Lizardo – King of our yard-o

I spotted Lizardo as he was leaping onto a palm frond in the front garden. It’s the first sighting of him since acquiring the new camera. I quickly affixed the Tamron AF 28-75mm f2.8 XR Di in the hopes of getting a macro shot of the big fella.

Oddly enough, he did not retreat as I moved toward him and took aim. In fact at one point he started to move toward the camera. I supsect he saw his reflecting in the lens and perhaps saw it as a rival lizard trespassing on his domain.

Whatever the reason, he allowed me to get quite close.

Lizardo
Click for full size

Lizardo
Click for full size

Interlopers

We love having feeders in the yard to attract the birds. Cynthia has even gone a step further and buys a cheap loaf of bread so that she can put some out when she gets home from work.

We’ve got tons of sparrows, Ricky and Lucy our mated pair of Cardinals, the occasional Mockingbird, plenty of Doves, a screeching Blue Jay and the House Finches.

We also have squirrels.

We keep trying to find a way to keep them off the feeders but it’s no use. They have all day, every day to ponder and scrutinize the situation and formulate their plans.

They’re a 24/7 think-tank of diabolical, food absconding EVIL with one objective…

Our feeders!

Damn their furry hides!

Gull pics from Bolivar

I have a fond memory of reading the book “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach during the early 70’s. It was a very popular and inspirational story in my youth and it came highly recommended to me by many of my friends.

It’s one of those memories that looses detail over the years but gains in mental and emotional significance because it marks a change in mental state. I have not read it again since that first and only time, and I am rather certain it would not have anything close to the same effect on me today as it did back then so I choose not to re-read it.

Rather, I choose to let my flawed and scattered recollection tickle my consciousness each and every time I find myself near the beach with an opportunity to feed the seagulls.

In doing that, I reach back and make a connection with a distant but pleasant memory. And maybe, just maybe the serenity and joy I experience in that moment is the true benefit of having nurtured this fond memory for over 30 years.

At least I hope so, because otherwise I am just giving free bread to a bunch of filthy sea pigeons.

Bolivar Ferry

As mentioned previously, Cynthia and I went to Bolivar on whim a few Saturdays ago when the sun was bright and the sky was blue.

I managed to talk her into riding the ferry which was an accomplishment in and of itself since she HATES boats.

She actually ended up enjoying the experience and it was a great opportunity to take pictures.

—–

I am the mighty Sea Grackle!

See me dance my Sea Grackle dance!

Aren’t you Seagulls impressed?

Well? Aren’t you?

Photography weekend – Part 2

Sunday was shaping up to be an even better day than Saturday so we decided to slack on the chores and go out shooting pictures again.

I had been hearing a bit about the West 11th Street Park and figured we could go there and at least have a look around. In one of the reports I had heard on NPR they indicated the park had some interesting wildlife.

When we got there, it really didn’t look all that interesting. In fact, we were about to just drive on past it and look for something else when we noticed three ladies coming out of the park toting binoculars. I decided to swing around and ask them if there was any interesting birds in the park. All three exclaimed that yes indeed, there was all manner of Woodpeckers, Hawks and even a Great Horned Owl in that park. They offered to show us the Horned Owl as they had just come from where he was nesting.

The ladies took us down the path and into the woods and we came to the base of a stand of trees. They pointed to the sky and described where in the top of a very tall tree the owl could be seen. Cynthia and I craned our heads skyward and peered into the trees but could see nothing.

After about 5 minutes of explaining which branch off of which tree and so on and so forth Cynthia finally exclaimed that she could see the owl. A minute later I spotted him as well.

Great Horned Owl
Click to see full sized image

Time to see what the new 300mm zoom lens can do.

This was shot a the full 300mm handheld. That is to say, no tripod.

Great Horned Owl
Click to see full sized image

You gotta love image stabilization.

We admired the owl for awhile and then set off to explore the park.

The next creature we encountered was a hawk.
You could see him flying in circles high above the tops of the trees.

Distant Hawk
Click to see full sized image

SUPER TELEPHOTO XPEALADOSSHAS!

Hawk
Click to see full sized image

Again, totally handheld. Amazing.

That allowed me to crop this out:

Hawk
Click to see full sized image

Even more amazing was the shot Cynthia got with her Pentax with the 320mm telephoto:

Hawk picture by Cynthia
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And from that we were able to extract this:

Hawk picture by Cynthia
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What a wonderful couple of sightings!

As we were leaving we heard the familiar tak-tak-tak sound, indicating that a woodpecker was nearby.
Looked up and sure enough, there he was!

Woodpecker
Click to see full sized image

We left the park and headed home. But before calling it quits we had one more stop.

