Wet Week at Transition Ranch

A few months back, some of you may recall that I was chattering more than usual about the photography opportunities at Transition Ranch near Uvalde, Texas.  During the dry spring of 2014, I helped the owners select photo blind locations and I showed them where to find golden-cheeked warblers and black-capped vireos.  After a few days at the ranch, I was really excited about the possibilities.  Then, when April arrived this year, the ranch was drenched with record amounts of rainfall.

Here are a few of the images I captured at Transition Ranch while guiding two groups of photographers at mid-month.   For best viewing, click on an image to enlarge and sharpen it.  Click on the right center of each image to advance through the images.

House Finch_79A6750

House Finches were abundant in spite of heavy rains.

House Finches provided lots of action when shooting was slow with other birds.
House Finches provided lots of action when shooting was slow with other birds.

 

Male Hooded Oriole calling from a Texas persimmon tree.
Male Hooded Oriole calling from a Texas persimmon tree.

 

A shy orchard oriole at the morning blind.
A shy orchard oriole at the morning blind.

 

White-winged doves have established some large nesting colonies on the Transition Ranch.
White-winged doves have established some large nesting colonies on the Transition Ranch.

 

Lark sparrows were actively courting during mid-April.
Lark sparrow in courtship display  with feathers fluffed and tail spread.

 

Flushing Yellow-headed Blackbird photographed at 1/30 second during an afternoon rain.
Flushing Yellow-headed Blackbird photographed at 1/30 second during an afternoon rain.

Frequent rains through the winter and spring made it impossible to complete photo blinds for golden-cheeked warblers and black-capped vireos.  Although shy, they should come to water in this dry country during a normal spring and summer.

By next spring, the ranch owner anticipates having additional blinds in place where golden-cheeked warblers and black-capped vireos may come to drink.
Male golden-cheeked warbler singing from atop a hill country juniper.

 

Transition Ranch has a sizable population of breeding black-capped vireos.  The species is among Texas' most beautiful spring/summer residents.
Transition Ranch has a sizable population of breeding black-capped vireos. The species is among Texas’ most beautiful spring/summer residents.

 

Blue Grosbeaks were just arriving as our time at Transition Ranch ended.
Blue Grosbeaks were just arriving as our time at Transition Ranch ended.

With abundant moisture, came abundant wildflowers and blooming prickly pear cactus.

The hills were covered in prickly pear cactus abloom with yellow and peach colored flowers.
The hills were covered in prickly pear cactus abloom with yellow and peach colored flowers.

 

Birds like Nashville Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers and Painted Buntings arrived late because of the cool weather and constant rain.
Birds like Nashville Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers and Painted Buntings arrived late because of the cool weather and constant rain.

Some of our photographers got excellent photos of painted buntings and Montezuma quail.  I can’t wait for next year…may it be just a little drier.

*** I’ve got a Canon 7D camera with battery grip and a 100-400 mm Canon IS lens (not the new model) for sale.  Both are in great shape.  If you are interested, let me know and/or make me an offer.  I’ve still got the boxes, papers, straps, etc. for them.

Larry

Perfect Winter Morning

I photographed this feeding American Oystercatcher and landing willet last winter in the Laguna Madre shortly after sunrise.  Of course,  water dripping from the bill or having the wings spread is really cool, but it’s the reflection that makes the image.

Click on the image to enlarge and sharpen for viewing.

American Oystercatcher feeding in the Laguna Madre at sunrise

Canon 7D camera and 500 mm IS lens, ISO 400, 1/1600 second @ f 4  from the World Birding Center board walk on South Padre Island.

Willet landing in the Laguna Madre
Willet landing in the Laguna Madre

Canon 7D camera and 500 mm IS Canon lens, Feisol cf tripod with Wimberly Head, ISO 400, 1/4000 second @ f 5.6

I am working my way through thousands of images collected through the winter and spring.  Keep watching for fresh newsletters with photos from Big Bend National Park, Block Creek Ranch, Transition Ranch and more.

Larry

 

Photos from FeatherFest, 2015

I hope most of you take the Texas travel and outdoor magazines, “Texas Highways” and “Texas Parks & Wildlife”.  If so, you may have seen several of my photos in May and June.  It’s always a big thrill to be published, especially in magazines that do such outstanding work.  Look for the cover on the June issue of …Highways and several inside shots as well (the May issue has several, too).  The May issue of Parks & Wildlife included several bird photos for a story on the “The 12 Most Beautiful Birds in Texas”.

