Friday, 9 April 2021

Harlequins, Purple Sandpipers

 I noticed the Harlequin ducks close to shore one day and decided I wanted to photograph them if I could get down without them seeing me approach. I managed to hide behind a rock ledge as the tide was still coming and waited to see if they would get closer. They did. I took a few photos and from out of nowhere a flock of Purple Sandpipers flew into view. As I wondered about where they might be headed, the whole flock decided to land on the ledge I was lying on.  I couldn't decide what to focus my camera on - the ducks were getting closer and the sandpipers were right in front of me. The light wasn't ideal, it was still mid-afternoon and the tide was still coming, threatening to get me wet. If you know Harlequin ducks you know they like feeding when the surf is high. I made images of both species until I had to retreat to higher ground. The sandpipers had already left the area. February 21.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Snow Day - February 20

 There weren't many snow days this Winter so when they did happen I usually tried to take some time for photos. Here are some that I took this day including the best shots I was able to get this year of the female Cardinal that was frequenting my feeder. She has disappeared since these were taken. I don't think I need to identify the others but for those not familiar with our native birds they are Black-capped Chickadee, Blue Jay and White-breasted Nuthatch.

Last Light - Snowy Owl

 I took a lot of shots on this occasion but this photo stood out among them, to me at least, because the last rays of sunlight for the day were brushing the owl's face while the rest of the bird was in shadow. January 31.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Nature is not always pretty

 Since we are now well into Spring it might be a good time to start posting the rest of my images from this past Winter. The following were taken on the 30th of January on a day I had planned to try to photograph waterfowl. For reasons I don't fully understand the water levels were exceptionally high on that day and I wasn't able to approach the waters edge although there were a couple dozen mergansers in the area. Plan B was just to walk back toward the beach to see what else I  might be able to find. At one point I noticed a hawk in the marsh apparently sitting on its prey. I went closer to investigate.

I tried to remain hidden behind a small grove of trees as I approached. When I finally got close enough to determine the species I realised it was an immature Goshawk with a Black Duck that it had apparently killed. I got excited because a Goshawk is a bird I've only photographed years ago during my film days. 

The hawk soon became aware of my presence and flew up into the nearby trees. Not wanting to deprive the bird of it's meal but also not wanting to give up on a great opportunity to photograph it I moved farther away and made myself less obvious and waited....and waited. It took about an hour for the bird to return to the carcass.

Except for the sound of the camera shutter I believe the Goshawk was not aware of my presence. I believe as well because of the camera shutter the bird was nervous enough to try to move the carcass to a safer, less obvious location.

The Black Duck was too large for the hawk to move very far but it was a slightly less favourable location for my viewing purposes. I had to move slightly to get to a better vantage point without attracting its attention. It was not much later when I heard crows calling and getting closer. I watched the hawk get apprehensive and start to cover up it's prey with its wings.

At one point I guess the threat from the other birds became too much for the hawk and it flew away, leaving the carcass to be devoured by others. I took a few photos as the Goshawk flew off and when I returned my attention back to the carcass I wasn't ready for what I was about to see.

Not a group of crows but the subject of the crows attention - a Great Horned Owl.  Like the hawk the owl was alerted to the sound of the camera and after looking around in all directions finally honed in on my location. When it didn't feel a threat it started feeding on the duck.

The owl had come from several hundred yards away, perhaps alerted by the hawks attempt to move the carcass. Several minutes later the owl decided to seek a more secluded location and flew off with the duck. As it flew off a second owl made a pass overhead and they flew off together.

It was only awhile later as I packed up to head back to the car I learned that the owl had only made it about a hundred yards back toward where it had come and was feeding in the long grass at the edge of a pond. It flew off when it saw me but I'm sure it returned later. I feel bad for the hawk that did all the work but wasn't rewarded with a full meal.  I guess that's nature, not always fair and not always pretty.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Female Cardinal - First Shot

 This is the first year I've had a Cardinal of either sex visit my feeder. This bird has been a regular all Winter and in the beginning only coming to visit right around sunset, often later which made photographing her a challenge. This was one of the few times she came during the day and I was happy to get at least a reasonable photo through the window glass. I've had a little more success since I took this on the 12th of February. 

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Late Day Snowy Owl

 Same bird shot on three different days with three different backgrounds. All around sunset.

Friday, 5 March 2021

More Purple Sandpipers - January 22

 I feel that I need to post these now since I have another set from a third location. These were taken at West Head which is probably my favourite location to photograph these birds. Mostly because they are fairly regular in the Winter at that location and partly because of the backgrounds available there.