To my eye, the Heermann’s Gull is one of the most handsome gulls in North America. Of course, I don’t have to live them. I only see the Heermann’s on my yearly visits to southern California, mostly at La Jolla Cove when I go there to photograph seals and sea lions, pelicans and cormorants. There are lots of gulls always, but generally, at least by when I visit in late February, early March, only a few Heermann’s. I like the delicate grays set off by the red eye and bill. Sony RX10iv at 218mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 500. Processed in Polarr.
An American Avocet at Famosa Slough in San Diego, California. And no, it is not the same photo flipped. Take a look at the legs, both crossed the same way. And they are from slightly different angles as I moved down the trail a bit before the second shot, which is why the birds looks “fatter” in the second shot. I just could not resist posting them side by side. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
I think this is a Brant’s Cormorant (but it could be Double-crested…hard to tell in this photo…there were more Brant’s than Double-crested that day). Sally (my daughter) and I observed a lot of this behavior off the cliffs at La Jolla Cove in southern California when we visited the end of February. I though at first it might be some kind of mating ritual, or territorial display, but after inquiring of “someone who knows better”, I now know that the bird is just wetting itself. Yes that sounds a bit off-color, but that is what my expert said, and I don’t know how else to describe it. The Cormorants get cold in the cool waters of Southern California, and have to come out onto the rocks to warm up and dry off. Then, when they get back in the water with their dry plumage, they are too buoyant to dive after fish, and have to wet themselves down…which they do by this vigorous splashing. The splashing gets water into the back feathers without their having to submerge. Simple enough, and makes total sense, when you know. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 125. Processed in Polarr.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.