Showing posts with label birding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label birding. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Northern Pintail Drake

Northern Pintail Drake

I spent Sunday morning hiking around Tennessee Valley, hoping to have a chance to photography a bobcat or coyote. I did see a bobcat, although it was quite far away and in an unreachable meadow. The fog stayed around much heavier than the forecast called for, and I left the park with just a few shots on my memory card of some deer. On a whim, I decided to stop at Bothin Marsh (under the Highway 101 overpass, where it meets with CA-1) to look for birds. The light was awful, the fog was heavy, but the birds were there!

This is an awesome time of year to check out the marsh, which is a very heavily used stretch of Bay Trail, since the Northern Pintails are out in full force. They winter in this marsh, and on a previous visit here a polite birder that I chatted with there told me that it actually serves as a lek (ie, where the females pick a mate for the coming year). That certainly seems to be the case, since the males are constantly preening and trying to look their best, and very often a group of them will follow around a single female. So even with the poor light, I took a ton of shots of these elegant ducks, since its not often you get a chance to be so close to them!

Also, if you haven't heard, one of my images of two male tule elk fighting during the rut at Point Reyes is in the running for the Viewer's Choice award in the 2010 National Geographic photo contest. If you haven't already, I would really appreciate it if you follow this link to the NG site and rate my image as a 10! It's such an honor just to be mentioned in the same line as National Geographic, and its just so cool to have an image anywhere on their site! Thanks to everyone that voted for me yesterday -- a lot of votes came through for my image, and I'm potentially within range of the top spot with another strong turnout today! (Today, Dec. 15, is the last day to vote.)

Shared as part of the World Bird Wednesday meme -- follow this link to check out the other entries for the week!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Camouflaged peep


A least sandpiper standing in a pile of wrack along the shoreline. This shot is from August of this year, and the bird still has some of its lovely summer plumage. While the striking colors of its feathers certainly stood out against a clean sand backdrop, its easy to see how the patterns really help to break up its shape and hide it against a busier setting, like this wrack. I would guess the same would be true of its preferred breeding habitat on the tundra.

Here's a shot of the same bird picking through the colorful wrack. I like how in this frame you can see all of the little insects it was stirring up while it dug around in the pile.

Picking throug the wrack

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sanderling brunch

A sanderling checking out an arthropod shell along Limantour Beach in Point Reyes. Unfortunately for the bird, there didn't appear to be much edible material left. After picking at it briefly for a short time, it gave up and moved on. These shells are pretty common along the beach, although I'm not sure which species it belongs to (it's a bit more visible in the second shot below).

Sampling brunch

When I saw this shell in a nice place right above the water line with a flock of sanderlings working their way towards me, I decided to set up by it to see if the birds would be interested. A few came close to it but decided not to stop, but then this one curious sanderling spent maybe 30 seconds or so investigating it. I was pretty happy with the potential of the shots like the one below, but when I was reviewing the images the top shot really stood out for me with the out of focus sanderling taking off in the background.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Least peep, on the run

Least peep, on the run

A least sandpiper cruising along the beach at MacKerricher State Park. While panning as it ran, I only managed a few shots that were sharp enough on the bird, and unfortunately I couldn't quite keep the tip of the tail in the frame. These guys seemed really comfortable while picking through the wrack on the shoreline, but as soon as they reached some open sand they took off at a sprint until they found some cover on the other side.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sandpiper inspection

Least sandpiper closeup

After following a small flock of these guys around the beach for at least half an hour, this curious one decided to check out what exactly the slow crawling monster with the giant lens coming out of his nose was. He tentatively ran over pretty close to me, gave me a few up and down glances, and then scurried back to the group. Apparently I was deemed no threat (probably because they saw the glacial speed at which I was moving while belly crawling after them through the sand), or perhaps they found me to an acceptable proxy of a new kind of sandpiper species (well, I'm not so sure about that!). Either way, it was a real pleasure to have a chance to photograph them with some summer color.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Everything about sanderlings seems to happen fast.

Sprint formation

They run across the sand fast, they change directions fast, they takeoff fast and land fast.

Fast legs

And sometimes they even come flying into the frame a little too fast.

Sanderling sprint

It would have been great to have some more space on the left of this shot, but sometimes things just happen too fast.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wild turkey, Tennessee Valley

Wild turkey

A common sight near the horse stables at Tennessee Valley, these wild turkeys are a fun to see up close. So remarkably ugly, but with beautiful plumage especially when a male displays.

Monday, August 9, 2010

In the crowd

A group of sanderlings in summer plumage along the shoreline of Pillar Point Harbor near Half Moon Bay. The late afternoon was overcast under a heavy fog that just seems to be around all day, every day this summer in the Bay Area. However, I don't really mind the fog as it means there's a longer window for photography both in the morning and evening, and the colors in their plumage come out nice against the bleak scenery.

In the crowd

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Male Quail at Tomales Point

After a few weeks of traveling for a conference, a holiday in Europe, and visiting family, I'm back to the grind back at work and finally taking a few minutes to post a new image, with the goal of getting back to the regular pace of an image around every other day or so. In addition, I've increased the size of the blog page, since Flickr is now using a larger medium image size, and I like the increased detail of the 640 pixel image.

