2018-07-08: Birds and a bunny

Last weekend, I had decided that I was going to carry on with bird posts for the month of July.  I was excited because a robin’s nest was discovered in the yard, and while I didn’t see the babies, mama robin was still in the nest.  I had wonderful thoughts of finding a suitable spot to photograph them, while not getting too close and intruding on their space.  Then on Wednesday morning, as I was leaving with Spencer for our morning walk, I noticed that the nest was off kilter (it was built on top of a hose reel attached to our well pump house).  When I walked a bit closer, I saw that the nest was destroyed, and there were 3 baby robins dead on the ground.

I don’t have any proof, but I believe it was a cat that lives down the road and is allowed to roam outside that did the damage.  There were puncture marks in one of the chicks, but otherwise they were untouched, which leads me to believe that whatever attacked the nest was not in need of food.  Even if a wild cat, fox or other animal was disturbed when they were at the nest, if they were hungry, I would expect them to come back and collect the chicks.  Instead, I ended up having to clean the sad mess up.  I’m not going to share any images from that sighting; no one else needs to see that.

That took the wind out of my sails a bit for bird photos.  I’ve actually decided to not have a formal topic for July, and I’ll just post what I am inspired to share on a Sunday.  Today though, I do have a few bird images from around the yard and neighbourhood.  Who knows what next week will bring.

Before I get to the birds though, there is a bunny I’ve been seeing around the neighbourhood.  It’s not the best image, but I don’t think I am wrong in my assumption that it is a descendant of the bunny that was in the area the winter of 2016/2017.  I’ve linked below to one of the posts that featured the original bunny in the neighbourhood.  In talking with neighbours, there are a couple of these little hybrids hopping around.

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The original bunny

I have been quite excited to see hermit thrushes while out on walks a few times this summer.  Mostly, I just hear them calling from deep in the bushes, but I’ve seen them on different walks hopping around on the road, sitting on fence posts, or up on the power lines like this one.  The link below has some more information about the hermit thrush, as well as a sample of the pretty song they sing.

Hermit Thrush

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The hermit thrush paused here for a brief moment, but only showed off the backside before flying off deep into the bushes.

In addition to the hummingbirds that are going crazy in the yard, I have loads of purple finches and pine siskins (as well as the occasional hairy woodpecker, some juncos and a red-breasted nuthatch family).  I’m grateful there haven’t been any bears in my immediate vicinity, so I have been able to keep the sunflower seeds out for the birds.  I have two large squirrel proof feeders (ha-ha!) that I am filling up every other day at the moment.  I’ve included links to the All About Birds pages for both the birds if you are looking for more information on the species, or want to listen to the lovely songs that I get to listen to while taking my lunch break outside, or while puttering around watering the flowers.

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A group of pine siskins dining on sunflower seeds.

Pine Siskin

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Female purple finch
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Male purple finch

 

Purple Finch

I hope you have enjoyed my selections for the week.

Wishing everyone a fantastic week ahead.

2018-06-24: Monthly Photo Project – Hummingbirds

As promised last week, I have some hummingbird photos to share this week.  I’ve been spending as much time as I have been able outside, enjoying the antics of the rufous hummingbirds.  I probably should have tried taking some video, but I don’t want to delay this post and go out and attempt it.  Perhaps over the coming week I’ll give that a try.

The rufous hummingbirds arrive in Prince George early to mid-May; with the males arriving first followed shortly after by the females.  Their arrival coincided with the weather going from unseasonably warm to ridiculously cold and frosty, so there wasn’t much for them to feed on, making them extra reliant on the feeders that I put out.  I started with one feeder and as more birds arrived hung up extras.  Currently I have four feeders around the yard, and am putting out between 1 to 1.5 litres of nectar per day for the group living in my vicinity.

I have photos of four at a feeder at a time, but have seen more than eight gathered around one, with others hanging out at the other options.  Usually that is early in the morning or late in the evening, when it is challenging to get images.  If I had to guess, I would say there are probably 15 to 18 individuals that are frequenting the feeders, but they move so quickly and erratically, it is really tough to say.  There are definitely lots of juveniles, so their breeding has been successful this year.  With the long days we have, they are busy feeding from around 4am until after 10pm every day.

My yard is surrounded by thick forest, and the hummingbirds retreat deep into the bush between feedings, making it had to get decent images of them on natural perches.  Images of birds on feeders aren’t ideal, but that’s where they are gathering, so I have to work with what is available.  I am going to keep trying to get some images of them on the forest, but I don’t have long to do so, as they usually begin their southern journey mid July.

If you want to learn more about the rufous hummingbird, check out the link below.  They are noted as being feisty – that’s a complete understatement!

All About Birds – Rufous Hummingbird

Now, time for the images.

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An adult female rufous hummingbird.
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An adult male rufous hummingbird.
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Sharing nicely (for once).
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The male taking off to join the fray.
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I nearly got taken out by the birds on more than one occasion while hanging around outside taking photographs.  I think it would have hurt them a lot more than me though.
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Adult and juvenile females heading in for a feed.
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Beak to beak combat.

