I photographed at San Jacinto Wildlife area yesterday and was able to get a juvenile Red-shouldered hawk and a Merlin in flight. There also was the first Golden Eagle that I have seen this year. Usually they don’t arrive until late Nov or Dec. It flew off before I was able to get close enough for a decent shot.
We photographed around Jackson Hole, Wyoming in Teton National Park the last week in Sept. It rained, snowed, was partly cloudy, and warmed up to 60 one day but that didn’t stop us. Temps ranged from 25 to 60 over a week. The Moose and Bears are out rain or shine but of course the sunrises and sunsets aren’t too good when it is totally overcast. Some of the best landscapes came right after the rain or snow cleared, which it did. I used my new Canon 5d mark IV with a 17-40mm wide angle lens for landscapes and a Canon 1dxII for wildlife with a 300 mm f2.8 and 1.4 extender.
I photographed Allen’s Hummingbirds in my front yard. We have them year round, but there is an increase in numbers around August with some migrating south for the winter. They are extremely territorial and spend most of their time chasing away other hummingbirds. It takes standing approx 12 feet away from the flowers and waiting for sometimes hours to catch them feeding. If you try to approach closer they fly away. I was using a Canon 1dx II with a 300 mm f2.8 lens and 1.4 extender usually 1/2000 sec to freeze the wings.
Our backyard Western Bluebirds have produced their second batch of young this year- April and now July with 3 young each time. They just fledged last night all at once and are nowhere to be seen today. Usually the parents take them away from nest and often return to the area a couple of weeks later. We have 2 bird baths that they frequent so we see the adults and last years young often.
Great Blue Herons arriving and catching fish at Seabeck, Wa on the Hood Canal west of Bremerton, Wa. This is the same location for the Bald Eagles, both arriving at the same time for the abundance of the sculpin fish at low tide. The morning light was the best at around 8-9 am depending on tides. Once the Herons arrive signaling the low tide and availability of fish, the Bald Eagles follow.
After photographing the Bald Eagles we went up to Mt Rainier National Park to the Paradise area at around 5400 ft, which still had quite a lot of snow on June 25th. Reflection Lake is only a short distance from Paradise Inn and Visitor Center. It was partially thawed but still covered with ice and snow, but enough of the water to get a good reflection of Mt Rainier. I found that the best time was at sunrise for an hour or 2 as the water is more still, and you get a better reflection. Also the mountain was better lit with the rising sun and also better clouds than the previous night. You can see the difference in the 3rd photo with no clouds(sunset) and the sunrise images are all the rest. I shot with a 17 to 40 mm Canon Lens with the Canon 1dx mark ii and used varying focal lengths. Also I did multiple panoramas which I have not processed yet but will use 4- 5 exposure to stich together in Photoshop. The Flickers were done near the Paradise Inn with an equivalent of 420 mm lens.
I photographed at Seabeck, Wa June 21 to 24th before and after low minus tides the gathering of Bald Eagles. They congregate only when the sculpin fish are trapped in the low tides in the oyster beds. The Great Blue Herons also arrive to catch fish and the Eagles try to steal from them. I shot all of these with a Canon 1DX II and a 300 mm f2.8 Canon II lens with a 1.4 extender ( total of 420 mm) although a slightly longer lens would be helpful at times. The 1.4 extender combination seems to focus faster and is sharper than the 2x extender. This year there were fewer birds with around 10-15 birds in a small area versus as many as 50-60 last year. In the next Blog I will include some of the Great Blue Heron images and also Mt Rainier Nat Park landscapes.
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The Peregrine Falcons at Torrey Pines, San Diego have just fledged 4 chicks and are flying. The young falcons are practicing their aerial skills at transferring food in mid-air and catching prey on the wing at speeds over 200 miles per hour! Peregrines are literally the fasted bird or animal on earth at approx 260 mph in a dive. The young only stay around for about a month after fledging and learn to find prey on their own. They then find their own territories away from their parents.
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We traveled to England to the Farne Islands off the NE coast of England about 1 1/2 hrs from Edinburgh, Scotland to photograph Puffins. This is one of the few places that you can actually get fairly close to nesting Puffins on an island, as the National Trust maintains and protects the birds. You take one of several boats from Seahouses, England to see the birds. A 300 to 400 mm lens is ideal as they are fairly close. The chicks are still in the burrows and when they fledge at night in late June they don’t return until mature and stay at sea. The Swans were in Edinburgh at the Leith harbor. The puffins are the Atlantic Puffins and are very comical. I managed to get them in flight, mating, building nests, waddling around, and landing. The weather was not ideal as it poured rain for nearly an hour with high winds coming off the cliffs and horizantal rain. Fortunately I had a rain cover on my camera and lens- a necessity. It did calm down to only a drizzle later and was easier to shoot. Mostly I used a 300 mm f 2.8 Canon lens with Canon 1`dx mark ii body with a 1.4 extender on about 1/2 the shots. If you go in mid or late June you can get the birds returning to their nest with the small eels that they feed on but I did not observe that behavior.
We photographed Birds in the Cloud Forests and Subtropical areas in Ecuador including the Tandayapa Valley, Guango, Rancho Suamox, Milpe, and San Tideo, Papallacta Pass, and Antisana. Elevations ranged from 1200 ft to 14,000 ft. The lodges we stayed at were at around 8,000 ft and 6500 ft. The trip was with Tropical Birding and they did an excellent job of taking us to various habitats and getting us close to the birds. Our guide was Pablo Cervantes who is an excellent photographer and helped to find the target birds. I used my 300 mm f 2.8 lens with and without a 1.4 extender or 2 x extender. As I process more of my images I will post more over the next few weeks.