Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NANPA - Texas Hill Country Regional Event

I spent this past weekend in Fredericksburg, Texas at the North American Nature Photographer's Texas Hill Country Regional Event. We had photographers: Kathy Adams Clark, Sean Fitzgerald, Mike Murphy, and Laurence Parent. As we came into Thursday, the weather forecast was not encouraging: rain and thunderstorms for the next several days. I was not daunted, some of my best photographs have been taken on rainy days.
We woke Friday morning to radar showing a strong thunderstorm heading straight for Fredericksburg. The two groups going to Block Creek Natural Area headed on out and got there before the storm broke. Kathy Adams Clark's group photographed hummingbirds from the porch. My group, led by Sean Fitzgerald enjoyed some great slide show presentations as the rain hammered the metal barn roof. The worst of the storm passed and my group got into their photo blinds.

While there wasn't great light for photography, it was certainly a good time for capturing behaviors and wet birds. I really enjoyed watching this house finch as he shook both himself and his head trying to rid his feathers of excess water.

That really is a head there- what a spinning top he created with his head!

I heard someone complaining at one point about just getting finches and sparrows . . . but I'm pretty sure this is a clay colored sparrow . . . not one I see at my house!

While I have also photographed the golden fronted woodpecker in Amarillo, it was fun to see it again here in Central Texas.

A treat even for the ranchers was this rose-breasted grosbeak - a first for their property.

The prettiest bird of the day was the painted bunting. I had loaned my big lens to one of the other participants, so I was shooting with my 100-400. He really never came close enough to a good perch for any of us to get a great shot that morning. But I hear that on some of the other days, some of the photographers got some good shots of this colorful bird.

We did have much better lighting later in the event. There were several different blinds that attracted more species such that each photographer probably came home with a different mix of birds depending upon where he/she was sitting. I didn't get back during the better lighting, but I found myself promising myself another visit to Block Creek Natural area so that I could take my time at all the blinds. One of the nice things about the blinds at Block Creek Natural Area is that you have the opportunity for up close and personal images of the various birds. I hope I get back soon. And I hope I can visit some of the other ranches that are part of the Texas Hill Country Nature Photography Alliance.

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