Wild Wednesday 20/52 Deep Greens and Blues are the Colors I Choose

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

On Saturday I went birding locally in the morning hoping to see a Lazuli Bunting. They’re only here in the Spring and I heard they were spotted in a place I’d seen one four years ago.  It was a stellar morning of birding! Not only did I get a brief look at the Lazuli Bunting, but I also saw lots of Violet-green Swallows. 🙂

Both birds have amazing colors.

Lazuli Bunting Male-  He’s song bird.

Lazuli Bunting

Violet-green Swallow Male

Violet-green Swallow

…and I got the “look” from a White-tailed Kite while she was hunting. You know how much I like them. My favorite of the Birds of Prey.  I like to think she was wishing me a Happy Birthday. 🙂

White-tailed Kite

I had a birdy long week-end that included some hiking/walking . Saturday I hiked just a smidge over a mile half of it was uphill and the beginning was steep.  Monday I hiked a bit over 2 miles, and Tuesday afternoon I hiked just over 4 miles.  He-Man and I hiked a trail we hadn’t hiked in a couple of years. It was good to get out and really stretch our legs.  Mind you, I feel so out of shape since having the flu and not doing much hiking since. I’m glad I made the loop up and down! I had doubts about being able to make it up to the second trail-head to make the loop. A couple of spots are steep. On two of the hikes I had some elevation gain which I like.  I like uphill for the first leg…more payoff for the exertion, and the reward is the downhill on the way back.  However, what I find is that there is uphill on both ends! I’m usually tired by the time I reach the upper elevation, and it’s work to get up those uphills on the way back.  I’m always so thankful I completed the hike, and if I carried my Garmin tracker seeing the stats always makes those uphills on the way back more rewarding.  I was tired and needed some extra Yoga stretches to ward off being really sore Wednesday, but I kept thinking “maybe I’ll get my groove back, and hike a couple times a week again.”

One can hope! 🙂

I hope you all are having a good week!

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm| San Disk Digital Film| PS CC 2018

more to come…

 

 

 

 

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Wild Weds. 19/52 Mandarin Duck Male

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Several months ago I went birding near Sacramento, CA. to look for two exotic ducks, one was the Wood Duck which I blogged about here.  The other was the Mandarin Duck.

The week before I visited the pond there were two pair at the pond, but the morning I went there was only a lone male.  He’s gorgeous don’t you think?

Mandarin Duck Male

He sought the shade of a palm tree, but soon came out from under again, thankfully!

Mandarin Duck Male

Here are several facts about the Mandarin Duck:

The Mandarin Duck Drake is widely considered the world’s most beautiful of the ducks. It’s a native of China and Japan.  They favor small wooded ponds and avoid large bodies of water.

There are limited populations in the United States; they’re usually escapees from captivity.  China exported thousands of Mandarins, but the trade was banned in 1975.

They are wonderful fliers, able to fly through trees, with remarkable agility.

They will often perch in trees, but the female will lay her eggs (9-12 eggs) in a hole or cavity of a tree, or if a nesting box if one is available.  Once the Female has gathered her brood she takes them straight to the water!  Mandarin Ducks only pair up for a season. New pairs form again in the Fall/Autumn. ~https://www.livingwithbirds.com/tweetapedia/21-facts-on-mandarin-duck

I was thrilled there was still one there for me to see and photograph.

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm @500mm| f/8| 1/200s| ISO 800| Tripod w/Wimberley Sidekick Gimbal Head

more to come…

 

Wild Weds. 18/52 Great Horned Owls

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Saturday some friends and I met up to go look for the Owls again.

The Owlets were out of the nest and high up in the foliage with Mom. I didn’t get any shots of them, but both the Male, and Female Adults gave us great looks.

When we first arrived in the park Gordon from https://undiscoverdimagesamongstus.wordpress.com/

was there already and had spotted the Male Adult Great Horned Owl in a tree opposite the nesting tree. Fortunately he was on a branch in the open, but it was well shaded.

He hooted off and on to the Mrs. and the chicks which was really neat to hear. I’m pretty sure he’s hooting in this image b/c his white chest feathers are prominent. When he was quiet it was just a line across his chest.