Terry Hershey Park

If you get off the main bike trail and onto some of the footpaths you can really have some cool creature moments. I found this Egret hunting fish in a small pond:

Egret
Click to see full sized image

It was a great weekend for taking pictures!

Tall blondes

It is no secret that Cynthia’s absolute favorite creature on the entire planet is the giraffe.

The first time I ever visited Cynthia’s apartment when we were first dating it was hard to miss the life-size giraffe sculpture in the living room, a sculpture Cynthia had made from scratch using dowels, chicken wire, paper mache and finished in polymers and which, to this day, dominates our dining room.

For Cynthia’s birthday this year I arranged a behind the scenes tour of the Houston Zoo’s giraffe exhibit. Our tour was this past Saturday and it was a blast!

It was a chance to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures


Cynthia gets a nuzzle from Kiva


Cynthia joins the herd


Nigel likes the carrots

It was incredible being so close to these animals.
Cynthia claims it was the best birthday present EVER!

So now I guess I have my work cut out for me for next year….

You can see many more pictures from the encounter here.

Still singing where the weeping willows wave

Acquired a Tamron 18 – 200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR DI-II LD lens for my Sony.
Extremely versatile lens. It allows me to go from a nice wide angle to a reasonable zoom without changing lenses. This will be the perfect travel lens.

Took it out to Terry Hershey Park over off the Beltway. It was just too nice a day to spend indoors. The hike and bike trail extends all the way to Highway 6 and is very pleasant.
Cynthia and I saw many Warblers, a few Woodpeckers and this Mockingbird:

Mockingbird
Click image for full size

Aperture: f/6.3
ISO: 400
Focal length: 200mm

The image stabilization in this camera is very helpful at these extended focal lengths.

Frank was just asking ‘what’s new?’

Back in 1995 or so we decided we wanted to have a fish tank.
We did a little research and settled on a 50 gallon freshwater system and got started.
It was cool stocking it with fish and setting up the plants and rock and stuff.
We had plecostomuses (plecostomusi? plecostomooses?) and other catfish, hatchet fish, neon tetras, you name it. We even had some African Dwarf Frogs in there.

We maintained it, cleaned it, added fish when some would pass away. We even nursed some fish back to health after the developed some kind of scale eating fish rot.

During that time we moved twice, the second time being when we bought our house in 1998. The aquarium moved with us and that my friend is no easy task.

After several years our interest and dedication to the tank waned. Fish that passed on to the great beyond were briefly mourned as they were flushed into the hereafter, but were not replaced.

Eventually all that remained were 5 bottom dwellers. Some catfish and a loach.

We were ready to give up being fish tank owners. The problem was that I simply didn’t have the heart to take 5 perfectly healthy fish and just flush them away, but having a 50 gallon tank seemed like overkill for that small number of fish.

I decided to buy a cheap 10 gallon aquarium and transplant the survivors so that they could live out their lives with minimal upkeep in an out of the way corner of the house.

Before long old age took it’s toll and 3 of the five remaining bottom dwellers passed away, leaving us with the loach and a catfish which both survived up until about a year ago.

Now there is just the loach. We call him “Loachy” and on one of his active days he looks like this:

For the most part, though, he tends to literally lay around the bottom of the aquarium on his side looking very dead:

Sometimes, like in the picture above, he is in among his rocks. Other times he’s just laying around out in the open on the white gravel.

Let me be clear, he’s not sick. He’s lazy. This fish has been sleeping or resting on his side since the day we got him oh so many years ago.

He’s the last fish, and when he’s gone we’re done.

I don’t know how long he’s going to live.
I will tell you he was in the original group of fish we bought when we started.

That means he is 11+ years old if you just count the years we’ve owned him.

For all I know he’ll go another 11 years.

Dog on a motorcycle

People often ask me why I always carry a camera with me all the time.

This is why:

Dog on a motorcycle
Click to enlarge

I was sitting at the bar of The Big Top Lounge on Main St. having a drink with some friends. We were just killing some time before the Astros game last night.

I just happened to look out the window and saw this guy waiting at the light at Alabama. I was able to run out the door, camera in hand and snap two quick shots before the light changed and the dynamic duo sped off, presumably to fight crime.

Technically, not a great picture, but in terms of subject matter you just can’t plan for something like this.

Butterfly

Cynthia called to me from the other room. She said the largest Swallowtail butterfly was in our back yard and I should try to get a picture. I was rather dismissive as my camera was not ready and I thought by the time I re-inserted the memory card and got the battery out of the charger it would be gone, or that when I did get outside it would fly away. Cynthia was insistent so I thought I would give it a try.

Not only did it not fly away, it seemed to pose for the camera.


Lens: Tamron AF 28-75mm f2.8 XR Di.
Focal length: 75mm
ISO: 800
Sutter speed: 1/250