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…



Wild Weds. 10/52 Snow Leopard

©2018 Deborah M. Zajac.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I had a pretty busy week-end as you saw if you follow me on Instagram. I birded Saturday morning near Sacramento, CA  with a friend and had great success there with the ducks and geese we were hoping to see. I’ll share some of those images in another post.

After lunch we visited Sacramento Zoo; which was a first for me.

I have lots of images I want to share, but I’ll spare you loads of images and just post a couple of the beautiful Snow Leopard they have there. It was my favorite animal there.

Sunday a friend and I went to Yosemite National Park to see the snow and do a little Winter landscape photography. It was beautiful!  I’ll share an image or two in the future.

Added to that I got behind reading the blogs posted over the past week. I had #1 Grandson all week and I had no backup. Both Baby Girl and He-Man had business trips that took them to the East Coast; different states though.  I didn’t have a lot of free time for working on images, or staying on the computer long; #1 Grandson kept me pretty busy playing with Legos, board games, reading, and trying to fit in a little exercise in between the rain.

I’ll catch up this week…I hope! Happy Hum Day!

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

more to come…


Wild Weds. 6/52 Fungi

© 2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

While hiking to stretch my legs I spied two different types of Wild Mushrooms.

I have no idea what their names are. Since I have no knowledge of which ones are harmless ~vs~ those that are deadly I have a healthy respect fear of them in the wild.

Aside from photographing them that is.  They make wonderful subjects for macro/close up imagery.

I think these are in the Shelf Mushroom family. I liked the big one on top that looks like a fan.  The stripes had a greenish/gray hue that I liked.  I spied them growing on a fallen log just off trail.

Shelf Mushrooms

These  Brown ones below were growing under Valley Oaks among the fallen leaves and twigs.  I laid down on my stomach to see if I could spy any Fairy Folk, but they must have known I would do that and scattered among the leaves and debris. Sadly, I didn’t spy one. Not one! 😦

Wild Brown Mushrooms

I was hiking with a new lens.  I’ve longed for a replacement lens for my very old 28-105mm Nikkor lens.  Nikon replaced the 28-105mm with an AF-S 24-120mm f/4 VR lens in 2003. That version doesn’t get good reviews . I didn’t upgrade to that one since my old 28-105mm was better.

In 2010 Nikon improved the  Af-S 24-120mm f/4 VR adding VR II, better lens coatings, and some other things so it’s sharper at the wide end, and the long end: that version is still sold new today.  It’s well liked, at least a lot better than the first version was.  It’s the lens I replaced my 28-105mm with.  I’ve had it now about a month, and I like it. I’ve wanted a lens a bit wider, and longer for a long time for a walk-around/hiking lens.  My lens as you can imagine is old. Nikon hasn’t supported it for a long time now so should it break finding parts is going to be really hard, and finding somewhere to fix it might prove just as hard.  Replacing it has been on my mind for several years.

Just after the Holidays Nikon  had a sale on their Refurbished lenses and the AF-S 24-120mm f/4 G ED VR II was on the list.  The price was right…  so, after stalling and/or balking on the purchase for several years I finally pushed the “buy” button.

Early impressions are good.  I think I’m going to be able to live with this lens for many years.  At least as many as I have the old 28-105mm lens.

Of course cameras improve with every new version released which can make the lenses of yesterday and today redundant in resolving power.  Which is what I faced with my 28-105mm. It isn’t as sharp on my Df as it was my D700. When I upgraded the D700 to the D810 which has 36 mega pixels ~vs~ 12mp I was afraid my old lenses wouldn’t resolve on it well.   Reviews since have proven that. 🙂 I haven’t even tried my old 28-105mm on it since it’s not quite as sharp on the Df at 16.2 MP.  I’m keeping it to use on my Df though. Just a little added sharpening and contrast is all it needs on that camera.  I LOVE my Df. I think I should have just bought another one of those, but that’s another post.

Too much gear talk?  I’m wild about gear. I could talk about it all day…well not all day, but for a good while! 🙂  Anyway, because I was testing out the lens at this stage I wasn’t carrying my Canon 500D Close-Up lens, or a macro lens. I wanted to see just how close I could focus with this lens, and find out how the images look.

They’re not bad. If I had carried my tripod they probably would be better, but since it was quick “stretch my legs” hike I didn’t carry it.

I am now looking forward Spring when I’ll be carrying my close-up lens with me everywhere to see how much closer I can get, and get really close. 🙂

I’m so excited for the possibilities this lens brings me when opportunities arise in the Spring, and using my LensBaby lenses, and Macro Lens.  It’s so hard for me to pick a favorite lens. I love every lens I own.  I don’t know how I would ever be able to pick just one! I’d need at least 3 to be truly happy.

What about you, could you live happily with just one lens? Do you use one lens 90-100% of the time? What lens would you choose if you could only have one?

Nikon D810| Nikkor 24-120mm| SanDisk Digital Film| PS CC 2018

more to come…


Super Blue Blood Moon 1.31.2018

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I didn’t venture further than my front yard to photograph the Super Blue Blood Moon on Wednesday morning because I didn’t have enough time to get anywhere with a good foreground and be back in time to be here for #1 Grandson.

The Eclipse was already underway when I started photographing it.  Here’s how I saw it at Totality.

Super Blue Blood Moon 1.31.2018

This Moon was special because it was a combination of 3 Lunar occurrences at the same time.  It was a “Super Moon”, a moon that is full while at its closest orbit to Earth, with a “blood moon”, so called for the reddish color that it gets as the sunbeams peek around the edges of the Earth, and shine on it, and a “Blue Moon”, because this was the second full moon to occur in a calendar month.

