Cabin fever blues and cold buns….


Again, we are having cold, freezing moisture.  It is keeping me inside, as moisture and cameras do not mix.   Of course, that is just a good excuse, as I don’t like to freeze my buns off either.  I will just post a few of my photos from the past few days, when it was nice enough to get few exposures.

Eastern Phoebe found something to sing about.

Eastern Phoebe found something to sing about.

Northern Shoveler - a pretty female.

Northern Shoveler – a pretty female.

White-crowned Sparrow - a juvenile looking pretty good.

White-crowned Sparrow – a juvenile looking pretty good.

Western Meadowlark - ya gotta love that yellow breast.

Western Meadowlark – ya gotta love that yellow breast.

Great Blue Heron - breeding time and gotta build a place for the wife and kids.

Great Blue Heron – breeding time and gotta build a place for the wife and kids.

Click on any image to see enlargements.  I am going to hibernate for a day or two, but I’ll be back. 🙂

Easter Weekend Photos


I decided to get out Saturday morning and see if anything was happening at San Angelo State Park.  It had been several weeks since we had visited the bird blind there.  I got a few images there, then we drove through the park to see what birds if any, might be hanging around.  I really wasn’t very impressed at the time that I had anything of quality.  I uploaded what I had and I found that some of them weren’t too bad.  I’ll let you have a look at them.

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

Canyon Towhee

Canyon Towhee

Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwings

Lark Bunting

Lark Bunting

I hope you enjoyed these pictures.  Click on any of them to see an enlargement.

 

 

Birding at Lake Nasworthy


Our two favorite spots at Lake Nasworthy to bird and to photograph birds, are at two of the parks there, Spring Creek and Middle Concho.  This past Sunday morning Ann and I decided to take in the nice weather and visit both places.  It was enroute home from those places that we encountered the Black Vultures that I featured in yesterday’s post.

We entered Spring Creek Park first, and we didn’t see many birds early on.  However, we saw about seventy Wild Turkeys further down the road.  They were drinking from the creek, then heading back into the nearby woods.  We didn’t see any of the herons or water birds that we usually come upon, but because of the beautiful weather, there were numerous fisherman in their boats, trawling along the water.  That probably spooked the wildlife somewhat.  But that is okay, as the park is for everybody.

But we persisted, continued driving slowly through both parks.  We finally came upon an area in Middle Concho Park, where amongst the trees there was more bird activity.  I stopped the car, got my camera out and set up a tripod in a small clearing where I would have a good view of nearby trees.  I was using my Canon EOS 7D with 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-converter giving me a working focal length of 700mm.

The trees were still pretty dense, so I could hear many birds, and see them flying between the trees, but I wasn’t very lucky at getting many photo ops.  I did finally get these two “keepers”.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker with pecan

This female Golden-fronted Woodpecker was making herself heard, then she flew up onto this dead limb, with a pecan in her mouth. Exposure 1/2500 sec. @f8 with ISO 400 and aperture priority.

Eastern Bluebird

Swinging my camera around on my Wimberley gimbal tripod head about 45 degrees, there was a flurry of activity and I spotted about a half dozen Eastern Bluebirds.  They were in a shaded area, and one of them settled on a visible branch.  Exposure was 1/1000 sec. @f8 plus 1/3 EV – ISO 400.  If I would have had the time, I probably would have opened up the lens a bit more, but with a little help in post processing I managed to get it lightened enough.

From the birding aspect, during the 2 – 3 hours we spent there we managed to see these 24 species:

So, all in all, we had a fun morning.  The weather was gorgeous, and it was wonderful just to get out and enjoy nature.  Click on either image to see an enlargement.

Red-tailed Hawk and Birding results


First, I want to say that this may be my last post for about a week.  Ann, Jodie Wolslager and I are heading for New Mexico to visit some birding and wildlife areas there.  I hope to come back with some nice photos and new experiences to tell you about.

