Friday 26 August 2016

Back to the World of Birding

Aug 25 2016. Iona Sewage Ponds Sunny 16-34c

It's been so hot and muggy in the Lower Mainland recently that waking at 5.30 a.m. to go birding has become a necessity with mid-day temperatures reaching the mid 30s it's hotter than Ho Chi Minh City!
When I arrived at Iona the sun was just peeking over the mountains. The sky was orange and the "sweet light" of morning illuminated the sky. A distinct aroma permeated the air. Regardless the birds seem to relish it all, especially the ducks and the shore birds which were finding plenty to pick at especially in the drained section that had recently been excavated. A few small puddles of water was all that remained and that is where the peeps were feeding.

At the waters edges I could just make out some shorebirds beginning to move around. I fired off a few shots at some of the sandpipers thinking they were all pectorals, later that night in Lightroom© one of the three birds was the buff-breasted sandpiper, the very bird I and others were there to observe. None of the shots were keepers. Soon the sun had begun to warm the air and a few other photographers had arrived. One of them Peter Z beckoned me over to where he had just re-located the buff-breasted that Tom Plath had found the day before. Apart from the aforementioned pectorals there were a few westerns, a single semi-palmated sandpaper, a small flock of least, Baird's and standing head and shoulder above them all was the buff-breasted. Often it would run after the smaller sandpipers  just to let them know who was boss.
Apparently not in the too distant past there would small flocks of buff-breasted pass through. It seems that their numbers like most of birds has declined and only two have been reported so far. The other being spotted Aug 26 in Boundary Bay.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
ISO 500
D500 Nikon 500mm F4 and 1.4 converter.
I have Photoshopped all the 'floaties' out of the picture for aesthetic reasons. 
As I haven't done too much photography lately I had completely forgot to check my ISO settings so the first shots I took were at ISO 2500. I should have known something was wonky when I had 1/2500 at F8 but I blithely carried on ignoring the camera settings. After a while it clicked (excuse the pun) that something wasn't quite right and I quickly changed it to my default bird setting of ISO 400 (actually 500 when I checked later)

Talk about bird brains. Reminds me of a shoot I screwed up years ago for the Langley Hospital. I had been hired to shoot the board of directors for a brochure. The executive would meet once a month and I was to take the group shot. I shot it with my Hasselblad CM and 40mm lens and portable studio. There was quite a set up. Later that night at home I went to take the 120 film out and to my horror the back wasn't loaded, fortunately they allowed me to re-shoot the following week. The moral of the story is similar to birding. The more you think you know the less you actually know.
ISO 2500
This is the shot I had forgotten to change the ISO. As it turns out only you and I know that!
ISO 500
At the buff-breasted twitch there were some heavy hitters from the birding world. I forgot about the stinky sewage ponds as they regaled birding adventures from Iceland, Madagascar, India, Ethiopia and elsewhere. . Funny how birds bring people together in the most unusual of places!

It was good to get back in the world of birding.

"It's never too late to start birding"

John Gordon
BC Canada

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