Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird, like this one photographed at Famosa Slough in San Diego, is generally the most common hummer in coastal southern California. This year there were almost as many, maybe more, Allen’s, but that is, in my experience, unusual. Famosa Slough is my go to place to photograph Anna’s. It is easy as there are generally at least 2 males on territory near the end of the trail on the north side of West Point Loma Boulevard, and sometimes one on territory in the little garden between the boulevard and the water on the south side. The trick is getting one to sit with the sun illuminating the gorget. This one cooperated for just long enough to snap off one burst, and then was gone again. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/640th @ f4 @ ISO 100. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr.

The good life… Sea Lion style.

Sea Lions are the original bathing beauties…and they spend a good deal of their lives sun bathing on the rocks. Living the good life in Southern California. These beauties are at La Jolla Cove north of San Diego. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 160. Processed in Polarr.

Odd (ish) Double-crested Cormorant

This is the first “black-tufted” Double-crested Cormorant I have ever seen. I took several photos just for the record, and I asked several local Southern Californians about the bird, without success. Finally I asked Paul Leman, who is not only a Southern Californian (at the moment), but perhaps the best known authority on bird distribution in North America. He is responsible for the majority of the range maps in almost all the field guides to North American Birds. He was able to tell me that it is only relatively rare for a Cormorant to have black tufts in breeding plumage instead of the bright white eyebrows of their fellows. He estimated that the number of black tufted Cormorants was certainly under 10%, but you do see them in any large group of Cormorants. So much for my chances of having a new species named after me. 🙁 Still, they must be rare enough, or invisible enough, so the rest of my southern California birding friends are unaware of them. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 200. Processed in Polarr.

Dusky-footed Woodrat, San Diego

Sally, my daughter, and I found a couple of Dusky-footed Woodrats uncharacteristically out and about in daylight, feeding on flower petals along the path in Tecolote Canyon Nature Park in San Diego, California. She almost stepped on one right at the trail-edge while looking at birds. I managed to get this shot through the thick foliage. I know. It’s a rat, and many people have a thing about rats…but it is one of our few native rats, and an interesting creature. It builds large domed nests of sticks and litter (and sometimes adds a tree loft in a nearby tree), often in villages or hamlets of a dozen or more nests (perhaps the origin of its common name, Pack-rat, though it is a solitary creature in all other ways), stores food, builds a separate “toilet” faculty away from the nest, has soft fur and furry tail. I find it appealingly cute…certainly as cute as any gerbil or hamster. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 500. Processed in Polarr.

Bushtit

Another lbj (little brown job) for this morning (after yesterday’s Wrentit). The Bushtit is a very similar bird, and we saw this in the same area of Tecolote Canyon Nature Park in San Diego, California. Both could just as easily be called lgbs (little grey birds). The Bushtit is slightly smaller than the Wrentit, and does not have the habit of carrying its tail cocked up like a wren, but the two birds are very alike in both appearance and behavior, and share the same habitat. However, a little study this morning turns up the fact that, despite any similarities and despite sharing the “tit” in their name, they are not closely related. The Bushtit is the only North American representative of the wide-spread tit family of Eurasia, which includes many species, while the Wrentit is the only North American member of the Babbler family, which has many species through Europe, Asia, and Africa. The Wrentit, in fact, used to considered the only member of its own family, until genetic studies revealed its babbler heritage. Busy flocks of feeding Bushtits are a feature of the scrub lands of the west coast, great basin, and as far south as the hill country of Texas. In breeding season you are more likely to find them, as we did, working in pairs. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/640th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.

Wrentit

Not the most colorful bird in the world, of course, but still a charmer, and not easy to photograph. This specimen kept well buried in the brush at Tecolote Canyon Natural Park in San Diego, teasing us with its chatter, but staying mostly out of sight. As you see, it is carrying nest materials and was perhaps particularly secretive…unwilling to betray its nest site. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 800. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr.

Pelican in flight

Pelicans are among the best birds to practice your Birds in Flight skills on. They are big, so the camera focuses well, and when they are using the air currents over waves or breaking surf, or along a cliff, their flight is relatively predictable, so they are easy to track. Plus, the boldly textured feathers in all seasons, and the colorful breeding plumage in season, make them attractive subjects. Finally, shooting from sea cliffs in southern California, they are often at or below eye-level. This bird was below the cliffs at La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4.5 @ ISO 100. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr.

Brandt’s Cormorant

The Brandt’s and Double-crested Cormorants are in breeding plumage and nesting on the cliffs of La Jolla Cove, north of San Diego, California. Some nest near the tops of the cliffs, only yards from the stone wall that protects the tourists from stepping off the cliff. This bird was close enough for a full on portrait at 600mm equivalent. Note the blue crystalline glint in the eye. Sony RX10iv in Program mode with my birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 160. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr.

Prehistoric Pelican

I think it might be the guano streaked cliffs behind the bird that give this shot, to my eye, a slightly prehistoric aspect…and the pose of the bird below only adds to the effect. In reading this morning I discovered that the modern Pelican probably dates back 30 million years, so, yes, the bird is indeed legitimately prehistoric. La Jolla Cove, California. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode with my birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 400. Processed in Polarr. This is a good example of the tracking auto focus of the RX10iv. I have the whole sequence of the bird coming in and landing.

Seal bonding…

A mother and a new-born Harbor Seal recognize each other by the unique smell of each other’s breath…but it has to be learned and you can observe mother and child nose to nose soon after birth and repeatedly over the first few hours of life exchanging breaths. Later, when the pups are in the water and crying for their mothers, you will see adults approach the pup and check the breath to see if it is theirs. Adult females can be quite aggressive when approached by a pup that does not have the right smell. I always enjoy these nose to nose shots. This was taken on the outside of the seawall at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla Cove, in La Jolla, California. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000 @ f4 @ ISO 250. Processed in Polarr.