Monday, 12 March 2012

Good Birds, Mediocre Photos. Same Old...

A Mute Swan staring me down at La Salle Park.
I went to Long Point with a friend  yesterday to make a half-hearted attempt at finding the smew that has been seen there. My best guess is that it was in the inner bay with thousands of other waterfowl that were way too far from land to be scanned properly. The weather was outstanding.  You'd be forgiven for thinking that a lot of sunshine might lead to some good photos but in fact it made them really difficult (especially given the usual distance and technique issues). I stopped in at Bronte Harbour to see if the Snowy Owl was visible.  Predictably, it wasn't but my first red-winged blackbirds and grackles of the year were there.  They were great for the first half an hour before they became dirtbirds again. Red-necked Grebes were swimming around together in the marina. My next stop was La Salle Park to see the King Eider.  It was very obliging swimming around quite close to shore.  Had the light been different, I think the photos could have been quite good.

There were numerous photographers all lined up to try and catch the eider.  It seemed pretty comfortable with all the people but acted a little bit anxious when surrounded by all the Trumpeter Swans.
There were also about 50 Tundra Swans out in the bay with more arriving all the time.  The Long Point area was really pleasant and yielded about 20 kinds of waterfowl.  Over the course of the day, we saw about 40 Sandhill Cranes.  Fantastic really, but too far off for photos.  At the end of the day, we raced the sunset to Stoney Creek to see if we could find some Short-eared Owls.  Just as we got there two of them took off and swooped around for a while before heading off into the night.  They were new for me and a species that I've really been looking forward to seeing and they didn't disappoint.  Too dark for photos though.  Maybe next until then, here are some owl photos from past years.
A Boreal Owl from Amherst Island (December, 2009).
A Northern Saw-whet Owl from the same day.
A Cuban Screech Owl from almost exactly one year ago on a trip to Cuba.  This is from close to Zapata swamp.  There were two living in this dead tree trunk.  The guide scared them up by scratching on the side of the tree.
The most fun owl watching ever.  A friend and I waited for this Blakiston's Fish Owl to appear while sitting in our car (parked in front of our minshuku in Rausu, Hokkaido) and getting pleasantly warmed (read: drunk) by orders of hot sake.  I didn't even realize the owl had shown up until flashbulbs of other photographers began going off.  Ahh...birding at its best.

Monday, 5 March 2012

To The National Capital...

Recently I visited Ottawa and managed to take advantage of some pretty clear weather to get out a lot.  I went to Kanata to see the Gray Partridges that have been seen pretty much every day.  Every day, that is, except for the three in a row where I hung out behind Canadian Tire looking all around for them.  Seriously, did they just take a few days off?  Despite spending quite a lot of time looking for stuff around Ottawa and Gatineau, I really didn't find all that much outside of the usual suspects.  I did find some crossbills in Gatineau.
Crossbills are one of my favourites.  I think they're just great to look at.
One winter in Hokkaido, a flock or two of crossbills came down to Hakodate and spent a good part of the winter and early spring feeding on pine cones along the river. They were quite tame and would hang upside down only a few feet away while posing really nicely in the sunshine. Here's one from Hakodate.
While I was in Gatineau, the deer were also obliging.

A last walk through some beautiful forest just east of the city turned up little but for some regulars.  I have soft spot for nuthatches too.
I've got a week off coming up. I haven't seen any owls this winter at all (!) so I'm going to spend some time chasing some.  Almost unbelievably, I've never seen a short-eared owl so I'm going to try and track one down as well as finding some of the many snowy owls that have made their way south this winter.  Hopefully they all stick around for a couple of weeks longer to give me a chance to see them in between college basketball games.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Just Getting Started...

So I want somewhere to post photos I've taken. It seems my previous website has disappeared. I want somewhere I can post recent shots that aren't necessarily my favourite images (as well as the ones I like best) so a blog seems to fit the bill. I like taking photos of birds although I can't afford a really decent lens (or, say, lessons in how to take great photos) so good shots are few and far between.  Travel is also a lot of fun and I'll be putting up shots from trips as well.  I use a Nikon D80 and have the Tamron 17-50 F2.8 lens and the Nikkor 80-400 VR. Not exactly top notch stuff but, truthfully, my equipment is definitely not the limiting factor for my photography.

So to start off, here's a favourite.  It's an older shot of a Japanese red-crowned crane taken in Hokkaido, Japan.

I got very lucky with this one.  It was taken at 17 mm.  I think I could have jumped up and grabbed its leg had I wanted to pull down an angry crane.

More to come soon...