2019-08-11: Birds in the dark

Last week, I featured hornbills for my topic of the month, and this week, it is birds in the dark.  I had started typing out birds at night, but one of the images was taken at daybreak, and I thought it best to try and be accurate 🙂

I was very fortunate to have several different owl sightings during my travels, as well as two nightjar sightings.  The nightjars were by far the easiest to photograph, as they tend to lay in the road after dark, and if you are lucky you can drive the vehicle fairly close to them and use a spotlight.  Owls are a more challenging one, unless you are lucky enough to find them very close to the road, and not spook them when driving up.

This past trip, the first owl sighting I had was on my first evening game drive, and it was rather exciting.  I spotted this owl far away on a tree, and as we watched for a few moments, we realized it had a kill it was working on.  The terrain made it impossible to drive any closer, so I had to do the best I could with a 400mm lens and a bit of cropping; the quality isn’t fantastic, but the moment was definitely memorable.

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A Verreaux’s eagle-owl on a scrub hare kill.  Lion Sands River Lodge, May, 2019

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I had one eagle sighting while in the Timbavati, of a pearl-spotted owlet, but unfortunately by the time I got the attention of our ranger to stop, the owl was in flight and all I got was a butt shot as it flew away.  And not even a decent butt shot; it’s completely blurry and not worth sharing.  There’s always next time though 🙂

The rest of the sightings of birds in the dark all came while staying at Chitwa Chitwa with Harley as our guide.  Harley really seemed to enjoy pointing out birds, and identifying the ones that I would randomly point at (generally small raptors which I still have a terrible time identifying).

The southern white-faced owl and the spotted eagle owl were seen within about 10 minutes of each other while heading back to camp for dinner; and then the pair of Verreaux’s eagle owls were spotted the following morning as we set off from camp.

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A southern white-faced owl.  I’ve been lucky enough to see this species a couple of times before.  Chitwa Chitwa, South Africa. May, 2019.

Nightjar’s are a common bird to see on game drives at night, but a lot of times they fly away before you have a chance to capture a picture.  This past trip, I was fortunate to have two sightings of different species that I could get decent images of.

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A fiery-necked nightjar.  I would have struggled to identify this on my bird app if the song hadn’t been described as “Good lord, deliver us” which was the description our ranger Harley used when talking about them.  Chitwa Chitwa, May, 2019.
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A rufous-cheeked nightjar.  Very similar to the fiery-necked nightjar from beak to wing, but this one has white patches on the end two tail feathers (thank you, Roberts Bird app!)
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A spotted eagle-owl.
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A group of Verreaux’s eagle-owls, spotted early morning on a drive at Chitwa Chitwa.  There were actually 3 in this group, but I couldn’t fit them all into one frame as one was in another tree, hidden behind the trunk until it took off.

I hope you enjoy my selections for the week.  Wishing everyone a fantastic week ahead!

2018-11-22: Barred Owl

I was busy working last week and something caught my attention outside, out the corner of my eye.  I spotted this gorgeous barred owl in a tree in my backyard, and rushed to grab my camera to take a quick photo through the window.

I decided to take a chance and dash outside and hope to get a better shot.  The owl gave me a quick glance, let me snap 3 photos, and then was off, deep into the forest.

I love when beautiful creatures like this decide to make a stop in my yard 🙂

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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.

2017-02-05: What I’ve seen this week

The early part of this past week I had a couple of great wildlife sightings in the neighbourhood, but after Tuesday, nothing at all.  Fingers crossed for an interesting week ahead.

Enjoy the photos and the rest of your day 🙂

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On my late afternoon walk Monday I spotted this barred owl at the top of my road.  I managed a couple quick shots before it flew off.  It was snowing and quite gloomy, so not an excellent photo, but an exciting sighting for me.
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Tuesday I spotted this fox in the backyard while working.  It hung around for about five minutes before disappearing into the bushes.
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Taking a quick nap in a sunbeam.
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Sniffing for mice or other prey.
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Here the fox is investigating the deer bowl.  I’ve not seen the deer now in about 3 weeks, since we had our thaw and refreeze.  The squirrels, ravens, grey jays and magpies are enjoying the food source though.  Soon enough it will be time to put all that away as spring shows up and the bears start to awaken.

