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“You may go to Hell, and I will go to Texas.” – Davy Crockett

February 10, 2020

Family business took me back to the Lone Star state at the end of January. And while it is earlier than I would normally do bird photography, I wasn’t going to give up the opportunity to spend time with old friends.

First stop was at Butch Ramirez’s Rocking R6 Ranch in Webb County. This marked 7 years in a row I’ve been out to Butch’s place and it never disappoints.

Based on weather conditions and available birds, we deviated from our normal shooting and went to a local golf course for birdies. Wonderful morning of birding where I added 2 new life list birds: Red-billed Pigeon (Patagioenas flavirostris) and Gray Hawk (Buteo plagiatus). I made shots that were good enough for identification purposes (proving to myself I actually saw the birds), but sadly will not make it into the portfolio.

The afternoon shoot was in a blind that normally would be a late morning blind, but due to the light overcast made for a great afternoon shoot. Highlights of the shoot were Curve-billed Thrashers, Audubon’s Orioles, and female Pyrrhuloxia. Those birds are slowly but surely making their way into the portfolio and I will display them here when I get to them processed.

Wonderful visit as always at the Rocking R6 and I am going to do best to extend my streak to 8 years next year.

My original Sunday plans had me going to the Lower Rio Grande Valley, but the weather looked threatening and I dreaded the long drive down. So I instead went out to South Llano River SP. The weather was the opposite of what I needed. Somewhat overcast when I first got there, and then all of a sudden too bright as the morning went on. I also made very poor decisions in terms of ISO and lens. I have a little over 300 shots from the morning of shooting, and I may get 3 shots that will go into the portfolio.

On the positive, the blinds are still awesome. Texas Parks & Wildlife continue to do an awesome job maintaining the blinds and doing the right things to keep birds coming. One positive surprise was that the handicapped spots from which I would normally shoot from in the park now have small movable seats/benches/stools. Which was very welcome because I did not bring my own this trip. Continued kudos to TPWD.

My trip wrapped up with Pliny Mier at La Lomita Wildlife Photography Ranch near Uvalde. It was my best day of weather on the entire trip and by far the best results of anywhere I stopped. Both morning and afternoon shoots were very productive. More than once, we had a bird stop in a prime location and my line was, “If I don’t come home with a usable shot of this species, I might as well sell my equipment.” You will find no eBay or Craig’s List ad for my gear.

The top species for that visit were Green Jays, Northern Cardinals, White-eyed Vireos, and male Pyrrhuloxia. Those birds, too, are starting to make their way into the portfolio.

It was a wonderful visit and I have already put into my mind and future planning that I will find a way to get back to Texas next spring to continue to add to the portfolio.

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