Wednesday, 31 August 2011
I visited tonight and was met with a sad sight. One of the 3 osprey died, and is still in the nest.
The chick in the background was really bothered by the situation, just looking at its sibling that wouldn't move any more. And it bothered me too.
I couldn't tell what the cause was for sure until I got home and reviewed the images closely, but I had a suspicion. I thought maybe a hook from a snagged fishing line had managed to be eaten by the osprey. But it appears that the osprey chick got tangled in the line and died from that.
There wasn't much to do, but I reported it to someone that can hopefully get a visit from someone that can remove the dead bird.
And to be expected, mom was still mom, and yipped a couple times. And dad came by with a fish, circled a few times, and then delivered a fish. And then mom fed the (2) chicks.
Life goes on.
Rock kestrel used to be considered a sub-species of the Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), but on the basis of recent genetic findings it is now considered to be a separate species.� As the classification of birds goes, this isn’t an uncommon occurrence and is likely to become more so as further genetic studies are completed, [...]
My plan to hide a bit and have hawks or falcons land near my at the beach in Cape May worked.
I managed to get a handful of shots of this kestrel eating a dragonfly.
And this Video:
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
During sunny periods yesterday, I saw my second and third Painted Lady butterflies of the year; again amongst the dunes at the top of Swansea Beach. I had gone down there looking for birds (although I didn't manage any decent photos of them), so I had to press my 500mm lens (with extension tubes to allow it to focus close enough) into action for this shot, as the butterfly rested on the sea-wall when clouds pulled overhead: I tried a different approach here, coupling a 50mm f/1.
Hola a tod@s. Una entrada con el Calam�n ( Porphyrio porphyrio ) como protagonista. �s esta una especie a la que he tenido la fortuna de fotografiar en otras ocasiones, pero jam�s la hab�a conseguido una imagen de ella "a ras del agua", desliz�ndose por la l�mina de agua de una laguna.
Monday, 29 August 2011
A couple weeks ago I had my most productive visit to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia.
The thing that set the visit apart was the morning encounters I had with some herons and egrets.
Color and good light makes normal things special, and great things extra special.
I've taken lots of heron and egret photos but really just about none when there was such magical light. Two things combined - the sun was rising behind me a bit, and there was a touch of fall foliage in front of me. The two combined to bathe these birds in light and color.
Shooting at Chincoteague can be a little tough, mostly because lots of people go there, and they are often tourist types that see someone or some thing and stop and all get out at once. On the day I got these shots that happened a couple times and I left and came back hoping the birds that all flew away would come back - and it sort of worked.
While there I also saw the roughly 1000 snow geese, and a few skimmers, hawks, falcons and some shovelers and other ducks...
At the encouragement of my friend Nina, I signed up for the full week-long deluxe package, which included lodging in a wonderful little cabin in the woods at Opossum Creak Retreat, 3 meals a day, birding by day and presentations each evening after dinner. That week was total immersion in birds, botany and natural history. Put another way, as quoted on the New River Festival website, it's a week of "birding, ecology, friendship and fun."
I've never been to a birding festival before, but I think the bar has now been set pretty high for any future bird outings that I might go to. They really take care of you at the New River Festival. For one thing, having your meals provided for you is a huge convenience that I didn't appreciate until I came home and realized that I had to go back to fixing my own meals. This may sound silly, but it's just part of what lets you devote ALL of your attention to birding - someone else worries about all of the logistics for you (a HUGE thanks goes out to Dave Pollard for that - thanks, Dave!), while you just sit back and enjoy the birds. A bus drives you to the designated trip locations, lunch comes with you, and you have access to the guides basically from dawn till dusk. Groups are kept small, with a ratio of approximately 10 guests per guide, for maximum learning potential. Have a target bird in mind? Let the guides know, and they will do their best to get it for you.
