I always spend at least one morning at La Jolla Cove, up the coast from Mission Bay where the San Diego Birding Festival has its home in late February. The cormorants and pelicans are in breeding plumage, the Harbor Seals are pupping and the Sea Lions are sunning on the rocks. This is the Brown Pelican, of course, in full regalia. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 125. Processed in Polarr.
Another “not the most exciting bird in the world” but interesting (to me) none the less. I can still remember when this was the Canyon Towhee, even in California…and the split gave me another life-bird 🙂 While Towhees in general are hard to see, due to their habit of skulking in the underbrush digging holes for grubs and worms (as this one is), the California Towhees at Cabrillo National Monument on the tip of Point Loma in San Diego California are parking lot birds, and very easy to see. I had to track this off the tarmac to get it in its more “native”, “natural” (and “characteristic”) habitat. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 400. Processed in Polarr and TouchRetouch (that out-of-focus branch extended over the bird…a testimonial to the focus on the RX10iv, but not an attractive addition to the image. :).
I started birding in western New Mexico, in the sage brush and ponderosa of the high dry country around Gallup, and we got Horned Larks at the edge of our local soccer field, in open areas around lakes, and in the sandy plains west of Zuni. In San Diego, around Mission Bay, they are beach birds. I have seen them on both sides of the water between Sea World and Fiesta Island. They are bold, and if you stand still, they are likely to end up feeding only a few feet from your feet, as this one did on Fiesta Island. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/800th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
We went for a hike one morning in San Diego at Tecolote Canyon Natural Park, an “urban canyon” park with miles of trails just east of Sea World bordering the University of San Diego. It was a dull morning, overcast, but there was some bird activity, including this perky Bewick’s Wren. This is not two birds in one bush…it is one bird photographed twice and laid into the same frame using a blended collage effect in FrameMagic…just to give you a more comprehensive view of the bird 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/640th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Each image was processed in Polarr and cropped to about a 1200mm equivalent field of view before assembling in FrameMagic.
I actually like Scrub Jays. Gregarious and friendly. Noisy. Bold. We don’t have them in Maine, so I enjoy my encounters with them in Florida, where they are rare enough to go looking for, and in the Southwest where they are very common in the sage brush and Ponderosa. Sometime when I was not looking, the powers that be renamed my familiar Western Scrub Jay (I lived in New Mexico among the jays for 12 years) to the Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay. I am not sure I would have liked it as well under that name 🙂 This is the California Scrub Jay, the other survivor of that ornithological committee split. I only see these when visiting San Diego on my once a year pilgrimage to the San Diego Birding Festival, and it is always a treat. This one was way out on the tip of Point Loma, at Cabrillo National Monument. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/1000th @ f5.6 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
The Red-masked Parakeet is endangered in its home range in Ecuador and Peru, but it is doing very well in California. Feral populations are thriving around San Diego and San Francisco. It was imported, breed, and sold as a cage bird known as the Cherry-headed Conure for many years. There are also established populations in south Florida, in the larger Miami area. These birds came daily, in a flock of more than a dozen, to the pepper tree in the courtyard of the Marina Village Conference Center during the San Diego Birding Festival at the end of February, into March, where they were photographed by a few hundred eager bird photographers attending the event. The feral Parrots and Parakeets for southern California are becoming a “thing” among birders. They even have their on conservation organization and web site :). Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/1000th @ f4.5 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
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.