On the Road Again…….

As we do each year at this time, we get to thinking about traveling.  So, next Monday, January 30, we are going to make another trip out to the Big Bend area of Texas.  Essentially, it will be to Big Bend National Park, but we will also be taking in some of the surrounding sights.  We’ll see the ghost town of Terlingua, parts of the huge Big Bend Ranch State Park, and travel one of the most scenic drives in the country: the El Camino Del Rio, (the river road) from Lajitas to Presidio, Texas.  We will have four days of scenic photography and birding.  I should come home with plenty of material for a future blog post.

Of course, most of you know that we have already made numerous trips to that area.  Sometimes, we go to the Davis Mountains, which lies just north of our current destination.  I am sure we will be returning there in a few months, too.  But, this time, we will be staying again at the Casitas at Far Flung Outdoor Center, located in Study Butte, just down the highway from the ghost town.

Our birding destinations will be in Big Bend National Park.  Favorite spots include the Sam Nail Ranch, Cottonwood Campground, Rio Grand Village RV campground, Dugout Wells and the Chisos Mountains.  We hope to add many birds to our 2017 list.  Our goal again is 210.  To date we are at 100 even.

Here are a few more photographs more photos that I have captured this month.  Click any image to see an enlargement.

I photographed this Osprey on New Year’s Day.  A nice way to start the year.

Osprey - 1/1250 @ f6.3, _0.3 EV, ISO 1000

Osprey – 1/1250 @ f6.3, _0.3 EV, ISO 1000

The Common Yellowthroat is a shy, tiny, elusive, colorful little bird that likes to hangout in swampy reeds, etc.  He only makes an appearance whenever he darned well pleases, and that is not very often.  It took Ann and I several mornings, of getting to the location where was last sighted, then just watched and waited.  When he showed I was ready and he was out for only about one minute, then he was back in his hidey-hole once again.

Common Yellowthroat - 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 400.

Common Yellowthroat – 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 400.

I believe I photographed this Vesper Sparrow at San Angelo State Park.

Vesper Sparrow - 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 500

Vesper Sparrow – 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 500

Just before the entrance to Middle Concho Park, there is a small pond surround by cattails and reeds.  Most of the time it is empty of birds, save an occasional heron, but this time there was a male and female Hooded Merganzer swimming casually around.

Hooded Merganzer - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 250.

Hooded Merganzer – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 250.

The female is a pretty little thing, too.

Hooded Merganzer - female - 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3 -0,3 EV, ISO 200.

Hooded Merganzer – female – 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3 -0,3 EV, ISO 200.

This Fox Sparrow dropped by for a drink from a puddle of water in Spring Creek Park.

Fox Sparrow - 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO 250.

Fox Sparrow – 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO 250.

The wind was getting up a little when I photographed this Great Egret, just hanging out.

Great Egret - 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7 EV, ISO 400

Great Egret – 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7 EV, ISO 400

I do believe that is it for this post.  It is most likely my last until I return from our vacation and February 3, unless I can squeeze a little quicky before we leave.  But I will mention, as it nears Valentine’s day, I would appreciate it if you would consider the many gifts in my (click) FineArtAmerica store.  If you love my photography, whether it be birds, beautiful landscapes or flowers check it out, you can find decor, useful items, or photographic prints.  You can also click the link under Bob’s Galleries in the sidebar.  Thank you.

New photos of the Big Bend

Ann and I arrived home Friday afternoon after a very enjoyable to our favorite area, the Big Bend country of Texas.  We saw 55 species of birds, including a new lifer, the Crissal Thrasher.  We also took a break from birding, and took a raft trip on the Rio Grande which I will talk about in a future post.  Here are some of the bird images I manage to get.

Red-tailed Hawk - enjoying an early morning sunrise.

Peregrine Falcon – enjoying an early morning sunrise, Big Bend National Park.

Wilson's Warbler Trying to hide in the brush at Cottonwood Campground.

Wilson’s Warbler
Trying to hide in the brush at Cottonwood Campground, Big Bend National Park.

Vermilion Flycatcher - at Cottonwood Campground in Big Bend National Park

Vermilion Flycatcher – at Cottonwood Campground in Big Bend National Park.

Greater Roadrunner - on fence post near Marathon, Texas.

Greater Roadrunner – on fence post near Marathon, Texas.

Loggerhead Shrike - on ocotillo plant, Big Bend National Park.

