The marshes at South Padre Island offer some fine bird photography almost anytime of the year, but mid-May is one of my favorite. Here is a sample of what was happening in the marsh earlier this week.
This courting male Red-winged Blackbird was all over the place.
A late afternoon fog bank gave the stilts enough shade to keep the eggs from baking while the pair poked about for supper. Their eggs should hatch during the Memorial Day weekend, but 4 days of bumper to bumper vehicle traffic will prevent all but the most intrepid wildlife photographers from recording it.
I didn’t get much time for photography this spring, but I did make two quick trips by myself to an isolated photo blind near South Padre Island. On a third half day trip to the island, a few migrant songbirds appeared, but things just weren’t the same with Covid 19 travel restrictions in place.
Here are a few images from those trips:
These were pretty much the only individuals I saw on those limited outings, so I’m thankful for those few hours in the brush. Let’s hope next spring brings more birds and free time for photographers to enjoy.
As a facilities planner and photo guide at the Santa Clara Photo Ranch in south Texas, I was able to access some of the blinds one day in early May. By then, most of the spring songbird migration was done, but bird activity was good that day.
The little Golden-winged Warbler above was the first of that species we’d ever seen at Santa Clara Photo Ranch. He was visible for only a few seconds, but we got a few captures.
Manzanita is somewhat rare in south Texas, but grows naturally in the Rio Grande delta near Brownsville. Since many birds and mammals are attracted to its drupes, I often carry fruiting branches from my garden to the ranch to use as perches.
When leisure travel is permitted again, the ranch will be open year round so check their web site (SantaClaraPhotoRanch.com) for schedules and other information.
for photography including hummingbirds, flycatchers, woodpeckers and more…
Join me at the Block Creek Natural Area from April 22-25 to enjoy some fine bird photography, excellent food and camaraderie with fellow photographers. As of this posting, there are four slots available on a first come, first served basis. See the Instructional Photo Tours schedule at my website for more details and then contact me at email@example.com to register.
Black-chinned hummingbirds at Salvia blooms and other flowers can be captured with my high speed flashes and your camera & lens.
There are several nice landscape opportunities including this little red barn near the Block Creek Bed & Breakfast where you will stay.
Block Creek owner, Larry Jay, and I photographed these pairing Scissor-tailed Flycatchers as they hunted and bonded near the Block Creek B&B.
OK, you get the picture. Let’s meet at Block Creek Natural Area for two “1/2″ days and 2 full days” of photography in April.
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.