Saturday, November 28, 2009

be still my bird nerd heart!

Apologies for anyone not into birds, or bird pics. ;-)

Yesterday morning there was a flock of wild turkeys in the pasture. Since they are easier to approach in a vehicle than on foot, I drove the pickup out there and snapped some photos. They are more skittish now than they were in the summer, and though they moved at a leisurely pace they were up and over the back fence in not much time at all.

Wild turkeys:

An American Pipit preening itself on top of the round pen:

We'd gotten a little rain that morning. The sky was cloudy and interesting. I could hear Sandhill Cranes flying over. It was pretty good birding weather! So I decided to head on down to the refuge and then out to the delta to see what I could find. Mom wanted to go to. Now I have to say that doing these things with a non-bird-nerd is hard. I could watch birds for HOURS. I could take hundreds of photos of the same thing. Non-bird-nerds don't really understand this mentality. But it's okay.

So first we went to the Cosumnes River Preserve.

Greater White Fronted Geese (plus some ducks and coots too):

It's really a lot of geese...

Canada Geese and coots:

And then I drove out to a particular road in the delta, specifically looking for Sandhill Cranes. It's a GREAT place to watch the cranes fly in at night (it's where I photographed the cranes at sunset a few weeks ago) but there's not much going on in daytime. Cranes were in the distant fields, out of camera range, many napping with the heads tucked under one wing. There was a large flock of Tundra Swans in one of the flooded fields, way out of camera range. A Red Tailed Hawk soared around. Way way way far away, far enough that it was only a shadow in the sky, I saw a flock of thousands of birds rise up. I lamented that I wasn't there instead of where I was. Sigh. I watched the distant swans through the telescope for a while, and was packing up to drive away when all of a sudden the distant shadowy flock of thousands was heading straight for me. OMG! I about died of excitement, pulled my camera back out of the car, and waited like a little kid at Christmas. It was glorious. Glorious. I realize not everyone will find this sort of thing as exciting as I do, but when thousands of birds are flying overhead, it is awe-inspiring. There were Greater White Fronted Geese and Aleutian Canada Geese by the gazillions, and just when I thought I couldn't get any more excited, there... flying in low... Swans!!!! My little bird nerd heart swelled with glee, and I practically sang praises for my super fast and very telephoto camera (so heavy it about made my arms fall off with all this overhead shooting!).

I took hundreds of photographs. Really. A lot of them are terrible. I still don't know how people get really crisp photos at such a distance. If you see these full size they are a little gritty. I DO wonder if lenses that are specifically made for a DSLR would fix that problem, since I'm using old lenses from a film camera. But buying new telephoto lenses, psh that's not going to happen any time soon, uh uh. I guess considering I was not using a tripod, mostly shooting overhead, and focusing manually, the vast majority came out pretty well!

Did I mention there were a lot?:

Aleutian Canada Geese (note white ring around neck versus regular Canada Geese):

Aleutian Canada Geese and Greater White Fronted Geese flying together:

Tundra Swans!:

You can sure pick out the juveniles in this flock!

I didn't notice til I looked at the pics that some of these swans are wearing neck bands!

Adult Red Tailed Hawk:

Juvenile Red Tailed Hawk:

It was awesome. Right time at the right place.


Ruth Trowbridge said...

Am so giddy right now Katherine, how freakin' awesome for you. I really wish I was with you to share in this magical moment, a day to remember for sure! You should think of publishing your shots somewhere, they are prize worthy for sure. Thanks, just made my day - peace

Jan Blawat said...

I was overwhelmed with 400 pigeons and a few tubby doves until I saw your pictures. Instead of a shopping mall south of 99, I wish they'd use that property for more refuge. Mine is too sandy to hold water, or I'd have a big pond on it.

Don't you wish you could read birds' minds so you could ask them where they've been and where they're going?

Anonymous said...

Be still my heart, I sure do miss seeing and hearing those tundra swans this time of year! - BMc.