Monday, May 4, 2015

Block Creek Natural Area and Last Chance Forever

Both the Red and Gray Morph of the Eastern Screech Owl
I have just returned from a log weekend in the hill country of Texas.  We stayed and birded at a great place, Block Creek Natural Area-Turkey Hollow.  Almost all of photography took place at block Creek, plus we stayed right there.  The accommodations and food were excellent.  Sharron and Larry Jay have set up the area for nature photography for all skill levels..  When you stay there you become part of the family, everyone eats together.  There are multiple blind set up in many different areas of the property and the number of black-throated hummingbirds that are present is unbelievable.  The Jays can be reached at Sharron@BlockCreek.net or 830-995-4174, for further information.

I attended a three day instructional photo tour, it was not a workshop, but a chance to photograph with a professional nature photographer, Larry Ditto , who I consider my friend..  We photographed from Thursday afternoon until Sunday at lunch time.

I did run into a problem, flying out of Dallas-Fort Worth to San Antonio plane was completely full and there was no room in the overhead for my camera equipment.  Because of this I gate checked my bag and was told it would be at the baggage claim.  However, and maybe not to my surprise my camera bag did not arrive.  After checking with the baggage agent, the bag never was placed on the plane.  Not only my bag before other people did not get their bags.  I gave the the baggage agent, all my information will was going to be.  I was told that they have a flight to San Antonio every hour from Dallas-Fort Worth.  My bag should be on the next plane and they would send it to me.  I finally received my camera bag, just prior to starting the Photoshoot.  Thank God!

The plan for the first afternoon of shooting, was to photograph raptors.  Arrangements were made with "Last Chance Forever."  The Bird of Prey Conservatory located near San Antonio.  The primary mission At the Last Chance Forever is to rehabilitate and release back into the wild, injured, sick, or often birds of prey.  From the information sheet since 1978.  They have provided care for 240 to 300 raptors every year.  These birds got expert veterinary care, physical therapy, nursing exercise and their ultimate gift, release.  For more than 30 years.  They have successfully returned 65 to 80% of the birds to the natural home – the wild.

We had a chance to photograph a pair of screech owls, red-tailed hawk, great horned owl, and the Harris Hawk.  The Harris Hawk gave us a chance to get flight shots and watch it capture a lure.
Red-tailed Hawk Fluffing Its Feathers

Red-Tailed Hawk, Showing How It Got Its Name

Gray Morph Eastern Screech Owl

Red Morph Eastern Screech Owl

Great Horned Owl, with Its Mouth Open
Harris Hawk Flying Right into Your Face

Harris Hawk on Its Back Going to Catch a Lure.  This Is a Composite Picture

Last Chance Forever is a nonprofit agency that receives no federal or state funds in the all the funding come from public donations.  One of their supporters is Don Henley, one of the founding members of the musical group, The Eagles.  All donations are tax deductible, and more information can be found at their website www.lastchanceforever.org.






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