A Good Day Birding PtII

Copyright © 2015 Deborah M. Zajac  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

There were quite a few opportunities to capture birds in flight while I was out birding this week.
A couple of times there were feeding frenzies right in front of me which allowed me to capture a few neat “flight shots” and a whole lot of near misses.

Here’s the American Robin just as it took flight.

American Robin in Flight

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret in Flight

Brown Pelican hunting for fish

Brown Pelican in Flight

Sea GullSeagull

Sea Gull

Sea Gull

Great Egret

Great Egret in Flight

Northern Mockingbird just after take off

Mockingbird just after take off

Brown Pelican diving- two images; I wish I had timed it so I got the tip of his bill going in the water. Sigh. Timing is everything!

Brown Pelican Dive

Brown Pelican Diving for Fish

Nikon D700| AF-S Nikkor 300mm f4 + AF-S Nikkor 14eII TC =420mm| Hand-held| Lexar Professional Digital Film

More to come…

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A day in the Wild

Copyright © 2014 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I spent Saturday at two Wildlife Refuges: Merced National Wildlife Refuge, and San Luis National Wildlife Refuge.

It’s takes just about 2 hours to get there from my house even with a stop for coffee along the way. It’s a fairly easy drive, and the only worrisome part of the drive is crossing Pacheco Pass, and only in the two lane windy section. Fortunately traffic was light going, and not much worse on the way home.

I was hoping to see Sandhill Cranes which my friend Judi shared were starting to return for the Winter.

With the drought being pretty severe here the Refuges have had their water allotments cut way back so, there’s not much water there. I suspect that will influence the number of birds that winter there, and the numbers will be a lot fewer than in past years.

At Merced National Wildlife Refuge there are a couple of observation decks, and a large auto-route with quite a few pull-outs. I arrived not long after the gate opened, and only saw one other car ahead of me. For two hours we were the only people in the refuge. It was really nice not having cars pass me and frighten the birds.

Here are the only Sandhill Cranes I saw. They were in the last field, and as always very skittish. They started moving deeper into the field when I stopped. While I was imaging the group I had the good luck to see two more fly in.

Sandhill Crane Fly-in

There was a flock of White-faced Ibis here, and they were so hungry they didn’t worry about me at all. There were a few quite close to the road. This one just yawned when I crept up. I love the colors in their feathers.

White-faced Ibis: Adult Winter

The White Crowned Sparrows are returning everywhere, even here.

White Crowned Sparrow

It was foggy when I left home, and there was haze around the countryside, and Refuge. I had hoped to meet my friend Judi here, but the air quality was really bad. There had been a report the night before that the air quality would be bad and people should not go out. I got Judi’s message about that too late; after I arrived at the Refuge. She’s on bottled air and didn’t dare leave the house. You can see the haze in several of the images, but especially in this image of a Great Egret I saw. He didn’t bat an eyelash at my presence! Their stillness and concentration are amazing. I liked the back lighting, and the haze gave the image a soft, dreamy look.

Backlit Great Egret

The Coots are back, as are the Shovelers, Mallards, and some Greater Yellowlegs.  While photographing the Greater Yellowlegs I put down my camera to take in the pond. You can see how much the water has already receded/evaporated.

Pond at MErced NWR

…a Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

I have a lot of images to go through and can’t share them all in this post. I haven’t even got to the second refuge images yet.

Nikon D700| AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4| AF-S Nikkor 14eII Teleconverter| braced with this beanbag.

More to come…

P52 38/52 Ruff Winter Plumage

Copyright © 2014 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Ruff Winter Plumage

This was a very exciting sighting for me, and most other birders in the area. This bird is a rare visitor to North America according to my Sibley’s Birds of North America book! It’s been hanging around a local salt pond for over a week now. I had a bit of time yesterday so went over in hopes of seeing and photographing it even though I was going over rather late in the morning. I got lucky! It was there in its favorite corner of the pond, but only for about 5 minutes before it flew off.  Thankfully it was enough time for me to capture this image.  I haven’t seen any reports of it today, but hope it’s still here.

Now, I want to travel north in the Spring to see the Male in Breeding Plumage. It’s an awesome looking bird. Reminds me of an English Judge and the fashion trend during Renaissance Times.

If you’ve never seen an image of a Male Ruff take a look at Nat Geo’s photo here

Nikon D700| AF-S Nikkor 300mm f4 w/Nikkor 14eII Teleconverter| Lexar Professional Digital Film

More to come…