Wild Wednesday 23/52 White-tailed Kites

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

On and off for a few weeks I’ve been going to over to a nearby park to photograph and check on a young family of White-tailed Kites.  The adults have two Fledglings.  They aren’t quite ready to be on their own yet.  Mom and Dad are still hunting, and bringing in food for them.

I had hoped to see a mid-air food transfer between parent and fledgling, but that didn’t happen. Mom dropped the food in the nest on this evening.

White-tailed Kite with Prey

Myself and several friends went back the following morning bright and early.

Here’s a look at the Fledglings in the nest:

White-tailed Kite Fledglings

The Fledglings have been flying around the big fields practicing their hovering, spying prey, and diving, but I don’t know that they’ve actually caught anything on their own yet.

I went back again this past Saturday hoping to see and photograph the mid-air food transfer. It happened, but I missed it! After the oldest fledgling left the nest and it didn’t look like anything would happen following it, I set my camera back on the smaller fledgling still in the nest thinking it would follow shortly as it had before, then I heard oooh’s, and ahhh’s to my right and looked just in time to see the transfer but didn’t get my camera on it in time.  I didn’t anticipate that. 😥

Here’s one of the Fledglings in flight on my last visit June 2, 2018:

White-tailed Kite Fledgling in Flight

I fear they’ll be own their own and kicked out of the territory when I return next week.  Mom and Dad have already set up another nest across the field from this set of Fledgling’s nest, and they’re making the fledglings wait for longer periods of time between feedings.

I’ll be offline by the time this post goes live. I’m leaving the house in He-Man’s, and #1 Grandson’s capable hands while I’ll be camping in the wilderness with a group of photographers. 12 of us plus guides, and a cook are going to be tracking by foot, and horseback Wild Mustangs.  I can’t tell you how excited I am about this trip!

As I type my bags are nearly packed. I’m waffling on which wide angle lens to take, and worrying about staying within my dunnage weight limit of 40 pounds!

Wish me luck that I don’t get thrown from my horse, we find the team of Wild Mustangs, get loads of wonderful images made,  Hot Dogs don’t make an appearance on our dining menu.  Some of you know I don’t like Hot Dogs, and I don’t get so saddle sore I’m unable to ride.  I’m packing Butt Butter! ☺

I’ll catch up with you all when I get back.  Until then I hope you have a wonderful week, and stay safe!

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

more to come…

 

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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 Wednesday 21/52 Osprey Family

Copyright © 2018 Deborah M. Zajac  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The day after Mother’s Day Gordon of undiscoveredimagesamongstus blog was the navigator for an excursion to see an Osprey nest that is currently inhabited with a family of 4.

We had some great sightings of the Female, Male, and little peeks at the chicks.  The morning was overcast, but during lunch the sun broke through the marine layer giving us some blue sky.

The Male was busy in the morning with chores; bringing in new nesting material.

Osprey Male with Nesting Material

Heading out again…

Opresy leaving the Nest

a peek at the chicks!

Osprey with Chicks in the Nest

Osprey and Chicks_DMZ7350

Osprey Facts:

COMMON NAME: Osprey

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Pandion haliaetus

TYPE: Birds

DIET: Carnivores

AVERAGE LIFE SPAN IN THE WILD: 30 years

SIZE: Body, 21 to 23 in; wingspan, 5 to 6 ft

WEIGHT: 3.1 to 4.4 lbs

They are fantastic fishers. Their diet is 99% fish, so you’ll find them on rivers, lakes, ponds and coastal waterways around the world.

Ospreys hunt by diving to the water’s surface from some 30 to 100 feet up. They have gripping pads on their feet to help them pluck fish from the water with their curved claws and carry them for great distances. In flight, ospreys will orient the fish headfirst to ease wind resistance.~https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/o/osprey/

I didn’t get to see the aerial show Gordon and our friend Dan saw on Saturday, but I can’t complain. It was amazing see these fly to and from the nest, and get a bonus peek at the chicks.

