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February 28, 2020
© Jim Miller – Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina)

Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina)
Uvalde County, Texas – May 2018
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1)
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head
ISO 400, 1/640 sec at f/11 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #0792
Image Size in Portfolio: 4342×3474

Larger Size Posted At Flickr

Random Thoughts – Recent Travels

February 26, 2020
© Jim Miller – Olive Sparrow (Arremonops rufivirgatus)

The title of the blog is “Jim’s Assorted, Usually Photographic Ramblings,” so I will take this opportunity to use the usually to go a little off the normal script.

Lodging
In my travels back to Texas, I stayed at five different lodging establishments in four different cities and at three different chains. Three were Marriott’s Fairfield Inn brand. One was Hilton’s Hampton Inn brand. And the third was Wyndham’s Days Inn brand.

I prefer the Marriott brand in general. I had not stayed at a Hilton property since an unfortunate incident in the Lower Rio Grande Valley five years ago where I swore I’d never stay at another Hilton property again. And while I’m a member of Wyndham’s rewards program and have a slightly higher status due to my status a retired veteran, a recent stay at a La Quinta in Denver made me question staying at Wyndham again. I try to vote with my wallet rather than my voice.

The best stay of the five nights: The Days Inn in Kerrville, Texas. Older property. Lousy parking lot. Outside doors which I really dislike. But the room was amazingly clean, very comfortable, and recently updated. Everything worked and it just felt like home. Making the reservation was very easy on Wyndham’s iPhone app. And the value for the money on a late reservation on a Saturday night was outstanding.

Rental Car
I had the opportunity to drive a 2020 Nissan Altima on the trip. The car was practically new (less than 250 miles when I picked it up, but far more when I returned it). Impressive gas mileage. Impressive gas tank size–maybe too big because if I owned it and was taking a long trip it would mean maybe another hour or so in the car without having to take a break for refueling.

It is not a car I would have considered prior to driving it. Nor is it a car I’m likely to buy as I’m in the market for either a replacement hatchback of perhaps a smallish SUV–I have some unique requirements in terms of transporting another transportation item that likely will be a post for another time. But I really enjoyed driving the Altima.

Texas
I was reminded on the trip how much I missed Texas. The general atmosphere. The wonderful food. The great people. H-E-B. Whataburger. And so on. I brought back 3 large count boxes of H-E-B’s Taste of San Antonio coffee and three containers of Whataburger sauces (Creamy Jalapeño and Spicy Ketchup) to make the feeling of Texas last a little bit longer.

Colorado is outstanding, but I do miss Texas.

About the Image:
Olive Sparrow (Arremonops rufivirgatus)
Uvalde County, Texas – January 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1) at 500mm
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head
ISO 400, 1/640 sec at f/11 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #0795
Image Size in Portfolio: 4169×3335

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February 24, 2020
© Jim Miller – Black-crested Titmouse (Baeolophus atricristatus)

Black-crested Titmouse (Baeolophus atricristatus)
Uvalde County, Texas – January 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1)
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head
ISO 400, 1/400 sec at f/11 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #0804
Image Size in Portfolio: 3751×3001

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February 22, 2020
© Jim Miller – Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus)

Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus)
Uvalde County, Texas – January 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1)
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head
ISO 400, 1/250 sec at f/18 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #0801
Image Size in Portfolio: 3200×4000

Larger Size Posted at Flickr.

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February 20, 2020
© Jim Miller – Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Uvalde County, Texas – January 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1)
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head
ISO 400, 1/500 sec at f/11 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #0800
Image Size in Portfolio: 3390×4238

Larger Size Posted at Flickr.

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February 18, 2020
© Jim Miller – Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Uvalde County, Texas – January 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1)
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head
ISO 400, 1/400 sec at f/9.0 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #0794
Image Size in Portfolio: 4214×3371

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February 16, 2020
© Jim Miller – Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas)

Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas)
Uvalde County, Texas – January 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1)
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head
ISO 400, 1/80 sec at f/9.0 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #0793
Image Size in Portfolio: 4321×3457

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February 14, 2020
© Jim Miller – “Dirty Snout” – Feral Piglet (Sus scrofa)

Feral Piglet (Sus scrofa)
Webb County, Texas – February 2019
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1)
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head
ISO 400, 1/320 sec at f/11 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #0774
Image Size in Portfolio: 2918×3648

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February 12, 2020
© Jim Miller – Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre)

Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre)
Webb County, Texas – January 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1)
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head
ISO 800, 1/320 sec at f/6.3 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #0784
Image Size in Portfolio: 4229×3383

“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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