Category Archives: birds

It’s Fun Fact Friday 3-6-2020!

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

The scissor-tail flycatcher, aka Texas bird-of-paradise, can hover with its tail spread and make abrupt turns in midair. It’s numbers have declined by about 31% between 1966 and 2014.

I found this flycatcher in October, sitting pretty on the barb-wire fence at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge back in 2013.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under 1DX, birds, Brazoria NWR, Canon, Fun Fact Friday, nature, Photography, Texas, Wildlife Refuge

Gobble, Gobble! Happy Thanksgiving!

Gobble Gobble CROP

Here’s to the one that got away and won’t be found on anybody’s dinner table 😉

 
For those of you who follow the tradition of Thanksgiving, it’s supposed to be a time of thinking about what you are thankful for in your life. It also is a time to enjoy the bounty of what the earth provides (aka lots of eating and snacking … and watching football).
 
I’m thankful for a gazillion things, such as my sister, having a roof over my head and food to eat and electricity and clean running water. I’m thankful for having moved back to a part of the U.S. that I love the most, and being back so close to the mountains that I’ve missed for the majority of my life. I’m also thankful for the invention of digital cameras and being able to own a few in order to capture beautiful / interesting images that tell a story and elicit emotion and share them with you all. I’m thankful for our national parks and hope nobody ever commercializes them (any more than they may already be). I could go on and on, but at least you know, I don’t take much for granted and try to find something good in every day.
 
As for the photo, this is a wild turkey that was roaming around with its flock (or whatever you call a group of wild turkeys) near a Park Service storage building along a trail near the Court of The Patriarchs. Those guys were not afraid of me at all. I should have been afraid of them because thtey were pretty darned big. I followed them around to get still images and video, and it was then that I learned they could fly. Well, from the ground up to a branch in a tree, which is where I photographed this guy (or gal). I also learned that they are very colorful and, despite their faces only a mother could love, are actually kinda pretty.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!
 
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under birds, Holidays, National Parks, nature, Photography, Thanksgiving, Travel, Zion National Park

Corporate Behavior

Corporate Behavior

Even the smallest and/or prettiest of creatures can be territorial and exhibit more than just a little bit of visciousness in the daily fight for survival. Heaven knows I’ve experienced it within the human workplace, hence the sarcastic title.

 
I’ve been rescuing photos from a dying portable hard drive. The hummingbird images I captured between 2012 – 2014 are favorites of mine and they needed to be saved to another drive.
 
As a photographer, you can learn quite a bit about birds or other wildlife by simply watching and photographing them on a regular basis. During that span of years my mother and I hung out those hummingbird feeders in Texas, I would be over there every morning and/or evening to photograph these soft, tiny little birdies. The more I watched, the more I learned they aren’t quite as sweet as everybody might think. Luckily, this extended observation led to some very interesting photos.
Canon 1DX and 100-400mm lens
 
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under 1DX, birds, Canon, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, Canon Lens, hummingbirds, Life, nature, Photography, Texas

A Stormy Day At Cross Trails Pond

Stormy Cross Trails Pond

I’m up early because the inside of my cheek is killing me. I had a back molar implant put in this past Wednesday and my cheek got the brunt of some burring work on the cap and the upper back molar. Bleah. So, I can’t sleep. I’ll take an aspirin after I have something for breakfast later. Whenever I can’t sleep, I get up, turn on the laptop, and work on photos. I’m still (and will be for months, I’m sure) cleaning up my photo website and I happened upon this image in my Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge gallery. It was an awesome morning on that June day. Sometimes, going to the refuge was a hit or miss prospect. I either saw lots of birdlife, like here, or no birdlife. On this stormy morning, not only were there large numbers of egrets and spoon bills, but the clouds were awesomely dramatic. Out of all the images I took at the refuge, this photo numbers as one of my favorites.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved

 

 

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Filed under birds, Brazoria NWR, nature, Photography, Seasons, summer, Texas, Wildlife Refuge

Dawn Along The Seashore

Dawn Along The Seashore

How about a nice, peaceful, beach scene colored by the blush of “rosy-fingered dawn” to start your weekend? I have a feeling dawn won’t be as pretty where I live – it’s been overcast with a low cloud ceiling for the past few days.