2018-06-17: Monthly Photo Projects – Birds

I had planned on creating a post about hummingbirds this week, but it’s just not going to happen.  I have been out taking photos of them as much as possible, but I haven’t had a chance to edit them yet.  As it’s Father’s Day today, I want to spend time with Pops rather than at my computer editing images.

Below is a selection of bird images from my travels that I haven’t had a chance to share yet.

Hummingbirds next week – I promise.

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A huge gathering of marabou storks and white backed vultures on the banks of the Boteti River in Botswana.  May, 2017.
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Groups of darters and cormorants in the early morning fog at one of the dams on Phinda Game Reserve.  A few hippos in there for good measure 🙂

 

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A pair of tawny eagles spotted in the Okavango Delta.  May 2017.
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My best guess at identification is a banded snake eagle.  This bird was up and away very quickly; spotted on a game drive through Amboseli National Park.  September, 2016.
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A Coqui Francolin spotted in the Masai Mara.  September, 2016.

2018-06-10: Birds Projects – Sparrows and Swallows

It has been a challenging week for photographing the birds, with dull, cold, rainy days, and flat, lifeless skies.  But, regardless of the weather, the show must go on, and if I were on holiday I wouldn’t give up on taking pictures just because the weather wasn’t perfect.

I took a trip early in the week to a nearby farm where there are nest boxes for swallows and bluebirds.  While I saw a couple of brief glimpses of the bluebirds, I didn’t capture any images, so I will have to go back and try again for those.  I did get some good images of the swallows and bluebirds in the same area a couple of years ago, you can find that old post here.

It looks like the sun may make a brief appearance today, so it’s time to sign off and get outside and get shooting.  I hope you enjoy this week’s images, I am hoping to have some hummingbird images to share next week.

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I find it difficult naming the wide variety of small, brown and beige coloured birds we have in the area, but I am almost certain this is a Clay-Coloured Sparrow.  While it looks like the bird is singing a beautiful song, it actually sounded like some type of buzzing insect, which is the exact description of the song for this sparrow in my bird book.

To find out more about the Clay-Coloured Sparrow (and here the insect buzz call), check out the link below.

All About Birds – Clay Coloured Sparrow

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A tree sparrow peeks out from the nesting box.
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A tree sparrow couple during one of the brief moments of sunlight while I was out.

 

2018-06-03: Monthly Project – Bird Photography

Part of the reason that I chose bird photography this month was to get out and enjoy the nice weather, as well as get familiar with a new lens I have purchased.  So at first glance it may not make any sense that today I’m posting images from my last trip.  I have gotten out a bit over the past couple of days and taken some bird images, and I have been really impressed with the lens so far.  But I’m already half way through Sunday and I haven’t had a chance to start editing, so rather than miss posting altogether or rushing my editing process, I decided to go for some bird images from my catalogue that I haven’t posted before.

I hope you enjoy my selections for this week, and next week I will be sharing some of our local birds.

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead.

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We came across a very large sociable weavers nest while on a game drive through Etosha National Park.  There was a lot of activity in and out of the large communal nest, here one of the birds pauses in a more open spot where it is easier to see them.
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Up against the nest, the weaver is very camouflaged.
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The nest itself was so large it brought down one of the large branches of the acacia tree.
crimson breasted shrike
This crimson breasted shrike played hard to get for a photo; this was the best that I could do while driving through the Makgadikgadi Pans.
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A beautiful glossy starling in early morning light.
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My personal favourite, the lilac breasted roller.

2018-03-20: WPC: I’d rather be…

There’s a simple answer to the question posed in this week’s photo challenge “Where would you rather be?”.

I’d rather be on safari!

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I’d rather be watching the sun set over the bush with a glass of wine in hand, and great company to have a chat with.
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I’d rather be watching the birds from the shade of a lodge veranda.
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I’d rather be looking out at the vast expanse of the universe, listening to the sounds of the bush at night.
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I’d rather be taking the opportunity to discover new cultures.
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I’d rather be out learning and experiencing different ways of life.
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I’d rather be looking at this view over lunch, than working away on my computer. 
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I’d rather be dealing with this type of traffic while out for a drive.
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And of course, I’d much rather be hanging around with elephants.

 

WPC: I’d rather be

2018-02-19: Revisiting Old Work

Before I get into today’s post, I wanted to say sorry for the lack of activity over the past week. I made the plunge to move to a new self-hosted website so I could combine my blog and gallery (something I have wanted to do for over a year now). And while the internet does make everything appear to be instantaneous, moving 4+ years of blog posts, migrating a domain to a new hosting provider and setting everything up just takes time. Especially when you aren’t a web professional! My gallery is very much a work in progress, but the blog is up and running as usual, and fingers crossed my followers have been migrated over properly so someone, besides my Mom, has the chance to read this 🙂

I was hoping to get this posted yesterday, but the Happiness Engineers at WordPress just finished with the behind the scenes work to get my followers transferred to the new site.  So this post is better late than never.

Given all the behind the scenes work I have been doing, I am really glad I didn’t choose a topic that required me to get out shooting this week.

