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Friday, February 27, 2009

Ruddy Turnstone

One of my photography mentors, Clair Postmus, used to always say, "take photographs that tell a story." Too often in photography, we're looking for the perfectly composed shot, the perfect light, and not thinking about recording a bird's behavior or a sequence of photos that gives us a glimpse into that bird's life.

Here's a Ruddy Turnstone I photographed on the GA coast. Ruddy Turnstones are common shorebirds that winter along coastal regions, then migrate to their high-artic breeding grounds. this one is in winter plummage. In breeding plumage they are a beautiful rusty color above.

Not fussy about their food preferences, they poke with their short, thick biill, at anything they consider edible, such as fish, carrions, garbage. They often turn over rocks, pebbles (hence the name "turnstone") seaweed, etc. in search of food. This bird was tasting the washed ashore die-off of these jellyfish. Not sure what caused the die-off, but the beach was full of jellyfish. Made us wonder about the not-good situation for the jellyfish, but a bonanza for the turnstone.

P.S. I changed the background color of the blog to yellow. I told you I like playing around with color.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fly By Dunlins

I was standing on the beach on Jekyll lsland, GA and these Dunlins flew by and I turned and shot and got this photo. It's rewarding when I get a good flight photo, even better when it's a group of birds and they all look good. I love my camera (Canon Mark II, Canon 300 mm IS lens, plus 1.4 teleconverter), I love flight photography, and I love shorebirds.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Turkey Vulture

Took these photos of Turkey Vultures on Jekyll Island, GA, a wonderful place to bird. Turkey Vultures are not your cutsie birds. Some think they're downright ugly. I tend to think they're an acquired taste. Pretty face, no, but look at those silver underwing feathers. Wow. You usually do not see the silver beneath the wings because it's in shadow. However, these Turkey Vultures were flying low over a sandy area that reflected light up under the wings, illuminating the silver. That's the kind of situation you need to get these photos.
Turkey Vultures are "nature's garbage collecter's" providing a vital service in cleaning up the carrion and roadkills they feed upon. TV's seem to be expanding their range into northern areas and we have seen them more and more in NH since we moved here 7 years ago. We know they're nesting nearby. TV's winter in southern areas, but already have been seen back in New England in coastal areas.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Black-crowned Night-Heron

We're back in snowy NH now, but we'vebeen to FL and GA. I'll show some of my favorite photos from our travels this week.

This is a Black-crowned Night-Heron I photographed in Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, FL. Not an easy bird to find, since it's a "night heron" and emerges at night to hunt for fish. Found it roosting in the mangroves in a fairly open spot. Usually they're tucked way back in and sleeping.

It's also not always easy to photograph them because they're such contrasty birds, being black and white, so the whites often burn out in the digital image. The light was just right, not too sunny. Love the little white feather coming off the back of the head, called an occipital plume. They can have 1-8 plumes, the plumes are longer during breeding. Males and females look alike, females tend to be slightly smaller.

Very cool bird.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Still Travelling

Hi blog readers,
We're still travelling and will
get back to blogging Monday.
Thanks for your patience.

Sent from my cell phone.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Backyard Thrush

Here down in GA, in the backyard, we found this Hermit Thrush, quietly sitting in the bushes. The head, back and wings are brown but the tail is reddish, a great clue to Hermit Thrush.

Here's a side view and you can see the moderate spotting on the breast and the thin whitish eye-ring. It sat quietly and didn't seem to mind me. This is how I think of thrushes, lurking in shady, leafy nooks. It's wintering down here. Could it be the same Hermit Thrush that breeds at our NH home?
We will be very busy for the next week and may not be able to blog much, but we'll be back soon.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Altamaha Owl

Also at Altamaha, was this nesting Great Horned Owl, on an Osprey platform! From a distance we could see the Osprey nesting platform had something on it. We asssumed it was an Osprey. Surprise! When we got closer we saw the two "horns" (really feathers) sticking up, and recognized it as a Great Horned Owl. I photographed ir from a distance with a telephoto lens.

Ospreys can build nests in trees, but are also attracted to platforms where they will build their nests. Great Horned Owls do not build their own nests, but reuse the nests of hawks and other large birds. The nesting material may be from last year's Osprey nest, or perhaps, Ospreys started to nest there this year and the Great Horned Owls took over the nest.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Altamaha Horned Grebe

Found this Horned Grebe at Altamaha Wildlife Management Area on the Butler Island impoundments.
The Horned Grebe in winter plumage is identified by a dark, capped look; the lower edge of it's black cap extends from the bill base straight across base of eye and top of cheek, strongly contrasting with the white cheek and white side of nape. It also has a conspicuous whitish to indistinct dark gray supraloral mark (i.e. the spot in front of the eye) and a deep red eye connected to the bill by a thin, dark loral line. The bill is gray bill with a white tip.