Showing posts with label Radio Road Ponds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Radio Road Ponds. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tranquility at sunset, Dowitcher at Radio Road Ponds

High key image of a dowitcher at sunset

As the sun dropped low in the sky, it slipped behind a nearby building and cast a shadow over this preening dowitcher. In order to the expose for the bird, I had to push the exposure compensation up to +5/3, which left only a bit of the reflected sunset color in the ripples of the water. This high-key exposure worked well to help capture the tranquility of the moment that I shared with this bird along the shoreline.

View more of my shorebird photos.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Feeding dowitcher, Radio Road Ponds

Dowitcher feeding in blue water at Radio Road Ponds

My conference was near SFO, so during an evening dinner break in the program, I headed down to Radio Road Ponds for the sunset. I was greeted by the sight of a large flock of avocets when I got out of the car, and after I sat there for a while watching them, a flock of dowitchers flew in and started feeding close to the shoreline. I have no ideal if this is a long-billed or short-billed, but they were fun to watch at close range!

Browse more photos of dowitchers.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Northern shoveler drakes, Radio Road Ponds

A pair of northern shoveler drakes, including one flapping its wings

With their handsome plumage patterns, over-sized bills, green heads, and yellow eyes, Northern shovelers are my favorite duck species to watch and photograph. Their numbers increase each winter in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Radio Road Ponds in Redwood City was a great place to have a chance to get close to them. There are also many other duck and shorebird species to see there as well.

View more photos of northern shovelers and other duck species in my Ducks Gallery.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

American avocets at Radio Road Ponds

Flock of Avocets

On my way back from Pillar Point Harbor last month, I decided to take a slight detour to Radio Road Ponds in Redwood City. I was delighted to see a large flock of American avocets resting in the shallows near a convenient place to set up a tripod. While they were far enough away that making a compelling image of a single bird was difficult, it was a fun challenge to find some pleasing compositions within the flock.

Avocets tucked in

Many of the birds were busy preening, but occasionally they would all tuck their bills into their feathers to rest. I really love the shape of a shorebird in this pose, and it's always nice to photograph such a relaxed subject. The rippled reflections were a nice bonus too.

American avocets

More photographs of these elegant shorebirds in my Stilts & Avocets gallery.

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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Iridescent northern shoveler, Radio Road Ponds

Iridescent shoveler drake - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Northern shovelers are beautiful in any light, but especially when you catch the right reflection off of their iridescent feathers. The right mix of overcast light and head angle really helped to show off the colors of this drake.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

American avocet, Radio Road Ponds

Avocet portrait - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

A few more shots from the nice encounter I had last month with a large flock of American avocets at Radio Road Ponds. Mid-march is right at their transition time from the basic plumage, which is in grayscale, and their breeding plumage, with the beautiful cinnamon coloration.

Summer vs. Winter Plumage - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Regardless of their plumage of the day, I find these birds to be so elegant. They stand tall, with a long smooth shape to their body and bills, and they just seem to float as they walk.

American avocet standing tall - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Northern Shoveler at Radio Road Ponds

Northern shoveler looking handsome - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

There's just something about northern shovelers that fascinates me, and it's always a pleasure when I get a chance to photograph one from up close. In most locations I've found them fairly skittish to approach, but after positioning myself along the edge of the water at Radio Road Ponds this one came quite close (in addition to others). In the shot below, he is motioning and vocalizing towards another duck that was in the area -- although I can't remember if it was a greeting towards a female or a less friendly call to a male rival.

Northern shoveler motioning - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Submitted to World Bird Wednesday -- follow the link to see the posts for this week!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Dance Continues, Avocet Courtship at Radio Road Ponds -- Part 2

This is the second half of the courtship and mating ritual of a pair of American avocets that I witnessed at Radio Road Ponds in Redwood City. Here's a link to Part 1.

As illustrated in Part 1, the male danced around the female and stopped to preen for a few minutes, each time seemingly gaining in intensity and getting closer and closer to the female. Soon enough he came right up to her side and began rapidly thrashing his bill through the water and splashing both of them.
Avocet pre-copulation courtship and love bubbles - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

As quickly and unexpectedly as he started splashing, he stopped and immediately hopped on top of the female. He seemed to have a little trouble finding his balance at first, but then was able to steady himself.
Avocet finding balance - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

A brief moment of copulation followed...
American avocet copulation - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

...and the next generation of avocets was created.
American avocets mating - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

It took him a little while to find his balance, and the actual mating was pretty quick, but all the while I was firing off frames and marveling at the incredible ritual I was watching. Even with the excitement of photographing this special moment, I was carefully watching my buffer counter, since I wanted to be ready to try to capture a few frames of what I knew was coming next. After mating, he hopped back down in the water, and the pair crossed bills and ran forward together for a few strides, the final step of their elaborate ritual. Unfortunately, I didn't get a really great shot of them running together, but it's such a wonderful moment to have witnessed through the viewfinder.
Avocet post-copulation run - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Dance Begins, Avocet Courtship at Radio Road Ponds -- Part 1

The dance begins - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

After dropping my wife off at SFO a few weeks ago, I decided to make a quick stop at Radio Road Ponds to see what birds were around before it started to rain again. I've already posted a few shots from this trip of handsome northern shoveler drakes and of the large group of American avocets that landed right in front of where I was sitting. The birds were starting to turn to their gorgeous summer colorations, and it was apparent that a few pairs had already selected a mate.