 

2017-01-22: What I’ve seen this week

Actually, I guess this should be more appropriately titled What I Saw Last Week, as none of the photos are from the last 7 days. It’s typed now though and no point in wasting time changing it.  On to the photos, and wishing everyone a great week ahead.

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Chickadees rarely sit still, so I am glad I managed to get a clear shot of this little one.
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A coyote made a visit to my yard one day; (s)he didn’t spend too long and I am grateful I looked out the window when I did to get these few photos.
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The coyote was very aware of me in the window snapping photos.
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What a difference the sunlight makes!
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A magpie spent a few minutes in the back yard, gathering food from the deer bucket.
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On my way back from town, I spotted this barred owl up the road; I quickly rushed home and grabbed my camera.  The owl was very far back from the road, and didn’t stick around long.
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Now you see it, now you don’t.  I only managed a couple minutes watching the owl (which was my first owl sighting of the year).

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2016-02-21: What I’ve seen this week

The week ended on a very interesting note, and has left me with a fair number of photos to go through.  On the advice of one of the members of the photo group, I went east of town yesterday hoping to see the northern hawk owls that had been spotted earlier in the day; I managed to see one, perched so high up in a tree, the first time I drove straight past it.

Today, I decided to take a drive about an hour out of town to a park, to scope out potential photography areas for the spring.  It was just too lovely a day to be indoors.  I had Spencer with me and we had a nice walk along the frozen marsh, but on the way out, I started to pull over closer to the side of the road to let a truck past, and the combination of ice covered road and extremely soft snow on the side, I ended up with the passenger side wheels stuck.  A lady tried to give me a tow (who it turns out is also part of my photo group, but we hadn’t met yet), but that didn’t work so we set off to get into cell range so I could call for a tow truck.  While I waited for the tow, it gave me a bit of time to catch up on some podcasts I’d been wanting to listen to, and honestly, the people around here are lovely.  Every single person heading in or out of the park stopped to see if they could help in any way.  I’m very grateful to the kindness of strangers.

And if I hadn’t been delayed an hour, I likely wouldn’t have seen a bald eagle perched high in a tree on the side of the highway (thoughtfully, right near a truck pull out so I could safely pull over).  And since many wise photographers have always said “look behind you”, I turned to scan the opposite side of the highway, and saw two more perched in a tree and one soaring above, calling repeatedly.  So an owl Saturday, and four bald eagles (plus a slightly lighter wallet) on Sunday.  All in all, an excellent weekend.

And with that long and rambling weekend description behind us, on to the photos.

Enjoy, and have a lovely week.

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Couldn’t ask for a prettier late winter day – warm out and sunny blue skies.
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Moonrise, peachy coloured clouds… it was too pretty not to snap a quick photo on our late afternoon walk.
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A slightly odd shot that didn’t quite turn out as planned, but that never seems to stop me from including them anyways. A couple night ago while out with Spencer, I was intrigued by the fast moving clouds and the bright moon. I decided to play around with the new camera and it wasn’t quite doing what I anticipated, but I do like the rainbow effect around the moon.
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The brilliant blue sky, bright sun and fluffy clouds reminded me a little of some of the sky shots I took in Botswana…. until you look down and see the glare from the snow!
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I’ve had requests for Spencer to be included in my posts, so here he is – enjoying his day out.
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The eagle I spotted from the road while driving.
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The fourth eagle of the afternoon

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I waited around just long enough for the second eagle to get its face out from behind the branch.

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2016-02-07: What I’ve seen this week

It was quite an exciting week for photos this week!  Given the continued icy conditions on my road, I’ve been driving a short distance away to one of the main roads to walk Spencer.  Tuesday morning, there were a huge group of ravens and magpies surrounding a ravine, so I stopped the car to see what  had happened.  During the night, the local coyote pack took down a deer, and the birds were tucking into the leftovers (evening at 9am, maybe only 1/4 of the deer remained.

We set off again at lunch for another walk, and this time the ravens and magpies were absent; while walking I figured out why – a beautiful bald eagle was watching over the area.  I grabbed a few shots and he or she flew off through the field, and I carried on with my walk.  On the drive home, I spotted the eagle again and grabbed a few more shots through the open window of the car, before realizing that there were two eagles in the area.  I followed one to the end of the cul de sac, and was lucky enough to be able to get a few more shots in before it was time to get home and get back to work.

Fingers crossed this coming week brings more wonderful photo opportunities.

Have a great week!

