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In the Field – Rocking R6 Ranch

March 10, 2018
Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)

© jmillerphoto.com – Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)

March got off to a good start photographically as I returned to the Rocking R6 Ranch in northern Webb County.  This year marked the 5th year in a row that I’ve visited the Rocking R6.  It has never disappointed.  This year did not break the trend.

The blinds were as good as always.  Butch has made some small improvements to both blinds and they turned out very well.

It was a 39 species day which is amazing in its own right.  If I can remember the conversations correctly, the ranch record for a day is in the mid-40’s–39 is a pretty fantastic day.  The species that stole the show was the Great Kiskadee.  There were two that were making the rounds at the morning blind’s pond, just full of character and energy.  As I look back at my Lightroom film roll, I have long swaths of nothing but Kiskadee shots.  It is amazing, but after having zero portfolio shots going into the year, I will, before April, have maybe 2 dozen portfolio worthy shots of this awesome bird.

Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)

© jmillerphoto.com – Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)

Another species that will be an add to my portfolio collection is the Cactus Wren.  I’ve seen then before.  I’ve definitely heard them before.  But I’ve never had good luck actually capturing them in a photo.  I had one solid opportunity on this trip to capture one and I managed to get one to my satisfaction.

I also managed to have good luck with these other species:  Crested Caracara, Harris’s Hawk, Turkey Vulture, Curve-billed Thrasher, Black-throated Sparrow, Pyrrhuloxia, Audubon’s Oriole, and Green Jay.

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

© jmillerphoto.com – Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

As I write this I am maybe 70% of the way through the selection process for what images I am going to work.  But at that 70% mark, I have 28 that I want to work and I know that I haven’t done a full harvest.  Once again, pushing myself further and further behind in my processing…

It was, as always, a wonderful visit.  Butch Ramirez has one of the finest places in all of South Texas to make fantastic images.  I have no doubt that come this time next year I will be talking about my sixth year in a row at the Rocking R6.

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In The Field – Lower Rio Grande Valley

March 9, 2018
Plain Chachalaca (Ortalis vetula)

© jmillerphoto.com – Plain Chachalaca (Ortalis vetula)

Photo shooting opportunities have been few and far between so far this year.  January was a complete shutout.  February was moving that way too.  I finally tore myself away from work and the hassles of life and took what I had hoped to be an extended weekend down in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.  Subject matter desired: Butterflies.  Leave Thursday night, return Monday afternoon.

 

As they say, Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

Altamira Oriole (Icterus gularis)

© jmillerphoto.com – Altamira Oriole (Icterus gularis)

It had been so long since I’d been out on a photo trip I really forgot how to prepare.  That cost me the chance to be in the field Friday morning.  I was nearly an hour down the road when I realized that my snake boots, tripod, and a couple of other key pieces was still at my residence.  Good job, Jim.  With the clock against me and stormy weather on the horizon, I pushed back my lodging reservations a night and got started early the next morning.

The following morning I got back on the road, but the weather still was not cooperative.  Rain and wind all the way down to the Valley.  Throughout the weekend the wind never went away.  The sun did finally come out Friday afternoon.  But by Sunday morning the clouds were back and the car was packed.

The plan had been to hit about six different places, evenly divided between state parks and other natural areas.  It turned out to be all state parks all the time.

Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)

© jmillerphoto.com – Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)

Some quick thoughts:

  • Estero Llano Grande SP:  Nice park.  Great butterfly walk on Friday afternoon.  Wind made butterfly photography nearly impossible.  But the bird life was abundant and I look forward to my return trip.
  • Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley SP:  Great to return to this park.  Feeders were out.  Birds were good.  Got my life list Altamira Oriole and my first portfolio-worthy Great Kiskadee shots.  More about Kiskadees in a future blog post.
  • Resaca de la Palma SP:  I had forgotten how detached this park was from the rest of the Valley sites that we usually visit.  So much so that by the time I got out there the last tram was getting ready to leave and I wasn’t up for a long walk back (and taking the chance that we’d get locked inside the park).  The wind was too high for butterflies and bird life was pretty much absent.  This is still a park I’d like to get back to in an effort to conquer all of the trails on.

I’m not one to gush about overnight accomodations, but I had a wonderful lodging experience at the Residence Inn in McAllen.  I like the Residence Inn brand when I’m on the road.  Especially if I’m going to be in a place for more than a few days.  This location was everything I expect from Residence Inn–and a clean, comfortable home away from home.

What made this one special?  Out the front door:  Olive Garden.  Out the side door:  A big H-E-B.  Awesome staff.  Great hot breakfast in the morning.  This is definitely where we will stay the next time we return to the Valley.

0660

February 26, 2018
Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

© jmillerphoto.com – Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)
Cook’s Slough Nature Park – Uvalde County, TX
October 2016

Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 300mm f/4 IS USM L w/1.4x EF Extender
Standard tripod – No flash
Cropped (Portfolio size: 2497 x 3121)
1/500 sec @ f/16 (ISO 400)

0566

February 25, 2018
Bullock's Oriole (Icterus bullockii)

© jmillerphoto.com – Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)

Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)
La Lomita Wildlife Photography Ranch – Uvalde County, TX
May 2017

Specs:
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600mm (Gen1) with the standard tripod support, no flash.
Cropped (Portfolio size: 3891 × 3113)
1/640 sec @ f/11 (ISO 400)

0565

February 24, 2018
Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina)

© jmillerphoto.com – Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina)

Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina)
La Lomita Wildlife Photography Ranch – Uvalde County, TX
May 2017

Specs:
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600mm (Gen1) with the standard tripod support, no flash.
Center Cropped (Portfolio size: 4560 × 3648)
1/320 sec @ f/13 (ISO 400)

0564

February 23, 2018
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 1st Year

© jmillerphoto.com – Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 1st Year

Northern Cardinal – (Cardinalis cardinalis) 1st Year/Juvenile
La Lomita Wildlife Photography Ranch – Uvalde County, TX
May 2017

Specs:
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600mm (Gen1) with the standard tripod support, no flash.
Cropped (Portfolio size: 4444 x 3555)
1/400 sec @ f/10  (ISO 400)

0563

February 22, 2018
Olive Sparrow (Arremonops rufivirgatus)

© jmillerphoto.com – Olive Sparrow (Arremonops rufivirgatus)

Olive Sparrow (Arremonops rufivirgatus)
La Lomita Wildlife Photography Ranch – Uvalde County, TX
May 2017

Specs:
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600mm (Gen1) with the standard tripod support, no flash.
Cropped (Portfolio size: 3240 x 2592)
1/250 sec @ f/13  (ISO 400)

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