Friday, 9 December 2016

Red-tailed Hawk, Baltimore Oriole, Hooded Merganzer (20161205)First trip to Pictou County.

Well Sylvia and the CSI ladies (Mimmi, Angela, Diane) were headed off to Pictou County thanks to Angela's organizational skills. Angela had arranged for Ken McKenna to be our guide. I had never been to Pictou County for a visit so this was all new country to me, and a guide was a wonderful thing to have. The morning wa pretty dismal from a light perspective and our visit to the causeway netted us Boneparte's gulls, Hooded and Common Merganzers at a distance. We headed over to River John for a recently spotted Pink Footed Goose. Ken had spotted the bird three times over the past two weeks, but the cooler weather and high winds sent us back to Pictou. I was with Ken in the lead car when he spotted crows mobbing this juvenile Red-tailed Hawk at one of the Round-a-bouts.
I was fortunate to grab a couple of images of this bird. Had it not been distracted I doubt it would have remained this close to the road.
Ken swung us by a abattoir to show us where Bald Eagles are usually available in the winter months. We were surprised to find some 40 baldies in the area. This juvenile bird looked pretty unique with all the white on its breast. It looked very much like a Red-tailed with a belly band.
Att he back of the field there were as many as 16 Balds in a single tree. Once again the light was pretty bad. Here is a shot of a juvvie doing a fly-over of Angela.
We next headed to some of the river spots in town. We were treated to a Harlequin and even an uncommon Eider. The highlights for me was this trio of Hoodies.
Although lighting and distance were tough the calmer water provided an acceptable couple of images.
We also found this Barrow's Goldeneye, agian in very dificult light, and at quite a distance.
In order to get these shots I left the convoy and spent some time walking along the river.
We wrapped up the day in Ken's neighbourhood looking for Evening Grosbeaks, but they were a no-show. However as we sat in Ken's driveway for a bit were were treated to his Baltimore Oriole.
A couple of American Robins were also present and some Mourning Doves. All told on the day we recorded 30+ species and had a SUPER time.
Take a little time and put some "wild" in your life, it'll do you good!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Red-bellied Snake, Super Moon, Pheasants (20161109-14) More turtle work and a Super moon.

We had such a great time on the 8th that we decided to spend a little time on the 9th investigating a second known Snapper nesting area. So the three of us headed out, Clarence, Bizzy and I. We checked three or four openings' but only one had eggshells present.
As we continued down the tracks Clarence commented on how we this was our second beautiful day in a row we had a good opportunity to find a snake. Well we only walked another 10 minutes when this little beauty revealed itself.
This is a Red-bellied Snake, and my first ever. Also being a blog first here is the obligatory second image.
As this sighting was almost a full two weeks later than I am aware this snake has been recorded we will add a third image here. This could be arecord breaker.
Another late critter out in this second week of November is this grasshopper, why isn't he underground fiddling with the ants??
A couple of evening later I took this shot of a near Super Moon. It is the night before the Super Moon but this is still a pretty good representation.
 The next morning a couple of roosters dropped in and the lighting, for whatever reason was just beautiful.
I just love the purple that shows up in this light. These are probably our most beautiful birds.
Then a half our later one of the ladies showed up, and she tried to keep hidden.
That evening I managed to shoot the Super moon with a little colour. I don't know if this is any better shot then last night's.
I'll wrap it up here and once again encourage you to put a little "wild" in your life!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Pheasant, Snapper (2016115-08) Yet another Snapper rescue.

Well I am finally in the mood to produce another blog post or two, it has been far too long. I had been spending some time on the tracks with very limited sightings so for the first two weeks back from California I really hadn't been taking photos. Oh, yeah then there was the kitchen renovation that we had to get through.
On the fifth I headed eastward for a bit of a change, and witht he recent rain was happy to see all the brooks running and the water levels getting back to normal. Here is a shot of a little stream that is very tough to get close to.
The only bird that presented a good opportunity was this Golden-crowned Kinglet.I had been talking with a new neighbour for about 10 minutes when this little fella came to investigate.
On the 8th, we were having a beautiful day and Clarence called so we decided to do a little turtle work that we had been discussing all fall. Before I had to leave to meet Clarence I had a meeting with these two beautiful ladies that popped in for a bit to eat.
We headed out to investigate a couple of "holes" we had found during September and October, I wanted to determine if they were actually turtle hatchling "escape" holes. While digging our first suspected spot we found turtle egg shells, so Clarence kept escavating. At one point he pulled this unit out of the hole saying that he thought he had seen some movement. So we lay it up on the rail tie to get some sun heat, to see if we could encourage it.
Here is the little creature with a pile of some 50 shells that Clarence was able to discover in the the nest.
 Clarence escavated the second nest of the day. This was an opening that I first noticed on September 29th. We uncovered 60 shells in this nest, 5 of which had not hatched. After digging the second nest out, we took another look at our little "foundling" and noticed a little movement. So I mentioned to Clarence we should get a little water on it and see how it responds. After a while he called to me and we took this image.
I am always amazed at how perfectly formed they are when they come out of the eggshell. Check out the little claws and the beautiful eye on this little foundling.
The spot in the middle of the underside (plastron) is where the turtle was connected to the yolksac that fed it through the summer.
We went back up and had a look at the unhatched eggs and four of the were definitely too light and had creases in them. The last egg suffered a little mishap and revealed the interior. It was another unviable egg, but you could see that the turtle had begun to form, but didn't finish the transition.
Unfortunately none of my images of the little foundling in the water turned out, or I would have posted one here. I will end this post here with the last Snapping Turtle rescue of the season. What a tremendous feeling to be able to see the little critter get to the water where it needs to be for the winter. I can hardly wait until the spring when we will start looking for these beauties again.
Take some time today, and put a little "wild" in your life!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Gopher Snake, California Bunny, Golden Plover (20161024) Last photo day in California for this trip