Padre Island National Seashore in Texas is a great place to watch the sun rise. I got there at dark-thirty a.m. and just watched the play of colors over the sky and Gulf of Mexico, as the shore birds pattered along the water’s edge looking for breakfast.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

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Filed under 1DX, birds, Canon, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, Canon Lens, National Parks, nature, Padre Island National Seashore, Photography, Seasons, Spring, sunrise, Texas, Travel

I Spy With My Little Eye …

I Spy With My Little EyeLittle Birdy

I had reached the Washington Pass Overlook and was dying to get out to photograph the view and stretch my legs. So, I hefted a camera with a wide-angle lens and another camera with the 100-400mm lens both around my neck (I;m used to doing this from my past experience photographing weddings) and trod up the trail to the part of the view looking back down along the North Cascades Highway (opposite view from the previous posts). One of the first things that caught my eye, after taking in the view, was a little “knob” I saw on top of that second tree to your left. I couldn’t figure out if that was a tiny birdy or just a part of the tree, itself. When I looked through the telephoto lens, I saw that it was indeed a little bird. I have no idea what it is called (other than “bird”). Anybody know about birds in the West and Northwest?

Anyway, this is a good example of how being observant not only creates good photo ops, but also makes you a better photographer in general. I mean, how many other people standing up there even noticed there was this little bird waaaaay up on that tall tree?

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

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Filed under 1DX Mk II, 24-105mm, 5DS, birds, Canon, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, Canon Lens, Equipment, nature, North Cascades, Photography, Seasons, Spring, Travel, Washington State

Dusky Grouse On Display

Dusky Grouse On Display

Dusky Grouse On Display, Signal Mountain Summit, Grand Teton National Park

Actually, I almost named this “Dusky Grouse On The Run,” since it was moving at a brisk clip alongside the road down from Signal Mountain in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Sometimes, that’s how I used to feel when I was getting ready to go to work in the pre-dawn hours.

Anyway, I couldn’t believe my good luck that morning, at the summit of Signal Mountain. I’d already captured numerous images of the female dusky grouse, and was feeling pretty lucky about it as I began the slow drive down the road back to the main park highway (the speed limit is either 15 mph or 20 mph). I happened to turn my head to the side and see this fanned out set of feathers. I stopped the car (nobody was in front of or behind me) and looked closer and realized I was watching a male on display. So I grabbed my camera with the 100-400mm lens (with the 1.4x extender on) on the seat beside me and proceeded to get some wonderful images of this beautiful bird, about the size of a chicken. Serendipity plays a large role in photography.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

 

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Filed under birds, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, Canon Lens, Grand Teton National Park, National Parks, nature, Photography, Seasons, summer, telephoto lens, Travel, Wyoming

Gliding Over The Gulf

Gliding Over The Gulf

Pelicans are so very stately when flying (a little prehistoric, too). Thankfully, that gives me decent practice with my panning skills. It still helps to have a camera with a relatively fast fps (frames per second) count, and it also helps to remember to put your focus mode into AI Servo (or whatever mode your brand of camera calls the ability to track moving objects while keeping them in focus).

I’m all packed and ready for my trip back to this national seashore later this week. All I need to do is cook a few items to put in the cooler. I’m driving, which means I not only am able to keep my tripods fully extended in the back of the car, but I can, essentially, bring along the kitchen sink, coffee maker, and refrigerator

On behalf of the National Parks Traveler, I’m traveling back to this national seashore to photograph a release of the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle hatchlings. Even though the hatchling schedule on the PAIS (Padre Island National Seashore) webpage gives a range of days during which there might be a release, that doesn’t always mean this will occur. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, though. And heck, I’ll be on vacation and the sunrises are amazing there, not to mention the seabird photography. I plan to stick around for a sunset or two, as well, and, on the 9th is the new moon, which means – unless there are storm clouds – I might see some stars.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under birds, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, nature, Padre Island National Seashore, Photography, Texas, Travel

Red-Wing Blackbird

Red-Wing Blackbird

I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to capture a good image of this neat bird.  I know, blackbirds are blackbirds are blackbirds (aka ordinary), but those chevrons of bright orange-red are quite the eye-grabber.  And these birds have such a pretty song.

