Hot Diggety!! Migration is starting!!


Okay, I might be rushing the season, but with the storm Saturday dropping an average of two inches and the temps dropping into the low nineties and even upper eighties, you can’t blame me for getting excited.  And, right on time, a Yellow Warbler showed up at the bird blind in San Angelo State Park.  I got this photo, which isn’t a very good one because it took me by surprise, and I had a camera in one hand and a breakfast burrito in the other.  It didn’t stay around, so I didn’t get a second chance.  It isn’t as sharp as I would like, but at least, you can tell what it is.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Because of the heat, birding was not very good.  Still, during a few limited short trips out I did get a few images last week.  Please click any image to see some very nice enlargements.

A trip to the Hummer House down near Christoval, netted me a couple good photos of a Black-chinned Hummingbird.

4G7A1523-net-hummer-black-chinned-bob-zeller

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Back in San Angelo, we went to San Angelo State Park, early one morning.  We stopped at the blind there first and this Curve-billed Thrasher obliged us by making a brief stop.  The light was still a little low but I think my Canon 7D Mark II handled it nicely.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

The following morning, we returned to to just take a meandering drive through all of the roads that interlace the park.  It is great fun doing that, as we never know what we will come across.

Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren

There were still numerous Scissor-tailed Flycatchers hanging around.  Because of the shorter tail, I believe this one is a young one.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - juvenile

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – juvenile

Before heading home we saw this perched Common Nighthawk, not fully awake yet.

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

I guess that’s all for this post. I hope to get in more birding in the following days, now that the temperatures are more tolerable, both to me and the birds.

Oh, one more thing.  I have my 2017 Calendars in now.  More beautiful than before.  Twenty bucks plus mailing will get you one.  E-mail me at bobzeller@pobox.com if interested.

You can see more of my photos at http://bobzellerphotography.smugmug.com

Still Alive and Kicking


After three weeks I am finally back to blogging again.  I spent a week in the hospital, then another week treating myself at home with anti-biotics.  After that several days of rest and recuperating.  Needless to say, we had to cancel our trip to the Big Bend area.  That will have to wait until sometime in the fall.

Ann and I finally got out over the weekend and managed to get some birding and photography in.  On Memorial Day, we spent several hours at San Angelo State Park.  During that visit, we met some very nice folks from Missouri.  Joe and Sara St. Clair were in town visiting their son, Greg, who is a student at nearby Goodfellow AFB.  I think we have found a couple of new friends there.  Heck, they like my photography so that clinches it. 🙂

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

On Tuesday, May 31, two friends from Dallas, Kellye Mixon Bussey and Robin Buchanon arrived and wanted Ann and I to show them the local birding hot spots.  That was a busy long day, but much fun, and Kellye and Robin treated Ann and I to lunch at Olive Garden.

During the past few days, I did get several new photos to show you.  The image of the Blue Jay above, was taken on June 1, a couple of hours before my follow-up appointment with my doctor.  Since we had to go downtown for that, we went a bit early so we could drive along the Concho River.  That is where we saw several Blue Jays on the ground.  In all of my years of birding, up until now, I had never gotten a nice photo of one of these beautiful birds.  I am much satisfied with this one.  By the way, click on any image, especially if you are viewing this on a computer.  You will see beautiful enlargements.

The Bullock’s Orioles have arrived in great numbers now and can be found almost anywhere in the area.

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

We found this lone Scaled Quail wandering near the Twin Buttes Reservoir.

Scaled Quail

Scaled Quail

I don’t think the branch is too much of a distraction in this photo of a Northern Cardinal, although he seems to think he is hiding behind it.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

We ventured out where there had been an owl’s nest.  The nest was empty, but we located this young Great Horned Owl in a nearby tree.

you Great Horned Owl

young Great Horned Owl

This Bronzed Cowbird was strutting nearby.