Loggerhead Shrike – on ocotillo plant, Big Bend National Park.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - female- at Far Flung Outdoor Center, Study Butte, Texas.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird – female- at Far Flung Outdoor Center, Study Butte, Texas.

Cactus Wren - at Far Flung Outdoor Center, Study Butte, Texas.

Cactus Wren – at Far Flung Outdoor Center, Study Butte, Texas.

Cactus Wren on Prickly Pear cactus, Far Flung Outdoor Center, Study Butte, Texas.

Cactus Wren on Prickly Pear cactus, Far Flung Outdoor Center, Study Butte, Texas.

I hope you enjoyed the photos as much as I enjoyed obtainng them.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.  More photos coming in future posts.

Scenes from the Big Bend

In the photos for this post, I wasn’t going after asthetically perfection.  These are just a few images from the area that I thought you would enjoy.  They are snap shots of a desolate, remote part of TexasTerlingua Ghost Town and Study Butte are really one and the same.  Two remote desert communities that run together with no visible boundary.  Just a few hundred people inhabit the area.  But having said that, they do have a school, bank, church, medical clinic, etc.  Personally, I love the area for what it is.  A place to go and just lay back and forget your troubles.

One distinct thing about the place.  You can drive around and see things of unusual nature.  You wonder where they came from, what possessed people to come up with things.  You never know what you will see around the next bend in the road.

Old ghost town ruins

Old ghost town ruins

Old ruins near Study Butte

Remnants of another time, a bygone era.  In the early 1900s a mercury, or quicksilver mine existed in the area.  Today all that is left is ruins of old buildings, piles of slag once removed from the ore, and signs of rusting equipment scattered here and there.

Terlingua ghost town sculpture

This is the result of some enterprising sculptor being creative in the desert.  In and around the Terlingua Ghost Town are small art studios or galleries.  I use those terms loosely, as many of the artists just moved into some of the adobe ruins, or an old van and done some renovation.  I don’t know what the above sculpture above represents.  Perhaps, a dragon-fly with it’s 6-foot wingspan,  or a giant mosquito, of which there are very few in the desert, or maybe just an imaginery bug.  Anyway, it is just planted there in the sand.

An abandoned home??

This is an old abandon house trailer and pickup truck.  They are still attached together.  They both need a little work.

Red-tailed Hawk

A Red-tailed Hawk flies overhead.

Desert Sotol

A familiar sight in the desert.  The sotol standing vigil with the gap of the Santa Elena Canyon in the far distance.

Balanced Rock at the Hoodoos

Along Highway 170, by the Rio Grande River, there is an area of eroded formations called the Hoodoos.  This 10-foot diameter balanced rock looks like it is nearly ready to fall into the river.  Look carefully and you can see daylight underneath.

Passing Wind

Don’t ask.  I have no idea what it is supposed to be either.  There are sails furled on those masts.  To the right is an old conning tower from a submarine. (or maybe a replica).  A large number 643 painted on the side.  There is a camper trailer parked to the side.  I have never seen an individual on the premises.  It is located on the road that passes by the Terlingua ghost town.

Terlingua Ghost Town cemetery

This old cemetery at the Terlingua ghost town has grave sites dating back to during the 1800s.  It is still in use today.

Greater Roadrunner

A Greater Roadrunner, or chapparal, on a rare patch of grass.  He doesn’t seem to know what is going on either.  Time to move on.

I hope you enjoyed this selection of photos from far southwest Texas.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.  For more photos from the Big Bend and other images, click on my Flickr logo on right side of this page.

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Great Egret

The Great Egret (Ardea alba) and the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) are the two that are seen most of the time around our area.  However you may come across flocks of Cattle Egrets also.  The Great Egret is the largest of the three.  It has an orange or yellowish beak and black legs, where the Snowy Egret has a blackish beak and black legs.  The Snowy is also quite a bit smaller.

The Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) is a shorter, stubbier bird.  It is found in

Great Egret

 upland habitats and near livestock, where the can get the insects off cattle, etc.  Hence the name.  I have come across flocks of the Cattle Egrets in the desert of Big Bend National Park.  Probably on a migation route. 

Two years ago on one of my trips to the Big Bend, as we were entering the park from the west near Study Butte, we pulled up to the kiosk where you pay your entrance fee to the park.  Lo and behold, there were two Cattle Egrets and one Yellow-headed Blackbird sitting the roof.  I pulled to the side of the road immediately.  The Egrets flew to a nearby Ocotilla and I was able to get some very nice photos.

