Happy New Year and Flying Turkeys

Well, today we bid goodbye to 2015.  It has been a great year although it didn’t go as well as I had planned it back on January 1st.  But does it ever go like a person wants it to go?  Ha! Dream on…… 🙂  But I am happy that I am still waking up atop the grass.  At my age that is a fine thing.  I spent the year photographing, buying new equipment, and selling old equipment.

The new equipment is paying off.  (You can never have enough cameras) My new camera is a  Canon EOS 7D Mark II, of which I actually bought two, are amazing.  They can take photos, make videos, (still learning that), make time-relapse photos, and make coffee in the morning.  Well, maybe that last part was an exaggeration, but I am still not finished with reading the manual. 🙂

One thing that I can do is to get amazing photos of birds in flight.  That is one thing that I love to do.  This camera has the capabilities to shoot at an amazing 10 frames per second, and that makes the job a bit easier.

Yesterday, December 30, Ann and I were out at Spring Creek Park.  As we drove through slowly we came upon a flock of Wild Turkeys.  As I slowed, they became nervous, and a few seconds later they took flight to fly across the water about 100 yards, to land in another spot.

I had my Tamron 150-600mm super telephoto lens on the camera, as I always do when I am in the birding/photography mode.  I was able to snatch the camera from my lap and aim the camera towards the flying birds.  The spot-auto focus instantly locked on to a few of them as they passed.  The hard part was keeping the birds in the viewfinder.

I think you will be pleased with these two, of several photos that I captured.  The other twelve or so, will never again see the light of a computer monitor. 🙂 The tech data for photographers that are interested is:  Shutter speed 1/8000 sec., Aperture f6.3 with an EV adjustment of -0.3, at an ISO of 1600.  Spot-exposure and spot-focus. Click the photos to see beautiful enlargements.

Wild Turkey in flight

Wild Turkey in flight

Wild Turkeys in flight

Wild Turkeys in flight

I must say, that I was impressed with the results.  Both images are available as 12×16 prints.  They will look amazing framed.  Of course, I have those prints for sale. (hint, hint).  You can always contact me if you are interested, and that goes for all of the photos that you see on this blog.

So that’s all for this brief post.  Happy New Year to all!

Happy Birding!!  (and photographing!)

Northern Cardinal and more…….

Birding the past week has been delightful.  Our species daily counts are getting up there, one time reaching 40.  But most importantly, I was able to get some nice photographs.  Most of the photos were taken in the local parks around Lake Nasworthy.  San Angelo State Park has been closed as they are burning off nearly 25% of the park to rid it of unwanted brush and mesquite.  In the long run, that should help the flora and fauna rebound, beneficial to all.

Let’s start with this Northern Cardinal. always a favorite to photograph.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Some Western Bluebirds arrived to add to the beauty of the avian population.

Western Bluebird

Western Bluebird

The Yellow-rumped Warblers are here in large numbers now.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - Myrtle variety

Yellow-rumped Warbler – Myrtle variety

It seems that I have seen an increase in Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, compared to prior years.  Of course, it may be just me, getting more familiar with each specie as the years go by. 🙂

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

As we were driving along the fence line at Spring Creek park we were surprised to come upon this Blue-gray Gnatcatcher……

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

…….and this cute Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  I love the challenge of photographing these tiny birds.  They are quick, flighty never sitting still for more than a fraction of a second.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

A few rare Pine Warblers are still around.  Maybe they have found a home here for the winter.

Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler

Eastern Phoebes are always around, entertaining us with it’s quick flights from tree to tree, then resting for a few seconds before moving on.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Another Yellow-rumped Warbler,this one a beautiful Audubon variety.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - Audubon variety

Yellow-rumped Warbler – Audubon variety

One of my favorite wading birds is the Great Blue Heron.  They are plentiful here, being seen at most of the lakes and waterways.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Wild Turkeys abound here in the Concho Valley.  I usually ignore them because they are so common.  But as we passed the narrow little inlet several took off to fly to the other side.  This group numbered about 30 and they were taking off about one at a time.  I decided to stop and try to catch a photo of one of them in flight.  I was lucky.  I say that because of all 30 or more, I was able to catch only one good image.  I was rattling off hi-speed shots as each bird blew.  Here is the best of the bunch.

