Birds, Jan-Feb 2012

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February 14, 2012 by Rokman61

(Initially presented as email on Feb 14, 2012, reposted here on Oct 1).

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I’ve been a tad busy lately, prepping for a trip, so this journal has been slapped together rather hurriedly.

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I’ll start this year with one left over from last month.  This photo of a Steller’s Jay was a favourite of my family members, and they protested it not being included in my December journal.

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Black Brant winter along our coast, often seen well off shore at Point Roberts, feeding on floating eelgrass .  This little flotilla decided to come in close to the beach, serenading me with their low musical murmurs.

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The cuteness of the little Merlin, a small falcon, belies its ferocious predatory demeanour.  It can scoop up songbirds as big as itself, sort of the F-18 of the bird clan.

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Rough-leg Hawks are tundra nesters, and used to be fairly common around the Delta in winter.  I have been wanting to photograph one ever since I got my big lens, but they have become so scare that I rarely even see them.  This guy was perched high up, with terrible back-lighting.  To get just this mediocre shot, I had to shoot overexposed by two full f-stops, and even then had to fiddle with it some more in Photoshop.  Another example of the impressive capability of modern digital photography.

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The big excitement this winter has been all about the continuing Snowy Owl invasion.  I have been out several times, but am usually put off by the hordes of photographers, some of them grossly over-exuberant and generating a lot of controversy.  Here are a few shots I did manage to sneak in.

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Next to the owls, the Bald Eagles are putting on quite a show.  There are literally hundreds on the Delta now; fields are dotted with them, power-poles are festooned with them, and trees are almost dripping with them.

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A less-spectacular, but still attractive, Black-belly Plover, on the rocks.

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This perky little guy is an American Tree Sparrow, very abundant on its tree-line nesting grounds.  Only a very few show up here for the winter, so always a treat to come across.  This one didn’t give me much to shoot at, but I liked the result anyway.

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One of the objectives, almost a cliche, for current bird photographers is to ‘capture’ the iridescent colours sometimes evident on the plumage of some duck species.  It requires the right light, and more than a bit of perseverance.  This male Bufflehead is the first decent result I have managed to date.  I like the background in the second shot.

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Cedar Waxwings nest locally, and most move south for the winter.  A few hang around at least until they have stripped all the fruit from the native crab trees.  Most photogs call these ‘berries’ but they are actually tiny apples, and thus ‘pomes’.  Waxwings must be the most nattily groomed of all our birds, always impeccably neat and sleek.

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I’m off now for two weeks in Panama, to see if they have any neat birds down there.  We got such a deal on airfare we couldn’t turn it down.  My last photo is of the ‘bird’ that we are hoping will get us there.

Carlo

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