So, I'm trying to get my brain back into a happier place and thought it would be good to focus on something I've really been enjoying lately: birds and improving my photography skills. Toward that end, I've been reading lots of tutorials and decided to grab the kid and head to the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary nearby for a morning of bird watching and photography. Ryan brought his camera, too, and we sort of made a competition out of who could get the best shots and find the most unusual birds (even though the sanctuary is only a few miles from my house, many of these birds don't frequent my neighborhood). Mostly, we just had a lot of fun!
While I'm sure I'll never be a noted photographer, I can at least tell that my skills improved a bit from the research I did.
This is a Dark-Eyed Junco. I think it's kind of cool that their beaks are pale pink - that seems unusual to me. There was a whole flock of them on the ground near a bench I was sitting on. Not quite as clear as I would've liked, but a whole lot better than the last birding pics I took with my iPhone through a window into my backyard LOL.
Okay, not a bird, but this gray squirrel did pose so nicely for me (although I still ended up with a bit of blur...must get tripod!)
This is a bird I'd not seen locally before - a White-Breasted Nuthatch. He was tough to capture - really flitted around a lot and kept taking off every time I moved the camera.
This shot is slightly closer up, but he's a little behind the big log he's sitting on.
Another bird I didn't know we had in the local area - an Acorn Woodpecker. They were all over the place at Tucker and you could really hear them pecking and pecking! They have bright red heads and when they fly, there are bright white splotches on their wings that flash. This one seemed to prefer a telephone pole to an actual tree.
And then there were two of them...you can see the red head on the one on the right.
Took me a while to identify this one. I could tell it was some kind of sparrow, but the bold black and white stripes on the head didn't match any of the sparrows I was more familiar with.
It turned out to be a White-Crowned Sparrow.
I love birds with bright colors...and we don't seem to have that many of them so I always notice when a bright splash of blue turns up.
I'd give anything if my camera had a more zoom on it - I wanted to get closer up to this guy.
He wouldn't let me do it, though.
Until...finally I caught him at a different feeder elsewhere in the sanctuary and I was able to sneak up a little closer. This is a Western Scrub Jay. I remember jays from my grandparents' house in New Mexico - but they must have been a different kind because they were larger than this bird and had crests on their heads (I'm guessing they were Steller's Jays). The only one like that that I have ever seen in California was during our trip to Lake Tahoe a couple of summers ago.
Now, we come to my favorite of all the birds - hummingbirds. I just can't get enough of them and there are somewhere between 5-7 different kinds to be found at the Tucker Sanctuary. They totally cater to them, too, as there are feeders EVERYWHERE and the hummers will buzz you off the trail if you block their flight to a feeder. They are very bold for their size! I'm not sure which species this one is...it doesn't have the bright head of a male Anna's, but is also missing the reddish brown feathers of an Allen's or Rufous. It might be a female or juvenile.
This is a male Anna's Hummingbird. Head feathers look pretty dull until the sunlight hits them JUST RIGHT and then...
...POW! Look at that amazing hot pink! They truly look like flying jewels!
I thought these all came out pretty well for trying to capture something moving as fast as a hummingbird. My goal is to continue to improve to the point that I can justify buying a more advanced camera with things like a zoom lens, etc. I'm even looking into classes in the hopes that maybe Ryan will have enough interest that we can take one together.