Hummingbird Workshop Coming Soon

On the 23rd of August, I will be doing a hummingbird workshop in the Davis Mountains, Texas.  That is the peak of the fall hummingbird migration and I expect they will be colorful and hungry.  We will be photographing with a multi-flash setup in a private hummingbird garden.  That’s right, we’ll have it all to ourselves (no more than 3 photographers/day).  Many other birds will be, too, so we are expecting great success.  Just drop me an email if you are interested; there are still some slots available.

Otherwise, I’ve spent a couple of recent afternoons in south Texas photo blinds.  The best surprise was getting good shots of a yell0w-billed cuckoo.  They don’t leave the deep vegetation and shade very often, but when it’s hot, they come to water during the day.

Remember, you can click in the upper right portion of a photo to get a larger, sharper view.  then you can advance from there to the next photo.

Male rufous hummingbirds should be arriving in the Davis Mountains in mid-late August.

I will have backgrounds, flashes, flowers and chairs ready when the photographers arrive for the Davis Mountains Hummingbird Workshop.  Everybody will get several species and many different hummingbird wing positions in good lighting.

Wing position makes the shot.


Yellow-billed Cuckoo drinking at Santa Clara Ranch.


Yellow-billed Cuckoos are pretty wary, but after the first few shutter clicks, they settle in for a drink.  This guy waded into the pool, but didn’t bathe.  It just set down in the water to cool off.

Painted Bunting panting as it perches next to a ranch pond.
Painted Bunting panting as it perches next to a ranch pond.


Groove-billed Ani checking for danger as it approaches pond.


Juvenile Blue Grosbeak looking for water.


For some reason, we’ve only been seeing juvenile blue grosbeaks at the photo ranch ponds.  I know there are beautiful blue males around, but I haven’t been lucky enough to photograph one this summer.

Hackberry Emperor butterfly sunning on granjeno bush at sunrise.

It has been too dry for a good butterfly hatch this summer, but I have seen several Emperors and Sulphurs on the ranches.  October will be the best time for butterflies in our area.

I hope all of you are getting nice photo opportunities, especially those of you who are lucky enough head north to Canada or to other cool locations.



Mercy, It’s Hot!

As I passed through the village of McCook west of Edinburg, Texas on Saturday at 4:00 PM, the Durango’s thermometer (which is accurate) read 110 degrees.  A few miles west of there at the Santa Clara Ranch, the temperature was a moderate 108 degrees.  These hot June days always bring lots of birds and other critters to the photo blind waterholes.  Within an hour, I was in the blind #3 with ranch owner, Dr. Alberto (Beto) Gutierrez, and our friend, Hector Astorga.  The bird activity was fast and furious until sundown, but the whirring cameras didn’t bother those thirsty birds one bit.

The best bird of the afternoon was a yellow-billed cuckoo which visited the pond three or four times.  We also enjoyed photographing roadrunner, Bullock’s oriole, blue grosbeak, painted bunting, ground dove, pyrrhuloxia, olive sparrow, black-throated sparrow, Couch’s kingbird, bronzed cowbird, thrashers and lots of mockingbirds.  A very pregnant white-tailed doe visited the pond as did some thirsty ground squirrels.

I sat there with a damp Endura Sports Towel (from Lowes) over my head and never broke a sweat despite the scorching heat.  Beto was skeptical until I loaned him my Academy sports towel.  With it around his neck, he remained relatively cool, as well.  I’m not doing commercial ads for sports towels, but they are so-o-o effective I just have to tell you.  Larry and Sharron Jay from the Block Creek Natural Area put me onto the cooling towels about a month ago.

Other recent photo outings took me to the Falcon State Park butterfly garden on Falcon Lake and to Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge for nesting Altamira orioles.  So, the following photos include shots from all three shoots.  I hope you enjoy them.


Altamira Oriole with a fat katydid for the young orioles.

The landing shot was done at 1/4000 second.


Altamira oriole leaving the nest after feeding young.


As most of you know by now, I made these images with the Canon 1D Mark IV, 500 mm Canon lens and Wimberley head on a Feisol carbon fiber tripod.  The take off shot was done at 1/1200 second.


Yellow-billed Cuckoo flinching as a bee passes.
Cuckoo tipping its head up to swallow.


Common Ground-Doves mating


Northern mockingbird following a blue grosbeak to the water's edge.


Thirsty greater roadrunner scooping water.


Beautiful male Pyrrhuloxia panting as it reaches the pond edge.


The following images were made with a Canon 7D and 300 mm canon lens mounted with an Arca Swiss Monoball on the Feisol carbon fiber tripod.


Large Orange (sulphur) butterfly landing at a flower.


Katydid camouflaged in garden vegetation.


Note how the katydid mimics the form of it supporting plant.


White Peacock feeding at lantana blooms.


I hope it’s cool enough for you to get outside with the camera.  For the next two months, I’ll be at the computer and judging the Coastal Bend Photography Contest in Corpus Christi.