Wild Turkey - hen in flight

Wild Turkey – hen in flight

So that’s it for today.  I hope to get more for another post before Christmas.  Click any image to see an enlargement.

Happy birding!!

Saturday Morning Humor

There I was, just trying to be a nice guy and get a photo of these guys displaying their magnificent feathers, and they decided to walk away; or you might say, they mooned me.  Well here is what I have to say…….

"the same to you, and the horses that you rode in...."

“the same to you, and the horses you rode in on….”

Click the image to see an enlargement.

Mooning Turkey and Breeding Egret

Leave it to me to be able to come up some unusual photographs.  First, while roaming around Spring Creek Park, we spotted this Great Egret, (Ardea alba),doing a little fishing across the river.  I maneuvered the car into position so I could get the shot from the driver’s side window, with my Canon 7D and 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-converter attached.

I got several shots as he strolled along, stabbing the occasional small fish.  It was after I got home and examined the images, that I noticed it had bright green lores.  For you non-birders that is the area between the bill and the eyes.  At first, I thought maybe it had gotten some algae stuck to it’s face while feeding.  Heck, that happens to me at dinner.  🙂

Great Egret - breeding

So, first out come the bird guides, trying to find out about this mysterious malady.  Didn’t find much info there, so I done a bit of googling on the internet and found that green lores can be found on breeding egrets.  Aha, I said to myself, I have found out something new.

Wild Turkey - breeding

After getting the shots of the egrets, we came upon a trio of Wild Turkeys,(Meleagris gallopavo). The three were all toms and they were showing off to a hen that was out of sight on the other side of a fence.  They all were putting on a show and I was able to get several images.  I knew that they were aware of me because before I drove away, one of them decided to moon me.

Wild Turkey -mooning

Personally, I thought that was kind of rude, but these insults I can take.  It comes with the job.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

I hope you enjoyed the images as much I enjoy being out and capturing them.  Be sure to click on this link:  Bird Quiz    to vote in the latest quiz.  Results will be published Friday.

Monday SA State Park photos

Ann had a bunch of housework to do this morning.  I told her, “Hey, you don’t get to have all the fun,  if you get to do housework, I get to go out to San Angelo State Park. 🙂  (Please donate to my medical bills after Ann reads this.)

And so, I set off to try to get some pictures for today’s post.  I like the solitude at the park some days, when it is just me, my camera, and the prospect of finding a nice wildlife photo.

Wild Turkey

I stopped at the bird blind first to check out what may be hanging around.  Not much action there, but I heard the gobbles of some Wild Turkey near by.  From the blind I could glimpse them, but they were obscured in my vision by trees, feeders, etc.  I decided to grab my Canon with the 100-400mm lens and leave the blind to stalk them.  I managed to keep them in sight as I scurried from tree to tree, trying to avoid being seen by them.  I was also wary of the possibility of rattlesnakes in the area.  But I ended up safe and sound, and with some nice photos, including the one above of one of the Wild Turkeys displaying his show-off plumage.

Black-throated Sparrow

After that I hopped into the car for a little drive around the park.  San Angelo State Park is a great place for birding and photographing from the car.  On week days such as this there are few people around, and I can go as slow as I want and drive where I want.  In the middle of the road, wrong lane or on the shoulder, or drive backwards. 🙂

I was on one of these empty roads when I spotted this tiny bird in the distance in the top of a tree.  It was so far, that I couldn’t make a definite ID, but there was something about it that was unfamiliar.  I used my 500mm lens with the 1.4 tele-converter, attached to my Canon 7D.  The image was grossly underexposed, probably due to the meter mis-reading such a tiny subject with a bright background. But because of the miracle of Photoshop, I was able to correct the exposure after I got home.  It turned out to be a Black-throated Sparrow.  Not a rare bird, but very hard to find around here.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Continuing on, I came across another Scissor-tailed Flycatcher that I thought would make a nice image.  He was moving around a lot as they are want to do, when trying to catch real or imaginative gnats or insects.  He finally settled and I was able to get the picture you see above.

I saw many more bird species, but wasn’t sucessful in getting any usable images.  Most of the time I just got quick glimpses or they were flying to far away.  But, click on any ot these images to see an enlargement.

