Thursday, November 30, 2017
Or so I thought. I went to Clinch Park Sunday afternoon to see if anything was happening. The place was fairly empty except for a few kids enjoying the playground and some folks walking dogs on the trail.
I spied this seagull and decided to take its picture. It was a regular run-of-the-mill seagull. The kind that begs from you at the beach and every park bench in the city.
It turned towards me and I noticed its beautiful, pale eye. I'd not paid much attention to this bird before. Its bill had a black ring near the tip too.
Besides the begging qualities of gulls, I'd seen them soaring on the thermals above the water at the beach. They've provided a great way for me to learn how to take pictures of birds in flight, or BIF as it's know in photography parlance.
As I moved on, I saw another bird posing on a post. I thought it was a gull, but it was sure different-looking than the first. I couldn't help myself from going straight to my bird app. And I was shocked! There are 27 kinds of seagulls in North America.
And of the 27, only two are year-round natives to our area. The first gull was clearly a Ring-billed Gull. The other native gull is a Herring Gull, which has a similar appearance to the Ring-billed Gull, except for a red spot on its bill. The gull above didn't have the markings of either of those gulls. But as I dug deeper into the app, I learned that this gull was a juvenile of one of the two local species.
I guess I learned a couple things from my photo-op with the gulls. A gull isn't just a gull. There are a lot more kinds than I originally had thought.
I also learned, but mostly saw, that the Clinch Park Marina gulls are pretty well-fed. Must be stocking up for the winter.
Thursday, November 23, 2017
I was headed out for one of my weekly photoshoots with Gracie along for the ride. I had no idea what my subject was going to be, but was confident something would present itself. As always, I swung through my neighborhood to see if anything was going on.
As I entered the last of three streets, serendipity struck! There at the end of this circular-shaped street stood an elegant red fox. I knew I probably didn't have much time to capture this beauty, so I went into photographer mode: music off, window down, lens cap off, camera ready.
As I drew closer, this gorgeous critter looked me right in the eye. My heart jumped with excitement at the opportunity to see and photograph this fox. Sometimes you don't have to go very far to find what you're looking for.
And in the next moment, the fox put its nose to the ground and was on its way, being a wild animal again versus being a photography subject.
As it moved behind a large stand of several evergreen trees, with just that beautiful tail showing, I gave a silent thank you for the opportunity to have seen and photographed this gorgeous critter.
But as I edged forward to the other side of the tree stand, I saw the fox and I weren't quite done with each other. It turned and gave me another good look. My heart leapt again.
But I wasn't the object of interest for long as the fox turned and focused on the brush at the back of the neighborhood. I wondered if it had a rodent or some other small game in its sights. I know that foxes are very adaptable to eating whatever is in their habitat, including garbage and pet food.
And then it was off again its journey. Maybe it was searching for food. Or perhaps, it was on the scent of a potential mate, with that season only being a month or two away. Regardless, I am happy for the serendipitous opportunity to see and photograph this beautiful fox. So much to be grateful for in this season of thanksgiving. I especially appreciate all of you who support and follow my photography through this blog. Thank you!
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Because fall is typically a season of transition, fluctuations in weather patterns are common. Summer temperatures one day; below freezing conditions on others. This particular fall also seems to have had some unusual patterns with respect to the changing of fall colors.
Granted, some landscapes show a lot of bare or rust-tinged trees with occasional ones still showing colorful leaves.
But it's mid-November now, and I'm surprised at how many woodland scenes still have significant fall color.
Driving around the countryside, I've even found occasional trees, like this one, still in full yellow foliage.
And despite the date, there are still some lovely bright orange vistas out there.
I was surprised to find his tree still in full orange foliage, especially when we've had some days of pretty significant windy weather.
For someone who loves the fall colors like I do, there have been plenty to enjoy this year.
Thursday, November 9, 2017
I'd gotten my first Audubon bird alert on Friday that a Snowy Owl had been sighted out near where I do a lot of nature photography. It's where I'd photographed various birds, including the Great Blue Heron and Sandhill Cranes.
I didn't get the chance to head out until Sunday afternoon, but the Snowy was still there, perched atop an electrical pole. I shuddered when I saw her up there preening herself because I'd just read that one of the most frequent causes of death among Snowy Owls is electrocution on power lines.
It wasn't long before she caught sight of me watching her from my car and clicking away with my camera. Gracie was along for the ride but was sound asleep in the passenger seat.
And then before I knew it, she did what I'd always hoped a Snowy Owl would do. She took off in flight. I don't know what prompted her to fly and I wondered if it was my presence, although I wasn't all that close. Regardless, I was ready and following her with my long lens as she pumped those huge wings up and down across the gray sky.
The whole time she was in flight, she kept that magnificent yellow eye on me. I was amazed at the size of her wings. My bird app reports that the wingspan of a Snowy Owl is 54-66 inches.
Her wings went up and down with deep wing beats. Flap and glide. Flap and guide. Flap and guide until she reached her next destination.
It was another telephone pole. On the corner of a busy highway. Go figure. I knew this Snowy was a female because she had many of the dark bands in her feathers. Males are nearly pure white.
I was able to get much closer with this new perch. Close enough to capture those piercing golden eyes. They seem to stare right through you.
Soon after landing, the Snowy went about its normal business of preening and watching for prey, mostly little rodents, like voles. One unusual thing about this owl is that it hunts during the day, unlike most other owl species.
Every once in a while, the Snowy would look down and give me a good stare. I wondered if it was aimed at me or at Gracie, who'd come alive and was sitting on the seat staring back through the windshield at this magnificent creature.
Thursday, November 2, 2017
All week long my Audubon bird alerts told me of more migrating ducks. I'd not heard of Surf Scoters or Oldsquaws, but they'd been seen at Hull Park beginning last Saturday morning.
I'd been traveling earlier in the week so today was my first chance to check out Hull Park. I went over in the afternoon, and saw lots of ducks bobbing in the choppy waters of Boardman Lake.
Most of the ducks there were beautiful Redheads. These diving ducks have gray backs and sides, and a reddish brown head and neck. They are medium-sized diving ducks.
I'm most familiar with ducks, like this mallard, which live in wetlands and feed on insects and crustaceans at the bottom of ponds. They don't dive for their food; they just tip their bottoms up, and submerge only their heads and necks as they forage.
Diving ducks also feed on aquatic plants and insects, but they dive down into the water to get their food. It happens very fast. All of a sudden, the Redhead leans its body in a way that signals the dive is coming.
Then it thrusts its head and neck down in the water and the rest of its body quickly follows. Two or three seconds is all it takes.
The Redhead leaves bubbles in its wake. It's only submerged a few seconds, but was great fun to watch. I had my finger on the camera shutter button ready to capture the whole dive sequence, but the Redhead was way faster than I was.
Not really disappointed that I'd not seen any of the rare ducks at Hull, I left to go over to my normal watching point at the Logan's Landing. There were lots of Buffleheads, another migrating diving duck. Then I saw another Redhead...or at least I think that's what it was. The extra spikey "do" made me wonder if it was something else. Maybe its hair had just dried out a funny way after all its diving. Sorta like bedhead.