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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I don’t seem to be able to post a photo of a bluebird…this is a Western Bluebird from above the tide pools at Cabrillo National Monument at the tip of Point Loma in San Diego, California…without “zippity do da” breaking out in my head. And then it hangs there for an hour or more, and I find my self relapsing at odd moments all day. Zippity do da day! I still like bluebirds though. This one is caught against a patch of California Poppies for extra-special treat. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/800th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
While we were watching Western and Clark’s Grebes at Lake Hodges, at the north edge of San Diego, this Western came in close to shore, apparently to see what we were doing, and to make sure we were no threat. It is mating season and this is, again apparently, a territorial display. With those red eyes, it does not take much to make a grebe intimidating. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 160. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
Standing on the tops of the cliffs at La Jolla Cove in California, you often get to photograph Brown Pelicans in the air from above. In the top panel this bird was already coming in to land in the rookery. You can see the flared tail and the curve of the wings. The second shot is full braking just before touchdown. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th and 1/1250th @ f4 @ ISO 100. -1EV. Processed in Polarr.