30 Nov 2011

Flurry of wings

Some bird's are more difficult to photograph than others, because they are seldom motionless.  However, to capture their image in flight can often take your breath away, and/or teach you something new about a bird species at the same time. 

Tennessee Warbler
Cedar Waxwing hovering

This can include flight capabilities, speed, and how the bird may be recognized in silhouette.

Downy Woodpecker

Capturing an image of a bird in flight is often also the best way to see details on it's tail and wings.

White-breasted Nuthatch
American Redstart Female

Even if the image turns out to be blurred, the bird's overall color pattern can sometimes help identify the species.

Wilson's Warbler


Subscribe in a reader

23 Nov 2011

Caught with a mouth full

Blue Jay

 Most of the time I am too restless to just stand in one place to take my photos, which is no doubt why I still haven't purchased that tripod.  However, patience has it's own rewards and so I do often stand, crouch or sit in one place for long periods of time with my camera poised at the ready.  This is especially true if I see a bird or other wild creature doing something amusing or extra ordinary.   I never did see what the Blue Jay on the right eventually did with that peanut, but he hung on to it for quite some time, before he just flew off with it still stuffed in his beak.

The Squirrel above has himself wrapped around an apple the size of his head, which he's trying to eat.  I didn't see how he got the apple up onto that stump, never mind where he got it and I don't know how he managed to keep his perch.  He wrestled with this apple for a long time though, before he finally got his first bite, because it kept slipping away and rotating on him.

Red necked Grebe

This Red necked Grebe caught my attention because he kept shaking his head, throwing his head back and splashing the water in an effort to subdue a fish that was just a little too large to simply swallow.  His persistent determination didn't help, after about ten minutes, and a trip all over the pond, he gave it up.


Subscribe in a reader

14 Nov 2011

Delightfully late migrant

Nelson's not quite in view

Nature never ceases to amaze and surprise me.  We have had an absolutely beautiful and lengthy fall this year which seems to be slowing down migration for some birds.  The Cedar waxwings stayed much longer than usual and the Dark-eyed Juncos are still in residence.   I even saw a Robin just yesterday morning, despite a dusting of snow on the ground.

Somewhat alarmed
Nelson's sparrow

The birds are not the only ones taking advantage of the late arrival of winter.  I have been going out at every opportunity in hopes of spotting one more new bird species, despite the fact that most birds are now gone.  To my absolute delight, I have not been disappointed.

Looking up

Nelson's Sharp-tailed sparrow

The Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow is not a bird I would expect to see here in the city, since they prefer marshes for habitat, which makes this sighting very surprising indeed.


Subscribe in a reader

10 Nov 2011

Emerald eyed Crow-duck

Double Crested Cormorant

Crow-duck is the name given to the Double Crested Cormorant by early settlers of North America.  I found it fascinating when I discovered, from a close up photo on line, that he has emerald colored eyes.  How sweet is that?  I encountered this bird twice several years ago in spring, but never got a close enough view to take note of that particular physical feature.
When I first saw the Cormorant land in a local pond, he appeared suddenly out of nowhere and dove right into the water like a torpedo.  He covered more than three quarters of the length of the pond before he re-emerged head first, in an up periscope kind of way.  The first thing that I noticed about this handsome bird, is that he was not comfortable within the small pond.  He also did not enjoy my presence, as he shied away every time I moved the slightest bit.  Or perhaps it is just humans in general, because when a jogger moved by the pond at speed, he'd had enough and took flight immediately.

Double Crested Cormorant drying his wings

My next encounter with this species took place at yet another pond, when I had my brother along but, unfortunately, not my camera.  The next couple of photos belong to my brother, who gave permission to use them for this post.

Double Crested Cormorant and Blue Heron
It took me a while to identify the species, as I had never seen a Cormorant before and at that time, had no idea really where to look to learn more about it.  When I finally identified him, it was quite by accident, as I was researching a different species of bird.   It was the very beginning of my bird watching adventures, when I'd just decided that birds, other than raptors, had their own delightful appeals, and that I really enjoyed discovering them.  At the same time, I realized it is rare to catch sight of a Double Crested Cormorant on it's own in the spring.  Since they migrate in large numbers, in a manner quite similar to Geese, and nest in colonies, usually near rivers, lakes or other large bodies of water, including the ocean.

Subscribe in a reader

1 Nov 2011

Wildlife Portrait: November

Startled Snowshoe Hare races across the melting surface of a pond in spring.

Subscribe in a reader

Halloween delivers a birding trick and treat

        Despite the fact that it is Halloween, the weather is unusually fine.  It has been for the whole month of October.  In fact, although it is cooler at night, the sun has been shining and warming things up very nicely during the day.  The local birds, actively chirping their delight, is what drew me out and into the little forest just down the street.  Nothing else seemed more important.

Pine Grosbeak
        I didn't expect to see anything other than the local species of birds.  So when I heard the most intriguing birdsong, which was also unfamiliar, and totally out of season it seemed to me, I naturally had to find the source.  That took me a while, as I had to go off trail to do so, but I am so glad that I did. 

Looking around
Pine Grosbeak and Junco

          Right in the heart of the little forest, the song was the loudest, allowing me to pin point a direction and then to spot a flash of red, where it had no business being.  When the red bird landed on a naked branch, my first thought was - White-winged Crossbill!  My second thought was, it certainly has a beautiful song.  I managed to get a few photos, but before I knew it the bird was gone.  Nothing unusual in that.  Birds need to be actively feeding to stay alive at this time of year, so they are always in motion.  However, something about the bird nagged at me, but although I tried to track it, I didn't see it again. 

        The thing is, the White-winged Crossbill can be easily confused with several species of birds and vice versa.  The trick is to get a really good look, and I didn't.  I only had a minute at best to take the photos.

        When I finally had a look at my pictures, I found my first thought about the bird's identification had been wrong.  Lucky for me, because I had definitely captured images of a Pine Grosbeak instead.  A  first sighting for me, as well as real treat.  Is it strange to be happy to be wrong?

        To learn how to tell the difference between the Pine Grosbeak and White-winged Crossbill just follow my link:  http://susansheadspace.blogspot.com/2010/03/red-bird-update.html


Subscribe in a reader