The following images come from some photography outings I led this past April in the Rockport and Galveston area for FeatherFest.com.  Many birders and photographers gather in Galveston each spring for the festival and what better place than Galveston to do it?

If you click on the photos, they will enlarge and sharpen for your viewing.  Advance through the slide show by clicking on the right edge of any image.

Brown Pelican nesting on a grassy island near Galveston, Texas.
Brown Pelican nesting on a grassy island near Galveston, Texas.

This was a rainy day shot, so I was most happy to have a new Canon 7D Mark II in hand.  I had to crank it up to ISO 1600 for this capture at 1/2000 sec @ f4 from a tripod.

Brown Pelicans nesting on an island in Galveston Bay, Texas.
Brown Pelicans nesting on an island in Galveston Bay, Texas.

The pelican shots were made from a boat.  I was leading a group of 5 happy photographers who went home with thousands of nice shots of one of Texas’ most interesting birds.

Great blue heron and great egret displaying at a nesting colony on the Texas coast
Great blue heron and great egret displaying at a nesting colony on the Texas coast

This photo and the following bird photos were shot from a boat as we spent two days on the water with Captain Kevin Sims in a Pre-FeatherFest photo shoot.

Great Blue Heron pair breeding at nest colony on Texas coast
Great Blue Heron pair breeding at nest colony on Texas coast
Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets nesting in thorny brush on the Texas gulf coast.
Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets nesting in thorny brush on the Texas gulf coast.
Great Egret displaying showy plume feathers.
Great Egret displaying showy plume feathers.
Reddish Egret landing at nest with great egret in background
Reddish Egret landing at nest with great egret in background

Most of the colonial nesters need structure (brush, sunflowers, etc.) to support their above-ground nests.

One afternoon following our boat trip, we found an old Rockport cemetery full of fancy  spring wildflowers.

Asters and coreopsis in bloom, Rockport, Texas
Asters and coreopsis in bloom, Rockport, Texas

The flower shot was done with a Canon 5D Mark II and 24-105 mm lens from ground level, hand held, 1/30 second @ f16, ISO 400.  By getting on the ground for this shot, I was able to get below a strong wind and capture a perspective most photographers pass by.

Larry

Recent Visit to Santa Clara Photography Ranch

A few days ago, I spent a Saturday afternoon at the Santa Clara Photography Ranch with owner, Dr. Alberto Gutierrez, and friends Randall Ennis and Terry Guthrie.  Photography was a little slow that afternoon, so I came back for a couple of hours on Monday morning.  Each trip yielded some keeper images; I’m sharing 4 of them with you in this newsletter.  Later that week, I guided photographer Gary Kramer on the Ramirez Ranch at Roma, Texas where we wanted to get plain chachalacas and other birds.

I’m still trying to catch up with editing several thousand photos from Galveston Feather Fest, Block Creek Natural Area, Transition Photography Ranch, South Padre Island, Rockport spring nesting birds, an Arizona bird photography workshop and shots from the Laguna Seca Photography Ranch.  I’ll be posting images from those shoots in coming editions of this newsletter.

Please send along your comments and ideas if you wish.  If you will click on the image, it will enlarge and sharpen.  Advance through the slide show by clicking on the right edge of each image.

Green Jays on mesquite stump in wildflowers
Green Jays on mesquite stump in wildflowers

These green jays were captured on a stormy morning at the Roel Ramirez Ranch near Roma, Texas with the Canon 7d Mark II and 500 mm IS lens at ISO 800, 1/200 second @ f4 in aperture priority.  Within minutes of this capture, my shutter speed declined to 1/15 second as a rapidly approaching thunderstorm forced  us to abandon the ranch for photo blind.

Painted Bunting_79A8935

This painted bunting was taken with the Canon 7D Mark II camera and 500 mm IS lens from the car window just after sunrise.  ISO 800, 1/2000 second @ f 5.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in flight, Santa Clara Ranch
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, male, diving to scoop water from the photo blind pond while on the wing.

I got this shot by anticipating the flight path of the flycatcher and pre-focusing to get the bird just as it flew from its perch to the water.  Quick reflexes and the ability to read the bird’s body language helped me get this photo with the Canon 7d Mark II and Canon 70-200 mm lens with 1.4X teleconverter at ISO 400, 1/3200 second @ f 5 (hand held).  I try to keep a camera and zoom lens handy in case something large or very close appears that precludes using the 500 mm lens.