Bronzed Cowbird

Bronzed Cowbird

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is another bird that is in great abundance now.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

I love the ferocious look of the Curve-billed Thrasher.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

These images were probably the best of the bunch from the past few days.  I am still a bit slow getting around, but hope to get out more in days to come, and hopefuly I will be posting more often now.  Thanks to all of you readers for being patient with me.  If you are a new reader, click on “Sign Me Up”, on the right side of this page.  You will receive and e-mail whenever I publish a new post.

Common Yellowthroat and more…….


We’ve been getting out for a couple of hours each day.  Birds are still not plentiful, but it seems that I am able to get at least one good opportunity each day.  Here are a few highlights from the past few outings.

First, of all of them, this is my favorite.  We were at Spring Creek Park, driving along the bank near the reeds when I spotted movement.  With the binoculars, I could only make out that it was one tiny bird, but not a definite ID.  I finally gave up on it, and we drove out the Spillway Road.  After getting another image of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher there, we decided to have another go at seeing that tiny bird again.  This time luck was with us, and the bird hopped out into the open for a few seconds.  I was ready and snapped several images of this juvenile (first fall) male Common Yellowthroat. I would have liked to seen a male adult, but none were to be seen.

Common Yellow-throat - juvenile

Common Yellowthroat – juvenile

Here is the image of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher that I captured a few minutes before on Spillway Road.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Loggerhead Shrike photographed somewhere in San Angelo State Park.

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike

Belted Kingfisher on high line over looking that water near Spring Creek Park.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

The Summer Tanager game me fits trying to see it and identify it.  It was in a dense live oak tree and I could only get little glimpses of a head, then a tail, then an eye.  Finally she showed herself and I got this image and a few others.  I nearly goofed on the ID, at first thinking it was an Orange-crowned Warbler.  I failed to look carefully as the size of the bill should have told me I was wrong.

Female Summer Tanager

Female Summer Tanager

This female Northern Bobwhite at San Angelo State Park thought she was hidden from me.

Northern Bobwhite - female

Northern Bobwhite – female

That’s all for this time.  Click on the images to see enlargements.

Happy Birding!!

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher


Ann and I were out near Spring Creek this morning.  We were greeted with hundreds, it seemed, of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers.  I wasn’t really interested in photographing very many, because as you know, you seen one Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, you’ve seen them all.  They all look the same.  But this one, I couldn’t resist.  Actually, he was quite far away, about 100 yards, but I liked the old mesquite branch he was perched on.  Plus, a nice uncluttered background, which is an earthern dam another 200 yards farther away.

This was one of my very rare times that had to do absolutely nothing in post-processing, except for cropping for composition.  In, fact I will show you here the original and the cropped version.  Camera info:  Canon 7D Mk II, Tamron 150-600 lens, zoomed to the max at 600mm, 1/1000 sec. at f6.3, ISO 125.  Aperture priority and spot metering.  Hand-held with camera resting on window of driver’s side.

original Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

original Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, at 600mm.

 

cropped Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

cropped Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

As I said, it is not very often that I do not have to do a little bit of post-processing, adjusting light, color, or sharpening.  I wish all of my photographs were this easy.  But the light was perfect and the bird sat still.  I hope you enjoyed it. (Click any image to see enlargement.)

Happy Birding!!

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – A Wow moment.


I am feeling better now that I can get out into my nature environs again.  Traveling through the San Angelo State Park, I came upon this beautiful Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.  I pulled the car off the road.  The bird continued to pose for me, and I think I came away with one of my best photos of one in a long time.  I hope you enjoy. (click on it and the other images to see enlargements.)

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

We also ventured to the north section of the park.  This Great Blue Heron was standing in a pond in the North Concho River.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Before we left that area, I had to take a shot of this Black-tailed Prairie Dog.

Black-tailed Prairie Dog

Black-tailed Prairie Dog

The following morning we made a short visit to Spring Creek Park and spotted some Eastern Phoebes cavorting in some brush.  One of them stopped long enough to take a breather on a wire fence.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Migration isn’t in full swing here yet because of our lingering 100° days.  But cooler weather so projected for the next few days so birding should start improving.