Morning comes early, with communal breakfast at 6:00, and then you're on the road by 6:45. I had to laugh some mornings when I would look at my watch to see it was only 10:00 or so, thinking to myself, "Wow, I've been birding for 3 hours already!" Most trips would return by 2:00, giving you a few hours of down time in the afternoon, but there were a few day-long trips available that kept participants out until 8:00 or 9:00 at night (including dinner, of course). It was intense, to say the least. We were all a little loopy by the end of the week, I think, due to lack of sleep, but the intensity was worth it. I was speaking to someone on one of the trips about time I spent in France as a college student, where I was immersed in the language and the culture for a handful of months. This birding trip was not terribly unlike my time in Paris. It was full-on immersion into the world of bird behavior and bird song, and it give me such a better understanding of the habitat requirements of all the birds I saw (a diverse mix of habitats are covered over the course of the week if you pick the right trips). I left for this festival with a desire to get to know my warblers better, and I feel like that goal was reached. I knew that all the learning had paid off when, during the return trip home, I was able to easily recognize some birds that were still relatively new to me during a quick stop to do some road-side birding 30 minutes away from my house.
In addition to the immersive nature of the festival, there was also an insular feel to the event, which was not something that I expected going into it. It was as if we were in our own little birding heaven, giving thought to little else. Not much news from the outside world reached me during the week. I heard about the killing of bin Laden on Monday morning, but other than that, I was removed from news. Nothing about the royal couple, nothing about this reality personality or that movie star or this million-dollar company buying out some other company. I chose not to watch television or listen to the radio. This was my first true vacation from news media in quite some time, and it was refreshing! Even my social media contacts were limited mostly to other folks who were making Facebook posts about the festival. Yes, we were all right there together, talking face to face, but also communicating via Facebook. While social media (including the good ol' telephone!) kept me somewhat tethered to the outside world, mostly I felt like I was on a very special little birding island, where all I wanted to do was learn about and observe birds as much as possible, and that was okay with everyone around me.
As much as I birded, I didn't get many bird photos due to the constraints of my equipment. And while I birded hard, I also took time to appreciate some other aspects of my surroundings. I'll tell you more about that in upcoming posts.
Eating Out , a photo by julian sawyer on Flickr. All of a sudden the spiders seem to have grown up! Plenty of food around for them too but watching
Fern getting ready to unfurl
Leaf of a Wild Ginger plant - perfect symmetry
The saddest-looking Squirrel Corn flower I've ever seen
That's a long way down for a snail...
Wild Geranium flower, in repose
An example of the diverse flora on one tiny swath of hillside
I kept my distance from here, thank you very much. A large arachnid lives within.
Fern Study, I
Fern Study, II
Almost in bloom...
... and in full flower
These images remind me of the cool, damp spring morning that it was when I took them, something that sounds positively delightful now that the weather is starting to heat up.
Strike The Pose , a photo by julian sawyer on Flickr. It is always good when you stumble across a bird or animal that is happy to be in your company.
Sometimes you just need to LOOK
While out for the day with a friend we walked around some old buildings. Suddenly I looked up and saw this vignette. So the question is What part of it is REAL and what parts of it are NOT?
Learn to look all around you and then when you think you found the image, turn around and look BEHIND you.
This image was enhanced post processed with Nik Filters. But there was no Photoshop used at all. Just the image.
Sunday, 28 August 2011
The Afrikaans name for the Familiar chat is “Gewone spekvreter” which means “Common fat-eater“, a strange name that it apparently earned during the 1800′s when the Voortrekkers were migrating northwards from the Cape of Good Hope with their ox wagons and these little birds made a habit of feeding on the lard that was used [...]
In addition to a plethora of beer photos (quelle surprise!) some pretty cool stuff came back upstream from all over the world. I'm also guessing some of you have newfound respect for the NatGeo photographers who often have to tell the story of a place with photos of things? Read more �
Part two of 'A Little bit of English Countryside' Wilstone Reservoir. A favourite of mine, the local birders, and the birds.
I have to say this was probably one of the stranger things I have ever seen. � There are a few areas of Redwoods National Park that are typical grassy meadow habitat, typical elk habitat.