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.

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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.

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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.

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Bewick’s Wren

The goldfinches are starting to arrive.

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American Goldfinch

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

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Lincoln’s Sparrow

Another easily identified sparrow, the White-crowned.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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Do You Know This Lady?? The mystery of the 1961 Yalova girl….


I am getting away from my usual subjects of nature and wildlife, to ask all of my readers in 168 countries, “Do you recognize this lady?”

Yalova Mystery Girl

It all started yesterday, when I received this sketch from one of my readers, Audra Yocum of Coweta, Oklahoma.  She was browsing a thrift store when she came across the picture.  She loves black and white pictures and decided to purchase it.  As a reader of my blog, she found a resemblance to a caricature of me that you can find in chapter 4 of my Yakkety-Sax Man page.  It tells of my musical experiences in Turkey.  She wanted to ask me if I recognized the lady.  Click HERE to read it.  Here is that sketch.

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Both caricatures were made at the same event.  I know.  I was there.  It was an event at the NCO club at Karamursel Air Force Base, about ten miles from Yalova, Turkey, which in turn, was about 60 miles west of Istanbul.  The event was a dance, and a troupe of performers from the USO had arrived to entertain.  Among them was a caricaturist that was making sketches of anyone in attendance that wanted one.  I have long forgotten his name.  That was 56 years ago.  Here is a close-up of his signature.

Yalova-signature

I would like to believe that the lady pictured was a lady that was enjoying my saxophone music.  She is wearing her dancing shoes.  If she is alive, I would imagine that she is probably in 70s or 80s by now.

Anyway, the coincidence is so amazing.  I appreciate Audra letting me use her photo for this post.  She, like me, is interested in knowing who the lady is.  I didn’t recognize her as anyone I knew personally after all of these years.  She was probably a military wife, or girl friend.  Definitely not a child, as there were no children in attendance.

It will be interesting to see if anyone does happen to recognize her.

So, I hope you enjoyed this post, and are intrigued by the mystery.  I will get back to my regular programming soon. 🙂

My 2018 Texas Tweeties Calendar


My Texas Tweeties 2018 Calendar is now available.  My most beauatiful yet, in my estimation.  Just 27.00 including shipping.  For ordering information contact me at bobzeller@pobox.com. or comment below.  Many of you, in the past, have shown interest in obtaining prints of my work.  Now you can get 12 at a very reasonable price. 🙂

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2018 Texas Tweeties Calendar

Thank you for your  consideration.

2018 Calendars on the way.


2018 Calendar

Just a brief post to let you folks know that my beautiful 2018 Texas Tweeties Calendar has been ordered.  It will be here in around August 1.  If you are interested in one contact me  They have proved to be very popular in past years so it would behoove you to get yours as soon as possible.  Just contact me at bobzeller@pobox.com.  They are 22.95 plus 7.00 shipping.  Not a bad price for 12 of my photographs. 🙂

Thank you, and Happy Birding!!

Introducing my SmugMug Gallery


Hi everybody,

This is a quick post to introduce you to my new SmugMug gallery.  It can be accessed by clicking that link, the Galleries page, or the link in the side-bar on the right.

So far, there are three collections:  Birds, Animals, and Landscapes.  I am in the process of adding all of my old photographs, so there will be additions almost daily.  Check it out often.

Prints are available in most sizes for sale.  For quotes, e-mail me at bobzeller@pobox.com.  Mention the image number and name.  I have many satisfied customers, some of them are fellow bloggers.

Painted Bunting


Click on the title of this post to see more photos.

We just saw our first Painted Bunting of the season.  It brought to mind that I haven’t posted any photos of them in a long time.  Here is the first one that photographed, just a couple of days ago at the bird blind at San Angelo State Park.  To me it is one of the most beautiful of all birds.  It really looks like it was hand-painted.  Mother Nature did a great job, even though it looks like she smeared it a a bit and maybe got outside the lines.

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

Here are a few more photos that I have taken of the Painted Bunting over the past few years.

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting singing in tree top

Painted Bunting singing in tree top

Painted Bunting - bathing

Painted Bunting – bathing

Painted Bunting on log

Painted Bunting on log

I hope you enjoyed viewing these photos.  Please feel free to comment.

Birding the Big Bend National Park


We are back from a fun week birding and photographing in Big Bend National Park.  The weather was phenomenal for most of the week.  On Thursday the wind got up quite a bit and Friday we had blowing dust in the morning, otherwise it was mild and sunny.  We saw 46 different species during the trip, including an addition of the Gray Hawk to our life list.  When we weren’t birding, we were sitting on the porch of our little cabin, enjoying the desert view, and sipping refreshments.

We met new friends, including another excellent bird photographer.  What was amazing was that she has been photographing for only two years, but her work is outstanding.  Meet Sheen Watkins by clicking here.  Check out her website of beautiful photos of birds and wildlife.

When we stopped for a break at the store at Castelon, we met Ranger Ted Griffith, who happens to be another blogger and one of my readers.  What a small world it is.  It was early, and he was coming out of his office to raise the U.S. Flag on the nearby pole.  Click here to see his outstanding photos of the Big Bend.

I promised you new photos so let’s get started.  PLEASE click on the images to see some beautiful enlargements.

Sunrise in the desert of the Big Bend.

Sunrise in the desert of the Big Bend.

The above picture was taken early on our drive into Big Bend National Park.  The ocotillo’s red blossoms covered the desert.  All photos including this one, were taken with my Canon EOS 70D and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Gray Hawk

Gray Hawk

We were at the Cottonwood Campground where the birding usually is very good.  In the campgrounds itself, there was a lot activity with the maintenance people working, plus many campers so birding was a bit difficult, although we did see many birds including several Vermilion Flycatchers.  However, when leaving the area, we saw this Gray Hawk atop a telephone pole.  What a sight!  We had never seen a Gray Hawk before so it was a treat to see him posing so nicely.

Scott's Oriole

Scott’s Oriole

Scott's Oriole

Scott’s Oriole

We were pulling into the parking lot at the Park Headquarters at Panther Junction, when we noticed two photographers out in the desert, with big lenses pointing at something.  After we stopped the car, we scoped out the situation with our binoculars and saw the Scott’s Oriole.  I took a few photos with the bird in the distance, then a few seconds later, it flew very close to us and perched in the ocotillo stem, where I got the above images.

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Ash-throated Flycatcher

A few minutes later, I got this stunning photo of the Ash-throated Flycatcher near the same location.  There were several of these birds everywhere in the park.

Scaled Quail

Scaled Quail

This pair of Scaled Quail, also know as Blue Quail, were photographed outside our cabin right at sunset.  I loved the warm glow of the light.

Rock Wren

Rock Wren

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

The Barton Warnock Nature Center is located outside of Lajitas.  The nature trail and gardens usually have birds and various wildlife wandering around and this is where I photographed the above Rock Wren and the Curve-billed Thrasher.  We are never disappointed when we stop there.

Common Black Hawk

Common Black Hawk

Another of our favorite bird areas is the campground area at Rio Grand Village.  It is on the far eastern side of the national park near Boquillas Canyon.  For the past few years there has been a pair of nesting of rare Common Black Hawks there.  There are signs restricting getting too close, but with my long lens, I was able to get this and a few other photographs of the birds.  Because of the dense trees, the lighting was a bit touchy, but I think this image portrays it nicely.

Lark Sparrow - juvenile

Lark Bunting – female

A Western Wood Pewee show us his backside.

A Western Wood Pewee show us his backside.

I hope you enjoyed these photos from our exciting trip to the desert.  We stayed at the Casitas at Far Flung Outdoor Center.  We strongly recommend them if you are making a trip to the area.

Of the 46 species that we saw during the trip, the Gray Hawk was a lifer, plus eight of them were additions to our 2014 Texas Big Year list.  It is updated below, including with birds we saw before we left on the trip.

122.  Lesser Yellowlegs

123.  Cliff Swallow

124.  Lark Bunting

125.  Brown-headed Cowbird

126.  Cave Swallow

127.  Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

128.  Gray Hawk

129.  Brown-crested Flycatcher

130.  Common Black Hawk

131.  Rock Wren

132.  Scott’s Oriole

133.  Purple Martin

134.  Phainopepla

135.  Bank Swallow

136.  Western Wood Pewee

137.  Green Heron.