March 20, 2016 Salineno Birding Area, Texas

Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals

End of the Season, Time to Move On

Worked the final shift today and closed the gates at 4 PM for the last time this season.

This week I am heading a little north to the Texas Hill Country to hopefully catch the spring wildflower bloom. Anyone out there with any suggestions for where to go and where to stay? I would love to hear from you!

Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals

Male Cardinals continue their mating season animosities. There are as many as a dozen males in the yard at a time all winter and there are very few squabbles, but, with spring in the air, in the last week that has all changed.

Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals

And so, now, the last of the Salineno small bird shots … I promise.

Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Altamira Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Female Northern Cardinals
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Female Northern Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinal
Female Northern Cardinal

FemalePostLookDown

Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Green Jay
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Green Jay
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Red-winged Blackbird
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Red-winged Blackbird

GoldenFrontGrJayAndBlkBirdPost

Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Green Jay
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Green Jay
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Great Kiskadee
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Great Kiskadee
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Great Kiskadee
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Great Kiskadee
Green Jay
Green Jay

GJiLandingPostDark

A Gathering of Green Jays
A Gathering of Green Jays
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Great Kiskadee
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Great Kiskadee
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinal and Long-billed Thrasher
Northern Cardinal and Long-billed Thrasher
Female Northern Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinals

All my small bird images have been processed and most of the decent ones have been posted, so now (finally) on to new subject matter! Thanks for bearing with me.

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March 19, 2016 Salineno Birding Area, Texas

Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove

Tomorrow it all Ends

Hard to believe that five months here have passed so quickly, but with the recent heat, I would have to say, I am ready to head for cooler climes.

Salineno Birding Area
Salineno Birding Area

It dawned on me that I had never shown you the bird feeding yard here at Salineno, the scene of all these small birds in flight shots. So the image above shows you where all the action takes place and where 80 % of all the shots shown on this blog were taken.

Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove

The other 20% were taken next to where my motorhome is parked, just a hundred feet or so from the the feeding yard shown above.

Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove

On many of my two days off, I haul my portable post (feeding) prop over to my site and set up a small feeding area of my own.

Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove

Here I have no overhanging branches and shadows to contend with, as I do in the main yard. Also have a completely different type of background where I can get some nice soft pastel colors to show as a backdrop for the birds.

Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove

You can probably tell I kind of liked the interaction of this White-tipped Dove and the Great Kiskadee, set against that wonderful watercolor wash background.

Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and White-tipped Dove
Long-billed Thrasher and Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher and Great Kiskadee

The Dove was not the only other bird to contest the Kiskadee for the peanutbutter/lard/cornmeal mix concealed in the top of the post.

Long-billed Thrasher and Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher and Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher and Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher and Great Kiskadee
Great Kiskadee and Green jay
Great Kiskadee and Green jay
Long-billed Thrasher and Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher and Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher and Green Jay
Long-billed Thrasher and Green Jay
Great Kiskadee and Green jay
Great Kiskadee and Green jay
Great Kiskadee and Green jays
Great Kiskadee and Green jays
Great Kiskadee and Green Jay
Great Kiskadee and Green Jay
Great Kiskadee and Green Jay
Great Kiskadee and Green Jay
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals

It’s that time of year and the males are fighting.

Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Audubon Oriole and Green Jay
Audubon Oriole and Green Jay

” What you doing down there, Shorty !”

Northern Cardinals and Green Jay
Northern Cardinals and Green Jay
Northern Cardinals and Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Northern Cardinals and Golden-fronted Woodpecker

A Couple New Closeups

Female Northern Bobwhite
Female Northern Bobwhite

We have two coveys of Northern Bobwhites that come in several times a day so I thought I ought to make some effort to get a couple nice ground level shots of these neat little birds. Above a female and below the male.

Male Northern Bobwhite
Male Northern Bobwhite
Ladder-backed Woodpeck
Ladder-backed Woodpecker

A male Ladder-backed Woodpecker with a nice soft green background. The background, up until this last week, would have been bare branches with bright sky holes, but now the mesquite trees are displaying their spring green finery.

Female Black-headed Grosbeak
Female Black-headed Grosbeak

And finally, a rare South Texas visitor, one female Black-headed Grosbeak, visiting us regularly over the past three weeks.

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March 12, 2016 Salineno Birding Area, Texas

Audubon Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Audubon Oriole and Northern Cardinal

Eight Days to Go !

Northern Cardinal and Long-billed Thrasher
Northern Cardinal and Long-billed Thrasher

We have had our first serious rainfall over the past two days, the first in four plus months to be exact. So that allowed me to catch up with some image processing, thus, yes, still more bird shots from Salineno.

Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Altamira Oriole and Female Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Female Cardinal
Audubon Oriole and Green Jay
Audubon Oriole and Green Jay
Audubon Oriole and Great Kiskadee
Audubon Oriole and Great Kiskadee
Green jays
Green jays
Green jays
Green jays
Green jay and Great Kiskadee
Green jay and Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher and Female Northern Cardinal
Long-billed Thrasher and Female Northern Cardinal
Long-billed Thrasher
Long-billed Thrasher

Red-winged Blackbirds

Red-winged Blackbird Harassing Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird Harassing Northern Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbirds are a very real problem here as elsewhere that birds are being fed, they want their share of the handouts, and obviously feel that their share is about 99% of the food put out.