The two great egret photos were taken near the old K-mart store in southwest San Angelo.  The Snowys were shot at O. C. Fisher lake and the cattle egrets were photographed several years ago in Big Bend National Park.

Click on any photo to see an enlargement.

Snowy Egrets


Cattle Egrets in ocotillo.

Great day of birding.

The Johnsons came up again from Eldorado yesterday to go birding here in the San Angelo area.  The first stop was at the bird blind at San Angelo State


Eastern Bluebird

 Park.  Well, hey, the birds are back.  I think we saw about 19 species there.  Finches, warblers, sparrows, etc., plus a bonus.  A not-often seen Spotted Towhee.

From there we went to the boat ramp and saw about 100 American White Pelicans, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, several un-identified shorebirds.  Pretty far away, but I think there were some Greater Yellowlegs, and some dowitchers.  Also, the Harris’s Hawk put on another show for us.

We then headed for Twin Buttes Reservoir.  We got on some of those heavily rutted back roads and at first we were a little disappointed as there were no birds to be seen. But we were rewarded when Suzanne yelled out that she had spotted an owl.  It took the rest of us several minutes to see what she was seeing because of dense growth of trees and brush.  But we did get a view of it finally and it was a beautiful white-faced Barn Owl.  That was another lifer for me.  But I could not get a clear view to get a usable photo.

After that we headed to Spillway Road.  At the road leading to Spring Creek


Eastern Bluebird

 Park we turned in and on the left we spotted what must have been about two dozen Eastern Bluebirds, and several Yellow Rumped Warblers.  We spent nearly an hour observing and photographing the bluebirds, and I have two of the shots here.

Finally back in town, we stopped at the little lake off of Sunset Drive.  We spotted Northern Shovelers, Pied-billed Grebes, Ring-necked Ducks and Gadwalls.  Not a bad day at all.  I think we ended up spotting 43 species.

Happy Birding!!

more photos at www.zellertexasphotos.com

Back From the Big Bend

Wow!!  What a great time we had.  The trip started when we left San Angelo on Sunday morning.  We had a lot of drizzly, wet, and very foggy on the way

Big Bend Moutains

Big Bend Moutains

 down.  When we did get to Big Bend National Park we were greeted to scenes like this one.  The foggy clouds drifting in and out among the mountain peaks.  So since we couldn’t see the birds for awhile I decided to take advantage of the beautiful scenes and get some nice images of the vistas.

The weather was pretty much like this through Monday evening.  But we really dodged the showers.  The sun would come out in sporadic bursts and we would catch sight of various birds and wildlife.  We saw several javelinas, a red coachwhip snake, a coyote, a couple of antelope and mule-eared deer.

Later Tuesday afternoon we saw this juvenile Red-tailed Hawk sitting atop a

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

sotol.  He was maybe a 100 yards off the highway, far enough that he wasn’t disturbed by our presence.  I had time to unload my tripod and 500mm lens and get set up.  I took a few shots of him sitting there, then after about 5 minutes he must have spotted some dinner, so he took off.  I was ready for him and got off several shots of him in flight.  One is pictured here.  Then furthur on we came across this meadowlark, sitting on a barbed-wire fence, just singing his heart out.  I had my 500mm resting on

Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

 the floor between the front seats, so I just pulled to the side of the road.  I hand-held the camera for this shot, as I knew I wouldn’t have too much time to make the photograph.  In actuallity I really wasn’t sure if this is an Eastern or a Western Meadowlark.  I just decided to go with the Western for the sake of “convenience”.

During our stay we stayed at the Chisos Mining Company Motel in Study Butte.   A very nice clean and inexpensive accomodation.  We ate our evening meals at a nearby restaurant by the name of La Kiva.  So named becaused it is partially “under-ground”, it is built into the bank of Terlingua Creek.  Excellent food and drink.  Think “margarita”.   It just so happened that Tuesday was Kareoki Night.  I was somehow talked into doing my part to entertain the locals, and rendered my version of a couple ballads.  It went very well, considering I hadn’t sang in public in about 25 years.

So it is good to be back, but I can be ready in a couple of hours, if  someone wants to invite me to go again.

Happy birding!!

More photos at www.zellertexasphotos.com