Sunday, February 27, 2011

Birding Disney

Well, the annual February conference is in Orlando this year so the kids are getting their first Disney experience. I didn't run into a ton of birds, (no Daffy Duck doesn't count), but the ones that are around are pretty tame. Like forget-head-and-shoulders-let's-try-ibis-iridology tame.
I'm not used to having plenty of light and am a little rusty in terms of rapidly adjusting camera settings to not blow out whites, etc...
The first cycle birds are easier subjects with less bright bright white.
The kids were pretty excited to see the birds just a few feet away.

Some of the Great Egrets are starting to get their breeding bare parts,

while others are in pretty full breeding plumage. If I had more time there's an attraction called Gatorland that apparently has a ton of long-legged waders, we'll see how time plays out...

This mockingbird was in the hedgerow next to the motel in nice evening light.
I totally should have had sweet Palm Warbler shots, but just way over-exposed them with the camera still on end-of-the-pier-overcast settings.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Shrikes and racket-tailed doves

It may not be a Brown Shrike, but at least it's in Berrien, only my 4th in 6 years.
Brad Anderson located this shrike in the Sawyer area in December and saw it again more recently on about his 8th pass back through the area since then. It took me 6 tries (what else are you going to do in February?), but I found it eventually. I was prepared to give it 10 tries since shrikes on their (large) winter territories are iffy propositions. Ironically Ginger found one a mile from her parents' house too (the 2nd pic is also the Sawyer bird).

I found this Mourning Dove freshly dead at Tiscornia, my guess is a casualty to a Cooper's Hawk given it looked like it crashed down out of the air.
From the underside, the outer tail feather is about the inverse of a Collared Dove's. I thought the smooth gradation from the white outer tail tips through gray, ultimately to the black inner tail feather was interesting. I was surprised when I turned the bird over and spread the tail:
The central tail feathers were just strong shafts with a racket at the end. Amazing how a fairly unique feature can be essentially invisible in life. I'm a little surprised the bird didn't get named for this feature a la Red-bellied Woodpecker or Ring-necked Duck given the appearance in the hand.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Better than nothing

The St Joseph Rivermouth is nearly frozen over; about a dozen goldeneye kept a small hole open, but if it doesn't warm up, the entire area will soon be a brick of ice. Lacking a better idea I drove south to see if the reported Trumpeter Swan in Niles was around. I found 4 Mutes instead of 3 Mutes and a Trumpeter. I tried walking up river away from the congregation of waterfowl and after a bit 2 young Bald Eagles flew down river in reasonable light. The good thing about eagles is that they don't have to be that close to still be full-frame. I chose the far bird to photograph.

I walked back down river which was had more passerines than I had expected, likely finding the air temperature next to the 32 degree still open water a little better than the 5 degrees that the car thermostat was recording. This cardinal was probably my best image of that species.

Some blue jays started alarming for some reason and a decent number of birds flew in and up out of some still berried trees, including this flicker.

I was surpised to see a sapsucker, an uncommon winter resident. The photo is pretty distant and over-cropped, so stealing a page from Jerry Jourdan's book, I touched it with the watercolor tool on the editing program...