American avocet courtship - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

These two "love birds" spent time together on the outskirts of the flock. I was initially watching this pair just because they had moved closer to my position, but I was surprised and excited to see the female take her courtship pose. I had read about this interesting ritual and seen images of it before, but I had only previously seen it in person on one occasion, which was from quite a distance away. I was very lucky on this day to have a chance to witness this wonderful dance of nature from such a close distance.

Avocet courtship dance - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

After she presented her courtship pose, he spent a few minutes walking back and forth around her, seemingly getting closer to her with each pass.

Avocet peening to impress - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

He stopped to preen by her side on many occasions, perhaps doing his best to woo her with his looks, and demonstrate what a great choice she had made. The preening is apparently a very important part of the courtship ritual, and he seemed to go at it in quite a frenzied way at times.

American avocets in love - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

The mating display lasted only a few minutes in total, and I've included images of the second half of the dance in my next post.

This post is part of World Bird Wednesday -- click the link to view all of this week's submissions!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Preening shoveler drake, Radio Road Ponds

Preening northern shoveler - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Three poses of this handsome northern shoveler drake preening. There was plenty of posturing between males when a female would swim by, so I'm sure he wanted to look his best.

Tail feathers - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Preening shots can be really interesting since they show off the bird in a different light than just when it's posing, and for shovelers, it can really highlight the pretty colors they have on their wings. I liked how he had the tail feathers splayed out in the above shot, and his eye is just barely visible in the bottom one has he combs through his wing.

Preening shoveler drake - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Flock of avocets, Radio Road Ponds

Flock of American avocets - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

As I was sitting along the edge of the pond, a large flock of avocets flew a lap over the water and then headed straight for me. What a pleasure it was to have 50+ birds land right in front of me. They are such lovely shorebirds, especially once they transition to their full summer colors.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Shoveler stretch, Radio Road Ponds

Stretching northern shoveler - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Northern shovelers are one of my favorite duck species, with their pretty coloration and that oversized bill. Radio Road Ponds in Redwood Shores is a great place to watch them in the winter. They tend to be skittish towards a human approaching the pond, but if you pick a spot and camp out there for a while, they'll eventually warm up to your presence and you can watch them at fairly close range. This particular male preened for quite a while and gave me a handful of chances to get some wing-flap shots.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Shovelers at sunset

Sunset shovelers

Northern shovelers are one of my favorite ducks -- right up there with northern pintails. I think the males have really pretty coloration, and I just love that oversized bill. Here's a male and female in very late light at Radio Road Ponds in Redwood City.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Late evening avocet

Late evening avocet

It's been far too long since I've posted a shot of a shorebird, and I'm glad to fix that with this American avocet at the Radio Road Ponds in Redwood City. It's getting to that exciting time of year when the shorebirds are passing through the Bay Area from their summer on the tundra, and its always fun when you get to see some of the birds we normally get here in their basic plumage all decked out in their breeding colors. Of course, avocets are resident birds around the Bay, so we can take advantage of their beautiful colors all summer long.

As an aside, the Radio Road Ponds are a great place to kill time while waiting to pick someone up from the airport. It's pretty easy acess to the 101, and only about 15 minutes from SFO. I took this shot just after the sun had set while waiting for my wife's flight to land.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Northern Shoveler Pair

Shoveler Drake

There is such a great duck diversity around here -- much more than I ever saw growing up on the East Coast, and its fascinating to observe how different they can be. One that has always stood out to me as among the most beautiful and most interesting is the northern shoveler. For my first few years of bird photography I really wanted to get some nice shots of these ducks, but getting close to one had always alluded me. However, after I finally made a few trips to the Radio Road Ponds in Redwood City last fall -- I have more shots than I know what to do with!

Shoveler drake with water droplets

And while not nearly as stunning in coloration, the hens are still quite pretty.
Shoveler Hen

Monday, February 8, 2010

Standing out in the crowd

Standing out in the crowd

A sequence of images from a few trips to the Radio Road Ponds in Redwood City last year. There's an area where the dowitchers like to congregate on an underwater ridge, and occasionally a larger bird will hang out there too. I enjoy seeing different species mixed together, and this provides a nice opportunity.

Dowitchers relaxing with an American Avocet:
Shorebird reflections

With a Northern Shoveler, and their reflections:
Shoveler and dowitchers

And with a Marbled Godwit:
Dowitchers and a Godwit

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. This is a special day to spend with our family and friends, and to reflect on the many joys that each of us have in our lives. I wish you all the very best!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Always a pleasure

Stilt and Reflection

I gambled with the forecast for an overcast sunrise on Sunday, and headed to the Radio Road Ponds in Redwood City to try for some new skimmer shots. Unfortunately, they weren't feeling too photogenic, and stayed on one of the interior islands during my visit. But I did have a chance to photograph the rest of the wonderful inhabitants of these ponds -- including this delightful black necked stilt. I always enjoy photographing these birds, as their contrasting plumage and elegant form makes for a great subject. And the rippled reflections were a nice bonus!

Stilt and Reflection

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An elegant pair

Lovely avocets

American avocets are one of my favorite birds to watch and photograph. Their interesting feeding behavior of slicing their bill through the top layers of the sediment is quite entertaining! But what draws me in the most about them is their elegant form and beautiful plumage. While their summer colors are certainly much more striking, I think their winter look retains a subdued elegance.

Here's an extra shot I posted to Flickr over the summer of their wonderful breeding colors:
Preening portrait