Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday - Hummingbird Wars (Again)

With the unusually warm weather we've been having this month (El Nino?  What El Nino?), the hummingbirds have been exceedingly active.  I've been watching the feeder to see if we get any interesting migrants passing through...no luck yet, but our resident Allen's and Anna's are keeping things interesting.
This is our resident Allen's female - she hangs out in a small tree in the backyard and keeps a close watch on "her" feeder.

She can see me through this window so I have to move fast to get these shots...leading to some slight blurriness.

Every once in a while, she lets down her guard and the Anna's swing into action.  This is a female Anna's.

She's always got one eye out watching for the Allen's to come back...I've noticed that the Allen's seem to be more aggressive about guarding the feeder.

This is a different Anna's...notice the new feathers coming in as she's finishing up a molt.
Hopefully, I'll get lucky and catch a Rufous or Black-chinned migrating through, but if not, there's still plenty to watch with our residents.


Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday - Semipalmated Plover

I spent quite a bit of time late summer/early fall learning to identify as many of the various common shorebirds as I could.  Thankfully, the Bolsa Chica wetlands are not too far up the coast and make a great classroom.  This Semipalmated Plover is one of my favorites, although all Plovers are almost unbearably cute!  This bird is differentiated from the Killdeer because it is small and has only one neck ring where the Killdeer has two.  The SPPs neck ring is complete whereas the Snowy Plover does not have a complete ring.  The Snowy is also smaller and more likely to be found on sand dune habitat.

Those dark objects are zillions of empty shells that the many birds at Bolsa Chica have already picked clean.

Another field mark for the Semi...bright legs.  The Snowy Plover has gray legs.

Here's a bit better look at that neck ring...complete all the way around = Semi-Palmated Plover.

I got so interested in Plovers that I participated in a Snowy Plover survey and field trip in Sept/Oct and will be sharing more about that threatened species in a future post.


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday - Red-tailed Hawk

Thought I'd take a break from the shore birds and switch to raptors for a while.  Last year, my family members got together and purchased a lesson with a professional photographer for me as they knew I was getting into cameras and wildlife pretty seriously and I'd about reached the limit of self-taught/internet learning.  The teacher was nice enough to agree to meet me outdoors at one of my favorite spots.  I learned a lot that day and saw a significant improvement in my photos thereafter.  However, the birds were singularly uncooperative...we were limited to a few Mallards and a couple of doves as subjects.

After the hour was up and the teacher had left, I decided to stick around and practice some more in the hopes that I'd remember at least most of what she taught me.  Just as I was packing up to leave, I looked up and there was this gorgeous Red-tailed Hawk sitting in the tree above my car.  It must've heard I was looking for model subjects and decided to be extremely cooperative and not move.  There were a few branches/leaves in the way so I can't say the shots are quite as good as I wanted them to be, but they were certainly better than most everything I'd done before this.

Normally, I don't get to see these guys this close up.  They are usually perched on the freeway light posts and I go zooming by them at 65+ mph.  It's great to see the beautiful detail and patterning in their feathers.

Clearly, this bird knew I was there and was keeping an eye on me, but didn't seem too bothered by my presence.

Wish I'd been able to get rid of that blurry bit of leaves in the lower left, but when I maneuvered around the tree, I just ended up with more branches/leaves in the way.  This was the clearest vantage point.

This was the last shot I got before he took off.  He's just starting to lean forward a little bit before launching.


Wild Bird Wednesday