We saw some other birds too, but I’ll save those for a rainy day. 🙂

He-Man was seated on a jury today so, I’ll be missing him for the next few days.  Funny that. When he first started telecommuting I wasn’t happy about it. Having him in my space all day; UGH!  I’ve had to adjust. It’s been a few years now and I’ve grown to appreciate him being here.

The Guinea Pig; Box, is settling in and he and Diva Dog are getting used to each other.  Box and she are communicating I think.  Diva Dog chuffs, and wags her tail like crazy when she’s inspecting Box, and his habitat, and Box chirps, and whistles and is really excited to see her after her walks.

Box is standing still in his habitat when I put my hand in to pet him now, so we’re making progress too. I’ll get some images of him to share soon.  He’s a cute little calico Guinea pig.

I hope your week is going well!

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm @500mm| f/8| ISO 800| SanDisk Digital Film

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…

American Kestrel-Male

Copyright © 2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The American Kestrel is the littlest Falcon in North America and the most colorful.  They’re quite fierce for the size. They often perch on wires, or poles to watch and wait for unsuspecting prey. ” Hunting for insects and other small prey in open territory, kestrels perch on wires or poles, or hover facing into the wind, flapping and adjusting their long tails to stay in place.”~AllAboutBirds.com

Gordon and I stopped at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday morning before joining a Meet-Up group we’re in at another National Wildlife Refuge and while on the auto route where the Tulle Elk are we spotted this Kestrel on a post.  It was just after a heavy rain storm so there was Tulle Fog all over the valley hence the white sky.  I love the rain drops or dew drops on his breast feathers.

American Kestrel Male

 

 

We didn’t see any Tulle Elk in the paddock. Not one! They must have been deep in the trees until it warmed up.  Thankfully for us this Kestrel was out and about looking for breakfast!

Nikon D700|Nikkor 200-500mm @ 460mm| Lexar Digital Film| PS CC 2017

More to come…

Red-tailed Hawk 2

Copyright ©2016 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

This Red-tail is from a couple of weeks back.  My friend and I were birding in San Luis National Wildlife Refuge and nearing the end of one of the auto-routes when we spotted it high in the tree.  I was driving and didn’t think I’d get a decent photograph of it because it was on the passenger side of the car/road, and climbing over the console and gear box wasn’t something I wanted to do.

Red-tail Hawk

We had the route nearly to ourselves so I thought I’d pull the car caddy-whompus across the road and shoot leaning into the passenger seat.  I was able to get several images of it before another car came up and I had to move.

It is striking isn’t it with its white cap and that gaze?

Nikon D300s| Nikkor 200-500mm VR| Lexar Digital Film| PS CC 2015

Red-tail Hawk with Prey

Copyright ©2016 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Warning!: Some may find these images too graphic!

While birding a couple of weeks ago in the Sacramento Valley we spotted this Red-tail Hawk having lunch on a levy about 25-30ft away from us.  It spotted us too.  It didn’t like the way we kept staring while it was trying to eat so…
Red tail Hawk with meal

…it picked up its meal…

Red-tailed Hawk with Prey in Flight

…and flew to a tree stump that offered a bit more privacy.

Red tail with prey on tree stump

We watched it eat for a couple of minutes then slowly drove away leaving it to enjoy its meal.

The second image with the Red-tail in flight has a bit of motion blur. I was hand-holding the lens and not used to its weight and think it was me being a wobbly rather than a slight pan.  The eye is pretty sharp, and the blur gives it a sense of movement I like enough to save, and share it.

I was also racked out to 500mm and I didn’t frame up the shot giving the bird enough room to fly out of the frame, so I extended the canvas a bit then added in some of the background to give the bird some room to fly out of the frame, and fix the composition.  There’s a learning curve to  all new lenses; getting used to the weight, and bulkiness -it’s a chubby lens, and framing with it will be what I strive to master in the coming years.

I liked the lens so much I bought one right after I returned the rental lens.

Nikon D300s| Nikkor 200-500mm VR (rental lens)| Lexar Professional Digital Film| PS CC 2015

More to come…