I have been a little behind on blogs and vlogs this month. Mostly because I have been home and not doing much these two months - which I am loving, BUT, it is the calm before the storm, because once May gets here - it is on, travel season starts… and it’s pretty much non-stop until December. I am looking forward to the craziness of it, but of course, nervous about it as well. Because it is show time. Time to get back into it and show everyone the animals they are all hoping to see.
Of course I love it, I love being able to show people wildlife, and I LOVE seeing wildlife, and new places, and old friends and meeting new ones. Shit! I love everything about this life, and this world. So anyway, back to this blog. An opportunity that arose for us, was getting an invite by my buddy Hector Astorga, to visit Santa Clara Ranch and photograph song birds in one of their morning blinds.
Hector is a great shooter and when he is not off on one of his adventures, manages the ranch here. And this ranch is amazing. It is a great birding destination, and South Texas wildlife spot as well, they get white-tailed deer, peccary, rabbits, the occasional ground squirrels and one of the coolest of our South Texas animals, the bobcat. We are always hoping for a bobcat to show up, such amazing wildcats.
However, hanging out in the blinds at the watering hole to photograph the song birds that come in to get a drink and cool off is really, really cool. The photo opportunities are endless, and I truly enjoy photographing these quick little beauties. Plus, I got to hang out with my Sophia, which is ALWAYS the very best.
Hanging out with Hector is always amazing, nothing like trading stories with a fellow traveler and all around badass. We arrived really early and started prepping our gear, as he set up the feeding perches. The thing about capturing unique and beautiful birding images at places like these, is not just taking your camera and photographing a bird. It is also about the set up. From making sure the drinking pond was perfect and full, to setting up the perfect perch, that is both pleasing to look at and just the right distance for that perfect shot, without trees and shrubs in the background to distract from the image. You are creating wildlife art, and it is so much fun.
When we arrived it was still dark, and the sky was overcast. We were hoping the sun would burn off those clouds, which thankfully happened.
While we were waiting for better light and more birds to arrive, and that elusive bobcat. We were entertained by Hector calling in roadrunners with perfectly imitated sounds of a female roadrunner. Talk about awesome, the boys completely lost their minds trying to find that flirty female. We ended up with three road runners hanging around all day.
As the morning wore on, the light got better and better for us, and it was on. We photographed the different song birds that dropped by to steal some food from our perches, as well as drink a few drops from the pool. A few of them dropped in for a quick bath. All of it made for amazing photo opportunities…
As the day wore on, we lost hope of the elusive bobcat showing his face, however we were treated to a few rabbits and some peccaries that eventually showed up to say hi. One of the female peccaries had just had babies so we were hoping for a shot at photographing those little guys, but she never felt comfortable enough to bring them close.
We broke for lunch and then called it a day. Out of town family had shown up for the weekend, and my Sophia was itching to get back there to be a little girl, and have some fun with her cousins. So we thanked Hector for a great day, and said goodbye to this amazing place, and are counting down the days till we can return to this ranch for more amazing moments with South Texas wildlife and those cute little freaking birds!
Northern Cardinal and Long-billed thrasher.