Wednesday 28 March 2012

Winter wrens/Campbell Valley Park

If you go down to the woods today……
Campbell Valley Park.

A Varied thrush flips over leaves looking for insects, a pair of brown creepers make their way up and down a pair of moss covered stumps, chestnut-backed chickadees scout for a nest site.  (See these images below)
An hour has passed and I 'm still photographing in the parking lot!
The real purpose of the days shoot was to find a Winter wren and finally nail a decent shot for my website.
 I had had success with both the Bewick's and the House wren but the diminutive and quick moving Winter wren had been a hard one to nail. 
I knew that by early spring, deep in the forest, the wrens would singing their hearts out and would be easy to locate, within minutes I had found a pair. The light on the forest floor was low so I added a little fill flash to freeze the peak action. I had to wait until the bird alighted on something with a decent foreground and background before composing and releasing the shutter. 

A few more shots from the same morning.
Brown creeper

Brown creeper

Chestnut-backed chickadee

Chestnut-backed chickadee looking for nest site

Varied Thrush (Still waiting for the perfect shot)

Sunday 18 March 2012

Two Eagles

An adult Bald eagle tries to steal a fish tail from an immature.

Backyard Birding

I was just one of those days, the sun had come out after a week of rain but with the wife gone to Seattle and it fell upon me to prepare the Sunday dinner for when they got back later that evening. Don't get me wrong, I enjoying preparing food but it kinda cuts short any birding excursions planned for the day.

Unable to wander too far, I decided to pop out into the garden and shoot the Pine Siskins that had suddenly found our feeder. Beginning in December a few had visited but were driven away by our thirty or so resident House sparrows. By mid March the few December Siskins had brought back about fifty of their friends possibly because a switch of feed mix seemed to satisfy both Sparrows and Siskins. While the meal was cooking, there was just enough time to set up a portable blind, rig a few twigs for the birds to land on and voila!

Birds and Guns

Brunswick Point is shared with the birds, hunters and birdwatchers alike. Most leave no footprint.
One has to wonder what kind of mind does this! Perhaps the kind of mind that can blast and wound ducks and geese out of the sky while nearby, members of the public takes a quiet walk, birdwatch or photograph. Recently at Boundary Bay hunters were mingling with photographers while visitors from England were asking why hunting was being allowed in such a sensitive wildlife area.
However, not all is lost, even some of the best ornithologists enjoyed hunting at one time or another. We can only hope the the idiots who shot up this sign will one day see the light!

Friday 9 March 2012

Ducks in motion

As a relative newcomer to bird photography I find new challenges each and every time I go out. Sometimes a new species is photographed or new behaviour is observed or I meet with other photographers who share their knowledge and experience. On Tuesday March 6th it was time to photograph waterfowl flying around the ponds at Reifel, something I hadn't done before.
Another of my other goals this year is to photograph the common birds that for one reason or another many overlook in their search for the more glamorous species.
Have a wonderful spring.
Male wood duck
Male Northern pintail

Male American widgeon

An hour with a Short-eared owl

The short-eared owl is not only a stunning bird but also a very accommodating subject. First and foremost, the bird can be photographed in the daytime, which with many owls isn't possible. The success of stalking and photographing Short-ears starts with careful observation. It can be very easy to walk past an roosting owl so keep your eyes open for a bird flying along a hedgerow or even sitting on a log or stump. This owl allowed me to "join in the hunt" for about 30 minutes. I was very careful not to make an quick movements which seemed to put the bird at ease. Yes, the light could have been  "sweeter" but they'll be other opportunities.
Male Short-eared owl hunting-

Adult short-eared showing ear tuffs
After I felt I had enough shots and the bird had had enough of me I slowly backed off and watched from a distance. A few minutes later the owl continued to hunt in the very spot I had been standing only moments before.

Bird on a wire

As February closed out and the first week of March arrived so did the first signs of spring. The alders tree are turning red as their catkins unfurl and the Western meadowlark can be seen and heard along Boundary Bay. I finally managed to approach one of the colourful birds as it sat on a telephone wire. The grey sky didn't help but a subject I hope to photograph in better surroundings later in the spring.