my last post.  As usual, click on any image to see some nice enlargements.

Here in San Angelo we do have American Robins pretty regularly, but this year it seems there many, many more than in the past.  I see them almost everywhere I go.

American Robin - 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +0,7 EV, ISO 3200, 450mm

American Robin – 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +0,7 EV, ISO 3200, 450mm

This House Finch and the above robin were photographed early in the morning at the same darkish location, which accounted for the high ISO of 3200.  As you can see, they are sitting on the same branch.

House Finch, female - 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, +0,7 EV, ISO 3200, 550mm.

House Finch, female – 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, +0,7 EV, ISO 3200, 550mm.

I love to photograph the Northern Cardinals.  They are so photogenic, it is hard to get a bad image.

Northern Cardinal - 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 3200, 450mm

Northern Cardinal – 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 3200, 450mm

Loggerhead Shrike, AKA ‘the butcherbird’.  They love to impale their prey on a thorn or barbed wire before consuming them.

Loggerhead Shrike - 1/640 sec. @ f8, +0.7 EV, ISO 200, 600mm.

Loggerhead Shrike – 1/640 sec. @ f8, +0.7 EV, ISO 200, 600mm.

The Belted Kingfishers are not innocent either.  They dive and hit the water at about 100MPH, stabbing their fish, and giving themselves a nasty headache.

Belted Kingfisher, female. 1/640 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7 EV, ISO 400, 600mm.

Belted Kingfisher, female. 1/640 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7 EV, ISO 400, 600mm.

This Carolina Wren gave me a nice pose early one morning.

Carolina Wren - 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 640, 600mm.

Carolina Wren – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 640, 600mm.

Last week one day, we ventured out to about a dozen miles west of Eldorado, where this Burrowing Owl was making it’s home in a culvert.  When we arrived, we saw from about 100 yards down the road.  He was standing looking our way, like he was waiting for us to show up.  As we neared he jumped into the culvert, and turned and peeked out to look our way.  Of about 100 images this was one of my personal favorites.  My camera and lens gave me an excellent quality file to work with, and I was able to crop close and give you this portrait.

Burrowing Owl - 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 400, 600mm.

Burrowing Owl – 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 400, 600mm.

One day at San Angelo State Park ann spotted this Merlin off to the right of the car.  I only had time to shoot across Ann’s lap through her window.  The early morning gave me some good light.

Merlin - 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 1000, 600mm.

Merlin – 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 1000, 600mm.

Before we left the state park, we spotted this Red-tailed Hawk perched.  As I was starting to shoot, from about80 yards away, it decided to take flight.  I was ready, and I filled the frame with my lens.

Red-tailed Hawk - 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 320, 600mm.

Red-tailed Hawk – 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 320, 600mm.

I hope you enjoyed this post and all of the photographs.  I am working on adding images to my FineArtamerica store where you can buy prints and other items with my photography.

You may want to start a collection of my coffee mugs with birds or some of my landscape images.  They make fine gifts.  To browse and/or purchase, Click HERE.

Testing the new Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DI VC USD G2 lens.


I had heard much about how Tamron had improved the new generation two of their 150-600mm lens.  I had owned the original version since it came out a couple of years ago.  I decided to make the upgrade, so I opened the box with much anticipation.  It appeared to be visually pretty much like the old one.  But on closer inspection, I saw that the tripod ring is removable.  Also, the zoom lens can be locked any position’

I took it out into the field to see how it performed.  Wow!!  First the auto-focus  seems to be much faster and the improved VC, Tamron’s version of image stabilization is advertised to be about four and half stops better without it.  What impressed me most is the improved resolution and sharpness.  The top photo is the original of a House Sparrow straight from the camera with no post processing at all, except for me adding my copyright.  I had the lens attached to my Canon 7D Mark II.  No tripod was used, but I had the camera resting on a bean-bag on the sill of my Ford Escape.  The same set-up was used for all of the images in this post.

House Sparrrow - original and un-retouched.

Chipping Sparrow, female – original and un-retouched.  1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 320.

This is the same image, cropped about 50-60%.  No post processing at all.  I can not see any loss of sharpness or resolution.