I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you of my new DVD that I recently produced with the help of DST Productions in Knoxville, Tennessee.  One hundred of my finest work, including birds, wildlife, and landscapes.  Truly a beautiful collection set to some beautiful music.  In 1080P HiDef.  As many of you know, I am a very trusting individual.  You can have this DVD if you will mail me a check for 25.00 that includes any taxes and shipping expenses.  My address is Bob Zeller, 4401 White Ash Ln., San Angelo, TX.  I will ship it immediately by Priority Mail.  By the way, it would make great Christmas gifts.  I have references available if you like.

Of course, my book, “Birds, Beasts and Buttes” is still selling very well.  Total cost to you is 65.00.

Happy Birding to all. 🙂

Vermilion Flycatcher and others.


This post is best viewed on a computer or device where you can click the photos and see nice enlargements.

Since my last post, Ann and I have mostly been hanging around the local area, looking for more new birds and new photo ops.  I guess we are still unwinding from our Big Bend trip.  The weather here has been fickle, as well.  Around 90° one day, down to a current 51° as I write this around noon on April 28.  A chilly day for west Texas.

Yesterday, though, it was pretty nice, albeit a bit windy.  I caught this Vermilion Flycatcher darting among the trees at Middle Concho Park at Lake Nasworthy.

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

Also nearby, was this Great Blue Heron.  One of my favorite wading bird subjects.  We watched him fish for awhile, but he never came up with anything worthy of eating.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

A few days earlier we were at the south portion of the large San Angelo State Park.  We stopped at the blind but didn’t see anything of interest, but visited with some nice folks from South Dakota.  We left there and decided to just drive through the park, as we sometimes see much more than we will at the blind.  We were not disappointed.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Northern Bobwhite

Northern Bobwhite

When I started to drive away, this Bobwhite started singing so I stopped the car and took another shot.

Northern Bobwhite

Northern Bobwhite

We continued along and finished our drive with this Chipping Sparrow, who were available in great numbers.

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Well, that’s all for this one.  In the words of that former California governor, “Ah’ll be boch”.

Greater Roadrunner, Orioles and others


Here are a few images that I have gotten since we got back from our Big Bend adventure.  We have been watching for new summer residents of the avian variety.  While doing such searching I was able to get a few other images for your enjoyment.  We found this Greater Roadrunner at San Angelo State Park.

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

The Bullock’s Orioles are starting to arrive.  I had seen a female a few weeks earlier, but now there are many of the bright colored males.  They are still hard to photograph among the trees but nevertheless, I managed a couple.

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

I love the Golden-fronted Woodpeckers.  They seem to be everywhere all the time and they are so photogenic.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Same bird, different pose.  He was trying to show me his better side.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

A Lincoln’s Sparrow.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow

A couple of Lark Sparrows.

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

The Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are arriving in large numbers and they will be seen soon all over the country-side.  I got a couple of images today.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Last, but not least, a Killdeer playing in the water at a mudhole near Twin Buttes Reservoir.

Killdeer

Killdeer

Enjoy the photos and I will be back soon with a few more.

Good Friday Birding


I received my Canon 7D Mark II back from the factory Thursday evening.  I had a mishap a few weeks ago, and I had messed up the focus system.  I sent it off to Canon, and in eight days they had it repaired and back to me.  A great turn-a-round time.  Anyway, I was anxious to see if all was in working order.  It was, and I must say that I am so impressed with difference in the IQ of it over the 70D, which, by the way, produces darned fine images.  It performed greatly while I was using it as a back-up until I got the Mark II back.

So, anyway, we headed out to the local parks around Lake Nasworthy.  We didn’t stay there long.  We had forgotten about the long Easter weekend, and those parks were crowded with campers, hikers, RVers, walkers, bicyclists, fishermen, etc.  Not much chance of doing any nature photography there.

We went with Plan B and headed out to San Angelo State Park.  Not too many people there, mainly because of the absence of the lake.  Just the mile-wide dry lake bed.

