A Semipalmated Plover with its eye on me

I’ve heard from many of you because my site has been down. I think I have resolved the issues but it may be a while before I post while I monitor the situation. Thanks for all the email and messages about missing my site. I love you all!

Mia

A Semipalmated Plover with its eye on meA Semipalmated Plover with its eye on me – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

This morning I wanted to keep my post simple and how much more simple could this image of a Semipalmated Plover with its eye on me be?

I photographed this small plover while laying still on the wet sand and allowed the plover to slowly approach me.  A friend and I basically had the north beach to ourselves and the birds weren’t being bothered by walkers, beach combers or shell seekers and all of the birds seemed calmer and less skittish.

It means a lot to me when birds approach me instead of the other way around because I feel accepted, honored and my connection to nature feels even stronger.

We are all part of nature.

Life is good.

Mia

P.S., My site was down yesterday because it was being moved to a new server.

Western Scrub-Jay perched on an oak

Western Scrub-Jay perched on an oakWestern Scrub-Jay perched on an oak – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TX, natural light, not baited

I love Jays. I love how smart they are. I love their flashy colors when they are on the wing. I love their calls. I love how they seem to travel in families. And I also love how bold they are.

Except when I try to photograph them. They usually fly away once that big lens is pointed at them.

Last month I was able to photograph this Western Scrub-Jay on my way up to Cascade Springs in Wasatch County, Utah as it perched on an oak near the road. I am not sure if this is a White Oak or a Gambel’s Oak but I do know that acorns from oaks are their primary food source.

I was tickled to get the images of this Western Scrub-Jay that crisp early fall day in the Wasatch Mountains because they have been a nemesis bird for me as far as photographing them. I was just as happy to get images of this bird as I was the juvenile American Dippers I also photographed that morning.

But then I am always happy to have birds in my viewfinder.

Life is good.

Mia

American White Pelican stretching

American White Pelican stretchingAmerican White Pelican stretching – Nikon D200, tripod mounted, f7.1, 1/3200, ISO 250, -0.3 EV, 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, full frame, natural light.

A while back I read something I found rather interesting when someone posted an image of an American White Pelican in breeding plumage on an online image critique gallery (Naturescapes.net) where the person who posted the pelican photo stated that the image would be perfect except for the growth on the bill.

The photographer seemed repulsed by the horn or caruncle (a fibrous, epidermal plate) on the bill and seemed to focus on it instead of the technical and aesthetic weaknesses in their image.

The caruncle or horn is a growth on the bill of American White Pelicans that occurs yearly during the breeding season. It isn’t an ugly wart or malformation, it is a naturally occurring feature of the American White Pelican and as such I feel the horn adds to my image rather than being distracting. It is really no different than the change in color of the bill & lores of a Reddish Egret in breeding plumage and I have seen photographers scramble like fiddlers crabs over each other to get shots of Reddish Egrets in breeding plumage.

White Pelicans can be challenging to expose properly and show detail in the plumage as most white birds can be but with the correct settings and the right light it can be done. The key for my image above was using -0.3 EV compensation to help control the exposure of the whites while still allowing detail to be seen in the feathers even in the shadow under the wing.

This American White Pelican was photographed at a pond a few blocks away from my home in 2010.  The pelicans and other birds that frequent the pond have gotten used to the fishermen, walkers and other people so they are often less skittish and will come in close enough to get images where the subject nearly fills the frame. I do wish I had taken the time to zoom back a little, this is a smidge tighter than I would normally like.

As for the photographer who thought the horn made their image less than perfect? Different strokes for different folks I guess.

Life is good.

Mia

Juvenile dark morph Harlan’s Hawk

Juvenile dark morph Harlan's HawkJuvenile dark morph Harlan’s Hawk – Nikon D300, f8, 1/1250, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Harlan’s Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis harlani) are a subspecies of Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) that breed in Alaska and northern Canada and spend their winters in the northern Great Plains. Harlan’s Hawks are a very dark form of Red-tailed Hawks with dark plumage interspersed with marbled white and they have a dark tail instead of a red one.

Lately I have been seeing reports that the Harlan’s have started to show up here in Utah again to over winter and that has me excited. I haven’t been able to photograph many Harlan’s Hawks but in January of 2013 I spotted this juvenile dark morph Harlan’s feeding on a coot at Farmington Bay WMA.  This was during a very cold and snowy part of the winter when all of the raptors were having a hard time finding food to sustain them because of heavy snow cover on the ground. Quite a few hawks, eagles and owls died during that cold stretch of time due to the harsh conditions we had.

I will be looking for Harlan’s Hawks now along with Rough-legged Hawks which are also Arctic breeders and hope to photograph some of them soon.

Life is good.

Mia

A Rock Hopping Chukar

A Rock Hopping ChukarA Rock Hopping Chukar

I’ve been missing Chukars on Antelope Island for the past few months. They have been visibly absent which just means they might have been in higher elevations which aren’t accessed by the roads. Anyway I have been hearing that people are seeing them on the island again and I hope I see them soon too. This rock hopping Chukar was photographed in April of this year when I was still seeing them all over the place.

Life is good.

Mia