White-fronted Dove in a courtship posture that didn't seem to impress a female dove in front of our blind.
White-fronted Dove in a courtship posture that didn’t seem to impress a female dove in front of our blind.

As the sun was setting, I captured this image with the Canon 7D Mark II and 500 mm lens from a Wimberley head and Feisol tripod at ground level at ISO 500, 1/1000 second @ f5.

I’m always looking for behavior and/or action to make the image more interesting.  Warm evening or morning light helps a bunch, too.

Keep watching for more Spring images soon.

Larry

Recent Photos from south Texas

I’ve been photographing around the Starr and Hidalgo County area of south Texas this past week or so.  Cloudy weather dominated most of the winter so it felt good to feel some rays.

I can put you onto some lightly used  photo equipment at really good prices.  Yours truly has a Canon IS 100-400 mm, slide focus lens that is in great shape and very sharp.   Make me an offer.   A Colorado friend, Joe Zinn, has a Canon 1DX camera with low frame count and an excellent 600 mm lens (not the new model) for $6,000.  These will be sold together.  If you are interested, let me know and I’ll discuss these with you and/or put you in touch with Joe.

Here are some recent photos.  Click on an image to see a larger and sharper version.  Click on the right edge of a photo to advance.

Burrowing owl ready to begin a night of hunting.
Burrowing owl ready to begin a night of hunting.

I put my favorite photo first.  It took two hours of patient waiting for this light and pose.

Barely able to keep his eyes open.
Barely able to keep his eyes open.

This is a second burrowing owl sleeping on a rocky slope.  I photographed him for almost two hours while lying on my side with the camera  and 500 mm lens on a bean bag.

Green Jay landing
Green Jay landing

I used a Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-200 lens and 1.4 x teleconverter to get this photo at 1/3200 second, f4.

Northern Mockingbird with anaqua fruit.
Northern Mockingbird with anaqua fruit.

By placing native fruit  or bird seed near a perch, you can capture very natural looking images.  Also, note the clean backgrounds form most of the shots in this newsletter…they are no accident.

Audubon's Oriole on perch.
Audubon’s Oriole on perch.
Black-crested Titmouse perched in blooming huisachillo bush.
Black-crested Titmouse perched in blooming huisachillo bush.

Some native brush is starting to bloom, so I took advantage by using cuttings for bird perches.

Male Northern Cardinal perched in a thorny huisachillo.
Male Northern Cardinal perched in a thorny huisachillo.
Northern Cardinal male landing on a soft perch.
Northern Cardinal male landing on a soft perch.

Anticipation and pre-focus!  I captured some of these images at Laguna Seca Photo Ranch north of Edinburg. (www.lagunasecaranch.com)

Pair of Northern Bobwhites sharing a perch.
Pair of Northern Bobwhites sharing a perch.

At sunset three days ago, this little nine-banded armadillo came walking boldly to the photo blind water hole at Santa Clara Photo Ranch northwest of McAllen.  (www.santaclararanch.com)

Nine-banded Armadillo drinking.
Nine-banded Armadillo drinking.

Soon, you will see more photos from this area.

Larry

Oklahoma in November

Oklahoma in November is normally an incredible place for wildlife and landscapes.  Anticipating that, I put together a little photo tour this past autumn and four of us headed for the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge at Lawton.  We were shocked on the morning of the first day when we awoke to high wind and plunging temperatures.  In spite of the unusual weather, we tried to anticipate what the animals would be doing.  It turns out they did just what we wanted to do…find a place behind the hills and in the canyons to soak up some sunshine and keep out of the wind.

So we dressed for the cold and headed for the hills.  The group got some amazing shots and I can only imagine how well they would have done without the wind and cold.  Here are a few of my images to show you what is possible in southern Oklahoma in November.

You can click on an image to increase its size and sharpness.  By clicking on the right edge of a photo, you can advance through the slide show.  Enjoy.

