Saturday 2 February 2013

In the right place at the right time

Serendipity means a "happy accident" or "pleasant surprise"; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it. 

The fog had cleared by the time I reached
 Black-capped chickadees, Golden-crowned kinglets, Spotted towhees, Song sparrows and Dark eyed junco's flit from branch to branchFurther along the trail, three northern saw-whet owls sleep the morning away after what I am sure was a successful nights hunting. Remarkably two of the birds were within five feet of the ground. Having observed them for a few minutes it was clear that all three were sound asleep and were not going to oblige for a 'eyes open' photo. On a previous visit I had been lucky enough to find one of the birds wide awake and in the process of disgorging a pellet. Images from that visit can be seen in a previous blog.
The morning walk around the sanctuary was somewhat uneventful so after making some sound recordings I decided to visit 72nd and Boundary Bay.
There I hoped to find the American tree sparrow which I had photographed a few weeks earlier but under very low light and foggy conditions. Those images have a wonderful 'feel' to them but now the sun had come out from behind the clouds which I knew would give an added dimension to any photographs I could manage.
American tree sparrow (Spizella arborea)
 After an hour of searching I noticed a solitary bird dive down into the ditch, it was the same behaviour that had given away the sparrows whereabouts on my first visit. Sure enough I was able to slowly approach the colourful sparrow before it flew up to a post and later into a tree. 
Look for the bicolored bill and dark spot on the breast for positive identification.
Cooper's hawk juvenile (Accipter cooperii)

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a flock of White-crowned sparrows scatter and hide themselves in a thicket of brambles, the culprit, a juvenile Cooper's hawk had landed about a hundred feet away. Above is a far, far away shot, cropped and then cropped some more. This is where a D800 would come in handy! All my cameras are 12 megapixels.
Anyway, it was time make my way back to the car only to find the parking lot crammed with birders and photographers, all of whom were pointing their lens at a long-eared owl. Being in the right place at the right time was one of the thoughts going through my mind as I looked through the viewfinder. 
At first the bird was too far away to get a detailed images so I put my 1.4 extender on my lens, at that precise moment the bird flew right in front of a group of us, I am now so close I have to back off.
Below are the images which may not have ever happened had it not been for the sparrows, a little bit of serendipity perhaps, I'll just call it Karma!
Long-eared owl (Asio otus)

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