This morning we had our monthly Adult Birding Adventure at San Angelo State Park.  We had one of the largest participant turn-outs ever.  However, the bird activity left a little to be desired.  Plenty activity at the bird blind though.  By Ann’s count we had a grand total of 29 species.  Not bad for an off-day.  A total list appears at the bottom of this post.

Red-tailed Hawk

In keeping with my habit of including a photograph with each post, I submit this in-flight image of a Red-tailed Hawk, from my archives.  Did I ever tell you that I love to photograph raptors??  Click on the photo to see an enlargement.

By the way, I am overwhelmed by the comments to Holly’s Blog about in-flight photography, referring to the advice and tips that I gave her.  See   http://photobyholly.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/in-flight/    I thank one and all  for reading the tips.  I only hope that every one has good results from them.  I do need to clarify one thing.  My tips were based on my own experience with a Canon DSLR.  I remember that Holly shoots a Nikon, but I think that most DSLRs have a tracking type of auto-focus.

Happy birding and picture taking!!  🙂

Location:     San Angelo State Park
Observation date:     2/12/11
Number of species:     29

Mallard     3
Blue-winged Teal     20
Northern Shoveler     18
American White Pelican     12
Great Blue Heron     2
Black Vulture     6
Turkey Vulture     3
Red-tailed Hawk     1
American Coot     2
Killdeer     2
Greater Yellowlegs     3
Least Sandpiper     10
Ring-billed Gull     100
White-winged Dove     2
Mourning Dove     4
Ladder-backed Woodpecker     2
Black-crested Titmouse     2
Rock Wren     1
Bewick’s Wren     1
Northern Mockingbird     6
Curve-billed Thrasher     1
Canyon Towhee     1
White-crowned Sparrow     24
Northern Cardinal     6
Pyrrhuloxia     4
Red-winged Blackbird     12
Western Meadowlark     10
House Finch     18
House Sparrow     6

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

American Kestrel with Happy Meal


Ann and I made a trip out to San Angelo State Park late Saturday morning.  There we met another professional photographer, Bill Plunkett.  He and his wife have been doing some very extensive traveling and stopped off here in San Angelo.  For examples of his work from all over the continent and more, check his website, www.plunkettphoto.com

I got lucky again.  While driving around the park, we didn’t see much bird activity until we came upon this dead tree near O. C. Fisher Lake.  There was this American Kestrel perched, trying to devour a mouse that he had caught.  I was fortunate to capture the action before he flew away.

American Kestrel with mouse

I hope you enjoy the photo.  Click on it to see an enlargement.

Happy Birding!!

Sunshine and Cool Birds


Yesterday morning, Friday, Ann and I woke to a nice clear, sunshiny day.  The temp was still only about 20 degrees.  We waited a bit until it was up to about 28 then we headed to San Angelo State Park.  First we needed to put seed in the feeders.  We do that on a regular basis, not just to feed the birds, but for the main purpose of attracting birds for the numerous birders that frequent the popular bird blind.

Cactus Wren in the snow

I also wanted to take advantage of the snow still on the ground, to get some wintery photographs.  My vision was to catch a Northern Cardinal perched on a snow-covered branch.  But a vision was all it was, as there wasn’t any snow on the tree branches.  All we had was about an inch of it on the ground.  But I did get a couple of nice photos of some birds in the snow.  One was the Cactus Wren.  The other was a White-crowned Sparrow that seemed to be staring at some large cat tracks.  Perhaps a Bobcat??

A cool White-crown Sparrow

At the blind, I scared off a small Opossum as I approched.  The water trough, which is about 2 feet deep was frozen solid.  I tried to break through it, but to no avail.  I would have to wait and let the warming sun do it’s job.  O. C. Fisher lake, which is dwindling by the day, looked like it was frozen all the way across.  Leaving there, we stopped by the Prairie Dog village.  A few of them were sitting on the mounds, pondering if they should venture across the snow.

A young Black-tailed Prairie Dog

But, today the snow will probably leave for the most part.  The sun is shining brightly and the temperature is climbing again.  Will spring be just around the corner??  Enjoy the photos, and click on any of them to see enlargements.