We checked out the blind and caught a few birds there.  These three images needed very little post processing.  Just a bit light adjusting, and a tad more contrast.  Like I said, the Canon 7D Mark II is just amazing.

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia

Canyon Towhee

Canyon Towhee

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee

After spending about some time in the blind, we decided to just take a drive around the park to see what else we might come across.

We saw a Rock Wren up in the rocks of O.C. Fisher Dam.  Very difficult to see, and only if you happen to catch movement.  Ann spotted it, looking very tiny.  Actually too tiny, and too far away for a usuable photo.

A little later we did spot our first of the year Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.  I knew they were due to arrive, as usual, around the first of April.  It was in a small tree way off to the left of us.  I got this shot of him before he flew off.  I didn’t get a really tack-sharp photo, but that was my fault.  Hey, I’m not perfect.  Anyway, here is the result.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  If you are viewing them on your computer, or iPad, click on the images to see some nice enlargements.

Happy Easter!  and Happy Birding!!

Sunday at San Angelo State Park


On Sunday morning, Ann and I decided to visit the bird blind at San Angelo State Park.  There we met our friend, Christie McCorts-Chambers, as she had the same thoughts as ours.  We sat and watched the birds to see if there was anything new to drop by.  There were a couple of Black-chinned Hummingbirds that were quite active and I managed to get some nice shots of those.  Also, I was pleased that a beautiful, male House Finch decided to pose for me.

House Finch

House Finch

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

A male Northern Bobwhite made a brief visit at the back of the viewing area, but I managed to get a photo with my Canon 70D and Tamron 150-600mm lens, as I had with all of these photos.   He was about 60 feet away, but as I do with most of my photos, I still was able to crop for a nice close-up.

Northern Bobwhite

Northern Bobwhite

We decided to take a drive around the park.  We asked Christie to join us so we spent a couple hours checking out all areas.  Most of what we observed were too far for decent photos, but for birding we saw a total of 27 species for the morning.  Here is one photo of a perhaps a young, or a female Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.  The tail is quite shorter than normal male adult.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Click on any photo to see enlargements.

Just a few images from the past week.


This post might be a bit brief from the narrative side.  I couldn’t think of anything to write about more deeply.  We did make a few excursions this past week to do a bit of birding, and get a few photographs along the way.  We did see our first Bullock’s Oriole and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers of the year.  Also the first Black-necked Stilts that we have seen in over two years.  With the level of Lake Nasworthy having dropped three feet, the shoreline is wider and making great habitat for the wading shorebirds.  Here are a few photos for you to see.  I would strongly ask that you read this post by clicking on the link.  Then you can click the images and see some great enlargements.

Osprey

Osprey

I watched the Osprey for twenty minutes, hoping he would turn to face me a me a little bit, but it never happened.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

The Eastern Bluebird was in the shade a little bit, almost making the face too dark, but I love photographing them.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was a harbinger of many more to come.  Summer is almost upon us.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Spotted Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt

I love the elegant, gracefulness of these Black-necked Stilts.  Their slender legs are about the size of straws.

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

The Bullock’s Oriole is the predominant oriole in this area.  The one above was the first I saw this spring.  It was nearly too far away for a decent photo.

Great Horned Owlets

Great Horned Owlets

The owlets were over two hundred yards away, across the lake, high in a tree.  My friend, Julie Stewart, told me about them.  She attempted to photograph them with her 300mm lens, but were almost out of reach.  She thought that with my 150-600mm lens I might have a better chance.  I got the above shot, putting my setup on a tripod at the water’s edge.  Even then, I had to do some extreme cropping, and a little sharpening.  Those tiny twigs in front of the birds made focusing from that distance very difficult.  But thank you, Julie, for giving me the chance.

So, that’s about it for this time.  I love reading your comments, so if you feel like saying a few words, give it a go below.

By the way, the Solitary Sandpiper is number 140 on my Texas Big Year list.