Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Great egret hunting in the marsh, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

A great egret hunting in a salt marsh

There's something so elegant about watching an egret or heron hunt, as they gracefully slide through the marsh in search of prey. Their movements are so even and controlled, that is, until they strike out after whatever morsel has caught their eye. It never ceases to amaze me how efficient these birds are at hunting. It seems like they must catch something 8 or 9 times out of 10 attempts.

A great egret flips a fish into its beak

I haven't spent enough time yet around the grasslands and pasture lands in the area to know, but I wonder if the egrets in the Northeast also hunt rodents like the California populations do?

A great egret stands tall while stalking prey in a salt marsh

View more photos of great egrets in my Herons & Egrets Gallery.

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

Monday, January 30, 2012

Pronghorn in profile, Yellowstone National Park

Pronghorn in profile standing in tall grass

A profile view of a pronghorn buck in northern Yellowstone National Park. One could even think it was a unicorn in this view, if not for the slightly different bend to the tip of his horns. This was a large male that we saw traveling with a group of other bachelors through the dry plains just outside of Gardner.

A pronghorn buck stands in dry grass in Yellowstone National Park

View more images of pronghorn in my Pronghorn Gallery.

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.