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On Monday afternoon I spent a bit more time with the northern hawk owl. It was late afternoon and snowing lightly, and he chose the top of the tallest tree possible to perch. This was the best of the few shots I got.
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First spot of the eagle; this was only the second time I have seen eagles in my neighbourhood. The first time was a fleeting glimpse far too quick for me to capture.
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The deer carcass was at the base of this hill. The previous day, the snow was untouched; there certainly was a large amount of activity that went on in the night.
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I stopped the car, put on the four way flashers, and took a few photos (I live in a really quiet area so it’s not a safety issue).
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This is the second of the eagles I saw. I don’t know of the distinguishing features between sexes, so I don’t know if I saw two males, two females or one of each.
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I couldn’t have asked for better light. Midday sun up north in the winter comes in at a pretty gentle angle.
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The branch shadows are a bit unfortunately, but at least the body positioning leaves the stunning yellow eye exposed.
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Up and away. I did briefly see the pair when I returned home, circling high up, reminding me of the vultures in southern Africa.
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What more could you ask for on a Tuesday lunch break?
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I always love the opportunity to capture birds in flight. 1/1600sec, f5.6, ISO 180

2016-02-01: Monochrome Monday

I wanted to do something a bit different for this monochrome Monday, so I edited this photo in a very stylized manner, hoping to be reminiscent of a painting.

Let me know what you think.

Happy Monday!

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A northern hawk owl

Prince George, BC, January 2016

 

2015-11-01: What I’ve seen this week

I was driving home from a morning trip into town, thinking that I would have nothing to post for this week, as it had been a slow week for both bird and animal sightings, and I already posted the lone landscape photo I liked for my monochrome Monday shot… and about the lack of a Wordless Wednesday post… I kinda forgot what day it was – oops.

Just as I was about to turn onto my street, I noticed something perched on a fence post at the end of the road; I couldn’t quite believe my eyes as it was an owl (at noon no less).  I stopped in the middle of the road to watch for a moment, and then hurried home to grab my camera and the dog.  I drove back up hoping I might be lucky enough for it to still be there, and it was.  I managed to get the car into a great position without causing and ruffled feathers, and sat for about 10 minutes snapping photos before I decided to head off, as the dog needed a walk.  It was rainy and miserable though and other than doing what was necessary, Spencer wasn’t too keen to stay out long, so I decided to take another drive and see if the owl was still there.  This time I stayed longer, and managed to see a couple failed hunting attempts before I headed back home.

I’m really happy with how well the photos turned out despite the weather, but even more, I’m very grateful to have had such a cool, and unexpected, afternoon with wildlife.

I hope you enjoy the photos!

My first sighting of a great grey owl.
My first sighting of a great grey owl.
Such an intense gaze.
Such an intense gaze.
The way owls heads rotate amazes me.
The way owls heads rotate amazes me.
She showed off all angles while I happily snapped away.
She showed off all angles while I happily snapped away.
Watching the ground for mice and other critters.  Based on the leftovers I have been seeing on the road the last few days, she is fairly successful.
Watching the ground for mice and other critters. Based on the leftovers I have been seeing on the road the last few days, she is fairly successful.

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I love the angle on this photo, and the streaking raindrops in the background. 1/400sec, f5.6, ISO 800
I love the angle on this photo, and the streaking raindrops in the background.
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If you look closely, you will see that there are remnants of another bird stuck in the fencing.
If you look closely, you will see that there are remnants of another bird stuck in the fencing.
After watching the grass along the roadside intently, she launched off, but sadly did not make a catch. 1/500sec, f5.6, ISO1000
After watching the grass along the roadside intently, she launched off, but sadly did not make a catch.
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I included this only to show the beautiful variation in the feathers.  Unfortunately  the photo is blurry, a combination of too slow a shutter speed (due to the light) and user focusing issues!
I included this only to show the beautiful variation in the feathers. Unfortunately the photo is blurry, a combination of too slow a shutter speed (due to the light) and user focusing issues!
Coming back in to land after an unsuccessful hunt.
Coming back in to land after an unsuccessful hunt.
A bit of post flight grooming and fluffing of feathers.
A bit of post flight grooming and fluffing of feathers.
With this, she was off again and we left her in peace. 1/500sec, f5.6, ISO1000
With this, she was off again and we left her in peace. By the way, look at those talons!!!
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Great Grey Owl