Thursday, August 24, 2017

Crops & Clips:Texas Panhandle birds

These natural rock formations in Palo Duro Canyon resemble ancient edifices:

Palo Duro Canyon 05-20170814

I have supplemented my heavy Canon 80D DSLR and its 420 mm lens system (300mm L/4 with 1.4x extender) with a mirrorless Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II and an Olympic M.ZUIKO MSC ED-M 75-300mm II (f/ 4.8-6.7) zoom lens. It weighs only 2.05 pounds (0.97 Kg) compared to the  5.16 pounds (2.34 Kg) of my big rig. After experimenting with the rather complicated settings, I felt confident enough to leave the DSLR behind for a 10-day trip to Texas.

Here is a comparison of the two cameras, with lens hoods extended and then stowed:

Comparison of DSLR & Mirrorless Cameras (with lens hoods)

Comparison of DSLR & Mirrorless Cameras

For landscapes I switched to a tiny electronic zoom Olympus M.ZUKIO ED 14-42mm (f/3.5-5.6) EZ lens:

Palo Duro Canyon 06-20170814

This was not a wildlife expedition. Indeed it was a wonderful family affair on the occasion of the marriage of our youngest grandson. The wedding took place in the Texas Panhandle south of Amarillo. They left the serious photography to a professional photographer, though I did take several hundred photos of the pre-wedding shower as well as the rehearsal and wedding ceremony.

Rachel Glen 06-20170811

The chapel at West Texas A&M  University:

WTAMU Chapel 04-20170811

The groom with his bride, his parents and four siblings:

Schneider family 20170812

The reception was held at a good old country restaurant:

Rachel Glen 20170812

During the 5 days surrounding the wedding we went sightseeing in the nearby and very impressive Palo Duro Canyon. Flash floods the night before (when 15 members of our family attended the famous open-air Texas Musical which is held in the depths of the Canyon) caused all the trails to be closed. Even the paved road had to detour around an area of deep mud. We were rained out only about 10 minutes into the show and returned home soaked to the skin!

At the visitor center we saw this lizard:

Lizard 20170814

Barn Swallows nested under the porch roof:

Barn Swallow at nest 03-20170814

It was sunny and very hot. Photographic conditions were not favorable because of the glare and deep shadows. A wildlife blind was located near bird feeders and a small water source.  House Finches outnumbered the other avian visitors. This male appears to have an eye infection:

House Finch 02-20170814

Golden-fronted Woodpecker:

Golden-fronted Woodpecker 01-20170814

Watching a Lark Sparrow as it fed a fledgling was a treat:

Lark Sparrow 01-20170814

Lark Sparrow feeding fledgling 02-20170814

Later in the day we moved on to Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge. We have visited this refuge many times over more than twenty years that our son has worked as a meteorologist in Amarillo. 

The lake has gradually dried up because of the combined effects of prolonged drought and the dramatic drop of the water table due to greatly increased agricultural demand. The last time I saw significant water  was around 1998. Waterfowl and migratory wading birds abounded, and during the winter Bald Eagles gathered there to fish. In 2008 it was nearly dry but a small section recovered a bit in 2009. Now the entire lake is bone dry. 

A small herd of "buffaloes" (American Bison) wallowed in the mud in a pasture near the entrance to the refuge:

Bison 01-20170814

Bison 02-20170814

I enjoy photographing small birds, so they were a test for my new camera. Given the conditions, the images were fairly good. This is a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher which is growing a new tail after molting:

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher adult molting 01-20170814

Against the bright sky, this photo required a full stop of exposure compensation:

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher adult molting 02-20170814

Even at some distance, the camera obtained fairly decent resolution of this back-lit immature Red-headed Woodpecker:

Red-headed Woodpecker immature 20170814

A female oriole posed nicely. I believe it is an Orchard Oriole:

Orchard Oriole female 20170814

A Swainson's Hawk wheeled overhead. Because of shutter lag I only had one opportunity to capture this image. I still need to learn more about how to obtain rapid bursts:

