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Copyright © 2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Mockingbird

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

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Copyright © 2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I had heard there was a rare white Hummingbird in Santa Cruz at UC Santa Cruz’s Arboretum last year, but didn’t see it when I was there photographing Allen’s Hummingbirds that come to winter there.

This year a friend and I went over to find the tree it had been spotted  hanging out in and we found both the tree and the rare white Hummingbird straight-away.

Rare White Hummingbird

Here’s a  description of Leucism, “Leucism, a developmental condition resulting in the loss of pigmentation. Unlike albino birds, which can’t produce the pigment melanin, leucistic birds produce melanin but can’t deposit it into their feathers. Albino birds also have red or pink eyes, but this hummingbird’s eyes are black, along with its bill and feet.

What makes this Hummingbird so rare is that it is almost completely white. Most leucistic birds are only partially affected, and have white patches of feathers amid colored plumage.”~Audubon.org

I spoke with a woman working at the Arboretum after my visit to find out if this is the same Leucistic Anna’s Hummingbird that was there last May and she said, “they believe it is”.

Leucistic Hummingbird

It’s so striking, and pretty isn’t it?   Poor thing has some kind of infection on its bill. I asked about that too, but they haven’t captured the Hummer to do any tests on it. So, they don’t know what the infection is. She did say  he’s (it’s a male) getting better and the Hummingbird is zipping around acting healthy so, they’re letting nature run its course.

Leucistic Allen's Hummingbird

It flew away from its tree a few times, and I found it in the little fountain bathing but I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo of that. Unfortunately I spooked it.  I did manage a few images of it preening and cleaning its feathers afterwards though. Here’s one.

Preening Rare White Hummingbird

It was quite a treat to find this beauty so quickly, and observe it for a short while. It’s the first Leucistic bird of any kind I’ve ever seen.

I hope it returns next year and I’m lucky enough to see it again.

I hope you all have a wonderful week-end!

Nikon D700| Nikkor 200-500mm| Hoodman STEEL Digital Film| PS CC 2017

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Copyright ©2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Hump Back Fluke and Spout Blow out_DMZ7965

Humpback Fluke

Moss Landing from the Legacy

Nikon D700| Nikkor 80-200mm + Tamron 1.4TC| Hoodman STEEL Digital Film| PS CC 2017

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Copyright © 2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Pigeon Guillemot/cepphus columba

Pigeon Guilemot

Nikon D300s| Nikkor 300mm f/4| SanDisk Digital Film| PS CC 2017

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Copyright ©2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

It was quite a weekend for me with two back to back trips to Yosemite National Park.   We begin on Saturday Feb. 11th; my friend Dali, and I headed out early for the park traveling route SR120 which was open when we left the Bay Area but, when we got near the gate to the park there was an electronic sign saying there was no access to the valley from that entrance due to a rock slide.  The Ranger told us there was an alternate route into the valley but it was a 2.5 hours journey from there to the valley. Unfortunately, that would have put us in the valley after 5pm and we needed to be in place, camera set up, and ready to start photographing  by 5pm or hours sooner knowing what the crowds can be like at this time of year.  So, disappointed we turned around and headed back home.  That was 8 hours on the road and nothing to show for it.  It’s not the first time!

Not totally defeated, and ever the optimists we knew we still had Sunday! We met earlier Sunday morning the 12th, and drove the slightly longer southern route to access the valley. The southern route is lower in altitude and usually open all year, but even this year with all the rain there were rock slides, and it was closed for a day the week before, and on “call ahead” status for days after before we left!   Fortunately, Sunday morning the road condition site said Open so, we forged ahead ever hopeful.  With a stop for lunch, and gas we made it into the valley without any delays, and hiked to our spot in plenty of time to set up and photograph what we had planned.

What would entice us and hundreds of other people to spend 16+ hours driving back and forth to Yosemite National Park in two day you may be wondering? If my post’s title didn’t give it away… Horsetail Fall!  🙂

In mid February for about two weeks (give or take a day or two) if the conditions are just right the sun will shine on the waterfall and light it up orange-red. It’s amazing it looks like lava flowing down the cliff face.

What are the perfect conditions to see this? There has to be water flowing. This waterfall is fed by rainfall, and snow melt, and there has to be sun to light up the waterfall.

In February having sun isn’t a given. I’ve been skunked in years past waiting and hoping the sun would peek out from the gray clouds to light up the fall only to be totally skunked. No light what-so-ever hitting the cliff face or waterfall.  It was still fun waiting and anticipating the event with hundreds of other photographers, and vowing to be back next year to try again. I did show up the following year, after year, after year.

