Excited in the Rio Grande Valley. The Roma, TX IPT Gear Bag « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Excited in the Rio Grande Valley. The Roma, TX IPT Gear Bag

What’s Up?

Too tired on Sunday evening to finish packing I set my alarm for 3:25am and as always, woke before the alarm. My pick-up was for 4:45am but the drivers always arrive early since they have no idea in the world where Indian Lake Estates is. By 4:30 I was finished packing and in the big car on the way to MCO (Orlando International Airport). The flight to Houston was delayed en route in order to get around some weather. We arrived at Hobby about 25 minutes late. I was the proud owner of a 22 minute connection.

Fortunately, the gate for the flight to Harlingen was right next door. I was one of the last to board and miraculously there was one spot left in the overhead for my Think Tank roller. As I walked up the aisle I looked for Anita North who came two days early to help me with the set-ups. I did not see her. I figured that either she was on the plane and we missed seeing each other or her flight from Denver was delayed and she missed her flight. The turbulent weather continued for the short flight and we were restricted to our seats. After we landed and had rolled to a stop I looked toward the front of the plane and what did I see? Anita North, standing up to grab her Think Tank roller. Hooray.

Again miraculously, Southwest had somehow managed to get my two checked bags on the flight. We picked up our rental car and headed west. We stopped at an Olive Garden in McAllen and did some mega-shopping at a Walmart in Rio Grande City. Then we met Michael Ramirez and headed to the ranch.

Michael is the one of the sons of the very dear Roel Ramirez who first invited me to the ranch back in the days of film. Twenty-five years ago Roel was told the he had prostate cancer and would be dead in six months. He did not listen. Right now he is down to 125 pounds as the treatments that saved him for so long are taking their toll in terms of pain and quality of life. The Ramirez family had been in the Valley for eight generations; they even have their own historical marker a bit west of Roma.

When I use the words “very dear” to describe Roel I do not do so lightly. Roel is one of the nicest, sweetest, most generous gentleman on the planet. When he lost his beloved wife Frances about six years ago, he was, as I was when I lost Elaine in 1994, quite distraught. I do hope to have a chance to see him and give him a hug before I leave Texas.

After we got to the ranch house Micheal gave me the refresher course. We got our stuff into the house, said goodbye to Michael, and spent about two and a half hours setting up the morning blind. I began working on this blog post at about 5am and right now I am not sure if I will finish it before we head out for our first photography session. We did put out some seed, some peanut butter, and some halved oranges as we worked and the place was crawling with birds: Green Jay, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and a band of raucous Plain Chachalacas.

This Just In

We had a pretty darned good morning on Tuesday, especially with the Green Jays. More soon.

Roma, TX, Rio Grande Valley IPT Gear Bag

My main weapon-of-choice for this trip will be the once-again-sharp Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens. At times I will add the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III. I took both my main and my backup Nikon D850s.The former will be used with the tripod-mounted 600 VR, the latter with the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens that will be left on an empty chair in the blind to be hand held if needed for large birds or close work.

I also brought along a SONY kit, the Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter, and the vaunted Sony Alpha a9 mirrorless digital camera. I almost left the SONY stuff and home and took the Sigma APO Macro 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens for Nikon F but with its great versatility and close focus, I went for the SONY. I might wind up doing some flowers or butterflies with the SONY rig.

In my checked bag I have the various lens hoods along with the Induro GIT 304L tripod and my Mongoose M3.6.

I have been using the Mongoose for all of my super- and intermediate telephoto lens photography for forever, for everything from 70-200mm to 100-400 II to 500 to 600 to 800mm. It is simply the best.

Think Tank Rolling Bags

I was glad to note that all the lenses and bodies noted above along with spare batteries fit easily into the larger of my two Think Tank rolling bags, the Airport Security™ V 2.0 Rolling Camera Bag. And for the first time in a long time my Think Tank roller weighed a shade less than the US-legal limit of 40 pounds.

Please click on my Think Tank affiliate link here or on the Think Tank logo-link in the right column of each blog post page to earn a free gift when you purchase any Think Tank product.

Think Tank Urban Disguise Laptop Shoulder Bag

I love this amazing bag as it has tons of room and enables me to bring tons of extra stuff. If you are forced to gate check your roller you can get more than a few items in this bag, especially if you are not a diabetic.

Please click on my Think Tank affiliate link here or on the Think Tank logo-link in the right column of each blog post page to earn a free gift when you purchase any Think Tank product.

6 comments to Excited in the Rio Grande Valley. The Roma, TX IPT Gear Bag

  • avatar Phil

    I hope the ranch’s blinds have A/C! Especially if y’all shooting in the afternoons/evenings. STX in August gotta be brutal – bad enough here in central TX.

  • avatar James Saxon

    You should have a great trip. I have visited that ranch a few years ago with Greg Downing and had good luck with Orioles, Jays, Sparrows, Woodpeckers, Buntings, etc. With a little luck you may get a roadrunner. (Beep, beep) Good luck and happy shooting.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Was that with film or digital? I introduced Greg to Roel and to the Ramirez Ranch as well. And to quite a few other spots as well.

      BTW, without being too pedantic, bird family names should always be lower case. I find it best to capitalize the species names as doing so prevents confusion such as seeing a “yellow warbler” vs. seeing a “Yellow Warbler.”

      with love, a

  • avatar Warren Robb

    Looking forward to seeing some great images from this trip!

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