Quail at Tomales Point

This is a male California quail being as conspicuous as possible while trying to attract a mate (and perhaps a friendly photographer?). I took this shot on a weekend in May in which I was inundated in quail photography opportunities. This was actually among my goals for the trips I made to Point Reyes and Tennessee Valley, and I loved the many chances to photograph our striking state bird. This male is sitting on an old log near the Tomales Point Trailhead in Point Reyes National Seashore.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Running through the rain

Running through the rain

These plovers are always surprisingly large to me, perhaps since I've most often seen the much smaller snowy and semipalmated plovers. This guy was hanging out with a handful of other shorebirds at Pillar Point Harbor. I have yet to get a really good shot of one of these, and while I was attempting to do that this one decided enough was enough, and he sprinted away. Well actually he sprinted right in front of my in order to get over to some rocks.

Black-bellied plover running

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Quick Post - Sanderlings ahead of the wave

This weekend we took a late afternoon trip out to Point Reyes, and while we were more or less fogged out of the sunset I was hoping for, I did get to spend some time chasing sanderlings on Drake's Beach. I made some attempts to capture the chaos that occurs when a wave finally catches up to these little guys, and I did catch a few interesting frames of takeoffs. This first one is a bit more toned down, when the whole flock was running along the sand in front of the wave-line.

Always one step ahead of the wave

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Western burrowing owl in late light

These shots were taken a few weeks back when we went to Cesar Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina to check out the wintering burrowing owls. A mix of overcast skies and breakthrough setting sunlight really gave a nice feel to the scene -- and of course the fresh winter grass is so bright and green this time of year!

Western Burrowing Owl

Checking out the guy crouching behind the fence:
Burrowing Owl Staredown

It was a windy evening, and occasionally the owl looked a little displeased to be so wind-blown.
Burrowing owl in the wind

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bufflehead taking flight

A short series of a male bufflehead taking flight in Pillar Point Harbor on Half Moon Bay. It was a dreary morning with dark clouds and drizzle, so the shots didn't come out super sharp -- but I always like seeing a frozen moment of a birds footsteps on the water.

Takeoff in grayscale

Takeoff in grayscale

Takeoff in grayscale (1of2)

Takeoff in grayscale

Takeoff in grayscale (2of2)

Soaring away

Friday, February 19, 2010

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

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Western Burrowing Owls at the Berkeley Marina

Burrowing Owl at Cesar Chavez Park

After spending an hour or so around sunset the night before at Cesar Chavez Park on the Berkeley Marina (see the post), we came back the next day to try our hand again at spotting the western burrowing owls that winter there. I've read that there are five individuals there this winter, and we spotted only two of them on this trip.

Camouflaged burrowing owl

These guys are actually quite small (not all that much bigger than the ground squirrels that were so abundant in the area), and were really hard to spot initially. They blend in perfectly with the area around their burrows.

Burrowing Owl at Cesar Chavez Park

Mostly they spent their time squatting in or right by their borrowed burrows, and we only saw this one fly once over a short distance. Unfortunately, it was due to a human visitor who decided it was pertinent to make hooting sounds and lean over the protective fence towards it. This spooked the poor little guy and it flushed back to its further away hole. This was really a bummer for me, since this was the only time we found one of them close to the fence, and with a nice green area around it too.

Burrowing Owl at Cesar Chavez Park

Once back to the burrow, he stood outside of it, and we got to see all of him for a short time before he dropped back inside. Regardless of if it was inside or out of the burrow, those big golden eyes were always dancing about.

Burrowing Owl at Cesar Chavez Park

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Great weekend for wildlife

I had a fantastic weekend for experiencing and photographing wildlife. We took a hike out to the end of Tomales Point in Point Reyes National Seashore, which goes through the Tule Elk Reserve there. We must have seen at least 100 elk along the trail! Then we also took our annual trip to Ano Nuevo State Reserve to see the elephant seals and their breeding season antics. As you can see here, this image is neither an elk or seal, but it was a shot that I had already processed and was just waiting to be uploaded. So since I have a few thousand shots to go through from this weekend and haven't had the time to do so yet, this is what I've got for now.

In the meantime, a sparrow

This shot was taken in a small dog park along the Bay Trail in Marin County near Bothin Marsh on Richardson Bay. I had used up the good morning light in the marsh but decided to wander up the trail to see if there was anything else interesting around. I wasn't expecting much, but a group of these little guys were playing in the shadows of some trees that hadn't yet seen the light of morning. This gave me some nice even lighting instead of the harshness that was in the rest of the park.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Curlew dancing in the wind

Curlew dancing in the wind

The storm system we followed down the coast kept the winds strong all day, but they were the worst when we got out of the car in Morro Bay. I had planned the trip to get us to this area so that I could look for some birds to photograph in the late light, and the timing worked out perfectly. Unfortunately, the strong winds made it hard to stay out on the beach! It didn't stop blowing, not even for a second -- it was just a constant force against your body.

Curlew shuffle

It was bad enough for us walking around on the beach, but I can't even imagine how hard it was for the handful of curlews I saw along the beach. They were leaning at odd angles while they walked, and feathers were flowing in all directions.

Ruffled by the wind

In the end, we only spent a short time on the beach -- just enough to snap off a few shots of some curles -- before deciding to try our luck at a location further inland.