Thursday 15 September 2016

Bird Eat Sleep and Bird

Sept 12 2016 Queen Elizabeth Park Vancouver BC Sunny 23c

Morning Session

I had the whole day to bird and bird I did. I began at Queen Elizabeth where twitchers were searching for a chestnut-sided Warbler, quite the rarity in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver. I dipped on that one but there were plenty of other birds to photograph including this bushtit. I like the clean background in this shot, nothing too distract from the bird itself.

The unmistakable sound of a red-breasted nuthatch drew my attention where not one but five nuthatches were playing follow the leader from one dead snag to another, perhaps it was a family group. In this image I couldn't control the background nor the angle, sometimes it's not possible but being aware of backgrounds, direction of light can help to make a picture better.
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Queen Elizabeth Park has thousands of plant species. Many attract insects which in turn attract gleaners like warblers and vireos. 
Note the clean background with minimal distractions. In this case the dappled background is created by the dark shadows of the forest. I waited for the bird to perch on the sun before pressing the shutter.
Warbling Vireo
Some birds like the black-headed grosbeak and western tanager (below) feed on the many kinds of fruit in the gardens. The migrating birds move through the park in waves and once a flock is found it just takes some patience and little luck to find some good light and approprite background.
Western Tanager
I waited for this tanager to move to a branch with a clean background and then to tilt its head so the sun created a catchlight in the eye.


Time to sit down, read the newpaper and have an afternoon siesta in the sun.

When I awoke it was time to head toward Boundary Bay. I don't really like to photographing between 11 am and 3 pm unless of course I am on holiday when anything goes.

Late Afternoon

 On the Flood Tide/Boundary Bay 104
Plovers can be skittish birds but being the only person around I took the opportunity to sneak up upon a flock of about twenty birds. The tide had begun to recede and the birds wouldn't be around much longer. I estimate it took me a full thirty minutes to approach the flock. By the time I took these pictures I was perhaps fifteen metres away. Some of the birds were so relaxed they were asleep.
I read recently that birds can control their sleep even when flying, allowing them to cover long distances over oceans and inhospitable terrain. Half the brain stays awake and when tired other side takes over allowing birds to sleep in flight. These plovers must have realized that I was not a threat. Eventually I was close enough to compose these shots, especially the third shot below where I have tried to incorporate some reflections.
Male and female black-bellied plovers.
In this frame I have left some space on the left for the birds to look into rather than fill the frame completely. I'm not too sure I like the birds touching the edge of the frame but I couldn't ask the birds to shuffle for me.

Adult non breeding and (left) juvenile black-bellied plovers.
In this frame I have used two birds creating a repetition of shapes.

In this composition I have framed the main subject on the left drawing the viewer in. At that point the eye automatically runs along the line of birds and them back to the closest bird. The process takes only a few moments. Due to the amount of images we are bombarded with the average time a person looks at an image is about three seconds. If you can hold a persons attention for more then you have been successful in your goal.Why does this work? In western society we read from left to right, most advertising uses the same ploy, it is easy on the eye, draws the viewer into the picture. If that succeeds in engaging the viewer then we as photographers have succeded in our goal.
However, a bigger question is, can I tell the difference between a western sandpiper and semi-palmated or an American golden plover and a black-bellied plover...for me that's a greater challenge!

American golden plover ( right) with black-bellied plovers.

American golden plover in the forground looks daintier, note the long wingtips. Behind are two black-bellied plovers that have a larger beak and look plumper.

Until next time, good birding.

"It's never too late to start birding"
John Gordon
BC Canada

1 comment:

  1. Glad you had a good day despite dipping on the CSWA. I got it but it sure was tough. Plovers are not easy to distinguish glad Ilya gave you some pointers looks like you got it downpacked now.