Great Horned Owl Male

Several hours later the Female flew out of the nesting tree to a huge Eucalyptus tree across from the nesting tree, and out in the open so we had a great look at her.  I’m sure she was able to keep an eye on the chicks from there.  It was evening by then and the sun was sinking lower, and getting more golden.

The light was so lovely on her. Isn’t she pretty!

Great Horned Owl Female

Here are just a handful of the Owl watchers that passed through to look at the owls.

In front row all in black is Gordon, then our friend Anna who you can barely see next to him, and our friend Brian the last one in the front row.  Myself and Dali were still taking images of the Female while these photographers, and birders were looking for the Owlets.  (This image I made with my iPhone 7 Plus.)

Owl Watching Golden Gate Park

It was another good birding day despite me not getting a good look at the owlets this time.

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm| PSCC 2018

more to come…

Wild Wednesday 17/52 Wild Chicks in the Park

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Saturday I was feeling strong, and well enough to do some birding with friends. I rose 4:15am to be ready for my friend to pick me up then from there we drove north 50 minutes to meet Gordon from undiscoveredimagesamonstus

After meeting Gordon we headed north across the Golden Gate Bridge to go to a pond for birding.  We spent over an hour there then we headed over the Richmond Bridge to meet more friends at Blake Garden. After spending a couple hours at the Garden we headed to lunch. It was a great breakfast place. I’d go back and order the same thing.  I didn’t take any photos of my food I was too hungry by then.

After lunch and saying farewell to a friend we headed to Golden Gate Park to look for the Owlets we heard were there.

I was familiar with the tree the owls like to nest in having been to it several years ago, so finding that was easy, but we relied on birders there ahead of us to point us in the direction of the owlet nest.

Mama Owl was there too, but she was well camouflaged in the foliage much higher in the tree.  I have a really bad image of her I’ll spare you from seeing.

There are 3 owlets, but I was only able to see two of their faces. 😦  The one in the very far right is still sleeping.

Owlets San Francisco CA_DMZ6602

I changed positions to the other side of the tree and got this shot of one of the owlets.

Owlet San Francisco CA_DMZ6629-3

The only bummer for me was that I couldn’t find my 200-500mm lens to use that day.  I put it away somewhere safe when I went hiking in Quarry Hill Garden several weeks ago. Then I got the flu and was out of it for nearly two weeks. When I went to get my lens where I thought I put it it wasn’t there. I looked high and low, and couldn’t find it, so only had my 300mm with me, and it really was too short for the day.  Aside from that it was a fun, and successful day of birding.

I did finally find my 200-500mm the following day in a box with the Christmas ribbons and bows. I totally forgot putting it in there!

I’ll be sharing images from our trip to the pond and garden in other posts.

Nikon D810| Nikkor 300mm f/4| SanDisk Digital Film| PSCC 2018

more to come…

 

Wild Weds. 14/52 A Wild Good Time at the Races

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

On Saturday I went to a car show, but discovered the night before that there would be drag racing too, so I spent all my time there photographing the racing, and not the many, many cars that were parked for viewing.

Two of my photography girlfriends in our group decided to join me, and we had so much fun.  We were trying the “panning technique”.   It’s not a technique I employ often. This technique requires one to slow the shutter down a bit, then track your subject while it’s moving then when it gets to the spot you want it to be gently squeeze the shutter while following your subject through the squeezing/releasing of the shutter.  It happens in a nano second.  I didn’t think I was doing it very well, but have more keepers than I thought I would.

The idea is to show movement/speed/motion while trying to keep the subject in focus.  It takes a bit of practice.

Settings I used were f/10-f/14, and I varied my shutter speed between 1/125s, 1/100s, and 1/80s in the beginning, and ended up using 1/125s and 1/100s the most.  I had really good light so kept my ISO at 100.

I liked f/13-f/14 the best for keeping more of the car in focus.

I also wanted to stop the action to show different parts of what was going on.  I just raised my Shutter Speed in those instances.

I was using Manual Priority, Auto White Balance, Matrix Metering mode, Single Point Focus, and Single shot shooting mode throughout the shoot.