Red-winged Blackbird Harassing Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Red-winged Blackbird Harassing Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Their constant, relentless attempts to mob the feeding area have admittedly gotten to me over the four months of attempting to keep them at bay. Their shrill trilling from the treetops around the yard and from their hidden perches in the bushes within the yard are like nails on a chalkboard to me.

Red-winged Blackbird and Green jay
Red-winged Blackbird and Green jay
Red-winged Blackbird and Green jays
Red-winged Blackbird and Green jays

My absolute disgust with these birds has made me reluctant to include images of them on this blog, or anywhere else for that matter. But they most certainly are part of the “action” shots I have been taking, for they are the central characters in most of the conflicts over food here.

Red-winged Blackbirds and Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds and Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole

They arrive in numbers the second I turn my back or whenever I have my eyes locked to the back of my camera, driving off the birds we are trying to attract through sheer force of numbers.

Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole

The Altamira Oriole is normally the yards dominant bird, not really backing down to any other bird when challenged, but even they are eventually forced to yield when the Blackbirds descend in numbers.

An Unusual Red-winged Blackbird
An Unusual Red-winged Blackbird

Lastly, this rather different Red-winged Blackbird showed up a couple of weeks ago and I have no explanation for the odd coloring. Anybody seen anything like this or know the reason for it?

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March 8, 2016 Salineno Birding Area, Texas

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

Finally Getting Some of the Good Stuff Posted

My Nikon D810 camera died and was sent back to Nikon for warranty repairs a couple weeks ago now. Since then I have been concentrating on getting a serious backlog of image processing done.

Female Northern Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinal and Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Female Northern Cardinal and Golden-fronted Woodpecker

I still have hundreds of nice action shots to sort through and process, even though I haven’t shot anything new in two weeks. As I go through these images, and think back to where I started this action shot business three months ago, I can’t help but think I have made some pretty decent progress. My time here in Salineno has proven to me that you actually can teach an old dog new tricks.

Great Kiskadee
Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher
Long-billed Thrasher

Turns out that camera technique is only half the secret. Paying attention to how the props are constructed, where they are placed for bird flight paths, selecting the proper backgrounds, and knowing what time of day will yield which type of shot best, are every bit as important as knowing how to use the camera.

Female Northern Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinal
Female Northern Cardinal

The images in this post were shot over several days with varying light conditions. Most of my favorite shots from here were taken between 7:30 and 8:30 in the morning or in the very last hours of useable light in the evening. All of the above shots were shot at that time of day, where the dark backgrounds and brilliantly lit subjects produce very dramatic images. Yet those are also the shots that require the most patience. Because of the dim light,  it becomes difficult to maintain the shutter speeds necessary to freeze wing motion and it takes an awful lot of shots taken to get just a few good images, but I have found that when all the conditions are just right and the subjects catch that golden light just so, well, the results speak for themselves.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Female Northern Cardinal
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Female Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Female Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Female Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Female Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Female Northern Cardinal
Two Female Northern Cardinals
Two Female Northern Cardinals
Great Kiskadees
Great Kiskadees

Another very different lighting condition, foggy mornings that yield very diffused light, produces  an entirely different type of image, these soft, pastel like shots.

Great Kiskadee and Green jay
Great Kiskadee and Green jay
Great Kiskadee and Green jay
Great Kiskadee and Green jay
Great Kiskadee and Long-billed Thrasher
Great Kiskadee and Long-billed Thrasher
Great Kiskadee and Long-billed Thrasher
Great Kiskadee and Long-billed Thrasher
Long-billed Thrasher
Long-billed Thrasher
Audubon Orioles
Audubon Orioles
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Female Northern Cardinal
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Female Northern Cardinal
Great Kiskadee and Female Northern Cardinal
Great Kiskadee and Female Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Great Kiskadee
Altamira Oriole and Great Kiskadee
Altamira Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Altamira Orioles
Altamira Orioles
Altamira Orioles
Altamira Orioles
Altamira Oriole and Audubon Oriole
Altamira Oriole and Audubon Oriole
Audubon Oriole and Female Northern Cardinal
Audubon Oriole and Female Northern Cardinal

Midday produces the best light for freezing motion and thus some of the sharpest shots are taken then, though the bright backgrounds add little to the images.

Audubon Oriole and Female Northern Cardinal
Audubon Oriole and Female Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Great Kiskadee and Female Northern Cardinal
Great Kiskadee and Female Northern Cardinal
Green Jay and Female Northern Cardinal
Green Jay and Female Northern Cardinal

The weather here at the start of March has me itching to head north for a change of scenery , routine, and some more comfortable temperatures. March 20th has been announced as the closing date for birding at Salineo, so I begin my countdown to departure, hoping that Nikon gets my camera sent back to me in time to leave on schedule. I hope to be able to catch some of the Texas springtime wildflowers as I head north and west from here.

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When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !