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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Birdwatching the Day After Christmas


Even though the day was very cold, Jan and I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood to walk off some of the Christmas festivities. As we walked through the Town and Country sports park, we stumbled upon a most beautiful hawk in a willow tree just 25 feet or so away. Did I have the camera? No. So we decided to high-tail it back to the house and bring the camera back. I didn't have much hope of seeing that hawk again.

As we walked through we passed a young dad and his daughter and mentioned we had seen the hawk. He said there was one on a wire just a bit ahead. We walked as quietly as we could and there he was! I got three shots before he flew off.

Looking on the Whatbird website the closest match I can find is the Red Shouldered Hawk. It appears to be a young one, but I am no expert. I got this on max zoom and manual focus, and I hope it's clear enough for an expert to confirm my ID of this beautiful bird.  (or not, if I'm wrong...)

Another hawk across the waterway

We took some more shots of various birds, a couple of which I think are robins? but that will be for another post. Hope your Holiday was wonderful, and thanks for stopping by!

All the best,
Mike Z

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, Everyone!


I wish you, your friends, and family the Merriest of Christmases, and the Happiest of New Years in 2011. May your New Year be everything you want it to be!

Thanks for visiting,
Mike Z

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Paisano Pete in Ft Stockton TX


I had been through Ft Stockton TX a few times in my travels around south Texas, and a few years back had been asked by a friend to take a picture of  Paisano Pete. I didn't know there was such a thing as Paisano Pete. At that time I did not have a digital camera, so I bought a throwaway Kodak, snapped a few photos, had them developed, and mailed them off. The CD I had gotten as part of the photo developing has been lost.

Jan and Paisano Pete
So fast forward to our recent trip to Big Bend, and we decided to go through Ft Stockton again on the way to I-10 and home. By now I had been told that "Paisano" is the nickname for the Greater Roadrunner, whose photos I had taken on our trips to Big Bend. Things started to fall in place...


I remember Paisano Pete being somewhat more drab the last time I had taken his photo. There was also a sign proclaiming Paisano Pete as the World's Largest Roadrunner. We stopped at a local gas station to fill up, and the manager told me that the city from time to time "refreshes" the paint on the local landmark. He certainly looked more colorful!

Portrait of Paisano Pete
 So that's my story of Paisano Pete. The Ft Stockton web page describes the "Paisano" as the world's largest roadrunner sculpture, but Roadside America website showed that a larger roadrunner sculpture made of junk is in Las Cruces NM. 

Thanks as always for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed this one.

All the best,
Mike Z

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Waterlily

I took this photo of a white waterlily in San Angelo the week of the International Water Lily Association Convention.
This one is one of my favorites from that photo shoot. I particularly like the reflection of the lily in the water.
One of the things I learned (I may have mentioned this before) is that many of the waterlilies found in the Water Lily Display in San Angelo are found nowhere else in the world.
Thanks for stopping by. More photos to come!
All the best,
Mike Z

Friday, December 3, 2010

Grey Morning in Galveston



This week I spent in the Galveston area, and stayed at a hotel on the waterfront. Moody Gardens was across the bay, and I wanted to go, but never got the chance. The first morning was relatively warm and hazy, and when I opened the curtains the photo above was the sight that greeted me.

I did a small amount of color enhancement to bring out the colors of the buildings, and cropped out some of the sky, but did little else to "photoshop" the picture. The next morning was bright sun and MUCH colder, but I didn't think to get a contrasting shot of the same area.

12/16/2010 Note: One of my favorite photo-friends pointed out that the billboards behind the houses were taking away from the scene. So, I confess I did a small amount of fixup in Photoshop. I agree the photo looks better now. Thanks, Bob!

And thanks to you for stopping by! I'll have more photos up soon.

all the best,
Mike Z

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!


I want to wish everyone a Very Happy Thanksgiving! Even if you're not living in the US, please take a moment and remember the people and things you are thankful for. It can't hurt, right?

The photo above is another of Jan's sister-in-law's "pet" turkey. (See Christmas Turkey) This guy just showed up at their house and literally took over. He was never very happy to see most visitors, including me!

