The female Eastern Bluebird is not as vivid as the male. The rust on the breast is not so deep, and the blue on the back is not so brilliant. I am not saying that is fair, or fitting, or should in any way be related to our own sexual dimorphism…just that seems to work for Bluebirds. This lovey lady bluebird was out gathering meal worms from my feeders as the nor-easter wore down one day last week. If yesterday’s pose was curiosity, this one is maybe expectation? Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 200. Processed in Polarr and just a touch of the light tool in Apple Photos.
This is another shot from my little sit-out on the deck during the last of the snowstorm on Wednesday. I do not know exactly why Eastern Bluebirds are so apt to strike poses that are so expressive of human emotions, but they are. There are lots of posters and mugs with bluebird images to attest. This shot could easily be titled “Curiosity” and would make a great poster, plate, or mug…don’t you think? And I am not all that certain that the bird was not, in fact, curious. It was certainly looking at me, on my camp stool in the snow, and was probably wondering what I was doing there, or at least wondering if I was a threat. Or not, as the case may be. I actually have no idea what it was thinking or if it was, strictly speaking, thinking at all. Maybe it is just the way a bluebird’s face is shaped…the position of the eyes, the brow-line of feathers, the white wash on the chin? Whatever. Still, “Curiosity!” Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ ISO 200 @ f4. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos (I really like the intelligent (AI) light tool in Apple Photos on the iPad.) Again, view this as large as you can for the feather detail.
There are five different basic color variations, or groups, and likely more than that number of subspecies of Dark-eyed Junco in North America. The five basic groups were once considered separate species, but they all interbreed in areas where their ranges overlap. The Slate-colored here is probably the most wide-spread. Three subtle color variations are included under Slate-colored. It is the Junco you are most likely to see in Maine. Juncos started coming back to our feeders about a month ago, and are not too happy with the three feet of snow we have gotten since. They are ground foragers and love leaf litter under trees and the edges of lawns and fields. In the snow, they will come up on the deck if I scatter seed…and we have at least one who has learned to navigate the suet cage to get inside at the suet. I would count that as unusual behavior. This one landed a few feet from me while I was sitting on a camp stool on the deck about 12 feet from our feeders, hoping for shots just like this one. It sat still just long enough for a single burst. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. +.3EV. 1/500th @ ISO 320 @ f4. Processed in Polarr.
When I sat on the deck yesterday in the snow for some feeder pics, of course it was the Chickadees who decided I was no threat and came in first. I could have stood right next to the feeders and they still would have come. I have them on the sunflower feeder while I was still filling it. I appreciate the Chickadees. The other birds watch, and once the Chickadees are at the feeders, even with me right there, they will come in too. And what’s not to love about Chickadees themselves. They have such a perky personality (birdality?). Bold and cheerful at all times. And they are quite attractive in their black and white and grey with the wash of muted pink. I think. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. -.3EV. 1/500th @ ISO 160 @ f4. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
We got 24 inches of fresh snow yesterday into this morning, and it is still snowing lightly. I put some seed and meal worms out on the back deck, got my folding camp stool, bundled up, and went out and sat near the feeders and under the trees for a half hour, to try for some birds in the snow shots. After a long wait, this pair of Eastern Bluebirds sat close enough together to get a shot. Unfortunately they were not close enough, in the dim light of the remaining snow storm, to get them both in focus at the same time, so I have resorted to some digital trickery here. This is actually two shots, one focused on each bird. I processed in Polarr and Apple Photos, and then took both into Pixomatic to assemble them. Finally I used TouchRetouch to clean up. I hit it one more time with the “light” tool in Apple Photos. I can see a few artifacts I might still clean up, but all in all it looks pretty natural. Can you see the flaws? Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. +.3 EV. Processed as above.
The California Towhees at Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma in San Diego, California are among the most secure birds I know of. They happily bounce around underfoot, and allow really close portraits. Unlike the Scrub Jays, they are no caging food from the tourists. They are just going about their Towhee business without regard for the Tourists. It just happens that the paths and sidewalks and parking lots that man makes are ideal hunting grounds. And they are not put off at all by the human traffic. From a photographic standpoint this makes for some wonderful close-up opportunities, as the Towhees, if you are patient and persistent, will pop up along the edge of the trails to some higher perch to pose. As this one did. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/800th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Polarr. View this as large as your device will allow to see the level of feather detail, or go to http://weiw.lightshedder.com/Landscape-Wildlife/San-Diego-2018/i-c6Bb5bV to view it on my SmugMug site.
While most of the Sea Lions at La Jolla Cove in La Jolla California spend most of the day sunning on the rocks (working on their tans?) there are always a few young males contesting ownership of a rock or ledge or pool. It is mostly posturing. Their teeth are certainly capable of damage but you rarely see any real damage done. There is a lot of chest bumping and pushing and shoving and bellowing in each other’s faces. But it is mostly for show…not so different, when you stop to think about it, from young males of our own species. They likely will not pick up any real scars until they challenge an older male, one who has already established dominance. Those battles can be much more than posturing…but I have a feeling they mostly take place in off-shore waters and out of sight. Sony RX10iv at 356mm. Program mode. -.3EV. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
From what I have seen of Harbor Seals pupping in La Jolla Cove in California, when first born, the pups frisk in the water around their mothers for 20-30 minutes, but then they need a rest. On the beach side of the sea wall at Children’s Pool Beach, they haul out, mother and pup, on the sand. On the rocky side of the wall, they find a shallow ledge. This pup seems to be enjoying the Southern California sun on its belly, while recuperating from the rigors of the birthing canal. Sony RX10iv at 150 and 600mm. Program mode. 1/250th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
The Western and Clark’s Grebes on our side of Lake Hodges when we visited were not putting on their dancing on water display…but that does not mean they were finished with mating behavior. I saw several pairs of Western Grebes doing this display, some with their heads even lower in the water, but always with the wings above their backs. The bits of white fuzz in the air are most likely cottonwood seed. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ ISO 125 @ f4. +1EV for the backlighting. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
The Point and Shoot Superzoom cameras I favor for their easy of use and portability continue to improve year to year, model to model…slowly eroding the limitations of the class…and making more and more challenging images not only possible, but easy. The Sony RX10iv that I am using now has hybrid auto focus, just like the DSLRs the pros use, and that has made birds in flight, again, not only possible but easy. It used to be that when I visited the cliffs at La Jolla or Point Loma north and south of the Mission Bay Park/Sea World area where the San Diego Birding Festival is held every year, I would be happy to come back with one really good shot of a Brown Pelican in flight out of hundreds of attempts. On this trip, with the Sony RX10iv, I came back with more than 50 pelicans-in-flight shots I would not hesitate to share, out of an equal number of attempts. Score one for technology! This bird was coming in over the surf at La Jolla Cove when I caught it. I like the troubled water behind it, as opposed to the an expanse of open water or sky…which is the more usual shot. The closeness to the water also gives more of a sense of scale. Sony RX10iv at 420mm. Program mode with “action” modifications. 1/1600th @ f7.1 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.