Having water hasn’t been a given these last 6 years either. Being in California with the drought there were years it was just a trickle. This year with all the drought busting rain, and snow up in the mountains we knew there would be more than a trickle of water flowing but, we had to have sun too.  Thankfully, we had perfect conditions Sunday. Water flowing and Sun!

Here is an image from the peak of the phenomenon.  This is very nearly straight from my camera. I ran  this frame through Adobe Camera Raw for Lens and Camera Corrections, and I did correct the sky.  To capture the true color of the fall my camera washed out the sky. I added the blue back in the sky, and removed my dust spots, and I opened up the shadows a little bit.   Overall very few post development adjustments were added to this image.   This image was shot at 120mm.

Horsetail Fall February 12, 2017

I thought I’d try making a Timelapse from the stills I made.  It’s crude, and a bit jumpy as I zoomed in and out a few times to get a closer look, and I change the angle of my camera once during the shoot in the beginning.

Timelapse made with 145 still images.

If I’m going to do more Timelapse videos I’ll have be more disciplined about my set up and shooting.  I hope you enjoy it despite my shortcomings as a videographer.

This is the 7th year I’ve been photographing this phenomenon. So, was it worth the 16 hours on the road? OH YES! I’d do again. “)

Nikon Df| Nikkor 80-200mm| Delkin Digital Film| PS CC 2017

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Copyright ©2016 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

While #1 Grandson played quietly without me I took advantage and tried to catch up on emails and news at my desktop computer which is near a window that looks out on the backyard. Suddenly in the corner of my eye there was fluttering, and streak of color!

A Fiery Skipper was drinking the nectar from the tiny Lantana peddles! My camera never too far out of reach was in my hands quick as you like, and me making a mad dash for the backyard! Using a strip of lattice work on my patio cover as a blind I quietly positioned myself and took several images of the skipper at its meal. Most were sharp as a tack and show the skipper very well, but today I like this one the most. The movement shows their flightiness, and speed of the Skipper; how quick and nibble they are!

The image has an Impressionistic feel that resonates with my soul just now.

Flight of the Firery Skipper

No doubt in time I’ll be sharing one or two of those sharp as tack images I made, but today let’s be nibble and quick and fly with the Fiery Skipper! 🙂

Nikon D700| Nikkor 200-500mm| Lexar Professional Digital Film| PS CC 2015.5| image made 9/21/2016

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Copyright ©2016 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

My original Photography plans for last week-end fell apart mid-week when one of the friends I was going with fell ill.  Rather than go anyway which didn’t sit well with me or my friend Theresa we two switched gears and decided to go birding in the Central Valley to see what birds if any had arrived early.

I had read a few reports of early migrants in the area; we hoped to find one or two, and spend some time catching up with each other.

I left for T’s house early (6:30am) so we’d get to the Refuge in the morning when the birds are more active.

We found the first pond completely sans water. Fish and Wildlife have just started filling the ponds we discovered. Many of the ponds we’re used to seeing full of water were bone dry, but it is early in the season!

Just as we were starting the auto-route we spied a Doe and her Fawn in the tall grass. I didn’t get an image of them together. Mom decided her male Fawn was too close to the road and moved to higher grass.  Honestly, I think she looks young!

Doe  Deer Female

The Fawn has two little adorable antler nubs.Fawn Male

Early arrivals: There were quite a few White-fronted Geese on the little islands in the ponds that had water.

White-fronted Goose

Northern Pintails, and Shovelers are showing up, but I didn’t make any images of the Shovelers they were too far out. You see a Northern Pintail in image above giving me a one wing salute. 🙂

Among the usual suspects here were thousands of Dragonflies,

Dragon Fly

Pied-billed Grebes

Pied-billed Grebe

Night Herons; most were deep in the foliage, but one was on Sentry duty,

Night Heron

We saw a female Harrier flying low in the distance hunting, a few Red-tail Hawks, and as we approached the tree the Bald Eagles hang out in there we saw there was a Peregrine Falcon perched on a snag surveying the land.

Copyright © 2016 Deborah M. Zajac ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Once the Eagles return I doubt we’ll be seeing this Falcon in this tree. 🙂

Plan B turned out to be a great day, and it was lovely  hanging out with Theresa. You can find her images on flickr here.

Nikon D700| Nikkor 200-500mm VR| Lexar Professional Digital Film| PS CC 2015.5

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