South Texas Critters in December

The weather remains unseasonably warm in south Texas, but we had a couple of cool days in December.  I drove out to the coast once just after Thanksgiving and twice more in the last ten days…just before and after last week’s 4-day “sentence” to jury duty, ugh.

I hope you photographers can squeeze in some field time during the holidays.  Enjoy the season.

Click in the upper right area of a photo to open it in a larger format with increased sharpness.  From there, you can advance through the photos.

Male Aplomado Falcon in flight.


I was fortunate to locate a pair of endangered Aplomado Falcons just after Thanksgiving.  They were busy feeding and getting ready to roost when I saw them at sundown.  These photos were done with a Canon 7D and 500 mm lens from a bean-bag on the car window.  The flight shots were done at 1/2500 second, f 6.3 and ISO 400.


Aplomado Falcon flying past my vehicle window.


Aplomado Falcon back-lighted against green coastal prairie habitat.


Male Aplomado Falcon cleaning his beak after feeding on a Hispid Cottonrat.


Aplomado Falcon perched on ranch gate as the sun sets in south Texas.


Buck white-tailed deer fighting.


I shot these white-tailed deer pics with the Canon 1D Mark III and Canon 7D cameras and Canon 100-400 mm lens, hand-held.  Hand-holding the zoom lens gives me great flexibility for getting into position to catch shots that have to be done in a hurry, often with the buck coming at me.  I started at ISO 400 about an hour before sundown and gradually increased the ISO to 800 at sunset.  All the while, I was trying to maintain as much shutter speed as possible to aid the “image stabilizer” in eliminating lens/camera vibration.  So, my shutter speed decreased from 1/2000 second to 1/250 second during that last hour of sunlight.


Big buck following a doe through back-lighted bluestem grass.


Big whitetail chasing other bucks away from his doe.


Wild Turkey toms still wanted to strut their stuff on a warm winter afternoon.


Thirteen wild turkey strolled by while I was photographing deer.  They paused long enough for me make a few images just before sunset.


Big turkey tom with feathers glistening in the afternoon sun.


Huge whitetail buck getting the scent of a doe-in-estrus. Note the lip curl.


This big guy ignored me while he was trailing a doe as the sun was setting.


The redhead ducks were back on the Laguna Madre around South Padre Island.  I was fortunate to catch a few coming to the island marshes for fresh water.


Male redheads brake for a landing in a fresh water marsh.
Drake Redheads landing.

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  Have a Happy Holiday Season.


Whooping Crane Photo Trip Coming Up…

If you have been thinking about getting down to the coast to try finding some of our beautiful coastal birds and photographing the sights, please join me on January 8-10 at Rockport.  I still have two spots available and we have a boat reserved with a knowledgable captain to guide us right up to the birds.  Each morning we will be on the water photographing whooping cranes and other coastal birds like roseate spoonbills, pelicans, osprey, and many other species.  Then, we’ll drive to area locations for more birds and some of the local landscapes including harbors, marinas,  fishing boats and such.  It will be a great retreat after the holidays and you’ll have a lot of fun with other photographers of like interests.

Here are some samples of bird photos taken the past two winters on these tours.  If you are interested, check out my photo tour schedule on this web site or contact me at

Brown pelican landing near Goose Island State Park marina.
Brown Pelican landing on Aransas Bay near Goose Island State Park


White Pelicans on oyster bar along the intracoastal waterway


Young Whooping Crane feeding in the saltmarsh on the shore of Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.


Adult Whooping Cranes flying in front of us at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.


Roseate Spoonbill landing in the shallows by our boat.


Roseate Spoonbills near the marina where we launch.


Northern Harrier hunting the marshes along the waterway.


Whooping Crane landing near our boat.


Don't be surprised when cranes feed in close to us. We don't disturb them, we just watch and photograph in quiet amazement.


I hope you can join me for this fantastic trip.  It will be a small group of no more than 5 photographers, having fun, enjoying the adventure, and capturing many wonderful memories.