This photo was taken out at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, here in southeast Texas, not too far from where I live.  I had my Canon 1DX attached to the 500mm prime lens.  Thanks for my efforts at losing weight and building up some arm strength, I was able to hand-hold the camera/lens combo (IS turned On) and grab some shots of this red-wing blackbird.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1DX, birds, Brazoria NWR, Canon, Canon 500mm f/4L IS II, Canon Lens, nature, Photography, Texas, Wildlife Refuge

It’s Almost Year End

It is.  It’s almost the end of 2015 and I, for one, am ready for it to be done with.  Except for my boob job in January, it’s been a pretty shitty year I’ll admit.

N6A0653_Becky and Her Baby

My 89-year old mother became ill in early February and subsequently died on the 19th, one day prior to my elder sister’s birthday.  We can’t thank our lucky stars enough that we were both there to care for Mom at the end of it all.   From then on, life and work went to hell in a handbasket.  I’d break into tears every time I thought of Mom or thought of (or heard or saw) something that reminded me of Mom, My sister and I constantly second-guessed ourselves concerning Mom (woulda, coulda, shoulda).  I found myself working for a horrible boss who made my work life miserable.  I was not in the least interested in photography.  And my entire life revolved around being Executrix of Mom’s estate.

Poor Mom.  She thought she was leaving my sister and me with a nice little nest egg of her savings.  As it was, my sister and I spent every single penny of that nest-egg savings getting Mom’s house up to snuff so we could finally put it on the market; fingers crossed that this sale goes through smoothly so we can be done with it.  These upgrades included a total re-grade and re-sod of the entire front, back and side yards around the house (including the addition of what they call “French drains” to get the standing water to drain into the ditches around the house thanks to the horrid spring thunderstorms Texas constantly experienced all April and May); installation of more foundation pillars in the hallway; patching and repainting the cracks in the walls caused by the foundation work as well as the house’s normal settling issues here in southeast Texas; re-carpeting the hallway, one bedroom and the large den; getting the electrical issues worked out; installing a new roof to replace the one damaged by a freak April hailstorm; fixing the garage door, removing all of the high-tech hurricane storm shutters; and a number of other smaller issues  – all required by the home inspector’s and the structural engineer’s report and the current realtor’s suggestions to make the house more – well – salable.  This work has all taken two months shy of a year since Mom’s death.  It’s been an albatross around my neck and I can’t thank my sister’s husband enough for all of his help – his 30 years in the construction business has enabled me to keep from going mad and throttling most of the people and businesses within this horrid little Podunk Texas town in which I currently reside.  My experience this year has lead me to believe that there is absolutely no business here in this town that is totally trustworthy.  At least, not when it comes to dealing with a divorced, middle-aged woman such as myself.  Fuck ‘em all, I say.

As you can probably tell by now, this entire experience has given birth to the New Me:  Angry White Woman.

I don’t take shit off of anybody anymore and I’m far more vocal about my feelings, opinions and beliefs (this includes my political and non-religious leanings, much to many of my Facebook friends’ annoyance).  I have discovered I am also far more willing to stick my neck out at work and push back to the dirty politics I experience on behalf of myself and my friends who either cannot or will not push back themselves (it’s easier for me to do it since I’m close to early retirement and I don’t have a family for whom I must provide – this allows me to follow the courage of my convictions).

It’s taken me 54 years, and I’m absolutely certain Mom’s death was the catalyst to make me realize what is truly important in my life.  Hint:  it aint work.  Work is not my life and never has been – it just pays the bills, pays for my camera equipment and allows me to travel.  No, what is really important – to me – is family and people who love me.