Happy Birding!!  🙂

BEEP! BEEP! More on Greater Roadrunners


I can’t resist it.  I must write about these Greater Runners again.  It was a gloriously gorgeous day here in San Angelo.  You don’t think that I am going to stay home and get things done, do you??  We toured San Angelo State Park, as we are want to do on days like this.  We saw the usual contigent of birds, including the Phainopepla that is starting to enjoy this west Texas weather.  Then we saw this Greater Roadrunner. and was able to catch these photos.   Click on the images to see an enlargement.

Greater Roadrunner

The Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) is a long-legged bird in the cuckoo family, Cuculidae. It is one of the two roadrunner species in the genus Geococcyx; the other is the Lesser Roadrunner. This roadrunner is also known as the chaparral cock, ground cuckoo, and snake killer.[2]

The roadrunner is about 56 centimetres (22 in) long and weighs about 300 grams (10.5 oz), and is the largest North American cuckoo. The adult has a bushy crest and long thick dark bill. It has a long dark tail, a dark head and back, and is blue on the front of the neck and on the belly. Roadrunners have four toes on each zygodactyl foot; two face forward, and two face backward. The name roadrunner comes from the bird’s habit of racing down roads in front of moving vehicles and then darting into the weeds.

Portrait of a Roadrunner

The breeding habitat is desert and shrubby country in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, but some other western states as well. The Greater Roadrunner nests on a platform of sticks low in a cactus or a bush and lays 3–6 eggs, which hatch in 20 days. The chicks fledge in another 18 days. Pairs may occasionally rear a second brood.

Greater Roadrunners measure 61 cm (2 feet) in length, about half of which is tail. They have long, sturdy legs and a slender, pointed bill. The upper body is mostly brown with black streaks and white spots. The neck and upper breast are white or pale brown with dark brown streaks, and the belly is white. A crest of brown feathers sticks up on the head, and a bare patch of orange and blue skin lies behind each eye;[4] the blue is replaced by white in adult males (except the blue adjacent to the eye), and the orange (to the rear) is often hidden by feathers.[2]This bird walks around rapidly, running down prey or occasionally jumping up to catch insects or birds. It mainly feeds on insects, with the addition of small reptiles (including rattlesnakes up to 60 cm long), rodents and other small mammals, spiders, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, small birds (particularly from feeders and birdhouses) and eggs, and carrion. It kills larger prey with a blow from the beak—hitting the base of the neck of small mammals—or by holding it in the beak and beating it against a rock. Two roadrunners sometimes attack a relatively big snake cooperatively. Fruit and seeds typically constitute about 10% of the diet.[2]

Although capable of flight, it spends most of its time on the ground, and can run at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour (32 km/h).[4]

Some Pueblo Indian tribes, such as the Hopi, believed that the roadrunner provided protection against evil spirits. In Mexico, some said it brought babies, as the White Stork was said to in Europe. Some Anglo frontier people believed roadrunners led lost people to trails.[2] It is the state bird of New Mexico.

Beep! Beep!

Happy Bidrding!!

Listen to the Mockingbird………


The Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is the state bird of Texas, and also for a few other states.  And true to it’s name it really can do a heck of a job of miming other birds.  The one that dominates our back yard, can do a great bluejay, and others of our backyard birds.  I can go out there and make random whistles and it will mock me.  My wife says that I am always harrassing him.  But not true, just conversing with him.  He is very territorial about our/his yard.  And that’s the reason we don’t have very many other visiting birds hanging around long.  If we put seed out, he won’t touch it, but neither will he let any other bird have it.

My Stokes Field Guide to North American Birds describes the bird as slim ,flat-crowned, long-tailed, long-legged  with a fairly thick relatively short bill.   Gray above, whitish below, two white wingbars, white base to primaries creates a patch on edge of folded wing.   Indistinct gray eyeline, yellowish eye.  In flight, the distinctive white patches on outer wings are very visible.

Here are some of my favorite photos:

Going my way???

Fledgling Northern Mockingbird

Fledgling Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

I hope you have enjoyed these photos.  Click on the images to see enlargements.