We drove home last night from Palm Springs in a Lightening and rain storm, a bit of an anomaly in Southern Cal.  and when we awoke on Monday morning it was still raining. I was disappointed to be held indoors for most of the day as I was hoping to get back to my favourite Bolsa Chica. Later in the day Neil and I decided to brave the remaining mist and head over. I knew the lighting conditions were going to be tough with ISO never being below 2000 just to get any image. The background skies in this Long-billed Curlew shot will give you some idea of the grey type of day it was.
These are such unique birds I just love shooting them whenever and whereever I find them. Here is a second image.
Now I am going to throw in a shot from a previous post that shows a Reddish Egret. I do that to provide an introduction to this video. This little "short" will provide more context of the conditions we were shooting under. The video to watch the entertainment is HERE.
As we made our way back to the car to head over to a separate area of the park we captured this Gopher Snake. Yet another first for both the blog and I.
Estimate length of this sweetie is about 6 feet. Here is a second, zoomed in image.
Whenever I get a chance to shoot uncommon birds for me, especially when I can get a number of them in a frame, I shoot them. Here are 6 Black-crowned Night Herons resting next to the Pacific Coast Highway at Bolsa Chica.
We didn't get away from the weather totally. Here you can see a few raindrops in this next shot along with a beautiful Western Grebe.
As we walked the other area we were pleased to find this American Golden Plover, that due to its postion allowed for a nice bokehed image.
If I have a current nememis bird for a great shot it is this one. The Belted Kingfisher is known to be a difficult bird to get, so I will have to settle for this ong distance landing image.
I thought this little group of Blue-winged Teals deserved an appearance here.
Then all of a sudden the Sun made an appearance and I was able to shoot this wonderfully cooperative California Rabbit.
When I was able to shoot this "golden" in golden light with a golden background I had to take the shot.
We had been watching this Northern Harrier make its passes back and forth along the shoreline. I found the use of its legs to help in steering the course to be very interesting. I don't ever recall watching a Harrier using this manoever.
I'll wrap up this post and this entire trip with what I think is a terrific Golden image taken in "golden" hour light, non silhoette version.
This just goes to show you why I love coming to Cali, even on a very tough day there are spots where you are ging to find subjects to shoot. It also is a great place to put a little "wild" in your life!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Phainopepla, Lizards, Black-throated Sparrow(20161023) A quick trip to 1000 Palms-an oasis in the desert

Even before we headed out to return home from Palm Springs I was able to get a nice shot of a Northern Mocking bird to get the day started on the right foot.
As you can see from the background we had overcast skies once again today. On the way back to Irvine we were going to make a couple of stops to see more of this strange and wonderful countryside. We headed off to 1000 Palms an oasis just outside of Palm Springs. As we arrived I was able to grab a quick image of a Phainopepla. It is a bird a little large than a Cardinal but very close in body shape. It is all black with a red eye. This image was take at quite a distance.
As we walked around the oasis it was was pretty evident there was plenty of life around, but it was all staying pretty well hidden or quite far off.  I Think this next bird may be a repeat for the trip. Is this another Rock Wren with some nesting material?
As we made our way from 1000 Palms to the next oasis in the link, only a couple of kilometers away, I grabbed this little lizard. I believe this is a Western Long-Tailed Brush Lizard yet another blog and lifer first for me and the trip.
Things were rolling along pretty well. Even in the heat (94F) there was still activity in the watery areas. I was able to get a little closer to this Black-throated Sparrow, so the detail is a little better. I believe this to be a female.
Here is a closer, though very conditions, shot of a Phainopepla. You can see the red in the eye, and even though there are many branches in the way, a better overall look at this bird.
There was activity all around the water and many of those movements were being made by the wintering "Butter-Butts". Here is a decent shot of another Yellow-rumped Warbler.
I am a little disappointed with myself as I took some photos of a small Orange minnow in one of the ponds and the images are not presentable. On the other hand I did manage to get an acceptable shot of these three little fishes. I have no idea what they are, they could be Pupfish. Yet more newbies for the blog!
Walking back from McCalum Grove, which was the second Oasis, we found this beautiful example of a Blue-sided Lizard. I love how his claws show on the rock.
I am pretty confident this is a second Western Long-tailed Brush Lizard of our walk today. Beautiful, quick and elusive!
As we stopped for a super Ice Cream, we were guided there by Yelp :) , I grabbed this image of another female Great Tailed Grackle in the parking lot.
As we swung over the mountains we took a couple of side roads to have a look at some of the views. At one of the stops, inspite of the wind, I was able to spot and quickly shoot this Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel, a favourite while in Alberta.
At another stop we grabbed some images of a Mountain Bluebird and this trio of Snow geese, two of which were in the Blue phase.
I'll end the post here, once again showing how easy it is to put some "wild" in your life.