Saturday, January 28, 2012

Common moorhen, Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility

Common Moorehen standing on a branch above a pond covered in duck weed

I had seen the unique-looking Common Moorhen quite often on my summer walks around the Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility treatment ponds, but it was only really this occasion that I was able to get an unobstructed shot of one before it slipped back into the reeds. The bright color of its bill can really pull the eye in, but it wasn't until I saw this image that I realized how large their feet are! A fascinating bird for sure, and the chicks are really adorable too.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Elephant seal keeping watch, Año Nuevo State Reserve

A bull elephant seal bends backward

The elephant seals of Año Nuevo State Reserve are pretty used to seeing humans in the park, and they are relatively relaxed around us as long as we keep our distance. However, they still like to keep tabs on everyone entering their stretch of beach, and if someone gets too close they get nervous. In this shot, a bull elephant seal has his big round eyes trained on a new group of people that was walking by. Since they kept their distance, he would soon go back to laying down and enjoying the sunset.

View more photos of these impressive animals in my Elephant Seals Gallery.

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.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fog rolls over Inverness Ridge, Point Reyes National Seashore

Fog rolls over Inverness Ridge, Point Reyes National Seashore

In my post of a killdeer at sunrise a few days ago, I mentioned that I watched the fog roll over the evergreen forests of Inverness Ridge before continuing to Limantour Beach on my first trip to Point Reyes in 2011. This is some of that fog. It was beautiful to watch, as the rolling motion of the moisture-laden air was clearly visible, and the patterns change by the moment. Even more stunning was that about 20 minutes before I took this photo full of cool morning colors, the sky appeared to be on fire with the first light of the day.

View more images of the scenic beauty of this awesome park in my Point Reyes Landscapes Gallery.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Merlin, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Portrait of a merlin sitting on a fence railing

After photographing a juvenile snowy owl on Plum Island under overcast conditions, I returned a few days later to try my luck at photographing the bird in the golden light of sunset. I parked my car at Beach #7 and walked down around the tip of Plum Island to Sandy Point State Reservation to try to locate the owl again. While I had a very pleasant walk in the winter air, I came up empty in terms of spotting the owl, and I started walking back towards my car as the light started getting better and better. Resigned to having a trip with nothing photographic to show for it, I ascended the wooden stairs to the observation platform that is at the end of the trail to the parking lot. At the top I decided to scan the beach one last time for anything interesting in the pretty light. As I pivoted on the platform I noticed that this gorgeous merlin was watching me from less than 10 yards away. She seemed rather nonplussed about sharing the observation platform with me, and gave me the opportunity to snap off a few shots in both the vertical and horizontal orientations before she took to the air again. Unfortunately, I had already collapsed my tripod before ascending the stairs, so I had to shoot handheld during the encounter, and 500mm on a windy day did not make for many tack-sharp frames -- but this one came out well.

View more raptors in my Birds of Prey Gallery.

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