February 1, 2014 Lacassine NWR, Louisiana

Gadwalls in flight
Gadwalls in flight

Satellite System Fixed !

Finally, the great Winegard crisis of 2014 is successfully resolved! Well. it was sort of important to me, now I get to watch the Superbowl!

Turns out the ominous error message I got yesterday “ El Home Motor Failure “ did not mean the motor had failed, but that the elevation motor failed to find it’s home location, thus couldn’t begin it’s search sequence. My 4th call to tech help at Winegard this AM proved to be the charm, as I got a knowledgeable, friendly guy who guided me through the recalibration of the interface box that resulted in a fully functioning satellite system once again.

Overall, mostly because of this last tech rep, plus the fact that English was the first language of all the reps I dealt with, plus the fact that Winegard did promptly return all 4 calls I had to make to them, I would have to say that the company did a pretty good job of resolving my system failure. Three of the four reps I dealt with were courteous and helpful and, I suppose, the shipping error was probably just one of those things that happen sometimes, even to the best of companies, and their willingness to overnight the correct item was the right thing to do.

Gadwalls in flight
Gadwalls in flight

Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge

With that behind me, and with intermittant sun poking through the cloud cover, I decided to take off and revisit Lacassine NWR this afternoon. The fairly heavy cloud cover interrupted by brief moments of bright sun made exposure setting kind of tricky this afternoon, but I managed to get a few decent shots out of many taken.

Click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Black=bellied Whistling duck
Black=bellied Whistling duck

 

Black=bellied Whistling duck
Black=bellied Whistling duck
Black=bellied Whistling duck
Black=bellied Whistling duck

 

 

 

 

 

 

I came across a lone Black-bellied Whistling duck, a stunning bird when caught in flight, but, unfortunately, this one was content to just feed along the canal and wasn’t about to take off though I waited a long time for him to do so.

Moorhen
Big Foot

There are lots of these colorful moorhens around but this was the first one I found out of the water showcasing his truly weird oversized feet.

Gadwall takeoff
Gadwall takeoff

I spend the largest portion of the afternoon trying to get some decent flight shots of the numerous Gadwalls that were spread out all over the refuge. Unlike other ducks, Gadwalls don’t seem to flock up and I was only finding isolated pairs, and they were very, very skittish. As a result, I got a lot of nice sharp shots of Gadwall butts flying away and precious few useable shots, but here are some of the better ones.

Gadwall takeoff
Gadwall takeoff
Gadwall takeoff
Gadwall takeoff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gadwall takeoff
Gadwall takeoff
Gadwall takeoff
Gadwall takeoff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gadwalls takeoff
Gadwalls takeoff
Mallard pair takeoff
Mallard pair takeoff

A Mallard pair taking flight. Coming from up north and having lived on a lake in New Hampshire, I take mallards for granted as they are as common as pigeons back there, so I am surprised at how few Mallards I encounter on all the refuges down here in the south.

Yellow rumped warbler
Yellow rumped warbler

It took me a while to ID just who this little guy was as I am not accustomed to seeing warblers out on the surface of the water. The next shot looks more like where I would normally see one of these guys.

Yellow rumped warbler
Yellow rumped warbler

 

PossumPossum

And lastly, when this guy poked his head out of the reeds and started up the bank, for an instant I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. I guess I am more accustomed to seeing these guys as roadkill, not with the ability to actually move.

 

 

 

 

 

December 8, 2014 Goose Island, Texas

Great blue heron
Great blue heron

Temperatures rose rather quickly this morning as we recovered from the effects of that short arctic blast, unfortunately, the rising temps were accompanied by the rather persistent wet, dreary weather pattern of the last month and a half. Yes, yet another day of fog, mist, showers, and grey skies. Looking back over my notes, there have been only 5 nice days here since I arrived in the great state of Texas on December 3rd. Still better than snow and single digit temps though!

Took one quick loop of the pastures, even though it was foggy and misting. For the first time in a couple of weeks, there were no whoopers to be seen anywhere. Usually there are a few around though out of shooting distance.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

 

Great blue heron on a duck blind
Great blue heron on a duck blind
Great blue heron
Great blue heron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did attempt a mood shot of a blue heron standing on a duck blind out in the bay, but just couldn’t get it to work when I processed it, the two closeups of another blue heron kind of show just how bad the light is here today.

Black bellied whistling ducks and grackles
Black bellied whistling ducks and grackles

I did find a small group of black bellied whistling ducks on a small bay front pond in Fulton on my way in to Rockport this afternoon. These ducks are absolutely gorgeous in flight, but without any light today, there was no chance of a decent flight shot, so I will keep checking this area when, or if, the sun ever comes out again.

December 23, 2013 Port Aransas, Texas

A variety of ducks hiding in the reeds
A variety of ducks hiding in the reeds

Played around with the frig a little more this morning and got it to manually light on gas when using a match to light and bypassing the electronic ignition. When I take out the sparking device, I can hear it “clicking” so some juice is getting to it but apparently not enough to ignite. Of course, once the thermostat shuts the gas down, it won’t come back on later unless I light with a match again, and that is not something that happens on a first try. Guess I have no choice but to move up to Rockport and get this fixed before boondocking again.

Wind was rocking the RV last night and it got down into the 30’s. The car is completely coated with a fine film of sand, sure that will do wonders for the paint job.

Black bellied whistling ducks
Black bellied whistling ducks
Northern shovelers
Northern shovelers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green winged teal
Green winged teal

Drove back out to the water treatment plant and walked out the boardwalk to where a lone photographer was set up. Turns out he is a native and says that if the ducks aren’t here in November, they aren’t here at all for the rest of the winter, and they weren’t there this morning, for sure. Also checked out Charlie’s Pasture and the little in town sanctuary, both held nothing, so much as I hate to leave the beach because of the frig, at least I am not missing anything as far as my bird photography goes. All four of these images come from last year’s visit to the water treatment plant where I spent many a day doing flight shots and closeups of a wide variety of waterfowl. These shots were all taken with my Nikon D300 and as I found out at High Island last year, my new D800 does a much, much better job on this type of image, but now I guess I will just have to wait until next year ( gee, I sound like a Red Sox fan, the old Red Sox, that is ).