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.

Sandhill Cranes near San Angelo


A few days ago I received an e-mail from one of my readers, Michelle Sundeen, informing me of some Sandhill Cranes that she had seen several mornings.  Since Sandhill Cranes are not regular visitors to this area, she definitely had my attention.

She told me that they were in a field northwest of San Angelo, near Miles, Texas.  As everyone that is acquainted with me knows, I “have camera, will travel”, so  Sunday morning, Ann and I took a drive out highway 67.  When we got to the location, we looked to the left into the fields and spotted them.  At first, with the naked eye, they appeared as tiny gray objects that I thought were sheep.  As soon as I put the binoculars on them, I saw them for what they really were.

There were several hundred on the ground, easily 400 yards away, and as we watched several more were arriving, in several flocks of around twenty-five each.  I had my Canon EOS 70D and Tamron 150-600mm lens.  First I tried to photograph some of incoming birds.  In the early morning sky, they appeared more as shadows, lacking in detail.

To get the best shots possible, I got out of the car, climbed down into a bar ditch, then up the other side and then onto a railroad track.  I knelt down and got into the steadiest position possible to hand-hold my long lens.  All these images are heavily cropped.

Sandhill Cranes arriving from roosting.

Sandhill Cranes arriving from roosting.

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes a little closer.

Sandhill Cranes a little closer.

Sandhill Cranes doing mating dance.

Sandhill Cranes doing mating dance.

It must be that time of year, because there were numerous mating dances going on.  Click on any image to see enlargements.

Seeing the Sandhill Cranes added another specie to our 2014 Texas Big Year list, which brought our total to date to 117.

#114  Northern Bobwhite

#115  Barn Swallow

#116  Least Sandpiper

#117  Sandhill Crane

An Uneventful Weekend


(This is a re-run of a post that I published back in about January of 2009, about five years ago.  The present weather here has prevented me from getting out and getting fresh materiel.)

It was a wet, but welcome, rainy weekend, so Ann and I stayed in for the most part.  Watched TV, etc, the usual weekend sitting around stuff.However, we eat breakfast out pretty regularly, so we did notice something of  interest.  For the past several mornings we have seen, at the intersection of Johnson St., and Sherwood Way, a Common Nighthawk sitting on a utility line.  We have been seeing it at about 7:00AM each morning.

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

They are easy to recognize  because of their profile.  They don’t sit or perch like a normal bird, but rest parallel to the branch.   Ann and I saw our first nighthawk a couple of years ago, after Terry Richmond talked us into birding with her monthly group at San Angelo State Park.  When she first pointed it out, I had a hard time seeing it, simply because I didn’t know what I was looking at.  Now when we make trips to the park, we always watch for those long, level tree branches where they like to sit.  The image pictured above, is one that I photographed there.

During the hot summer, we also found one on the ground, out near the Prairie Dog village.  I was walking around looking carefully, because I had been told that one had been seen in the area.  Because they have that camo pattern, I nearly stepped on it.  I carefully stepped away and was fortunate to get several close-up photographs.  It appeared to be almost asleep and I do not know if it was on an egg.  After getting my images I left it in peace.

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

For you photographers out there, my favorite combination for shooting such photos is a Canon 40D.  I own two.  I use a Canon 100-400mm L series tele lens most of the time.  It is more portable, and of course with the zoom, it is ideal  for composing the shot.  I can use it from the mini-van easily.  I also use a Canon 500mm f4 L series super telephoto, and most of the time with a 1.4x converter attached.  Difficult to hand-hold but I have done it when needed.  But I get best results with it if I have time to set-up a tripod.  I use a Manfrotto-Bogen tripod and a Wimberly II gimbel head.

Having told you that, I must describe an experience of trying to photograph an American Kestrel.  We were cruising slowly through the San Angelo State Park.  We spotted this Kestrel in the top of a tree.  I slowed to a stop and tried to get a shot, but before I could get it in focus it flew off.  Now that rascal must have known what I was after, because he kept teasing me.  He would let me stop the van, just long enough for me to raise the camera, then he gleefully would take off again.  Finally, after an exhausting “chase”,  I finally decided I had better try to get a shot from a longer distance.  I put the “beast” (my 500mm lens) on the camera, then attached a 1.4x converter.  That gave me an extra 200mm of focal length.  Not much, but it was enough.  I maneuvered the van into position and managed to hand-hold the camera long enough through the window.   I came away with an awesome image of the American Kestrel, on a branch, showing off with all of his colorful tail feathers spread out.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

Again, thanks to all who have commented on my posts.  It’s good to know that people are reading my “stuff”.  And, by the way, most of my writing is of course, about the local area.  I know that a lot of my readers are from other far-flung places, so I welcome you here and hope to hear from you.

Happy Birding!!  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Canada Geese plus Sunday photos


I got a call from my bird look-out friend yesterday (Saturday) afternoon.  Sue Oliver is an intense birder always watching for anything new to appear.  It was late in the day, but I was ready to go.  She said there were some Canada Geese at a neighborhood park near downtown San Angelo.  Since I am the “have camera, will travel” type of guy I headed out.

When I got there the sun was very low as evening was coming on.  I spotted a few of the geese in the grass, but they were far inside the fence.  This is a private neighborhood park.  They were feeding then, but as we watched they took flight and flew into the pond about 100 feet away.  I drove around the block to the other side of the park which was closer to the water, and it was easier to get a few images there.  Because of the late, low sun, the exposure was difficult.

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Granted, the Canada Geese are thought of as nuisances in some cities.  As a matter of fact, one time when we where were visiting relatives near Mackinaw, Michigan, we ventured into a park where there were many mother geese with their goslings following them around.  In trying to get photos I got more than my share of goose poop in and on my shoes. But it was nice to see them here, as they are a rarity around here.

This morning, Ann and I woke early to a beautiful Sunday morning and decided that we would venture to the local parks after partaking of our Happy Meals at the nearby Golden Arches.  After arriving at the Spring Creek Park, we spotted this Red-tailed Hawk high in a tree.  He was facing away, but decided to have a look at me before making his way to more promising hunting grounds.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

After checking out some other smaller birds that were there, we drove over to Middle Concho Park.  There we drove along the water and got images of a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Great Egret

Both birds were across the river and I was able to use my 500mm lens with a 1.4 teleconverter, shooting from my car parked along the near side of the water.

Enjoy the photos and click on any of them to see enlargements.