So, there’s the technical bits, lemme show you some images from the races. “)

N738sp

Drag Racing Car

Dan Nayl Or

Drag Racing Dan Nayl Or

They approach the starting line with attitude, noise, and whole lot of burning rubber. 🙂

Burn Rubber!

These cars are fast! From the start to finish this car did it in 10.962 seconds at 134.44 miles per hour! One dragster later on clocked in over 200 miles per hour! WILD! 🙂

10.962s  134.44MPH

We spent 2 1/2 hours shooting just cars racing up this track. The time flew by! When it was time to head down to the car show to meet the rest of our group we stopped by the pit area for a closer look.

Can you smell the burn? 🙂  Man it was ear drum bursting noise down there!

Can you smell the burn-Burning Rubber

It was so much fun. I can’t wait to go back.

Nikon Df| Nikkor 24-120mm f/4| SanDisk Digital Film| PS CC 2018

more to come…

Wild Weds. 13/52 Wild California Poppy

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

This is one of the first Poppies I saw in bloom this season. I spied it all alone while on a “stretching my legs” hike a few weeks ago.

It’s Easter on Sunday and I’ll be spending the day with family.  I hope you all have a lovely week-end, and a wonderful Easter if you celebrate it.

Nikon 810| Nikkor 105mm @f/5.6| San Disk Digital Film| Handheld

more to come…

Wild Weds. 11/52 En Media Res

Copyright © Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I went hiking both Saturday and Sunday hoping to find something interesting in nature as well as stretch my legs, but I hoped to see wildflowers. Saturday I saw flowering trees looking lush and pink in their full bloom and not much else in the way of flowers. I did see a pair of Does resting in the grass near the creek at the bottom of the trail.  I really do think Deer are my Spirit Animal.  He-Man and I stuck to the wooded area trails and did the steep switchbacks to gain some elevation.  We hiked over 2 miles and gained approx. 500ft in elevation.  I also rode the Fit Desk for 4 miles on Saturday which did not burn off nearly enough calories! 😦

On Sunday I proposed a different route that would take us along meadow and grassy trails, but still be hiking uphill, and if I didn’t run out of steam I’d even go up the wall.  Our mileage wouldn’t much  over two miles, but the elevation gain would be close to 600 ft having to go uphill to the top of the mountain/hill then down to the valley and back up the steep hill, and WALL then down the back hill to the car.

I saw several wildflowers in  bloom, there were fiddle necks, Hounds Tooth, Pacific Pea; Lupine; and a few others, but the best came when hiking up the hill leading to the WALL.

He-Man was well ahead of me because I kept stopping to photograph flowers, new pine-cone buds, a lizard in camouflage or so it thought,  so I was making tracks trying to catch up before he hit the WALL- which is the last section of this hill, but it’s nearly vertical.  I’m not kidding it’s really steep.  The grade must be 9 or 10%. Everyone calls it the Wall.  Thankfully it’s fairly short from there to the top.

Anyway, I was looking high, low, and sideways for flowers, birds, insects, etc, and in a thicket of dry and dead thistle or teasel I spied something like leaves, and kept going up the hill a few steps then my brain said, ” uh, no there shouldn’t be leaves  like that on those, back up!” So, I did and look what I saw when I really looked at it!  A pair of Silvery Blue Butterflies en Media Res!

Silvery Gray Butterflies en Media Res 2

 

I have never seen this type of Butterfly before and never in this position! I was so thrilled and excited; doing my happy dance!

The Silvery Blue is in the Gossamer-Wing Family.  Its habitat is varied but, not in deserts, but there is an exception as they are found in the Mohave Desert.  They are found where there are Lupine, Pea family, and Vetches. All of which were present when I saw these two.  Their season here is Feb- Aug.

He-Man missed it completely. 😦  I was tired and running out  of gas so took the cutoff right before the wall so, gained a little more mileage, but a wee bit less elevation. Next week I’ll take my hiking poles and claim the Wall again! 🙂

I was so grateful to have seen this. I’m still Wowed by it!

I’ll share some of the wildflowers in future posts.

Happy Hump Day!

Nikon D810| Nikkor 105mm @f/5.6| ISO 400| 1/1250s| Handheld

more to come…