The remains of a stone house in the Wichta Mountains of Oklahoma.
The remains of a stone house in the Wichta Mountains of Oklahoma.
Some of the Texas longhorn cattle that roam the refuge grasslands and hills.
Some of the Texas longhorn cattle that roam the refuge grasslands and hills.
Wide, gracefully curved horns make these cattle a photogenic icon of the western U.S.
Wide, gracefully curved horns make these cattle a photogenic icon of the western U.S.
Big whitetail bucks were in the peak of rut when we arrived in Oklahoma.
Big whitetail bucks were in the peak of rut when we arrived in Oklahoma.
Lots of wild turkey were within photo range as they searched the oak thickets and grasslands for acorns, seeds and insects.
Lots of wild turkey were within photo range as they searched the oak thickets and grasslands for acorns, seeds and insects.

This wild turkey gobbler was part of a flock we photographed from the car.  I highly recommend a high quality bean bag for a Wichitas trip.

 

Photographing a black-tailed prairie dog as it "barks" is a challenge and one of my favorite things to do at the Wichitas.
Photographing a black-tailed prairie dog as it “barks” is a challenge and one of my favorite things to do at the Wichitas.

After an hour of patient sitting in a low spot near this burrow, I was rewarded with several interesting photos of these prairie dogs.   This shot was done with the Canon 7D, 500 mm lens, 1.4X teleconverter, and Gitzo tripod with Wimberley head.  I was wearing camouflage to help me blend into the landscape.

Ancient bull American bison feeding on the south side of a hill just after sunrise.
Ancient bull American bison feeding on the south side of a hill just after sunrise.

A new 70-200 mm lens was mighty handy for big game photography on this trip.

A view from Mt. Scott westward across the granite Wichita Mountains.
A view from Mt. Scott westward across the granite Wichita Mountains.
Sunlight on the Wichita Mountains on a stormy autumn morning.
Sunlight on the Wichita Mountains on a stormy autumn morning.

Elk are plentiful at the refuge, but always hard to photograph from a car.  In fact, the refuge flourishes with wildlife including many great bird species and landscape opportunities.  Its oak covered hills and extensive grasslands can hold a photographer’s interest for many days both in autumn and spring.

I hope you can join me next year.

Larry

More Than Just a Whooping Crane Photo Tour

Two weeks ago, I was in Rockport leading a “whooping crane” photography tour that turned out to be much more than that.  After starting the week with a lot of cold and drizzle, our last day and a half were fair days with a lot of photography ops. The group was composed of seasoned veteran photographers and a beginner, but everyone got a pleasing number of wildlife and landscape subjects during the week. Here are some of the subjects I captured with the camera while working with the other photographers.  Notice that I didn’t have a lot of room left to show the whooping crane images after including some of my other subjects.  I was particularly taken with the green-winged teal that allowed us to photograph them while they bathed and rested.

Just click on an image to enlarge and sharpen it.  Clicking on the right edge on any shot will advance you through the photos.

Pair of adult whooping cranes walking across a meadow.
Pair of adult whooping cranes walking across a meadow.

These cranes were photographed from a ground blind near Goose Island State Park.  I was pleased with the similar pose between the birds.  Since I wasn’t using a “high end” camera, I didn’t dare push the ISO enough to get sufficient depth of field get both birds in sharp focus.

Whooping crane disturbing a pair as it lands between them.
Whooping crane disturbing a pair as it lands between them.

 

Sandhill Cranes landing in liveoak-coastal grass savannah.
Sandhill Cranes landing in liveoak-coastal grass savannah.

The bird in the image below had a deformed beak but it managed just fine at feeding time.  I’ve seen several at Bosque del Apache Refuge in New Mexico with an upper mandible curving down over the lower mandible like a crossbill.

Note this crane's deformed beak.
Note this crane’s deformed beak.
American Avocets heading to a marsh at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
American Avocets heading to a marsh at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

With birds in flight, I try to maintain at least 1/2000 second shutter speed to insure the photo “freezes” the birds.

Caspian Terns reflected on a calm bay as they fly close to the water's surface.
Caspian Terns reflected on a calm bay as they fly close to the water’s surface.
Pair of American White Pelicans resting on an oyster bar in Aransas Bay.
American White Pelicans resting on an oyster bar in Aransas Bay.
American Oystercatcher circling the boat.
American Oystercatcher circling the boat.
Long-billed curlew standing on a rock jetty that protects a boat channel near the intracoastal waterway.
Long-billed curlew standing on a rock jetty that protects a boat channel near the intracoastal waterway.

