Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sparrow singing in the marsh, Point Reyes National Seashore

Song sparrow singing while perched on reeds in a freshwater marsh
A song sparrow belts out its tune from the freshwater marsh along the Kehoe Beach Trail

I have written previously about spending a fair amount of time looking for song birds to photograph in the wildflowers along the trail to Kehoe Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore, but one of my favorite images from the trip came from turning to the opposite side of the trail. It may not have the flashy colors of wildflowers, but I'm a sucker for marsh vegetation!

Browse more of my photographs of song birds.

Submitted to Wild Bird Wednesday -- follow the link to check out this week's posts!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sanderling checking the wrack, Plymouth Beach

Sanderling picking through the wrack at Plymouth Beach, Massachusetts
A sanderling checks the wrack for a snack along Plymouth Beach, Massachusetts.

In late April, I took an evening trip to Plymouth Beach to look for shorebirds to photograph. On the west coast, I had seen sandpipers already in their summer plumage by this time of year, so I was hopeful that I could find the same here in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, the birds were only just starting to show some color, but I was treated to some very nice light as the setting sun cut through a break in the overcast clouds. The tide was rapidly rising at the same time, and this sanderling (Calidris alba) was frantically checking the wrack for something edible before the beach was covered again.

Browse more of my photos of sanderlings.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sanderlings in a sandstorm, Plymouth Beach

Sanderlings brace against blowing sand on Plymouth Beach, Massachusetts
A pair of sanderlings brace against blowing sand in a stiff wind on Plymouth Beach

It took me far too long to "discover" the shorebird haven that is Plymouth Beach. I had seen promising reports on eBird since moving to the area, but during my first two years in Massachusetts, I primarily went north to Plum Island when I was looking for shorebirds to photograph. Last March though, I finally made the drive south to Plymouth, and it very quickly became a favorite location. In the offseason (from October through March) the beach is even dog-friendly, and my wife and pup joined me for this trip. It was a bit unfortunate that the wind was whipping around the whole time, as my poor terrier got more than a little sand-blasted during the 6-mile plus round trip. Like these sanderlings though, he seemed no worse for the wear, as he hunkered down and leaned into the wind and blowing sand.

View more of my photos of sanderlings.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

White-crowned sparrow in a sea of wildflowers, Point Reyes National Seashore

White-crowned sparrow in a sea of wildflowers in Point Reyes National Seashore
A white-crowned sparrow perched in the summer wildflowers along the Kehoe Beach Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore.

As I've mentioned in a previous post, the Kehoe Beach Trail is one of my favorite places to look for wildlife hiding in the sea of wildflowers that line the trail. I generally don't target song birds when I'm out looking for wildlife to photograph, mostly because I find it can be rather challenging to get close enough to obtain a bird that is relatively large in the frame and unobstructed by branches and such. However, a setting like this is, in my opinion, a great place to leave a lot of space around the birds. I particularly liked the layering to the wildflowers in this frame, with the white flowers extending on tall stalks above the yellow blooms.

View more photos from the Kehoe Beach area in Point Reyes National Seashore.

Friday, July 11, 2014

California quail calling out, Golden Gate National Recreation Area

California quail calling out in Golden Gate National Recreation Area
A California quail throws its head back in song along the Tennessee Valley Trail in the GGNRA.

For a long time, an image that was high on my wish list (at least of local opportunities) was a clean shot of a California quail in song. They’re already such interesting and charismatic birds, but it’s taken to another level when they throw their head back and call out toward the sky. During my time in California, I had a few fleeting opportunities to attempt a shot, but none of the images I produced quite met my expectations. On my recent trip to California though, I was finally able to capitalize. On one of my first mornings in Point Reyes, I photographed a female quail calling out from her fence post. She was not quite as exuberant about it as I might have preferred, but it still felt like I was putting a small checkmark on my list. Then, on my lone afternoon spent in the Marin Headlands, I came across this very loud male who was repeatedly calling out from his branch of coyote brush on a hillside above the Tennessee Valley Trail.

Quail singing from a twisted branch of coyote brush
The same quail singing from his perch on an old branch of coyote brush.

This quail was dedicated to making sure the whole valley knew he was there, and this gave me the chance to fire off a lot of frames from a few different compositions. It was exciting to have the chance to mentally score a photo of a quail singing in such a great setting as well. Coyote brush is a bit more appealing than a standard fence post would have been – and the unique twisted branches he selected as a perch really added some great character to the scene.

Browse more of my photographs of California quail.

Submitted to Wild Bird Wednesday -- follow the link for this week's posts!