Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's about time ...

It's about time!

What I mean by that is two things ... it's about time I did another blog post. It has been a very long time. And, secondly, it's about time for the springtime birds to begin to arrive, and sing, and pair up.

After photographing birds for a few years with the same camera it is now becoming more difficult to surpass my "personal best" with a lot of these species, so I just don't have many photos I'd like to brag about and share. That said, Cyndi and I did make a determined effort to find and photograph birds last weekend (and still found time to work in both of our yards!)

We went to Indian Creek Reservoir, which is a great spot to see migrating shorebirds and waterfowl. Birds need water, and this little basin is just big enough that they feel safe yet still small enough that a scope or telephoto lens will bring most birds close enough to identify.

Here's a gull surrounded by Black-necked Stilts with three Killdeer in the foreground. I think the gull is a Ring-billed Gull. Click the image for a larger view.

Many birds are paired up this time of year, either dating, or mated for life, or cooperating to build a nest. That makes for a nice opportunity to show the differences between male and female of the same species, such as this American Wigeon pair.

Other birds are advertising for a mate, claiming territory in the hopes of having the best spot when the women visit, or are very happy to find moisture and nice spring weather in the desert. This one is a Yellow-headed Blackbird.

I do love the "big birds" (and the colorful birds). This one is a Swainson's Hawk. It spent the winter in Central or South America and they're now returning to feast on the rodents that are coming out of burrows in the warming spring weather.

I like the next photo because of the pose. We all know birds fly, but this one is checking over its shoulder because it is the lowest bird in a kettle of three Swainson's Hawks that is seeking to gain elevation before heading north over the mountains. If it can see where the others are, it has a better chance of getting into a column of rising air, thus gaining elevation with minimal effort.