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.
At San Jacinto Wildlife Area near Perris, Ca I managed to get fairly close to a Golden Eagle, many Kestrals, and a Red-Shouldered Hawk this week.
We spent 8 days photographing Arches and Canyonlands Nat Pks trying to get up before sunrise and also shoot at sunset- the best light of the day. I had wanted to do some night photography but it was cloudy at night most of the time. These 2 parks had some spectacular scenery with some of the best rock formations in the U.S. Most of the images are with a Canon 1dx mark ii and a Canon 17-40 mm wide angle lens and in a few cases a 14mm Rokinon lens. Moab is a great place to stay with good motels and a few good restaurants, especially Desert Bistro. We pretty much stayed on the main road but if you have a 4 wheel drive hundreds of miles of roads are available, especially in Canyonlands.
More images from our Alaska trip with a few landscapes. The landscapes were on the Kenai Peninsula while the Bears were at Lake Clark across the Cooke inlet. We were able to get fairly close to the Bears with an experienced guide, which is essential, not only to find the bears but to be able to read their behavior and know how far to position ourselves safely. The welfare of the bears is the highest priority and our time was limited so as not to alter their behavior or interfere with their daily routines. The fact that we were in a coastal grassland habitat made it easier for us to spot bears at a distance and for them to see us well in advance. The problem is that if you surprise them in a forest on a trail with no visibility then they can get defensive or aggressive, especially with cubs. Also if you are in a group of 3 or more people they seldom attack if you stay close together and use common “bear sense”.