We often see a good variety of photo subjects during the return trip from a whooping crane outing.  Although the light is sometimes a little harsh, who can resist a long-billed curlew profile.

Osprey carrying the last morsel of it fish lunch.
Osprey carrying the last morsel of its fish lunch.

A bird in flight under white skies often needs to be overexposed by 2-3 stops to get the bird’s undersides and darker areas at proper exposure.

Pleasure boats moored in Fulton Harbor on calm waters.
Pleasure boats moored in Fulton Harbor.

I decided to try the image above as a black and white and was quite pleased.  Seeing the calm waters as we left a nearby restaurant, two of the group’s photographers convinced me we should return for some night shooting.  This photo was captured at 10:30 PM.

Drake blue-winged teal at takeoff in Port Aransas.
Drake blue-winged teal at takeoff in Port Aransas.

By watching the nervous head bobbing and erect posture of a wild duck, it can be easy to anticipate “launch”.  I have to remember to pull back on the telephoto power to leave room for the rising bird and outstretched wings.

Common Yellowthroat feeding among the cattails.
Common Yellowthroat feeding among the cattails.
American Coots fighting
American Coots fighting
Green-winged Teal drake takeoff.
Green-winged Teal drake takeoff.
Green-winged Teal drake drinking.
Green-winged Teal drake drinking.
Green-winged Teal bathing.
Green-winged Teal bathing.
American Bittern blending in at the edge of a wooded marsh.
American Bittern trying to be inconspicuous at the edge of a wetland.

One of our photographers photographed this bittern while it was catching anoles on tree trunks at the edge of a marsh.

It was a great week in Rockport and Port Aransas.

Larry

Annual Bosque del Apache Visit

Just before Thanksgiving, I led a group of photographers on the annual Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge instructional photo tour.  On the first morning, after capturing a few images of mallards and wood ducks in Albuquerque, we headed south 80 miles to Socorro, New Mexico and then on to the refuge for an afternoon session.

It was the first time I’ve shot the area before Thanksgiving and the temperatures were warmer than expected.   The birds were off the roost and heading out in a hurry to feed each morning.   On colder, post-Thanksgiving days, the birds tend to start the day later, after sunrise.  That slight delay gives photographers more opportunity for the great flight shots only Bosque can offer.  Nevertheless, it was a great week and the photographers were thankful they missed those mornings with cold fingers and frosty noses that often come with the early December photo sessions.

Here are samples of the great photo opportunities available in autumn along the Rio Grande in central New Mexico :

Click on an image to make it larger and sharper.  Then click on the right side of the photo to advance through the slide show.

Male wood duck landing in flooded cottonwoods near Albuquerque.
Male wood duck landing in flooded cottonwoods near Albuquerque.

 

Male wood duck takeoff.
Male wood duck takeoff.

 

Sandhill Crane in flight during early morning against a clear sky.
Sandhill Crane in flight during early morning against a clear sky.
Photographers at sunrise as snow geese "blast off" for the refuge farm fields.
Photographers at sunrise as snow geese “blast off” for the refuge farm fields.

***

Lesson #1, don’t shoot with your mouth open.

I carry my 24 – 105  mm wide angle lens and Canon 5D camera slung over one shoulder for those times when big flocks of geese erupt at close range.

Small groups of snow geese can be captured at the roost ponds with larger telephotos.
Small groups of snow geese can be captured at the roost ponds with larger telephotos.

*** It’s all in the wing position; wings pointing to the camera leave the birds looking “wingless” and weird.

The Bosque goose flock is a mix of white birds, blue color morph and Ross's geese (bottom).
The Bosque flock is a mix of white birds (top), blue color morph (middle) and smaller Ross’s goose (bottom).

I blurred parts of this image above to highlight three birds.  Everyone wants to know “what are those dark birds” and “why are some of the geese so small?”

Snow geese going to roost at sunset are set off against distant mountains on the White Sands Missile Range.
Snow goose going to roost at sunset is set off against distant, sunlit cliffs on the White Sands Missile Range.

 

Mallards headed for a shallow wetland to dabble and feed on grass and weed seeds.
Mallards headed for a shallow wetland to on grass and weed seeds.

 

Canada Geese on takeoff.
Canada Geese on takeoff.

Note the size difference of Canada Geese and the lone Green-winged Teal.

