Strictly Sparrows

This is not meant to be an extension of my recent post on photographing tiny birds.  It just happened that way.  Ann and I recently spent a couple of days birding at both Spring Creek Park and San Angelo State Park. What I came away with in the photograph department were several of the sparrow species.  One was a lifer, number 300 on my life list.  I never thought that I would ever reach that number.  That bird happened to be a Swamp Sparrow, that is an uncommon visitor to the Concho Valley.

We were watching over a small, wet area, bordered by reeds, etc.  After observing othere small birds, sparrows, wrens, etc., the Swamp Sparrow suddenly made an appearance, but only for about 25 seconds.  I was able to get a few shots, then it was gone.


Swamp Sparrow

Another specie is the Fox Sparrow.  It, too, is on that uncommon list.  We saw this bird at San Angelo State Park.  We have several favorite brushy areas that we favor for watching for birds.  At one of these areas, this bird also made a quick appearance.  I was quite surprised and delighted.  The Fox Sparrow is one of my favorite sparrows that I get to see only rarely.


Fox Sparrow

The following are a few of the more common sparrows seen in this area.


Lincoln’s Sparrow


White-crowned Sparrow


Field Sparrow


Song Sparrow

But we also saw a few more tiny birds that I was able to photograph………


Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Dark-eyed Junco


White-breasted Nuthatch

………a few birds that are not so tiny.


American Pipit




Spotted Towhee.


Red-winged Blackbird, female

That is all for this post, and I hope you enjoyed these photographs.  Please comment if you like.  It’s always nice to hear from my readers.


Photographing the tiny birds

I love getting out in the field and photographing raptors when I can find them, but there is something to be said about shooting the tiny birds, too.  It is such a challenge.  Most of them can only be found in dense brush or small trees.  I have found that I get the best results if I just use only a single focus point when using my Canon &D Mk II.  If I use more like the five-point or nine-point, there is too much clutter in the branches to get the bird in focus.  Of course, with the single-point, the trick is to get that fleeting little bird in the viewfinder.  Also for your information, I use my Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens.  For my settings I shoot Shutter Priority at usually 1/1600 or 1/2000 sec.  I set the ISO at Auto, at a maximum of 1600, and the aperture just floats pretty much wide open.  I keep my thumb on the big dial on the back of the camera, so I can adjust the Exposure Value quickly if needed.

My post-processing is quite simple.  It is a secret recipe handed down.  I just crop for composition, then adjust the lighting and/or the contrast, and perhaps tweak the color saturation.  I then adjust the sharpening to compensate for any loss when I crop close.

I have been able to come upon a couple of areas where I have been successful in spotting several species of those tiny variety.  Here are a few of those, plus a few of my other images that I captured the past ten days.  I hope you enjoy.

The Pine Warbler is somewhat rare for the San Angelo area, although they are spotted occasionally.  This one surprised me when I was observing an area of cat-tails near Lake Nasworthy.  It is the first one of this species that I have seen this season.


Pine Warbler

Nearby in the same area, this House Wren popped into view.  Wrens sometime give me a hard time in trying to identify them.  This was early morning, and at first I thought it was a Marsh Wren, but after perusing my Stokes’ guide I was able to discern the correct ID.


House Wren

I got real lucky with the light when photographing this Bewick’s Wren.  Again, we were early getting to San Angelo State Park, and the morning sun was at a perfect angle.


Bewick’s Wren

The goldfinches are starting to arrive.


American Goldfinch

The Lincoln’s Sparrow is one of my favorites of that species.  Easily identified with that beige coloring in the breast.


Lincoln’s Sparrow

Another easily identified sparrow, the White-crowned.


White-crowned Sparrow

We were in an area favored by the Spotted Towhee when this Green-tailed Towhee showed.  I was quite thrilled as it is another rarity here in the Concho Valley.  The wind was blowing a bit, and it fluffed up it’s crown.


Green-tailed Towhee

As I said, we were in the area so this Spotted Towhee decided it needed to show off a little bit, too.  He appeared on an upper branch so I was able to get a nice background of the nice blue sky.


Spotted Towhee

Before we left to come home, I spotted this Red-tailed Hawk making a fly-by.  I couldn’t resist getting this last shot.


Red-tailed Hawk

That is all for this post.  I hope you enjoyed my narrative and the photographs.  I appreciate any and all comments you might have.

Enjoy the snowfall. 🙂

Happy Birding!!

Sparrows – The forgotten and ignored birds.

Jane Cheese, a fellow blogger (her link), recently commented and wondered if I had a photo of a Savannah Sparrow.  It didn’t take much searching to find one in my files.  It seems that I have been negligent in spending much time photographing the many species of sparrows.  Maybe it is because, that most of them are more or less bland in appearance, or maybe it is because I have the most difficulty in identifying them.

Nevertheless, I came across photographs of several of the many species of sparrows.  Here are a few of my most show-worthy images.  I hope that after looking at these, you will have a better appreciation for these species.

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Lincoln Sparrow

Lincoln Sparrow

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Sparrows, Sparrows, Sparrows

Savannah Sparrow

Yesterday, Sue Oliver took me and Ann on a little birding tour.  We started out at San Angelo State Park to check out a few places.  We then left and headed out Arden Road.  We turned on the Burma Road and eventually ended up at Water Valley.  That little description sounds brief, however that took a span of about three and half hours.  Slow driving and checking out birds.

We saw a huge assortment of birds along the way.  Included were three

Grasshopper Sparrow

 species of bluebirds, Mountain, Western, and Eastern Bluebirds.  But the highlight of the day for me was to see three new sparrows I had never seen to identify before.  All of them lifers.  Savannah Sparrows, Grasshopper Sparrows, and Cassin’s Sparrows.  I got photos of the sparrows and I have them here for you.  I would have liked to have gotten photos of the bluebirds.  Actually, I did, but they were farther away, the lighting was poor because of overcast skies, and the photos weren’t up to my standards.  Heck, I ain’t gonna show you my bad stuff. 🙂  By the time we

Cassin's Sparrow

got back to San Angelo, it was getting quite cool and blustery.  By the way, if anyone wants to dispute the IDs of these birds, call 1-800-SUE OLIVER. 🙂

In other news, Suzanne and Sid Johnson spotted a Ringed Kingfisher at Ben Ficklin Park.  She got an excellent photograph of it.

I also want to wish everyone a very Happy New Year.

Happy Birding!!