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Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report

I hear the tell-tale song come from the grass: bob-WHITE! There's a pause, and then he sings again. It's breeding season for the bobwhite quail, and their eponymous call is special to hear. Once found over much of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains and through Mexico to the Yucatan Peninsula, the bobwhite is one of the most imperiled grassland birds. It is now only found in great numbers in pockets of its former range. Therefore, it's special when this breeding pair feeds near the Redlands Ranch waterhole. Inside the blind, cameras click in earnest. This is our first evening in our first-ever session in the blind at Redlands Ranch, and I couldn't be more pleased.


Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Bobwhite quail in the grass.

We've been working diligently for the past eight months on getting this blind in place. You may have followed some of my chronicles on constructing the waterhole and the sunken ground blind that allows us to photograph these birds at eye level. The work has been a labor of love and is a long time coming. For the past ten years, I've had an iteration of this experience in mind, but life always seemed to get in the way for whatever reason. But now, the blind (for the most part) is complete and we are hosting our very first event: the Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife photography workshop.


Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
A diamondback rattlesnake at Redlands Ranch.

Hackberry Farm and Redlands Ranch are two different properties to those who may be confused with my terminology. Hackberry Farm is where I live near Dodd City, Texas, and Redlands Ranch is a property near where I used to live in Childress, Texas. Childress lies in the Texas Rolling Plains and is a remote region of Texas where towns are few and far between. As a result, there's plenty of wildlife and other species not that common across other parts of the United States. Animals like roadrunners, Texas horned lizards, armadillos, bobwhite quail, mule deer, nighthawks, and feral pigs are common throughout the area. It's also under the central flyway, so seeing any number of migrants flying through is common. So by the time we get in the blind the first time, we've got plenty of species we hope to see.


Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Photographers in the blind at Redlands Ranch.

Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
The ground blind and waterhole at Redlands Ranch.

The great thing about wildlife photography is that you never truly know what you'll see and experience - that's part of the challenge and allure of the activity.


Inside, the blind is spacious, so waiting for animals to drink or bathe in the waterhole is easy. You have the room to stand and walk around while you wait. However, as we found out, the wait is short. With each blind session, we see birds coming near the blind almost constantly. There are some lulls now and then, but that's mainly due to the natural rhythms of wildlife. Bobwhites are common, as are lark sparrows and morning doves. The star of the show is a painted bunting. Recognized by many as one of the most beautiful birds in the South, the painted bunting visits the waterhole where he (and his female companion) is photographed often.


Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Painted bunting at the waterhole.

Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Female painted bunting taking a bath.

Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Painted bunting drinking water.

Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Mourning dove reflection.

In between blind sessions, we drive the ranch and nearby backroads and look for wildlife safari-style. In all the years I've photographed wildlife, safari-style wildlife photography (where you drive and look for wildlife) is an effective way of shooting pictures. In fact, our first photography session of the workshop is practicing shooting from a vehicle. It's a skill that will be valuable as the week progresses.


Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
A cholla cactus we named "El Rey' under the dark skies of Redlands Ranch.

For the first part of the week, we partake in good barbecue, good Tex-Mex, and fantastic Texas hospitality. After a few days on Redlands Ranch, we head to Oklahoma, where we round out the week photographing landscapes, wildflowers, and more wildlife. Southwest Oklahoma is Comanche country. As such, the lore and history of the area hangs heavy over us. Along with the Childress area, Southwest Oklahoma is rural and, in many ways, still wild. The history that happened here (like the rise and fall of the Comanche tribe and the great buffalo hunt) didn't happen all that long ago. So we go in search of those stories.


We see bison, elk, a myriad of birds, and other wildlife regularly. In all, the weather was spectacular, and the company we kept was top-notch.


★★★


Redlands Ranch is good, and it's only getting better. be on the lookout for more workshops coming soon.



Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Black-tailed prairie dog and pup.

Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Black-tailed prairie dog.

Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Sunset over the mountains of southwest Oklahoma.

Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
A Rio Grande turkey in full strut.

Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Bison resting.

Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Black-tailed praire dog making a jump-yip call.

Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Roadrunner on a juniper tree.

Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Elk in velvet.

Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Bison at sunrise on the prairie.

Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Turkey feather and Greenthread

Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Bison silhouette

Redlands Ranch and Western Wildlife - A Hackberry Farm Photography Workshop Field Report
Milkweed, Indian Paintbrush, and Plains Coreposis on the prairei of Southwest Oklahoma.

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Christine Tabor
Christine Tabor
5월 15일

Very nice... 👍

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Thank you!

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