"Tom" has since moved to another family's home I understand. I wish him well.

'Til next time,
All the Best!

Mike Z

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Butterfly at the Ranch


The weather had turned cool last weekend, but the butterflies were still out and about around the fire bush by my mother-in-law's house. This Gulf Fritillary and a pipevine swallowtail were busy, gathering what they could while the sun was high.


 
I had to get low to shoot the underside of the butterfly's wings.

I hope you have a great week. Come by often, I am starting to get more photos up for you.

Best regards,
Mike Z

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More wildlife photos from Big Bend


I believe this magnificent fellow is a sharp-shinned hawk.

I've been working on these photos off an on for a few weeks now, and I guess they're as good as they are going to get. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them!


This bull snake was at the side of the road, and looked like it couldn't make up it's mind what to do. It was alive I know because I saw its' tongue flicking every few minutes. But it never moved.


I wish I could have gotten a better photo of this beautiful bobcat. I feel very fortunate to have even seen one! It was in the park under a tree, and seemed comfortable as we stopped the car and shot photo after photo. Then it moved on...


This Mexican Jay was one we saw on during the May Big Bend trip. I just liked it so I added it to this post.

I am glad you visited the Memories. I have some more photos that will be going up in a few days. 'Til next time, All the Best,

Mike Z

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Some Random Photos of our Recent Return to Big Bend


Jan and I recently returned to Big Bend National Park a few weeks back, and this time we got to see lots more of the surrounding area. Things have been pretty hectic around here since our return home, but I wanted to post some photos to give you an idea of the places and wildlife we saw while we were there. Above is a photo of Casa Grande, in the Chisos Mountain basin. I had taken a photo of this stunning rock in my previous Big Bend post, but I really liked the way the shadows looked on the rock this time. I hope you agree.


We toured the area this time with two friends, Bob and Ann, who are avid birders. So I got a chance to test my photo skills on birds. I realized very quickly that there is a lot more to bird photography than there is to landscape or still life photography. The hawks and other birds were very far away and didn't "pose" for photos for too long. I gave it my best effort, with mixed success.


Above is the view of Casa Grande from the road leading to the Chisos Mountain Lodge. The air was clear and the scene was kind to my camera.


This hawk let Bob and me get close enough for me to get a pretty good shot, before it flew off. Jan and I had fun spotting the birds from the car as we drove along the road. Jan has very good eyes for spotting birds! 


Birds were not the only animals that caught my attention as we walked the paths in the sunlight. This little lizard almost got away before I could get a shot, but I got this one. I felt lucky.


Later in the week, the morning air was particularly hazy, and it made for some interesting photos. This is a photo of The Window in the Chisos Mtns, with Casa Grande behind it. The ocotillo and sotol in the foreground make the photo more interesting to me.


 I was told that this little bird is a Rufous-crowned Sparrow (thanks Bob Z), and I found him on our hike to The Window early in the morning. He watched me for quite a while as we passed, then flew on.


As best I can tell from the butterfly ID websites, this is a Painted Lady. There were quite a few varieties of butterflies passing through the area, and I'll be posting more photos as I can. I also got some pretty good photos of some rock formations and sights along the Rio Grande river. I hope you'll come back and visit again soon.

Later,
Mike Z

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Langtry TX, home of Judge Roy Bean

Hello! It has been quite a while since I have posted anything on the Mem'ries, but I didn't want anyone to think I have been lazy. :-) There has been a lot going on, so in the next few days and weeks you should see lots more activity around here!

This post is sort of a "prequel" to our second trip to Big Bend National Park and surrounding areas. While on the road from Del Rio we stopped in Langtry, TX to see the original home of Judge Roy Bean, Law West of the Pecos. I had posted a photo of the replica of this building when I wrote a while back about Pecos, TX, and in that post I mentioned that one day I'd like to see the original site of this colorful and historic character.
I also included the historic marker which I thought was most informative.





Going through the front door of the Jersey Lilly, to the right was the "bar side," with an original photo of Lilly Langtry, a soul mate of the judge's. Sad note: the historic marker says that the judge never got to meet Ms. Langtry, as she made her appearance in Langtry a few months after he passed away.

