These are all new photographs taken this past week at Torrey Pines , near La Jolla, CA. There are 4 juveniles and 2 adults and are amazing to watch when they fly within sometimes a foot away. The young ones are practicing their flying skills and try to lock talons in mid air or out- maneuver them while flying at incredible speeds. They are the fastest animal or bird on earth and in a dive can attain over 200 mph! All images were taken with a Canon 400mm 5.6 lens. The parents transfer their bird prey in mid-air and the young have to master the technique quickly. You can see the food transfer in one of the above images.
On our latest trip to the Chiricahua mountains in southeastern Arizona, near the town of Portal, there were some spectacular birds. I was able to photograph Western Screech Owls, Whiskered Screech owls, and Elf owls.The Elf Owl is the smallest owl in the world at 5-6″ high and weighing only 1 ounce. Other birds include the Elegant Trogon only found in a few mountain ranges in southeast Arizona, Mexico and Central America with an estimate of only 100 birds in the U.S. These were in the south fork of Cave Creek Canyon south of Portal. The Pyrrhuloxia is a subspecies of the Northern Cardinal found only in S Texas, New Mexico, and S. Arizona. The Gambel’s Quail were in a breeding ritual with the female jumping in the air and making different vocalizations. Two males fought over the right to mate with the female.
We went up to Washington state north of Seattle and photographed a pair of Bald Eagles at their nest. When an immature eagle flew over the nest the 2 nesting Eagles took off after the intruder. After successfully chasing away the younger eagle they celebrated on the branch by vocalizing and mating. The female sat on the nest most of the time and the male went out and brought back a rabbit and a duck to the nest. We did not see any of the young yet but they should hatch any day.
While watching an Osprey on a branch next to the ocean I saw the bird dive for a fish right in front of me. There have been many occasions when I have photographed an osprey with a fish in mid-air or on a branch eating; but this time I got the actual capture of the fish! They catch the fish with their talons underwater and the bird partially submerged. Often they shake the water off their feathers before takeoff.
Bald Eagles photographed at San Jacinto Wildlife Area a few days ago. The Eagles are possibly 2 or 3 year olds and don’t have the adult plumage yet. The aerial displays are probably practice for later serious fights or courtship behavior. All photographed with the new Canon 7d mark II and a 400 mm f 5.6 lens.
This last Mon and Thurs I spent photographing the Merlin and at least 3 Golden Eagles were spotted at San Jacinto Wildlife area near Perris, CA. The Golden in the photos was feeding on a Coot at fairly close range. All were taken with a Canon 400 mm 5.6 lens and the new Canon 7d mark II. There is a big improvement over the original 7d with more accurate and faster focusing and 10 fps makes a big difference with birds in flight. There were quite a few kestrels, red-tailed hawks, n harriers, and a Vermilion flycatcher the week before.
We traveled to Banff, Alberta and north about 80 miles on the Icefields Parkway, one of the most spectacular drives in North America. The trip was mid Oct and late Fall with many of the Aspen leaves already dropped but not too cold yet. The temps were mostly in the low 50’s for a high and mid to low 30’s at night. It is just one jagged mountain after another and lots of lakes close to the road with good reflections at sunrise and sunset. You really need to get out there about 30 min before sunrise to get set up and wait for the first light on the mountains. The unknown is how many clouds are there and whether the pinks and reds color the reflections and sky. We saw no bears or Moose and only one elk. Birds were scarce with only 3 Bald Eagles, Gray Jays everywhere, and Magpies. Probably Summer and Spring are better, as this late in Fall most had migrated South already. Actually I was really going more for Landscape this time. There were 3 wolves but too far away for good photographs. The Bighorn sheep were just outside of Banff near the Norquay Lookout, but all females. We did not see one big male anywhere. The one lone elk was in downtown Banff !
Mostly I did all the landscapes with a Canon 5D mark III and
Canon 17-40 f4 lens and the wildlife a 400mm f 5.6 lens and Canon 7d. The female Bighorn by the Lake was also a wild angle lens.
We went to the Olympic Peninsula in WA state in mid July and hiked the Hurricane Ridge area near Port Angeles and then to the Pacific Coast at La Push to photograph 2nd Beach. Hoping for more goats but saw lots of Black-tailed Deer. Was shooting with a 17-40mm lens when the deer came towards me and passed within 2 ft. I got one good shot (see above) when it paused at very close range. You do not want to approach wildlife that close, but in this case I stayed perfectly still and it ignored me. Not a lot of birds were seen but a few eagles and the Gray Jay were the highlights. If you can catch great clouds at sunset then the beach could be spectacular but we had heavy fog for 2 nights in a row. Still one of the most incredible beaches on the WA coast.
“You can’t always get what you want”, Mick Jagger.
Snowy Egrets Fighting chosen for Photo of the Day on Smithsonian.com
The Avocet chicks were off foraging on their own and right before sunset they hid under their mother for the night. The kildeer also protect the chicks at night and when predators approach.