The photos below don’t have much rhyme or reason, other than they caught my eye when scrolling through my picture folders with the thought that I might be able to make something a bit better out of it now than I could when I shot it.

I hope you enjoy today’s selections, once I get the gallery up and running, I’ll post a note about that and start looking for some feedback on the redesign.

The steely gaze of a vulture perched on a dead tree. I didn’t do much to this; a little cropping, and a bit of work to bring out the texture in the feathers. April, 2013.
If you are in South Africa in November, when the leatherback turtles begin nesting, I would highly recommend the experience of going out to try to see them. It is such an epic experience; but not the best for photography, especially in the rain. The shots I captured were more proof that I was there then anything, and I really didn’t try editing them originally. Here I didn’t do much other than try to bring some of the texture back to the sand and correct the strange colour cast caused by red-lamp flashlights plus camera flash. For a sense of scale, this turtle is basically the size of a VW Bug; it weighed approx. 600 kilos.
Kalahari the cheetah climbing a hill under a dreary late afternoon sky. I loved the vantage point of the images I shot at this time, but the harsh light made them a challenge to work with. October, 2014.

For the then and now section this week, I chose this image of the Sand River at sunrise captured in 2013 on my first journey to Africa.  I actually quite like the original edit that I did, so I tried to interpret it in a bit of a different way, focusing on the warmth and the fog on the updated edit.

Sunrise on the Sand River – original edit.
Sunrise on the Sand Rover – updated edit.

2017-11-30: WPC Experimental

I am a few days delayed in posting for this topic, but I wanted to play along anyways.  The photo prompt last week was experimental, and it gives me an opportunity to share some of the images I call my Artistic Impressions.

It’s timely, as I was just listening to a wildlife photography podcast that I really enjoy, discussing photographic art as opposed to straight “documentary style” wildlife photography.  I thought the comments of the host, Gerry Vanderwalt, were absolutely spot on.  His take on it was use your wildlife images in whatever way you choose to create the art you want to make, but just be very clear when presenting it to let people know that what they are seeing is not reality.

Now, I don’t think anyone would mistake any of these images for reality, and the comment was more aimed towards compositing work, but, I really do feel that people should create whatever moves them.  If reality didn’t match how the moment made you feel, then turn your images into something that does invoke the feeling of the moment.  Just don’t try to claim it is something that it’s not.

Anyways, on to the images 🙂

 

ground hornbill
A watercolour style take on a ground hornbill at sunset.  I loved the posture of the bird and the shadow on the termite mound, but found the image to be less sharp than I would have liked.  Turning it into one of my artistic impression images allow me to play up what I liked most about the image.
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If an elephant visited one of my dreams, I think it would look something like this.
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A cormorant perched on the edge of the Atlantic, with seals frolicking amongst the waves.  
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A small part of a large seal colony in Namibia.  The weather along the coast was dull and blustery, and many of my images left me flat.  This take on the scene reminds me of surveying the area through the fogged and misty windows of our vehicle.

 

Please visit:
www.jennifersawickyphotography.com for wildlife, landscape and nature inspired artwork.

and

https://shopvida.com/collections/jennifer-sawicky for textiles inspired by my photography.

 

WPC: Experimental

2017-08-17: WPC: Ooh, Shiny!

The WordPress photo challenge topic for the week are things that are distracting, and I need look no further than birds.  Just yesterday, while taking my dog for an afternoon walk, a flash of yellow caught my eye in the bush, and I ended up rather mesmerized at the side of the road trying to photograph the birds flitting passed, mostly so I could try and identify them later.  Those photos aren’t worth sharing, but I’m no different whilst on holiday either.  Birds are definitely one of the things that stop me in my tracks so I can gaze at them in wonder.

I hope you enjoy my selection of photos.

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A black korhaan, also known as the helicopter bird, spotted while out on a game drive in Etosha National Park.  Namibia, April 2017.
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A flock of red billed quilea taking to the air.  Okavango Delta, Botswana.  May 2017.
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A southern ground hornbill spotted on an afternoon game drive in the Okavango Delta.  We were very fortunate to see these endangered birds on several game drives in the delta.  Botswana, May 2017.
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A grey go-away bird running along the edge of the Boteti River in Botswana.  Granted it isn’t the best bird shot, but I loved the gesture of it too much not to include it.  He looks like he’s doing a jig!  Botswana, May 2017.
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A pale chanting goshawk perched next to the Boteti Rover in the early morning, likely looking for some breakfast amongst the frogs and other small creatures at the waters edge.
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I think I need to bring a magnetic bumper sticker the next time I go on safari that says “We brake for rollers”.  I’ve never seen a lilac-breasted roller I didn’t want to snap a photo of.  They are such beautiful birds, with such a gorgeous array of colours.  Botswana, May 2017.

 

Please visit:
www.jennifersawickyphotography.com for wildlife, landscape and nature inspired artwork.

and

https://shopvida.com/collections/voices/jennifer-sawicky for textiles inspired by my photography.

 

WPC: Ooh, Shiny!