American Goldfinch feeding on sunflower seeds along the auto tour drive.
American Goldfinch feeding on sunflower seeds along the auto tour drive.

 

Sandhill Crain pair in flight.
Sandhill Crane pair in flight.

 

Cranes above the desert croplands.
Cranes above the desert croplands.

 

Sandhill Cranes landing at sunset.
Sandhill Cranes landing at sunset.

 

Photographer working the cranes coming to roost at sunset.
Photographer working the cranes coming to roost at sunset.

 

Cranes after sunset.
Silhouetted cranes after sunset.

 

Landing gear down for a soft landing at the roost.
Landing gear down for approach to the roost.

 

Sunset on the last day as cranes descend.
Sunset on the last day as cranes descend.

One happy photographer made 10,000 images during our 3 day shoot.  There must be some great photos in that batch!

Next week, we’ll take a look at some Oklahoma wildlife.

Larry

November in the Mountain Time Zone

Before Thanksgiving, I spent a week photographing mule deer and whitetails in the west.  Along the way, a few prairie dogs, bald eagles and geese got into the mix.  Below are a few of the 5000 thousand images from the trip.

When you click on a photo, it will open in a larger, sharper format.  Just click on the right edge of the shot to get the next image to appear in the slide show.

Mule Deer giant pauses during his early morning pursuit of a doe.
Mule Deer giant pauses during his early morning pursuit of a doe.

 

Mule deer monster just getting up from an afternoon nap.
Mule deer monster just getting up from an afternoon nap.

 

Well insulated for cold weather, a buck and doe mule deer resting near a thicket of scrub trees.
Well insulated for cold weather,  buck and doe mule deer resting near a thicket of scrub trees.

 

The big bucks were constantly on the move in a breeding frenzy.
The big bucks were constantly on the move in a breeding frenzy.

 

Big buck trailing a doe.
Big buck trailing a doe.

 

These big guys were locked in battle for about 3 minutes.
These big guys were locked in battle for about 3 minutes.

 

In spite of many clashing points, both bucks kept their eyes open during this combat.
In spite of the clashing antlers, both bucks kept their eyes open during combat.

 

A third large bucking coming to the fight.  He hopes to steal a doe while the dueling bucks are preoccupied.
A third large buck coming to the fight. He hopes to steal a doe while the dueling bucks are preoccupied.

 

Big mule deer bounding through the grasslands to chase away  another buck before it can make advances toward his doe.
Big mule deer bounding over the grasslands to chase another buck before it can make advances toward his doe.

 

Snow and cold temperatures serve to intensify the breeding urges of rocky mountain mule deer.
Snow and cold temperatures seem to intensify the breeding urges of Rocky Mountain mule deer.

 

Many large bucks move out into the grasslands to find bedding cover.
Many large bucks move out into the grasslands to find bedding cover.

 

As daylight fades on the Rockies, a big buck leaves his bedding area.
As daylight fades on the Rockies, a big buck leaves his bedding area.

 

My last look at this monster: antlers against a pink sky.
My last look at this monster: antlers against a pink sky.

 

Way out west the prairie dogs are feeing on weeds peeking through fresh snow.
Way out west the prairie dogs are feeding on weeds peeking through fresh snow.

 

It was so cold the Canada geese had to "slide" in for a landing on pond ice.
It was so cold in November that the Canada geese had to slide in for a landing.

 

Several bald eagles gather on the ice to partake of the remains of a coot who went skating on the wrong lake.
Several bald eagles gather on the ice to pick at the remains of a coot who went skating on the wrong lake.

 

Young whitetail buck following a doe on fresh snow.
Whitetail buck following a doe on fresh snow.

 

My little Nissan Rogue was less at home on the range than this eager young white-tailed deer.
My little Nissan Rogue  got great gas mileage but was less at home on the range than this frisky white-tailed deer.

 

Doe and fawn white-tailed deer soaking up the warming afternoon sun.
Doe and fawn white-tailed deer soaking up the warming afternoon sun.

 

Except for a quick glance my way, this old buck was totally focused on following a love interest.
Except for a quick glance my way, this old buck was totally focused on following a love interest.

 

Note what seems to be a third antler in this buck’s forehead.  His right antler forked at the hairline and grew laterally before shooting up as a misplaced brow tine.

Palmated antlers on a remarkable old buck whitetail.
Palmated antlers on a remarkable old buck whitetail.