The last time a Total Lunar Eclipse coincided with a “Blue Moon” in the United States was in 1866.  Having all three line up together is really rare!

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm @500mm|

more to come…




Wild Weds. 5/52 Lost in the Wild

Copyright © Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Losing your house key on the trail would be among the top five worst  things ever to lose on the trail!

Thankfully, someone found it and placed in spot it is hoped to be found.

Lost in the Wild

I hope the person that lost this was able to retrace their movements to here and reclaim the key that was lost the wild.

Nikon D810| Nikkor 24-120mm| Hoodman Digital Film| PS CC 2018

more to come…

Wild Wednesday 4/52 White-tailed Kite

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A friend and I went birding Saturday at two Wildlife Refuges. We reversed the order we normally do these two refuges and I’m glad we did. It was pretty birdy at Merced Wildlife National Refuge, but I’m going to share with you the last bird I photographed for the day at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge.

And, what a bird to end the day on! It’s my favorite raptor.

White-tailed Kite

It’s a medium sized raptor and likes open grasslands, and savannas.  It hovers while hunting for prey, and have big amber/red eyes. Here’s some information about their hunting behavior from allaboutbirds.com

While hunting, the White-tailed Kite characteristically hovers up to 80 feet off the ground and then drops straight down onto prey items. This ability to hold a stationary position in midair without flapping is accomplished by facing into the wind, and is so characteristic of these birds that it has come to be called kiting. White-tailed Kites also perform ritualized courtship displays in which a male offers prey to a female prior to egg laying. In an often spectacular aerial exchange, the female flies up to meet the male, turns upside-down, and grasps the prey.“`allaboutbirds.com

I think they’re the prettiest of the raptors.  If I could be a bird this is the one I’d be. 🙂

You’ll find them up and down Western to Central California, Oregon, Mexico, Central and South America.

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm@500mm| 1/640s| ISO 500| cropped| Hoodman Digital Film| PS CC 2018

more to come…




Wild Wednesday 1/52 Here Kitty, Kitty!

Copyright © 2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


A Bobcat image…Finally!  I went birding with my friend Dali on the 30th of December which would be my last birding adventure for 2017.  We went to an area not too far from home that we hadn’t been to in a year.  While on the way out of the area and headed to lunch b/c the birds had gone quiet, and hunkered down well into the foliage out of sight Dali spotted this Bobcat.

I was so excited and had been looking for one or it when we went through this area coming in, because way back in the winter of 2011 Dali and I saw a Bobcat here, and it was right in my sights, but I missed the shot because my lens then was the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 which was slow and would hunt in poor light. My lens just would not find focus, and by the time I switched to manual focus all I managed to get were blurry butt shots of the retreating Bobcat.  It was then I decided I had to move up to the 300mm f/4 prime lens.  Missed shots like this due to a hunting lens was unacceptable! Needless to say, every time I’ve birded this area since I’ve looked for the, or a Bobcat sans success…that is, until the 30th of December 2017.  6 years of hoping to see a Bobcat again in this area!

This Bobcat just like that day in 2011 was under the canopy of Oak trees and well shaded but, unlike that day my kit today is the 200-500mm lens, and the formidable D810 camera which together were able to attain focus so, I was able to fire off 4 shots before the Bobcat got behind the foliage and out of sight.  However all was not perfect…all four images were metered for a brighter environment so, they were all under exposed.  I didn’t delete them. Actually, I never delete “in camera” for fear of corrupting my card. I hoped I would be able to bring up the exposure enough in Photoshop and save the images especially since the Bobcat did turn and look at me for two of those four shots!

If I haven’t told you before how much I like Photoshop let me tell you now. I LIKE PHOTOSHOP! I was able bring back nearly two stops of light, and with some noise reduction have a “keeper” instead of having to delete the images again.

Was this the very same Bobcat? Probably not, but maybe its offspring. 🙂  Either way I’m a very happy camper with this shot, and my last birding excursion of 2017. Oh yes,  we did see birds. Lots of Hawks, Sparrows, and a Says Phoebe are the most notable birds, but the highlight for me was long awaited re sighting of the Bobcat.  I sure hope that bodes well for a stellar 2018 wildlife/birding year.

Here’s a link about the North American Bobcat from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Oh, three more things; 1)  you may have noticed I have changed my blog theme, and hope you’re all able to view and read my posts sans problemes. My old theme was no longer supported, and I was having some issues with it for sometime.  Then I created a “sticky” post back in week 41 of 2017 and couldn’t figure out how I did it or undo that until week 51 or so when I had given up trying to fix that and tried new themes.  For now this is the theme I’m rollin’ with. Let me know in the comments if it’s working for you please.

2) while driving home from Baby Girl’s this evening I decided on my Project 52 theme for this year. Yes, I’m going to do another one.  It motivates me, and gets me out of the house with my favorite tool…my camera.  This year’s theme I’m calling Wild Wednesday.  I have plenty of wildlife images marinating in my archives in case I get stuck indoors, but I plan to get out to make many more new images, and not all things wild are animals. 🙂

3) My Header: It’s an image I made back on Jan. 1, 2011 of Stoneman Bridge in Yosemite National Park.  That was a stellar Photography Trip with Dear Friends Dali, Alex, and Theresa.  We’re way overdue for another Annual New Year’s Trip.  Just sayin. 🙂

I raise my glass and toast; Here’s to a good photographic year! 🙂

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm @f/8|ISO 1000| Hoodman Digital Film| PS CC 2018

more to come…