The other end of the room, looking from the bar.

Adjacent to the bar, is the Billiard Room. Lots of photos from the time Judge Roy was active in the area. The artifacts in the lower right corner are the legs from the billiard table.


Overlooking the bar and the billiard room is a rare Eclipse Model 10 ft windmill that is part of the Cactus Garden exhibit next door. A very beautiful windmill which has been well preserved.

The last photo is of the Opera House, where Judge Roy lived, listened to opera, and dispensed justice West of the Pecos. I suppose this is where Lilly Langtry performed when she was there.


Thank you so much for stopping by My Photographic Memories. I hope you've enjoyed this visit to Langtry, TX. We sure enjoyed visiting there.

Until next time,
Mike Z

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Part 4 - Our Hike Up the Lost Mine Trail


Our first day at the Chisos Mountain Lodge started out early. We took a short walk around a trail designed to give us a really good view of The Window. The sun had just come up high enough to shine right in Jan's eyes. We found out later that we missed a mountain lion moving across the trail towards The Window by about a half hour. We got to see a video of her though.


This Paisano, or Road Runner, was wandering around the parking lot as we got in the car to head to the trail. He seemed totally unafraid of humans, and went about catching his morning breakfast without breaking stride. I was told later that this lack of fear of humans is a characteristic of these beautiful birds.




The Mexican Jay above was in the parking lot of the trail. Searching for and catching a late breakfast was formost on its' mind. The blue of its' head and wings is like no other jay I have ever seen, a light pastel sky blue that is not like the "standard" blue jays around our house. When this jay flew off, I pointed the camera at it as best I could and just took shot after shot. The one above is the best of the lot.

We encountered our second Road Runner out on the trail, at about marker 6 or 7. We did not pick up a legend of the different markers, but I highly recommend that any hikers on the trail get one before going up. The hike would have been more interesting with one in hand!


Ocotillo, Fonquieria splendens


We met two hikers from Australia on the trek, and they were very friendly to us. The man in the photo above was visiting his friend, who had been in the US for some time working at a company in Austin. When he got up on the rock to get a better view, I couldn't resist taking this shot. It's one of my favorites.


These two photos were taken about half the way up the trail. I think the one on the right is the more interesting one. I can almost see a man's profile in the rock...





Some random shots as we reached the top of the trail. We were quite high up, and got a great view of the whole area. The pinon pine above left and the weed just cried out to be photographed. And flowers are always a treat to see and capture.


This photo was taken at the very end of the trail. If you look closely, you can see a young man on the left (about the mid point of the shot) taking a photo of a young man across the rock on the right. I think it gives a sense of the scale of the rock and a small part of what we enjoyed when we got there.

I hope you like these photos. I sure enjoyed taking them. I will be back to Big Bend in October for a longer stay and will surely have some great photos to show then.

This is the last post on Big Bend for now (I know I promised four episodes, sorry) because other photos are begging to be shown. But I will post the last episode later, once some more current things are done. Til then, thank you for visiting this humble 'blog.

Mike Z

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Part 3 - Sunset at the Chisos Mountain Lodge

We went to dinner at the Chisos Mountain Lodge main building. It was a combination reception desk, gift shop, and restaurant. The restaurant had a stunning view of the Window, which is what the gap in the mountains is called. A more perfect view of the beautiful sunset I could not imagine. So I took a few photos.



We had a great dinner at the Lodge, and the only thing that spoiled it was my jumping up every few minutes and rushing out to take "just one more, I promise" photo. Our waiter was young and very friendly and told us about his family and home in Ohio, I believe. He was glad to be on the staff, and this was his first night as a server! He did an excellent job, so I am confident his tenure there will be long.


The sun continued to set and the colors got more beautiful...


I wanted this sunset to last forever, but as we all know, time and sunsets wait for no man.

This last photo was taken from the porch of the restaurant side of the Lodge. I hope you can see the serenity and beauty of the moment. If you look at the lower left corner, there is a couple in the lounge chairs that was enjoying the view as much as I was. We were all very lucky!

We went back to the cabin very refreshed and very eager to get to bed! Our trip up the Lost Mine Trail would start very early. More on that later, my friends.