Wild Weds. 49/52 Song Sparrow

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Song Sparrow…I think. Its song was pretty on this morning in June.

Sing a Song!

 

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm| PS CC 2019

more to come…

Advertisements

Wild Wednesday 33/52 Snowy Plovers

Copyright © 2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

While at the beach a couple weeks ago to photograph the Moon we came across a protected area where we discovered Snowy Plovers nesting.

They’re a small shorebird found on beaches, and barren ground all across North American Gulf and Pacific coasts and here and there in California, Texas, and Saskatchewan inland areas. They are also found in South America, and Eurasia.

Snowy Plover

Neat facts from allaboutbirds.org:

The Snowy Plover will many time raise two broods a year, and sometimes three in places where the breeding season is long.  The female deserts her mate and brood about the time the chicks hatch and initiates a new breeding with a different male.

Snowy Plover in Nest

Young Snowy Plovers leave their nest within three hours of hatching! They flatten themselves on the ground when a parent signal the approach of people or possible predators.  They walk, run, and swim well and forage unaided by parents, but need periodic brooding for many days after hatching.

The oldest recorded Snowy Plover was at least 15 years, 2 months old when it was spotted in the wild in California and identified by its band. ~allaboutbirds.org

This one was really close to the edge of the protected nesting area which was great. It gave us really great looks, and photo ops.

Snowy Plover

Sadly, the Snowy Plover population is listed as Near Threatened as their numbers are in decline.  It’s believed their habitat is in decline due to habitat alteration, and increased recreational use of beaches.

I was happy to see this section roped/taped off, and no one breached the barrier while I was there so, it looks like people are respecting them, and the rules to stay out of the area while they’re nesting. I hope that bodes well for a successful breeding season for these cute little shorebirds.

I hope your week is going well, and you all have a lovely week-end!

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm @500mm| Lexar Digital Film| PS CC 2018

more to come…

 

 

Wild Wednesday 22/52 American Bald Eagles

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Last year we had a pair of American Bald Eagles make a nest in a Redwood tree which is located in the front yard of an Elementary School right here in Silicon Valley. It was very exciting news.  We hoped they’d return this year. Not only did they return to their nest they’ve had two chicks!

Myself and several friends had made a couple of trips over to see and photograph them, 2 weeks ago we met there again.  When I pulled up there were many photographers there, and they were quickly changing positions, and pointing up, one friend already there motioned me to hurry.  There was something exciting happening.  I quickly parked, got out of the car then went to get my camera out of the back of my car. The Female was coming in and she had dinner!  I had to act fast she was flying low, fast, and being dogged by crows who squawked at her the whole time.

There was a row of trees blocking my view, so I ducked down, and sans tripod got her in my viewfinder and fired off three rapid shots then I lost her in the trees. Since I was hand-holding my 200-500mm lens  I wobble all over the place and my position of ducking and shooting wasn’t stable. I didn’t have much hope for having a decent shot. My rig weighs just a smidge under 8 pounds (4kg). I’ve never had any arm strength. 😥 Two of the images were nothing but a blurry blob in the frame, but one was worth saving for myself. It’s not print quality, but I thought I show you it anyway because you can tell what birds they are, and what’s happening.

Mama Eagle scored a whole duck for dinner. A whole duck! There were 3 crows dogging her, but I only got one in the frame with her. See the duck?

Milpitas Eagle Famale with Kill and Crow Chaser

Mama stayed near the nest watching the Eaglets eat for sometime, and the Eaglets would pop their heads up from time to time looking for their parents.

American Bald Eagle Chicks

Mama decided it was time for another flight.  I photographed her just as she left the branch she was on.  I love this shot! Her wings are enormous!  I barely fit all of her in my frame.

American Bald Eagle Adult Female

Dad was nearby on a branch higher up keeping watch, but after Mama left and the chicks were fed he thought it was safe for him to come down and clean off his beak.

He cleaned it by rubbing and wiping it on that branch.  Under his back end below the branch is the nest. You can just make out a chick in there.  Dad has lost all his beautiful white tail feathers!  I hope they grow back.

American Bald Eagle Adult Male

We stayed watching and photographing them until sundown when we lost the good light. I have more images I want to share of the adults, but again I’ll wait for a rainy day, by then I may a few of the Chicks as Fledglings.

Pets Update:  I finally took a photo of Box, and someone cough! (Dan) reminded me that I haven’t shared a photo of Diva Dog in sometime.  Imagonna fix that for ya. 🙂 I had Yosemite Sam pop into my head when I heard that last sentence in my head. 😜

Box is still shy:  He loves to hide in the back corners, and he loves his hay bag. I got him at a good time munching on hay.

Box the Guinea Pig

 

…and for Dan, Diva Dog- Yesterday was in the 80’s and today is supposed to be 89°F.  Early summer?  When it’s hot she likes to lay on the cool wood floor in the entry hall, or on our bathroom floor’s Travertine tiles.  She wouldn’t pose for me. Too hot! I’m sorry you can’t see her cute neckerchief.

