A Few Short Stories

A Few Short Stories

OK. This is going to be all over the place. I have a lot of photos to share that don't warrant an entire adventure or fit into a particular theme. So, let's just see how this plays out. First up is the Great Horned Owl adventurette. 

I told you I am on Facebook now? I am in a group called Birds of Texas and have met quite a few of the members; in fact some are new subscribers! But I became aware through the FB postings of a Great Horned Owl nest at Brazos Bend State Park, so my fave photographer Bill Maroldo and I had to check that out. 

Female Great Horned Owl with chick  Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2 f/5.6 1/400 sec ISO 1600; tripod

Female Great Horned Owl with chick 

Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2 f/5.6 1/400 sec ISO 1600; tripod

And my luck photographing owls until now was practically nil having only seen one owl at Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary years ago. I think I had to draw an arrow to the owl hidden in the trees so you could find it.

On our first trip March 13 we managed to get some pretty nice shots of the mom and little owlet. This is heavily cropped; they are very high up in a tree with annoying Spanish moss that blows over your line of sight. That shell in the very front is a non-viable egg; seems to be only one chick. If you want to read about Great Horned Owls, this is from the International Owl Center.

It is fairly dark under the trees and crowded with birders/photographers. These birds are regular Rock Stars with several photos being posted every single day on Facebook. 

Great Horned Owlet staring at her adoring fans below... Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2 f/5.6 1/640 sec ISO 1250; tripod

Great Horned Owlet staring at her adoring fans below...

Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2 f/5.6 1/640 sec ISO 1250; tripod

And then on March 26 we checked again. Wow, the chick had grown. The nest is falling apart and he/she looks too big to fit in it anyway. I read that Owls don't know how to build nests and generally appropriate and refurbish old nests or use cavities in trees. Someone posted this used to be a hawk nest; I don't know for sure. 

We checked again March 31 and the nest has disintegrated, the chick has fallen to a lower branch and was completely hidden by green foliage. The mom wasn't around but my FB friends saw her later in the day. They say she is dropping food to the baby from branches above. So far, so good, but it is a vulnerable time for the owlet. 

Snowy Egret making a splash Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2 f/5.6 1/1600 sec ISO 500; handheld

Snowy Egret making a splash

Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2 f/5.6 1/1600 sec ISO 500; handheld

Did I tell you we have had a wet Winter and Spring so far? Due to the recent rains there is standing water everywhere. I know we need the rain with the persistent drought and all, but this much water offers the birds multiple places to find food. It spreads out the birds. 

But, one bonus is at the Spillway trail at Brazos Bend, the water is flowing under the bridge. And the long legged-waders are having a buffet. This Snowy Egret would get startled by park visitors crossing the bridge, would fly off, circle around and return to nearly the same spot. I was above on the bridge, shooting down - something I had rather not do - but you can see the bright yellow feet in the clear water. He is getting some fine feathers, but the lores and feet have to turn an orange color to be in full breeding plumage.

Juvenile Tricolored Heron in the dead lotus Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2 f/5.6 1/1600 sec ISO 1000; handheld

Juvenile Tricolored Heron in the dead lotus

Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2 f/5.6 1/1600 sec ISO 1000; handheld

That same trip I found this juvenile Tricolored Heron fishing around in the dead vegetation at the south end of 40-acre Lake. This is the area the Gallinules will soon build their nests and it always looks this awful in the winter before new Spring growth.

I was impressed at how well his plumage camouflages his presence. Don't you think this photo would make an awesome jig-saw puzzle?

Brown Pelican with super-sized Mullet Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 mm G2 f/6.3 1/1600 sec ISO 400

Brown Pelican with super-sized Mullet

Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 mm G2 f/6.3 1/1600 sec ISO 400

And then there was the day we were at the Texas City Dike. A Brown Pelican was acting rather strangely, twisting around with his wings outstretched. He seemed in trouble; there is always the danger birds can get caught up in fishing lines. So, we started watching him, and it was apparent he had caught a giant fish and was having a bit of trouble getting it turned around for swallowing. You know they have to eat them head first because of the fins. 

It took him a while, but he was successful. 

Texas City urbex Sony A77II with Sony DT 16-50mm f/7.1 1/250 sec ISO 500

Texas City urbex

Sony A77II with Sony DT 16-50mm f/7.1 1/250 sec ISO 500

And I have been working on my Other-Than-Birds experiments, too. This business concern is in Texas City, Texas and obviously the address is 1211 Texas Avenue. Post-processing with Fractalius

Texas City history Sony A77II with Sony DT 16-50mm f/7.1 ISO 1000 HDR

Texas City history

Sony A77II with Sony DT 16-50mm f/7.1 ISO 1000 HDR

Just down the street is this abandoned auto repair building. Can't you just see someone bringing in '57 Cadillac or another heavy-chrome monster for service? I did a Flickr search and found one other photo of this taken in 2012, but I don't know the real story for this. The image is an HDR shot that has been post-processed with NIK Silver Effex Pro 2

This is the best season for birds with Spring Migration and breeding activities. Those cute little warbler types are just starting to arrive and a lot of the familiar birds are showing vibrant breeding plumage. Are you ready for Spring? Have you been working in the garden? Isn't it nice to think you won't have to wear a coat again for a while? Let me know in the comments below. 

Wildlife at Hermann Park

Wildlife at Hermann Park

Here is a Stick for You

Here is a Stick for You