Note:  It may be Wednesday before I have another post.  I will be at the hospital tomorrow with Ann as she has cataract surgery on her left eye.  As I said earlier in this post, I will be lucky if I don’t end up as a patient there, after Ann reads the opening sentences of this post. 🙂

Prairie Dog and Wild Turkeys

Prairie Dog

Spring is in the air at San Angelo State Park.  The prairie dogs are enjoying the spring wildflowers and the Wild Turkeys are in love, as you can tell from the pictures.  Ann and I caught these this morning as we took a little drive.

Enjoy the photos.  Click on either one for an enlargement.

Wild Turkey - Displaying

Thanksgiving Day Odds and Ends

First and foremost, I want to wish all of my faithful readers and bloggers in the United States, a Happy Thanksgiving Day.  For you who live all of those other 116 countries, please have a Happy Day.

In my post about the Eastern and Spotted Towhees, check out this AOU link.  The American Ornithologists Union is the official authority about classifications of birds.  The are responsible for the renaming of the species as they see fit.  As I was saying in that post, the two above species were once one, the Rufous-sided Towhee.

Another bird that causes similar confusion is the Tufted Titmouse, or the Black-crested Titmouse that is found here in the western United States.  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says on it’s AllAboutBirds website, “The Black-crested Titmouse of Texas and Mexico has at times been considered just a form of the Tufted Titmouse. The two species hybridize where they meet, but the hybrid zone is narrow and stable over time. They differ slightly in the quality of their calls, and show genetic differences as well.”

I would have liked to have had a nice photograph of a tom turkey, posed in it’s strutting position, with all of those tail feathers spread out, but I only have one it it’s normal pose.  Well, okay, I lied.  I do have one in the mating pose, but the light was bad and it isn’t as great as I would have liked.  I’ll show you both.

Wild Turkey - male strutting

Wild Turkey - male

Now, how about a little turkey humor to give you a little chuckle.  You all know about Chicken Little and her sky is falling tale.  Well, Mrs. Turkey Little was walking along and she saw a man dropping from the sky in a parachute.  She yells, “This guy is falling, this guy is falling!!”  🙂

Okay, I know you’re saying, “Bob, where in the heck do you come up with this stuff?”  Heck, I don’t know.  My imagination partly, and partly stealing jokes from other people.  But I do know that if you smile, you will live longer.  🙂

So keep on smiling along with me, and we’ll be blogging for many years to come. 🙂

End of a week, Start of a month

Spotted Sandpiper

It’s the end of the week but starting a brand new month.  I’m going to show you a few highlights of the past week.

Yellow-headed Blackbird

On Tuesday Ann and I decided to take our friend Jodie Wolslager on a little birding trip.  We headed to Eldorado first to tour the water waste ponds there.  There are always a good selection of waterfowl there, and you never know when you might get surprised.  Suzanne Johnson had e-mailed us that there were about the thirty-seven White-faced Ibises there the previous day.  By the time we got there the count was down to nine.  But nevertheless I obtained some photos.

White-faced Ibises

We also saw some Yellow-headed Blackbirds, both adult and juvenile.  We saw Spotted Sandpipers and a few other sandpiper types that we were unable to identify for certain.  Also in attendance were probably one thousand Wilson’s Phalaropes.

Leaving there we headed to Christoval and back to our favorite place the Hummer House.  

Wilson's Phalaropes

A great collection of birds there, many more than than what we saw on a previous trip.  Our first Painted Buntings of the season, Summer Tanagers, Pine Siskins, Vermilion Flycatcher. Lesser Goldfinches, plus many others.

This morning Ann and I were out at the San Angelo State Park to give a little presentation on birds for a group of Girl Scouts.  I guess because of the cooler weather this morning, most of the birds stayed away.  However, we were treated to a young male Wild Turkey that entered stage left, and left stage right.  We did see a couple of Bullock’s Orioles though.

Upon leaving the park Ann and I spotted our firse Common Nighthawk of the season.  He was perched as always, parallel on a branch.  I got a few nice photos which I will post one here.  After I took the photos, another birding

Common Nighthawk

 friend of ours, Jimmy Villers, drove up with his wife.  She had never seen a nighthawk before, so she got quite thrill out of it.

Click on any photo to see an enlargement.

Happy Birding!!