Friday, September 28, 2012

Leucistic Ruby-throat

During a visit to the Smith Point Hawk Watch last weekend, we noticed a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird among the dozens of other hummers that had a slight aberration. This hummingbird was partially leucistic as it had a white forehead.

While not quite as evident here thanks to the harsh light you can see it has a white head. Not the greatest shots but I wanted to post them anyway as it is not everyday I get to see a leucisitic hummingbird. Here is a photo where the white forehead is easier to see.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The smallest of them all

Yesterday, while out for a walk in my neighborhood here in Houston, I discovered 2 migrating Least Sandpipers, one winter plumaged adult and one juvenile.

Juvenile Least Sandpiper;  Canon 7d; Manual exposure, 1/800 sec., f6.3, ISO 640 with Sigma 150-500 @500mm

Least Sandpipers are the world's smallest shorebird at a mere 5.1 inches and 0.7 ounces. While neat to see such a small wader, being this small does make photography slightly harder as you have to get even close to fill the frame. Luckily for me, the juvenile was quite confiding once I settled down and waited.

Juvenile Least Sandpiper;  Canon 7d; Manual exposure, 1/800 sec., f6.3, ISO 640 with Sigma 150-500 @500mm

 I really wanted the low angle to cut out the distracting background and focus in on the bird and its reflection however this meant getting quite wet and muddy, worth it in the end though!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

An Ojibway Legend

An Ojibway legend here taken from: <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>

Once upon a time there was an old man who became blind. He felt badly because he could no longer see to catch fish and hunt for his family. A loon swam up to him and called to him asking, “Why are you crying, old man?” The old man said, “Oh loon, you are a wise bird and a wonderful fisherman; with your red eye you can see to great depths to catch fish for yourself and
your family. I can no longer see to catch fish, so my family is hungry; that is why I am crying”.

The loon called back to the old man, “Come and hold tight to my wings and bury your eyes in my feathers and I will take you through the pure waters to the very deepest part and then you will be able to see again.” So the old man grabbed the loon’s wings very tightly and buried his sightless
eyes in the loon’s feathers and the loon dove into the water. Down, down, down they went until the old man thought his lungs would burst. When they came back up the old man could see light, and could just make out the trees on the shoreline. They dove again deep into the water and the old man again thought his lungs would bust because they stayed under water so long. When they cam back to the surface the old man could see. The old man was overjoyed. He said to the loon,
whose feathers were all black at the time, “Oh loon, I am so grateful to you that I am going to give you my most precious possession: this beautiful necklace made
of white shells.” The old man took off his necklace and tossed it around the loon’s neck. Everywhere the shells touched, the loon’s black feathers turned to white marks. That is why the loon has a beautiful white necklace and a white pattern on its back.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Well I've procrastinated for way too long now and haven;t posted more loon shots soon enough so more will be on their way, starting with this one.

Canon Rebel XSi;  Manual exposure, 1/250 sec., f6.3, ISO 200 with Sigma 150-500 f5.6-6.3 @ 229mm

This loon came so close that for this shot was taken at 229mm with only minor cropping. It had come up on my side and had taken me by surprise so as I flipped around in my raft to try to get in a better position, the loon rose gracefully up out of the water and shook itself off, leaving my unprepared as this was the only shot I managed to fire as it settled back down into the water.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Big Year Update

Some of you may know that I am plodding along with my own version of a mini-Big Year; I started it after hearing interesting things and set an unlikely personal goal of 500. While it has definitely been slow and has slowed down even more in the last month or so, I have recently added 2 black-and-white plumaged southern birds; Swallow-tailed Kite and Wood Stork. The Swallow-tailed Kite I spotted over Bear Creek Park here in Houston on the 1rst of September. 2 days later I spotted my first Wood Storks down by the Gulf of Mexico.
Wood Stork

I'm now at a total of 310 species of birds for the year and 33 species of mammals.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

All Hail the King of the gnats!

Did some research on the scientific names of birds recently and discovered that empidonax means "King of the gnats", which I thought was quite interesting. For some reason however, I don't think any gnat would appreciate being ruled by a bird that would eat them any chance it got!

This Least Flycatcher was seen in Calgary last month in Hull's Wood in Fish Creek Park. It was difficult to get a nice clean shot because of their habit of flitting around a lot.

Canon Rebel XSi;  Manual exposure, 1/250 sec., f6.3, ISO 400 with Sigma 150-500 f.56-6.3 @ 500mm