House Sparrow - cropped and un-retouched.

Chipping Sparrow, female – cropped and un-retouched.

Here is another.  A Yellow-rumped Warbler.  Cropped, but no other post-processing.  Notice the high ISO of 5000.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 5000

Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 5000.

So, as you can understand, I am as happy as a gopher in soft dirt.  I was very happy with first version and I had used it for two years.  But it was rare for me to be able to crop a photo and not have to do some post-processing.  One more thing before I forget, the lens was extended all the way to 600mm.  No loss of resolution, but that was true of the original version of this lens.  For my bird photography, I am zoomed to the full 600mm most of the time.

Here are several more images from the past week or so, many of them on very overcast and damp days.  And before you ask, yes, most of them have been post-processed.  I can’t get lucky all the time.

Eastern Phoebe - 1/1000 sec. @f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 640.

Eastern Phoebe – 1/1000 sec. @f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 640.

Here was a real challenge.  In the brush at Spring Creek Park, early in the morning.  We could barely see this Hermit Thrush.  The new lens managed to focus in the low light.  Here is the original.

Hermit Thrush - original - 1/800 sec, @ f6.3, + 1.0 EV, ISO 6400

Hermit Thrush – original – 1/800 sec, @ f6.3, + 1.0 EV, ISO 6400

Here is the the cropped and processed image.  I used Topaz DeNoise to remove any noise from using the high ISO of 6400.

Hermit Thrush after post-processing. Noise from the high ISO was removed using DeNoise.

Hermit Thrush after post-processing.

This handsome devil was perched atop a telephone, about 200 yards away.  He was probably digesting his breakfast that he got at the local Carrion CarryOut.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 320.

Another high ISO image, this American Gold finch gave me a fit, trying to get him in focus back in the deep brush, as he continually moved around.

American Goldfinch - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 5000.

American Goldfinch – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 5000.

This Northern Cardinal brightened the morning.

Northern Cardinal - 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 640.

Northern Cardinal – 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 640.

This juvenile White-crowned Sparrow was trying to stay hidden, without sucess, in the twigs.

White-crowned Sparrow - 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 640.

White-crowned Sparrow, juvenile – 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 640.

Ya gotta love the Vermilion Flycatchers.  They are little cuties.

Vermilion Flycatcher, female. 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 250.

Vermilion Flycatcher, female. 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 250.

One of the most difficult raptors to photograph is the American Kestrel.  Very elusive, always on the move and hard to get close to.  This image from about 120 yards.

American Kestrel - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 160.

American Kestrel – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 160.

After using this lens for about a week now, I am thoroughly happy with it.  I can’t wait to get out and shoot some more photos.  I hope you enjoyed these images.  Please click on any photo to see some very nice enlargements.

Until the next post, Happy Birding and Happy Shooting.

Comments are appreciated.

 

Let’s blog for another year.


In my previous post I mentioned that it was the seven year anniversary of this blog.  After much soul-searching, horn-blowing, champagne-drinkin’ and general partying, I have decided to go for another year.  Or at least make it until my 1000th post, which this one is my 927th.  Or which comes first.  We will whoop it up then and make another decision if need be.

The birding is still a bit slow, considering the time of the year.  I guess it is because of the continuing high temperatures here in San Angelo.  I think the summer birds got tired of the heat and left town.  Their replacements, the fall and winter birds, decided to delay their visit because it is still darned hot here.

But, we still get out several days a week, hoping to get to see something new or get good photos of any hangers-on.  Here are a few recent images that I am proud of.  I was using my Canon EOS 7D Mark II.  Lens was my Tamron 150-600mm.  I will begin to try to put my exposure data under each photo.  It is something new that I thought I would try.  Several of my readers say that they would like to know how I shoot my photographs.

We stopped near a shrubby area at the Isabelle Harte Multi-use area of San Angelo State Park.  We spotted some bird activity within, and after waiting a few minutes, this Yellow Warbler came out of the branches into view.  It was early in the morning, and the bird was backlit, thus the reason of the one stop EV adjustment.

Yellow Warbler - 1/1000th sec. @f7.1, +1 EV, ISO 1000.