Happy Birding!!

No Time to Make Dessert


You ever have one of those days.  So much to do, so little time.  It all started this morning when it took me a little extra time to do the daily crossword.  My original plan was to first go to breakfast at Roxies’.  Yes, that is the name of the diner where we eat our first meal of the day.  In your mind, picture a Roxie, picture a little diner, you will then say that sure looks like a Roxies’ Diner.  🙂

Phoebe (Says or Eastern)

Then after breakfast,  the important stuff;

 1. do the crossword, (a must),

2. go feed the birds at the park, 

3.  fill the van’s gas tank,

4. wash the van,

5. take a new photo of the Santa Elena Canyon over to the Frame-up Gallery to get it framed,

6. check on my exhibit at Crocket National Bank to see if I need to leave some more cards,

7. come home then and try to do a post for my blog.

Well, you know about the best laid plans…….   I just finished number 2.   It is 3:00 PM and I am just getting started on number 7.  I had to skip numbers 3 throught 6.  I didn’t fill the gas tank; I think I can make it to Roxies’ (remember her?) tomorrow morning.  I post-poned washing the van, ‘cuz it gonna rain tonight.   I can wait about going to the Frame-up Gallery.  Ditto to see about my exhibit at the bank.

The reason that it took so long to feed the birds (#2) was it turned out to be a gorgeous sunny day, a perfect day for birding.  So after feeding the birds that’s what we did.  We saw 29 different species.  That includes the pictured  Phoebe.  Can anyone say definitely which it is?  An Eastern Phoebe or a Says Phoebe.  Ann’s list that she sends to E-bird, is below for your information.

So now it is almost 4:00PM and almost finished with this post.  I am pretty warn out and I think it is almost time for a margarita.  It’s a good thing that I don’t cook, because there definitely would  be no time to make dessert. 🙂

Location:     San Angelo State Park
Observation date:     1/24/11
Number of species:     29

Northern Shoveler     30
Northern Bobwhite     8
American White Pelican     30
Great Blue Heron     5
Black Vulture     70
Northern Harrier     1
Red-tailed Hawk     1
American Coot     3
Greater Yellowlegs     2
Least Sandpiper     24
Ring-billed Gull     12
White-winged Dove     6
Mourning Dove     4
Greater Roadrunner     1
Eastern Phoebe     1
Say’s Phoebe     1
Black-crested Titmouse     2
Northern Mockingbird     12
Curve-billed Thrasher     1
Phainopepla     1
Spotted Towhee     1
Chipping Sparrow     3
White-crowned Sparrow     18
Northern Cardinal     6
Pyrrhuloxia     8
Red-winged Blackbird     120
Western Meadowlark     6
House Finch     12
House Sparrow     6

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

Sharp-shinned Hawk


Yestereday, despite the cold wind, Ann and I decided to venture out to the park again.  The sun was shining nicely, so it made up for the cool temps.  We stopped at the bird blind, but saw nothing that we haven’t seen the past few days.  But after deciding to take a short drive around the park, I spotted this Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus), sitting among the mesquites.  At least I think it is a Sharp-shinned.  They are easily confusedd with a Cooper’s Hawk.  But this one has the more rounder head of the Sharpie.  If anyone has a different opinion I would appreciate hearing.  I think it is one of my best images of this particular hawk.  You can click on it and see an enlargement.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Location:     San Angelo State Park
Observation date:     1/21/11
Number of species:     19

American White Pelican     30
Great Blue Heron     3
Black Vulture     30
Sharp-shinned Hawk     1
Red-tailed Hawk     1
American Kestrel     1
Greater Yellowlegs     20
Least Sandpiper     30
Ring-billed Gull     10
Mourning Dove     2
Black-crested Titmouse     1
Northern Mockingbird     20
Spotted Towhee     1
White-crowned Sparrow     24
Northern Cardinal     4
Pyrrhuloxia     4
Red-winged Blackbird     20
Western Meadowlark     2
House Finch     12