Saturday, February 28, 2009

All in a Days Work

Well actually only about 45 or 50 minutes. I had to pick up a relative at the hospital in Delta and I had some time to waste before the scheduled pick up time. So I drove out to my favorite bird shooting location. My first stop was on the side of the highway.

This immature Bald Eagle was further away and backlit but I still had a chance to observe this majestic bird for about 5 minutes. My next stop was just as I was nearing my final destination on Westham Island.

Here a large flock of Snow Geese were grazing in a field a ways out from the main road. As I approached the location where I chose to pull over there were several observers already there with binoculars in hand. A Delta Photo Club member, Ursula Easterbrook was also there.

Arriving at my final destination, the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, I was greeted by usual large flock of Mallard ducks that I had to slowly drive around lest I run one of them over.

Although I am not a "Duck" person in that the ducks do not garner my attentions as do other birds and my favorite's the raptors, I am always in awe when I see the incredible reflective metallic green heads these wonderful creatures have. On to the trails. . .

I had to look up the name of this duck, remember I'm not a duck guy (except perhaps at the dinner table) but this is a beautiful Northern Pintail.

This Northern Shoveler is also very beautiful but odd looking. I had never seen one of these before or perhaps never noticed at it closely resembles the Mallard in colour but it has a rather large oversized black bill. This appears to be the Cyrano de Bergerac of the duck world.

The colour of this Wood Duck and the other birds in this blog are way off and I am not sure why. There must have been something weird going on in the RAW to JPG conversions. But take my word for it that the colours of the Wood Duck are amongst the most beautiful of all the birds.

Two people hand feeding birds (colour balance is off) (With permission).

One of the many black squirrels at the sanctuary. The sanctuary also has rats, mice, and minks.

This beady eyed Spotted Towhee was starring right at me. Usually these birds are rather shy and skittish but this one held his ground and starred me down. This image in RAW is razor sharp and the colours are spectacular. It will make a great print.

The ever beautiful Black Capped Chickadee. Unlike the Towhee, these little creatures are curious and you will often find them flying towards you and landing in a shrub not to far from you. They never stand still for very long and because of that they appears skittish but they will hang around and watch you. When taking photos of these birds focus quickly as they will not be there long before jumping onto another nearby branch.

A wonderful Song Sparrow picking seeds someone has left on a fence post. I find that the best photos come to you. Sit still, camera in its ready position, be still and quiet, the birds will come.

A still young first winter House Sparrow (above).

Although this appears to be one of the local common birds, I do not actually know what this is. Since I started "Birding" a year ago I have found that the most difficult birds to identify are the females. The males of a few species and the females of many species all look very similar. With photo in hand and a bird book in another hand I still had problems identifying this bird. (If you know what it is, please let me know). I think it is either a Golden Crowned Sparrow or a Brewer's Sparrow. The Brewer's Sparrow is usually an in-land bird and so I think it is a Golden-Crowned Sparrow.

The pick-up phone call came in so I headed out. On my way out I captured this image below.

This image is not clear at all as it has been cropped to about 1/16th of the original size and I also took it hand held with my 560mm lens (400mm with 1.4x). I took the photo because this is a duck I have never seen before. I could not properly identify this duck. I am sure it is a Merganser, but the sub species I cannot identify as I cannot match the colouring to any of the images in the two books I have. Again, if you know what this is, please let me know.

Update: (Thanks to Frank Townsley the gentleman in the photo above whom identified this duck as a Female Common Merganser. Thanks.)

I did get a few other very blurry images of a few other "unknown to me" species that I have identified as Buffleheads and a beautiful male Hooded Merganser.
I also did see many common ducks such as the Blue Winged Teals, American Widgeons, American Coots, and many Canada Geese. On the drive out to the hospital I did see two Great Blue Herons but I did not have the time to stop. I saw all these great birds and others including Bald Eagles and various Falcons and Hawks that flew overhead while I was at the park.

I am always in awe of all these great birds but again I am reminded on just how lucky I am to live in the most beautiful part of Canada. Where else could you do what I just did in Canada at this time of the year when most of Canada is still covered in snow! I took all these in less than an hour and oh, did I mention I was only wearing a very light jacket!

© 2009 Francois Cleroux

(Version 1.11 - March 2009)

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I value thoughtful comments and suggestions. If you like or dislike this post, please let me know. If you have any ideas or suggestion, comments or corrections (I do make mistakes) please also let me know. Thanks.

- Francois Cleroux