Bird Photography


Fern Ridge Royal ave to southeast pond south of observation platform,
with Jody Fairchild and Marylee Sayre,
Monday, June 16, 2014

Weather: 55 -> 65 degrees with clear skies, from 8:30am to 11:45am

The highlight of the early part of this walk, for me, was a Common Yellowthroat which was singing in plain sight at the very top of a small tree very near to the trail, repeatedly flying back and forth from one bush to the other and back again.

My experience in the year and a half that I have been trying to get a good photograph of this species, has been that it calls often, but remains inside the bushes and shrubs, coming to the top only momentarily before flying off to land deep inside another bush. But not so on this occasion! When I returned three days later with another group of birders, we found probably this same bird behaving just about the same way as he was when I took these photos.

Our goals for this trip were to get to the Barn Pond, (which we had not reached on two previous bird-walks a year ago); to see a pair of American Avocets at the Barn Pond, where they had been reported to be nesting, and to see Blue-Winged Teal, which I had not identified on my own to this point. We did succeed to reach all of these goals on this trip.

We came across one American Avocet which was not too far off in the middle of the Barn Pond.

It wasn't too hard to find the nesting Avocets, although they were pretty far away from us. They were at the far southern end of the pond, while we were part way south of the northern end of the pond. One of them was clearly not moving around and seemed to be perched on a nest. A second one was feeding not far from the nesting one.

The apparent mate of the nesting bird was nearby, feeding.

Although we saw maybe a half-dozen Blue-Winged Teal, only once did we see them close enough to get a decent photograph. I said decent, not "good". Same with the several Cinnamon Teal we saw.

We walked the dike southeast from the Royal Ave trail, then south along a canal until we reached the Barn Pond. As we walked along this canal, one Black Tern flew by several times. Based on it's acrobatics, it was obviously feeding on flying insects. My past few attempts to photograph a Black Tern have only resulted in a blur. That's what I got this time too, except for this one picture, in which some of the bird has been "stopped" by the speed of the shutter as the bird made a sudden 90 degree turn, with wings perpendicular to the ground. It happened to be moving perpendicular to my line of sight as well, which meant that although it was moving fast, it was not getting closer nor further, so the focus of the camera came out about right.

You can barely see it, but the bird's bill is pointed almost down, as it is probably looking at the prey which had triggered this particular acrobatic maneuver

We also saw American White Pelicans flying in the distance against a background of dark clouds.

Several photos of a native white flower in the Lilly family, growing happily out of packed hard dirt on the trail.

A Checkermallow plant in bloom (pink)
and a few photos showing the overall habitat/scenery.