Bird Photography

Photos from personal trips  AND trips with
Birds of Oregon and General Science, (BOGS) in association with Eugene's Celeste Campbell Center

provided by:
Priscilla Sokolowski
Eugene, OR
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BOGS Fern Ridge Reservoir,
Jan 30, 2014

BOGS Fern Ridge Jan 30, 2014
As soon as we arrived at Fern Ridge Reservoir at Royal Ave parking lot, while we were still getting out of our cars, there were several Northern Flickers in some trees a hundred yards or so away. Again from the parking lot someone saw a raptor on the ground in the meadow to the NorthEast of us. Spotting scopes revealed this to be a Northern Harrier feeding on something on the ground. Apparently someone gave a rather gory account of seeing the bird tearing it's prey apart because I heard some folks commenting/joking? about not needing to hear that.

Next up was a Red-Tailed Hawk off in the trees near the observation platform.
It had it's back to us so we could see the white markings which almost make a "V" on a Red-Tails back.
Later on, we got closer to that bird and photographed it.

A very short time later, still only a few hundred feet along the trail, Janet spotted another bird about the same distance away as the Flickers had been. Neither she nor I could tell what it was, looking through our binoculars. I took a photograph and immediately looked at the result to see if I could tell what it was. The bird had a black eye mask. My mind said "Shrike" right away, but I didn't want to start any misguided excitement, so I was thinking to myself, "what else has a black eye mask like that?" and, other than Clark's Nutcrackers in the Mtns, I was coming up blank.

While I was doing that, Janet looked at the picture on my camera screen and said excitedly, "It's a Shrike!" That got people excited and lots of people got a pretty decent look at it. It was decided to be a Northern Shrike, not a Loggerhead. As far as I know I've only seen Northerns and only in the company of birders who know the difference. Until looking it up just now, I'm not sure I would have recognized the features which identify a Loggerhead. One difference is that the black eye-mask in the Loggerhead extends across the bridge of the bill - continous. You can see in our photos that our bird's eye-mask does not connect from each side over the top of the bill.

Before we reached the observation platform, I was behind the group talking to Beth and a White-Spotted Towhee showed up, very close to us. That was the best bird picture of the day!

The weather was dry and cool, and partly cloudy. When we were leaving the observation platform later in the day, someone exclaimed about the beautiful rays of Sunlight around the edge of a large Cumulus cloud. The rays wer especially luminous because there was a thin mist of almost invisible clouds in the area around and below the larger cumulus cloud. That thin mist was refracting the Sun's rays, making them especially brilliant. Lots of people were commenting on how beautiful it was. See for yourself, I took a picture.

Other highlights for many folks, were a flock of one or two thousand Dunlin wheeling and swirling in distance; and a White-Tailed Kite, which was only glimpsed briefly by a few of us. I missed all of that. Our BOGS group was pretty large again on this trip and I was further behind the lead group. I tend to drop behind the main group when taking photographs.

This past Summer, all the ponds near to the observation platform dried up completely. To find water out there in September, one had to walk the dike West from the platform and then South about 1/4 mile. That corner of the diked-in area had lots of water. Through the Fall months this year, not much was being reported from the Fern Ridge area on OBOL. There is water in all the ponds now however, and we found a variety of Ducks out in the distance. I still don't think the numbers match what they would normally be at this time of year. I only managed to photograph American Shovelers and Northern Pintails. All of the time we were in the general area of the platform there were Yellow-Rumped Warblers flitting around in the nearby low vegetation. Tricky to photograph, I was able to get a few decent shots because they stayed around us for a long while. A Northern Harrier buzzed us as well and I tried to photograph it in flight with some degree of success.

As we left the platform a flock of Geese came in low and landed in the fields Northwest of us. Because they were so dark looking and also so silent, there was speculation that they might be Brant. We looked at photographs I took of them, on my camera screen, and they turned out to be Canada Geese. Once at home, I wrestled with the idea that they might be the Dusky subspecies, but after looking at another photo not included in the album, and comparing our birds to photographs of Duskies online, I've decided the upper breast doesn't look dark enough.

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