Diva Dog Staying Cool

It’s supposed to cool down mid week. I hope you’re not too hot or cold,  and I hope you’re all having a good week, and great day!

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm @500mm| SanDisk Digital Film| PS CC 2018

more to come…

 

 

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…

Wordless Weds. 16/52 Western Meadowlark

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

HELLO!  I’ve missed you guys!  I’ve been MIA for what seems an age.  I caught the flu on the 5th and am finally out of bed and back in the land of the living!

It’ll be a few more days before I’m back to normal strength, and the Doc says the cough is going to linger for a week more or so, but I’m as happy as this Meadowlark singing its song.  I could break out in my own kind of Happy to be over the flu song, but the cough…and my voice is a bit hoarse, so I’ll spare you. 🙂

These two images are from earlier in the year. I can’t wait to get out with my camera. It’s missed me. 🙂

Western Meadowlark Male Singing

Western Meadowlark Male poser

How are you guys? Holding up and faring a far sight better than I’ve been I hope. I’ll be catching with your blogs soon!

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm| SanDisk Digital Film| PSCC 2018

more to come…

Wild Weds. 12/52 Duck, Duck, Goose!

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A couple of weeks ago when I shared the Snow Leopard  images here 

I mentioned that my friend and I went birding before we visited Sacramento Zoo. We went to Sacramento, CA to find special ducks, and geese.  The Ducks were some of the most colorful ducks here in the States.  Wood Ducks, and a Mandarin Duck which I’ll save for another post, and a new Goose for me the African Goose.

There were a couple pairs of Woods Ducks, and quite a few African Geese making the day very successful.

Wood Ducks can be found here all year long, but we see them mostly in Spring.  They have sharp, strong claws that allow them to climb branches. They will nest in boxes if they’re provided, but if not they’ll nest in holes in  trees.  The Wood Duck is the only North American duck that regularly produces two broods in one year.  The Wood Duck is considered one of the prettiest of all waterfowl.

Wood Duck Male

Wood Duck Male

Wood Duck Female- She’s looking up at a nesting box that the Wood Ducks kept taking turns flying up to.  They’re paired up now so brooding is on their minds no doubt. 🙂

Wood Duck Female

Wood Duck pair-  I was focused on the male, and shooting at f/8, but the female isn’t as sharp as I would have liked her to be.  What do you think he’s talking about? Traffic on the pond? Or how beautiful she is? Or how wonderful he is at nesting, and fathering chicks? 🙂

Wood Duck Pair

The African Goose- Isn’t really from Africa they think it’s really from China and related to the Swan Goose from China.  It’s most distinguishing feature is its knob on its bill/face front.

I’d never seen this Goose before. We don’t have many knobbed fronted birds here, but it’s a beauty.  It’s not listed in either of my Bird books for North America so, I turned to Wikipedia for information about it. See below the images.

This one might be a mix of white and brown because of the orange in its knob, or maybe it’s breeding colors? IDK? 🙂

African Goose in the Pond

Several came out of the pond to forage on the lawn. I liked the way this one stopped foraging to give me “the look”.   I didn’t get any closer.  🙂

African Goose

Here’s an image of what I think is a male African Goose. It was HUGE, and you can see the Dewlap (the hanging bit under the chin) that is mentioned below as a distinguishing feature.

African Goose Male

The African Goose is a breed of goose. The African goose breed most likely originated in China, despite the name. They may possibly be related to the wild swan goose a smaller species of goose, just like their close cousin the Chinese goose. Though they share some similar characteristics (such as colour variations), the two can be distinguished by the African’s larger dewlap and different knob shape. African geese are also quite a bit heavier than Chinese, and are better known for their docile temperaments. Also, they are known to lay far fewer eggs than Chinese geese, 25-40 eggs per year for the African goose vs. 40-65, or, in extreme cases, up to 200 eggs per year for Chinese geese.

Two origin theories persist for the fowl: the first purporting that Africans are the result of crosses of swan geese and Chinese, while the other asserts that they are pure derivations of the swan goose, and their unique traits are simply the result of selective breeding. Whichever the case, it has existed as a distinct breed since at least the middle of the nineteenth century, and was admitted to the American Poultry Association‘s Standard of Perfectionin 1874.

Ganders often have a higher pitched call than the geese, and are taller, while the females are shorter and stockier, with larger keels or lobes.

African geese appear in three color varieties: Brown, Buff and White. Browns have black bills and knobs, and plumage with irregular shades, from a very light to dark brown. Whites have all-white plumage and orange bills and knobs.” ~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_goose

 

It was an outstanding morning at the pond seeing these and several other species.

I hope your week is going well, and it’s easy going til Friday!

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

more to come…