Archive for the 'Texas' Category


12/21/2010: Great Tailed Grackle

A close relation of the Common Grackle and even closer to the Boat-tailed Grackle of the Southeast, this Great-tailed Grackle is abundant in the Southwest…here in the Rio Grande Valley, right along the Mexican boarder. They gather in night flocks in the trees by the hotels in Harlingen Texas and their jungle noise is, after the blast of wind and humidity, the first thing that tells me I am back in the Valley. They are voracious around feeders. This one is after the orange undoubtedly put out for the Orioles. 

Digiscoped with a Canon SD4000IS behind the new Vario Eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL. About the field of view of an 1100mm lens on a full frame DSLR. 1/80th @ ISO 200. Programmed auto.

Processed for intensity and clarity in Lightroom.


11/23/2010: Mr. Vermillion

I chased this Vermillion Flycatcher around the Edinburg City Park next door to the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands World Birding Center for about an hour. Actually I was also chasing the Ringed Kingfisher who was hunting up and own the arroyo at the edge of the park, but the Vermillion was always tantalizingly tucked back far in the branches or way over on the other side of the water. He seemed intent on staying out of the sun, and when I finally caught him close, he was resting in the shade of a post on the fence.

The second shot, by the way, is out at about the maximum reach of my Canon SD4000IS/ZEISS DiaScope digiscoping rig: shot at the equivalent of about 6000mm from at least 150 yards. I do not generally even attempt such shots, but this actually came out pretty well.

Digiscoped as above. Shot number one at about about  50 feet.

Processed in Lightroom for intensity and sharpened.


11/20/2010: Golden-fronted Acrobat

Not so great light this early morning at Estero Llano Grande State Park and World Birding Center in Weslaco Texas, but who could resist trying for this acrobatic Golden-fronted Woodpecker. Part of the WBC is an old trailer park, which was purchased because its tropical trees and plantings, including a smattering of citrus, attracts species not regular on the more arid sections of the State Park. I am not sure what this woodpecker was doing with the grapefruit but it makes for an interesting image.

Digiscoped with the Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL spotting scope for an equivalent focal length (field of view) of a 1300mm lens, f4.5 @ 1/50th @ ISO 200. Programmed auto.

Processed for intensity in Lightroom (Fill Light, Blackpoint, Clarity, and Sharpen).


11/19/2010: Roadrunner, roadrunner

I may have mentioned that the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands World Birding Center in Edinburg Texas is among my top 5 digiscoping (and birding, and butterflying) destinations. Every year I discover at least one contender, somewhere in my travels, that threatens to disrupt the top 5…but Edinburg WBC remains at the top. Shots like these, or rather opportunities like this, are the main reason why.

I was just walking back to the Visitor Center, or actually around the side of the VC to check the dragonfly pond for Kingfishers. I had my phone out and was about to return a call from my boss. As I lifted the phone to press the call button, it came in line with this fellow, practically at my feet, totally intent on harvesting insects along the side of the pathway. He was doing a lot of that thing in the second shot…peering up under the overhanging vegetation, looking, I assume, for some particular shade loving bug.

He was embarrassingly close…so close that even with both the camera and scope zoom cranked all the way down, I could not get the whole bird in the frame…not to mention that he was moving pretty fast. Of course, he was paying absolutely no attention to me so I did have time to get the tripod down, pocket the phone (first things first), turn on the camera, and get the zooms cranked back while he went about his business. I shot about 30 exposures of him before he decided to move up the trail past me and look for buggier trails beyond. When I gave up on him, I turned to find two other photographers behind me blasting away. Quite a show. And typical, in my experience, of Edinburg Scenic Wetlands World Birding Center!

And, yes, as soon as the roadrunner was out of range, I did call my boss.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-45x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for the field of view of about a 1000mm lens, f4.0 @ 1/1000 sec. @ ISO 125. Programmed auto. (The three shots above are from a single 4fps burst…though not presented in order.)

Processed in Lightroom for intensity and sharpness.

I even managed to take some video which is included in my South Texas Snippets video.

South Texas Snippets….watch for the Roadrunner.

And one final image to go on with….


11/17/2010: feathers

I wanted to give you a break from digisocped birds this morning (or maybe I wanted one myself) but going back through the images on my SX20IS I am reminded that no one goes to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas for the scenery.

This little still life, perhaps a bit sad unless you can see the larger picture of nature at work, comes from my largely fruitless trip to a Photo ranch on the north edge of the Valley, where I hoped to photograph larger wildlife. There is beauty in this random scatter of feathers, in the fine details and the pattern. I think they might be Pyrrloxia, and are undoubtedly the remains of a Sharp Shinned Hawk meal.

Canon SX20IS at about 290mm equivalent (zoomed in for the detail) @ f5.0 @ 1/200th @ ISO 200. Landscape program.

Processed in Lightroom with a bit of Recovery, Fill Light, Blackpoint right, added Clarity and Vibrance, and Sharpen narrow edges preset.


11/16/2010: Pauraque!

Common Pauraque, another extreme south Texas bird, is common, but, aside from the hundred or so you flush driving any dirt road in the dark, hard to see. By day they roost on the ground, in leaf litter, and they are so cryptically camouflaged that it is next to impossible to find one…unless it moves…or you have it staked out. 500 or more birders at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival saw this bird, which roosts within 3 feet of  one of the main trails at Estero Llano Grande. Still, without knowing it is there, almost everyone walks right by it.

This is digiscoped at my closest focus distance. As you can see, I had only a very small window in the overhanging brush to shoot through. Here is a shot pulled back more and cropped to eliminate the out of focus log that hides the lower half of the bird.


To get this I backed to the far side of the trail with my butt in the brush on the other side.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL. The wider shot is at ISO 320 and 1/50th sec. The tight shot is at ISO 800 and 1/20th sec. Equivalent focal lengths (fields of view) were around 1500 and 1200mm.

Processed for intensity in Lightroom, with Blackpoint adjustment, Clarity and Vibrance, Sharpen narrow edges preset and a auto color temperature.


11/15/2010: Buff-belly

One of the more exotic of the North American hummingbirds…the Buff-bellied, is only found in far south Texas, with very occasional excursions out along the Gulf coast. This was taken on a dark, cloudy Texas day…in full sun it will knock your eye out!

Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Estero Llano Grande TX, Digiscoped, DiaScope 65FL

Digiscoped with the Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario Eyepiece of the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL. Equivalent focal length (field of view) of about 3000mm, 1/100 sec. @ ISO 800 (not much light!).

Processed in Lightroom with a combination of Fill Light, Blackpoint right, Clarity, a touch of Vibrance and Sharpen narrow edges preset.