Swainson's Hawk 20170814

As I write this, a storm with the potential to bring heavy rains and possible hurricane-force winds is bearing down on Corpus Christi, where we vacationed until just four days ago. More about this in a future post, but here is a sunrise on our first morning on the beach at North Padre Island:

Sunrise at North Padre Island 20170818

Back home in Florida the rain has kept us inside, but this photo of a back yard Tricolored Heron satisfied my desire to include a reflection of a neighbor's fence:

Tricolored Heron 01-20170823

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,


Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh


Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display


  1. Hello Kenneth!:) Many congratulations to the happy couple, and proud grandad. I'm sure you will be very satisfied with your much smaller camera,...less weight to carry around, and your photos are great, and such a great variety it's difficult to chose a favourite. I do like your sunrise shot, and those incredible rock formations. The Lark Sparrow and fledgling is a sweet capture, and the wallowing Buffaloes are a reminder of just how large they really are, what a super encounter. Lastly your fence reflection is inspirational. Best wishes.

  2. I like your birds and scenic photos, but the wedding ones are the best of the bunch!
    Have a wonderful day!

  3. Great shots.

    I remember the tickle of awe I got many years ago driving between Dallas (visit my dad) and Lubbock (visit my brother) at all the interesting RED formations visible from the road. What stood out the most. RED. I didn't see any buffalo.

  4. Happy couple and great nature. Love from Poland

  5. Your have outdone yourself today with this magnificent series, Kenneth!

  6. Hello, Mr. Kenneth.
    Once again you share with us great photos.
    They do not yet have the quality that you have accustomed us but I believe that in the future there will come.
    Rock formations are perfect illusions of old dilapidated dwellings.
    Bison are mythical characters in the history of North America. What a feeling it must be, to be able to look closely at these fantastic animals. Congratulations on the marriage of your grandson who chose a very beautiful bride. They make a nice pair. This is a union blessed by God, that the bride and groom and their family that begins now, have a long life with much love and happiness.
    The birds that shows us how fantastic they are always. What diversity of birds live in this area.
    Congratulations on everything that shows us.

  7. Congratulations on your grandson's marriage,looks like the future is towards mirrorless

  8. Harvey slammed the heck out of Texas, you're lucky you got out of there, who would think FL wud be a safer place for hurricane weather? How do you like the mirror less camera then, it obviously takes some wonderful photos. The big upside is the weight and with your serious lenses I bet that means a lot to a nature photographer. The buffalo pics really stand out for me.

  9. Beautiful birds and bison! How sweet about the wedding! Congratulations to the young couple!

  10. Hello, congrats to your grandson and his new bride. Love the wedding photos, they are a cute couple. Beautiful scenic photos and I love all the birds. Great sighitngs and post. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

  11. Gorgeous photos! I've been thinking of getting a mirrorless camera. Congrats to the happy couple! Sorry to hear your party got rained on.

  12. Looks like the 'small camera' is going to be OK!

    I had a look at my pictures of Barn Swallow and images of the same species in US guide books and the US images do look more colourful - I'm not sure if its a 'real thing' of just a trick of the light, as my images were taken in very dull light.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  13. Fantastic photos of the landscape and your birds. I've seen a yellow bird similar to your female Oriole picture in my back yard from time to time and have wondered what it is. I will have to keep an eye out for future visits with summer coming to a close. Lovely wedding photos. I enjoyed your post!

  14. Congrats, and nice of you to share the happy wedding event of your grandson with us at All Seasons! Yes, I would have chosen the lighter camera too for traveling (that's why I carry a Rebel when hiking with painting gear)! And it did a lovely job for shooting the birds:).
    Sorry to hear about the drying up of the lake.
    We have been very fortunate that the drought is over in California this last winter and to see small lakes appear (and have stayed even during summer). Enjoy these two weeks till linking up to Seasons!

  15. Congratulations on the celebration Kenneth, and also on the photos, all looking good with the new equipment.
    Have a good week , Gordon.

  16. I really thought there were castles in your first photo. Those are some awesome formations. I like the bison photos too. It would be nice to see some of those (from afar).

  17. Very nice images.
    Thanks for sharirg at


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