Thanksgiving Dinner

I no longer have family here in Texas.  They all live out in the Pacific Northwest, and sooner rather than later, that is where I will move.  I am making my plans little by little.  I don’t want to grow old and spend my remaining days alone in a Texas nursing home, waiting to die, far away from people I love and who love me.  Besides that, I’ve never been a huge fan of Texas and am ready for the next adventure further west where the mountains and my family live.

I’m also trying to regain my photo mojo.  I’ve done a few small photo projects this year, including:

Storm Front On The Refuge

Portrait Of A Juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night HeronAnoleSpiny Backed Orb Weaver

Using my new 11-24mm, 100mm macro, and 500mm prime lenses at Brazos Bend State Park, Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, and around my home and my mother’s home;

Jupiters Eye On The HelldiverWaiting For SunriseThe Rising Sun 2The Rising SunKnife Edge Fly ByAleutian P40K WarhawkGrumman TBF AvengerJapanese FighterTexas Raiders Taking Off

Spending a wonderful sunrise photo shoot as well as an entire day in the photo pit at the 2015 Wings Over Houston Airshow;

Pirate Spooks On Stage

Reaching Across The Stage For A Toast

Dessert At The Kings Feast

Preparing To Serve The Beef

Feast Staff 2015

Halloween Becky In The POW Pub

Pirate Spooks

A Witch And A Zombie

Performing my duties as staff photographer for The Merchant Prince and capturing images for his use out at the 2015 Texas Renaissance Festival;

A Crown For A Princess

Photographing my newest great niece whom I have never met until last year (for only 20 minutes before getting to the airport) and who is now almost 3 years old;

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And photographing my company’s annual gingerbread decorating event.

I haven’t really taken any photo holiday because almost all of my annual vacation days were spent caring for Mom and thereafter taking care of the estate.  I did take a short trip to visit my sister and her family in eastern Washington over Labor Day, spent a weekend in Santa Fe NM during the Memorial Day holiday, and visited my sister and her family, again, during Thanksgiving.

My main vacation is coming up and I hope it will be the jump start to much more photography in 2016:  I’m going to be spending 10 days in Europe (including Christmas and New Year):  8 days in London and 2 days in Paris.  Everything is paid for, I printed out all of my tickets, and I am all packed, including my camera backpack:

  • Canon 5DS body
  • Canon 5DS-R body
  • Canon 1DX body
  • Canon 11-24mm lens
  • Canon 24-105mm IS lens
  • Canon 24-70mm IS lens
  • Tripod, a gazillion memory cards, a small Canon flash, a couple of wireless shutter releases, and lots of extra, fully-charged batteries

I’m not taking my 70-200mm lens because it’s heavy and my backpack is already heavy enough (plus I’m taking two suitcases as well as my laptop bag with travel laptop, mouse, memory card readers, 2 external hard drives – 1 TB each, iPhone, iPad, book, and folder with all of my ticket information for the various venues I will attend).  I can only take so much – don’t even ask me what I’ve packed in the suitcases (grin).

I apologize for not publishing more blog posts.  I know one is supposed to do that to keep readership and to keep one’s writing skills in tip-top shape.  I’ll get back into the groove, I promise.  I’ll have free WiFi in my London and Paris hotels, so I know I’ll be editing photos and writing about my experiences, uploading to both my Facebook photography page as well as my Twitter account.  I may even publish a post while there.  For now, stay tuned to forthcoming imagery from my 2015 trip, as well as the trips I have planned for 2016.  I plan on making up for lost time.

N6A3701_Seahawks Becky Cap

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Filed under 1DX, 5DS, Attitude, Aviation, birds, Brazoria NWR, Brazos Bend State Park, Canon, Canon 11-24mm, Canon Lens, Equipment, Landscape, Life, macro, nature, Photography, Texas, wildlife, Wildlife Refuge