With the cooler days of mid-December comes the rut in south Texas. Smaller bucks have been engaged in mock battles since late November, but the big boys seem to magically appear from the dense, thorny cover a few days before Christmas.
The following images were made on December 13 when several exceptional bucks were locked down on does, but I saw no battles that morning. The brush country was shrouded in fog but the sun started to sparkle of the wet grass and spider webs shortly after sunrise.
I’m hoping Santa will bring us some heavy-antlered bucks and cold weather next week. A nice bit of jousting and flying dust would be good, too. I’ll let you know.
I’ll be doing a Whooping Crane Instructional Photography Tour at Rockport, Texas on January 18-20. One slot is still available if any of you are interested. Just check out my Tour Schedule on the home page and drop me an email to get registered. I’ll send you all the details.
Here are a few images from last winters whooper tour in case you are giving it some serious consideration.
Those big south Texas whitetails are sporting new antlers now. Almost every buck is thrashing the brush trying to scrape away the old velvet. Once it’s gone, the feisty males will begin sparring to test their new headgear.
I spent much of last week with 5 photographers at my annual Block Creek Natural Area Instructional Photo Tour near Comfort, Texas. After arriving two days early, owner Larry Jay and I made a search for good wildflowers and wildlife in much of the ranch land to the north of Fredericksburg. Even though it was rainy when we started the early part of our shoot was successful. I even got some nice gray fox images to go with many bluebonnet shots.
The photography group arrived Wednesday and we spent three days working on hummingbirds, foxes, vermilion flycatchers, hawks, owls, painted buntings and more. Everyone got the fox and most of the other critters. As always, the accommodations, food and hospitality were wonderful and the wildlife was plentiful.
I do this trip every spring, so save the April 22-25 for a trip with me next spring if this sounds appealing. Contact me quickly as this one fills quickly.
For the first time in several years, the butterfly population has exploded at our small butterfly/hummingbird garden. Actually, I’ve been impressed with the species diversity, too. So, during the past two afternoons, I grabbed the Canon 5D Mark IV camera with Canon 100-400 mm lens to capture as many species images as possible. A few were missed, but you can see from the shots below that subject matter was abundant in the little 25′ x 25′ habitat.
All the shots were taken “hand held” with an ISO of 640-800 and f stop of 8-18. Seldom did I let the shutter speed dip below 350th of a second.
Flowering plants in the garden include mist flower, Turk’s cap, heliotrope and shrimp plant.
There are more butterflies to come when next I share a trip to the National Butterfly Center and Falcon State Park Butterfly gardens.
On Friday, Steve Sinclair and I drove out to South Padre Island in search of a Masked Booby that had been reported hanging out around the ship channel jetties. After a short walk of maybe 150 feet, we almost stumbled over our seabird as he waited along the walking path for a fresh-fish handout from passing fishermen. We seldom enjoy that kind of “instant” success when searching for unusual birds, but the booby was right there and waiting to be photographed.
Although in the middle of a molt, our bird was a good find. It sort of blended in with the laughing gulls, so none of the fishermen had the slightest idea they were in the presence of an unusual bird. Normally, one would have to go to a more tropical ocean habitat like the south Atlantic or Caribbean Ocean to find this guy.
So, here are some South Padre critters: Masked Booby, a green sea turtle and a marine creature called a Sea Hare. It surfaced while I photographed turtles near the jetty.
When you click on a photo, it will enlarge and sharpen for better viewing.
These images were made with the Canon 7D Mark II camera and Canon 100-400 mm lens, handheld. It was so hot and steamy on this day, I decided to wait for cooler weather before returning for better photos.
As the sun popped from the Gulf of Mexico today, I was photographing a wading fisherman in the Laguna Madre, south Texas. Good fortune was with me as two fishing boats passed beyond him and I got them all in one shot. Then I headed out to try finding fawn white-tailed deer since early July is the peak fawning time in this part of the state. Again, I was lucky and located several newborns, some as their mothers were tucking them away in tall cover for the day. BUT, my search continues for that best of all baby deer photos…nursing time with a fawn on either side of a doe. I just have to keep trying.
Click on a photo to enlarge and sharpen it. Then click on the arrows at either side to advance or back up.
These horses were escaping mosquitos and munching water lilies in an ephemeral pond.
For most of these images, I used a tripod, Canon 5D Mark IV camera and 100-400 mm lens. The big buck was done with a 7D Mark II and 500 mm lens, hand-held.
Barbara and Tom Pickthall joined me for two days of photography last week at Laguna Seca Photography Ranch north of Edinburg, Texas. The summer temperatures had arrived and were climbing each day, so the wildlife needed lots of water. While waiting patiently in photo blinds at various waterholes, we were able to capture some nice images.
Here are a few of my shots. Most were made with the Canon 500 mm lens and Canon 5D Mark IV camera from a Gitzo carbon-fiber tripod.
As we finished the first afternoon’s shoot and the shadows were growing long, an old male bobcat strolled passed. I made several squeaking sounds (by sucking on the web of skin between my index finger and thumb) and got a response. We all got great shots of his reaction.
I hope to begin getting these newsletters posted more frequently. Thanks for dropping by.
Here are some photos from last week at the Santa Clara Photo Ranch west of Edinburg, Texas. The image with mourning doves and Super Moon was made the week before, but I just had to include it.
Most of these photos were made in the rain or when fog and mist covered the land. Thanks to the improvements in Canon’s 7D Mark II and 5D Mark IV cameras, I was able to keep the ISO high enough to get some keepers.
Click on an image and it will enlarge and sharpen for better viewing.
You will have to try Santa Clara Photo Ranch…but book a year in advance for spring and summer shooting. There is a huge variety of birds, reptiles and mammals coming to water and food at the blinds during the warmer months and business is brisk.
Sunday afternoon I headed to South Padre Island for a few hours of photography. The high in McAllen, Texas today (Tuesday) was 36 degrees with overcast skies, so I’m feeling pretty good about that decision.
Here are three shots from the outing:
Click on a photo to get a sharper, clearer view.
The coot got hammered but escaped with all his feathers in tact.
This mullet wasn’t so lucky; a royal tern speared him through the head.
This was the last shot of the day. A pair of pintails basking in the last rays of afternoon light.
Is was a fun afternoon and, I made it to the house in time for that incredible Viking comeback win over the Saints.