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Showing posts from January, 2013

Grasshopper Sparrow

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Grasshopper Sparrows are one of my favorite sparrow species.  They're beautiful, but they're also somewhat of a challenge to find so you can have a sense of accomplishment when you find one. But they're not so rare here that you can't expect to find one.  There are a couple places where I can see them somewhat reliably.  And recently a couple of them have come out in the open enough for presentable photos.

Nelson's Sparrow

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In the Shiloh area of Merritt Island NWR, there's a place where you can find Nelson's and Saltmarsh Sparrows.  On the morning I was there, Nelson's Sparrows were much more willing to be photographed. They are one of the most beautiful sparrows I've seen.

Canal St, 1/29/2013

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It doesn't look like much, but this little fence on Canal St just south of Lake Jesup is quickly becoming one of my favorite places for photographing sparrows and other perching birds.  This morning was one of my best sparrow photo days.  I was hoping to find a White-crowned Sparrow here, which I didn't find, but I did find many Savannah Sparrows, two Grasshopper Sparrows, one Vesper Sparrow and one Swamp Sparrow, and all but the Swamp Sparrow posed nicely for photos.  And if you stand in the right place, you can sometimes get photos of birds with the sun behind you and nothing behind the bird, giving you a clean background.  Oh, and this morning I also found an Eastern Phoebe perched quite nicely, and the photo below may be my all-time favorite phoebe photo.

Le Conte's Sparrow at Marl Bed Flats, 1/28/2013

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Well, third time's a charm.  I've seen a Le Conte's Sparrow twice here before this morning (both times with a group), but no photos.  This morning I walked out by myself, hoping to find one and finally photograph it.  Score!  Le Conte's Sparrows have now skyrocketed in my estimation to the prettiest sparrow I've photographed, beating out Nelson's, Saltmarsh, and Grasshopper Sparrows.  What an awesome bird!

A Blast From the Past

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When I was a kid (perhaps between the ages of 7 and 8), we used to live in Concord CA, and my father would often take us out to Mt. Diablo.  I used to borrow his camera, I believe a Nikkormat manual SLR, and take pictures in the park.  I decided to look over the photos I kept, and I had fun looking at them and wondering why it is that I kept some of them.  But in a few shots, it looks like I was beginning to think about composition. In fact, I make similar compositions today.  The prints are about 35 years old and somewhat degraded, but I thought it might be fun to share a few of my earliest attempts at nature photography coupled with photographs I've taken much more recently.  It seems to me that I continue to like some similar styles of composition today that I (whether intentionally or unintentionally) used then. In the photo above, circa 1976, I photographed hills with sky and two contrasting diagonal lines.  In 2005 I did a very similar thing when I was in Turkey.

In the tre…

Lake Apopka, 1/26/2013

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Beyond finding the Brown-crested Flycatcher and other flycatchers I was looking for, I had fun finding other birds as well.  Several birds posed for photographs, most notably Red-winged Blackbirds, Eastern Phoebe, and Ospreys.  Also a Red Admiral landed on a tree trunk for me. In my haste to find the flycatchers, I didn't stop much for photos, but here are a few I did take.


Brown-crested Flycatcher at Lake Apopka, 1/26/2013

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This morning I went out to Lake Apopka.  A friend of my told me that he'd found several interesting flycatchers there: Brown-crested, Ash-throated and Least Flycatcher.  I had to borrow my daughter's bike to get out there in time to see the birds and get back in time.  I must have looked pretty funny riding my daughter's pastel blue bike with a basket on the front, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  Anyway, it took me some time to find them.  I made it to the spot, didn't find them, rode to the end of the trail and came back, then looked for another 45 minutes.  Finally I saw and heard the Brown-crested Flycatcher, followed shortly by the Ash-throated and Least Flycatchers.  I only got presentable photos of the Brown-crested, but I'm not complaining.

Mead Gardens, 1/25/2013

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This morning I decided to visit Mead Gardens for a few minutes.  I haven't been visiting this park as much recently; traffic in the morning has just become ridiculous.   But I always enjoy the park after I arrive, so I try to visit from time to time.  There wasn't a lot here this morning, but it was fun to find a Hermit Thrush, Cooper's Hawk, Yellow-throated Warbler and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  And an Anhinga decided to pose nicely for a photo as well.

Unfortunately, I blew the highlights of this Hermit Thrush, so you can't see detail in the chest feathers.  I was following it flying under tree cover, and it happened to land in the sun just for a second before disappearing back into the trees.  I didn't have time to adjust my exposure, but I like the shot anyway.

Marl Bed Flats, 1/24/2013

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I returned to Marl Bed Flats this morning hoping to photograph the Le Conte's Sparrow I saw yesterday. I saw one again with the birding group that was there, but alas, no photos. I pretty much only saw it when flew from one clump of grass to another. I did, however, get to photograph a beautiful Grasshopper Sparrow and Savannah Sparrow. Other highlights were a Barred Owl, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, several Wilson's Snipes and both Yellowlegs.

Marl Bed Flats, 1/23/2013

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This morning was my best birding morning at Marl Bed Flats, though the photographic side of my brain must have shut down. I went there early this morning hoping to meet with the Space Coast Birding Festival group. I thought they were going to meet there at 6:00am, but apparently they were meeting elsewhere and then driving here, so I scurried off by myself to find an American Woodcock. It was very dark, and I was using the flashlight app for my android phone as my light source.  I soon came by many cows, which I wanted to avoid, so I took a pretty circuitous route out to the flats. Somewhere between 6:30 and 6:45 am, I saw a chunky snipe-like bird with more round wings flying from the open fields to the trees. Could that be it? It was too dark to make out any details in the bird. Then I heard a peent! call. Woo hoo! One life bird.

I then walked around looking for whatever else I could find.  I found a Northern Harrier and several Bald Eagles, and one young eagle flew right over me, b…

Little Big Econ SF, 1/22/2013

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This afternoon I decided to drop by the Little Big Econ State Forest for a few minutes.  I've driven by this place many times on my way to Geneva WA and other places.  I don't know why I've never come here before.  Maybe it's because they couldn't decide if it was little or big.  But it was hard to believe how pretty this area is, and I'm kicking myself for not visiting this place sooner.  As pretty as it was today, I suspect it will be even prettier when the water level is higher on the Econ River.

There were plenty of birds to be seen here as well.  I found White-eyed Vireos, Blue-headed Vireos, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Palm Warblers (including one "yellow"), a Pine Warlber and a Yellow-throated Warbler.  The biggest treat, though, was a Hermit Thrush--this is my first Hermit Thrush of the year.