Yellow Warbler – 1/1000th sec. @f7.1, +1 EV, ISO 1000.

This bobwhite was about 30 yards away, partially backlit and shaded by some tree branches.

Northern Bobwhite - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +1 EV adjustment, ISO 1000.

Northern Bobwhite – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +1 EV, ISO 1000.

This Vermilion Flycatcher was high atop a tree branch, pretty far off, but my Tamron 150-600 long lens helped me out.

Vermilion Flycatcher - 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 160.

Vermilion Flycatcher – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 160.

There are still several Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in San Angelo State Park.  Most of them we have found lately are the short-tailed juveniles, but we did come upon this adult.  One of my favorite birds.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 250.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 250.

This morning we heard, before we saw it, this Cactus Wren.  Very rare for me to get so close to one.  Another one that was heavily backlit by the morning sun.

Cactus Wren - 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +1.7 EV, ISO 320.

Cactus Wren – 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +1.7 EV, ISO 320.

I hope you enjoy my post today.  I would love to hear your questions or comments, so let’s hear what you have to say.

Happy Birding!!


 

Recent Odds and Ends…..


The weather is continuing to be warm, read very warm, and the birds continue to be stressed and they keep to themselves hidden somewhere in the trees and landscape.  However, that doesn’t stop Ann and I from getting out a couple of hours each morning.  Although not getting many images, I have lucked out and got a few nice ones.  Here is a collection, mostly from the past several months that I believe that I may not have ever posted here.  Some may be even older.  My Facebook readers will probably recognize many of them.  If you can, PLEASE view this on a computer.  That way if you click on any image, you can see some very beautiful enlargements.

This Painted Bunting we found at an old mudhole that was on the verge of drying up.  If I were to go there this morning, I am sure it would be dry.  Anyway, I think this is one of my favorite photos of this bird, and I think it is a great start to this blog post.

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

This Greater Roadrunner that I photographed yesterday at San Angelo State Park ranks as one of my best of that species.  I love the way the light enhanced the various colors of the feathers.

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

Since I have been spending more time in the house, I have been at the computer going through images from the past few months, that I hadn’t edited or sorted.  This Pyrrhuloxia was photographed in the early morning light of July 21 of this year.

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia

We came across this Greater Roadrunner one day at San Angelo State Park.  He was so close to me that I opted to get a portrait of him.  I found it quite interesting.

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

I never pass up a chance to photograph these tiny Vermilion Flycatchers

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

In the birding community, the females don’t usually get their due.  The female Grosbeak, in my opinion is a beautiful bird as you might agree.

Blue Grosbeak - female

Blue Grosbeak – female

One of the cutest birds that I know of, is the Black-crested Titmouse.  But they also are very feisty and you don’t like to be messed with.

Black-crestedd Titmouse

Black-crested Titmouse

At the Hummer House down near Christoval, Texas I as enjoying photographing the many, many hummgbirds there.  I thought this image moved the cute meter up a notch.

Black-chinnedd Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Of all of my Great Horned Owl photos, I rank this image as one of my personal favorites.  I try to photograph this species at every opportunity.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

This photo would fool you.  As a juvenile Curve-billed Thrasher, it has neither the curved bill nor the orange eye of the adult.

Curve-billed Thrasher - juvenile

Curve-billed Thrasher – juvenile

Another bird that is difficult photograph is the Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  To happen to catch one with the red crown showing is a bonus.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Another one with the same degree of difficulty is the cute little Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

When I was much younger and not at all interested in birds of any kind, I used to think that all the little ones were sparrows.  The medium size up was all pigeons.  The really big birds. think large and XX large, were all eagles.  Then the ones on water were all ducks.   But now that I am getting more educated in the avian species, boy, am I ever getting surprised.   I have found that there are over fifty different species of sparrows alone. Wow! Holey-moly, Batgirl!!  Who’da thought!  Well, this Grasshopper Sparrow is one of the more unusual ones.

Grasshsopper Sparrow

Grasshsopper Sparrow

I think that will be all for this post.  I hope you have enjoyed reading and seeing the photographs.

’til next time,

Happy Birding!!!