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Archive 2013 · Yeee Hawww! (40)
Conrad Tan
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p.1 #1 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Congratulations to Conrad Tan for winning Feature Thread of the Week with 9 votes - View Previous Winners

Hello everyone! I recently got back from a weekend shooting at one of the best bird photography ranches in South Texas with 8 of my best buds! We've heard about all the good shooting there by all the big name pros, so one in our group took the initiative and contacted one of these places. Before we knew it, our tickets were bought and off we went.

Located in the Rio Grande Valley of southern Texas, nine miles west of McCook lies the Santa Clara Ranch. Owned and operated by Dr. Beto Gutierrez this 300 acre wildlife sanctuary is comprised entirely of virgin brush land. The Santa Clara Ranch is part of a growing group of land holdings owned by forward thinking landowners in the lower Rio Grande Valley who have realized the importance of creating and preserving natural habitat for wildlife over the past three decades. Their tireless efforts have resulted in the return of many native species to their lands, some of which are found nowhere else on earth. This has developed an increased interest in the area and its wildlife, as well as the opportunity to view an amazing amount of migratory song birds during their annual spring migration.

This type of photography is not for everyone. The birds and wildlife are drawn in by water-pools especially created in front of bunkers that provide the best possible photographic angle to thirsty critters that come in for water. It couldn't be easier! The opportunities of getting just about anything is so great, you'll not know what camera/lens to hold in your hand. Sometimes you'll not know what bird to shoot as there are so many that appear at once! I'm not gushing over this place because I got 7000 keepers. I truly enjoyed my stay, and enjoyed Hector Astorga (Ranch Manager) and Beto Gutierrez's company. They are good people who enjoy what they do and I highly recommend it to those who want shots like these.

Anyway, on with the show!

1. Here is the gang from NorCal, and one from SoCal. Some FMers, some lurkers, but all good folks I've come to call my good buds! (all the people pics were donated by Anhtuan - Thanks man!)

In order from left to right:

Anthony Whitmore (Ant-man), Mallardg500 (Phoo), Major K (Khai), lepane (Quang Pho), Lurker #1 (Tan Huynh), Lurker #2 (Hai Ta), Lurker #3 (Anhtuan Truong), yours truly (Conrad Tan) and lastly Anhthinh180 (Thinh Bui)

2. Every morning someone (usually Anhtuan) makes breakfast for the whole group. Good eats from that man! This particular photo is Phoo making some fried rice. We're Asian, we like rice

3. Anthony was our token white guy for the trip. After a few bowls of rice, he started looking like this LMAO

4. Every morning we start at the crack of dawn and drive to one of the hides.

5. Lets start with some mammals! This is a Mexican Ground Squirrel

6. These guys were also all over the place. Collared Peccary

7. Bugs Bunny!

8. We had a choice to make and create our own perch setups. Here I am making my perch better than Ant's

9. Then the waiting begins.

10. Doesn't take long till the action begins! White Winged Dove

11. Cardinal

12. Brown Headed Cowbird

13. Common Ground Dove

14. House Sparrow

15. Mid afternoon and we head back to the cabin and off load our files. Here's Anthony deleting someone's pics.

16. Then back to the hides again! Who do you think got the better pics, Canon on the left or Nikon on the right?

17. Black Crested Titmouse

18. Nashville Warbler

19. Black Throated Sparrow

20. Sometimes the birds only appeared in harsh light like this Varied Bunting

21. But most of the time they appeared right on cue like this Lincoln's Sparrow!

22. At the end of each day there was post processing time!

23. And at the start of each day there was this kind of thing

24. Gold Fronted Woodpecker

25. Grey Catbird

26. Bobwhite

27. Inca Dove

28. Young Lazuli Bunting

29. Female Indigo Bunting

30. There were HUGE birds like this Crested Caracara

31. And small birds like this Pyrrhuloxia

32. Curved Billed Thrasher

33. Harris's Hawk

34. There were some surprises like this Western Diamondback

35. And I got my three target birds, Scissor-tail Flycatcher

36. Painted Bunting (thanks for the flash assist Ant)

37. Green Jay

38. Quite a show put on by this Bronzed Cowbird

39. Probably my favorite shot of the trip!

40. We actually went a month too early! The weather was in the 80's and 90's, and the watering holes didn't see the action they will in June when it will be in the 100's! I hope to return then and try for more new species. I hope you enjoyed my little post!

May 13, 2013 at 05:25 AM
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p.1 #2 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Awesome set my friend and an awesome experience


May 13, 2013 at 05:38 AM
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p.1 #3 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Hi Conrad,

That's an incredible trip with some truly incredible photos. I'm sure a good time was had by all!

Thanks for sharing your top-notch photos.

May 13, 2013 at 05:57 AM
Jude Perera
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p.1 #4 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Super shots CT. Must be a fabulous experience and fun to shoot with others together. Congrats for some amazing captures.


May 13, 2013 at 05:57 AM

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p.1 #5 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Awesome set Conrad!!


May 13, 2013 at 06:02 AM
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p.1 #6 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Oh wow man what an amazing post and set of pics. Congrats.

May 13, 2013 at 06:03 AM
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p.1 #7 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Wonderful experience. All the while going through the set I was feeling as if I was there myself...nice images Conrad.

May 13, 2013 at 06:27 AM
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p.1 #8 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Dude Really good set and experience.

Must have been a fun time.

May 13, 2013 at 08:36 AM
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p.1 #9 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

excellent set Conrad... i like them all

May 13, 2013 at 08:46 AM
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p.1 #10 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Beautiful set (as usual), Conrad, made all the more interesting by the travelogue, commentary, and shots of the fried rice!


May 13, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Search in Used Dept. 

Desert Drake
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p.1 #11 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

I sure enjoyed this, Conrad. Thanks. Great photos.

May 13, 2013 at 10:41 AM
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p.1 #12 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Looks like a fun time was had by all. With so many guys in one hot enclosed place I would have prayed for my sinuses to be clogged.
Many wonderful shots.

May 13, 2013 at 11:37 AM
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p.1 #13 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

I've been on the Santa Clara. It's a really nice place. You did a great job of capturing the critters of my beloved South Texas.

I have a 5,000 acre hunting lease between Hebbronville and Lake Falcon. The wildlife diversity of that land is amazing.

The fall is a good time for photography down there. The cooler days mean that wildlife is often active in the daylight.

Excellent job. Love this set.

May 13, 2013 at 01:17 PM
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p.1 #14 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Great stuff, I'm jealous!

May 13, 2013 at 01:26 PM
Rob Tillyer
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p.1 #15 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Super work Conrad.


May 13, 2013 at 01:44 PM
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p.1 #16 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Looks like you guys had a great time, Conrad Great variety of birds!
7 and 39 are my favorites

May 13, 2013 at 01:52 PM
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p.1 #17 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Fantastic set. This is the way to do it- with friends

May 13, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Tim Kuhn
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p.1 #18 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Crazy ass set CT, holy moly Looks like you guys had a great time, you sure came back with some killer shots!!


May 13, 2013 at 02:28 PM

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p.1 #19 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Conrad, those are some amazing images, looks like you had a great time, I did not know Anthony was still shooting

May 13, 2013 at 02:49 PM
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p.1 #20 · Yeee Hawww! (40)

Very nice set, Conrad. I think you are holding off your grade A images, bro, hahahaha

May 13, 2013 at 03:54 PM
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