 

Prairie whitetails after early winter snow.
Prairie whitetails after early winter snow.

 

There must be a doe out here somewhere...
There must be a doe out here somewhere…

 

A great piece of luck was encountering a bald eagle in a lonely tree at the end of my road.
A great piece of luck was  my encountering this bald eagle in a lonely tree at the end of a prairie road.

 

There are some big deer in those mountains!
There are some monarchs in those mountains!

These images were captured with Canon 7D and 1D Mark IV cameras with a 500 mm and 70-200 mm lens with 1.4X teleconverter.   Most of the time, I was hand-holding the camera for greater versatility of movement during some fast action.

Next week, I will share some mid-November work from southern Oklahoma.

Larry

Summary of Photo Work

In recent weeks, I’ve been working on so many things, it’s hard to remember specifics.  We were in the Davis Mountains of west Texas for two weeks, then we spent a week in Wichita Falls.  Much of the rest of the time, I’ve been getting ready for this winter’s and spring’s photo tours… obtaining permits, motel reservations, etc.  At last, it’s time to launch the photo season.

This week, I will lead photo tours at South Padre Island and in the North American Butterfly Association butterfly park for the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival.  Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico trips are coming up fast.

If you want to sign up for a trip, just check my Photo Tour schedule on this site.

Here are several images from the late summer and early autumn period:  Click on an image to enlarge and sharpen it.  If you click on the right side of a photo, you can advance to the next one.

Gray Fox sitting on a hillside in the Davis Mountains, Texas.
Gray Fox sitting on a hillside in the Davis Mountains, Texas.

These gray fox images were captured after sunset with my new Canon 70-200 mm f 2.8 lens with 1.4 teleconverter, hand-held.  I had read about its sharpness and the  quality is more than I’d hoped for.

Gray Fox begins its afternoon hunt in the Davis Mountains, Texas.
Gray Fox begins its afternoon hunt in the Davis Mountains, Texas.
Rufous Hummingbird male landing.
Rufous Hummingbird male landing.

Most of the hummingbird images were done without aid of multiple flashes.  These were done with a single flash used as a fill light.

Large, red flowers attract ruby-throated hummingbirds in the Davis Mountains, Texas.
Large, red flowers attract ruby-throated hummingbirds in the Davis Mountains, Texas.
This male black-chinned hummingbird shared a butterfly garden with several species of hummers during the fall migration in west Texas.
This male black-chinned hummingbird shared a butterfly garden with several species of hummers during the fall migration in west Texas.

By using the on-camera flash, I was able to photograph hummingbirds at relatively slow shutter speeds (1/125 – 1/200 second) to capture great light and wing blur.  Of course,  the blur gives a sense of motion to still image.  The trick is to keep the bird’s eye sharp.  For this capture, I used a Canon 7D camera, 500 mm lens with Really Right Stuff flash bracket and the Canon 580 EX flash.

Buff-bellied Hummingbird from the Ditto's front yard in September.
Buff-bellied Hummingbird from the Ditto’s front yard in September.

Dr. Beto Gutierrez and I had a good afternoon of photography in late September at his Santa Clara Ranch, one of the premier photo ranches in south Texas.  The next four photos were done from a photography blind at a water hole with year-round feeders.

Testing the new 70-200 mm lens on landing mourning doves at Santa Clara Ranch.
Testing the new 70-200 mm lens on landing mourning doves at Santa Clara Ranch.
On a warm, sunny afternoon at Santa Clara Ranch, everything is thirsty.
On a warm, sunny afternoon at Santa Clara Ranch, everything is thirsty.
Many migrating songbirds stop in for a drink at the Santa Clara ponds.
Many migrating songbirds stop in for a drink at the Santa Clara ponds.
Ample summer rains set off some late nesting for quail and doves.
Ample summer rains set off some late nesting for quail and doves.

 

An afternoon at the historic missions of San Antonio was productive.
An afternoon at the historic missions of San Antonio was productive.
Arches at the San Jose Mission convent in San Antonio.
Arches at the Mission San Jose convent in San Antonio.
Photogenic gate at Mission San Jose, San Antonio.
Photogenic gate at Mission San Jose, San Antonio.
Looking through a doorway at historic Mission San Jose, San Antonio.
Looking through a doorway at historic Mission San Jose, San Antonio.

Keep watching for fresh work in the coming weeks.

Larry