South Texas Birds Trip Report February 2020 - Tom Bol Photo Workshops

"This was the best learning workshop I've ever been on." Randall Pinson

February was the perfect time of the year to photograph raptors in South Texas. Both sessions had more than 35 Crested Caracaras present at our morning raptor session. We also saw Harris Hawk and an occasional Black Vulture.

The blinds at Laguna Seca Ranch provided ground level, mid-level and raised blinds for three different perspectives.

Photographing raptors fighting over perch space
Alfredo and Jean in the elevated raptor bling
Them mid-level raptor blind

For our afternoon sessions at Laguna Seca we photographed songbirds on carefully prepared perches. By shooting wide-open with no vegetation close by, our backgrounds turned out creamy and colorful.

Green Jays are iconic South Texas Birds

A female Golden Fronted Woodpecker confronts a Green Jay (photo on left)

A Green Jay looks down on an Audubon's Oriole


Golden fronted Woodpecker confronts a

Three Pyrrhuloxia and a female Northern Cardinal on a barrel cactus perch at Laguna Seca Ranch
Having fun in the Beaver Pond blind


Texas Red Yucca perch for a female Northern Cardinal

By using a 300mm or 70-200mm lens and shooting at high shutter speeds, we were able to freeze birds in flight.

Two male Northern Cardinals in flight over a prickly pear cactus

Estero Llano Grande State Park provided an opportunity to use our new bird techniques on birds in a natural setting. The night herons were great for perched photos as well as high speed fly-bys.

Annette working the Ibis Pond
Yellow Crowned Night Heron
Larry photographing Dowitcher
Tom demonstrating flight technique
Photographing Yellow Crowned Night Herons

We moved onto the Santa Clara Ranch for our last two days of photography. The natural perches made of blooming Black Brush and Huisache provided plenty of color to highlight the yellow plumage of some of the South Texas specialties.

Randall and Lynn in Blind #1
A female Pyrrhuloxia on a Huisache perch

Northern Bobwhite quail were popular and abundant at the waterholes at Santa Clara Ranch. The ground level blinds made it easy to photograph them drinking at the edge of the ponds.

Photographing land mammals was a highlight of our sessions at Santa Clara Ranch. Nine Banded Armadillos, Javelina and Texas Ground Squirrels all came to the waterholes during our photo sessions.

Pepe the roadrunner was a favorite at Santa Clara Ranch. She ate mice for our group and fended off the Crested Caracaras right in front of our blind.

Pepe on her perch
Morning shoot at the Santa Clara Ranch

We will be headed back to the South Texas ranches in April of 2022 for our new Texas Birds in Spring. Painted Bunting, four species of oriole and spring migrants will be on our wish list for this workshop.

Created By
Cree Bol


Cree Bol and Tom Bol