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Posts tagged “Birds

Puffin Experience

_DSC5539I was fortunate enough to make it onto an island full of puffins. I’d do it again. The problem is that it would be a very arduous trip. So for now, once was enough. It’s not just the birds. There is fog and lupines. _DSC2190

_DSC2283You need the whole experience. The shot one sees on the post card is of the lovable bird statically positioned. You can’t point your camera and not capture a zillion of these shots. So what is unique? Pondering, I fell back on my sports experience (tennis, Manny) and realized that “flying” was the ticket. Ninety percent of the time the puffins are standing around. The last bit is flying. There’s plenty but it is not easy to have the focus, focal length, and composition all working simultaneously for a bird in flight. On this one I had no lessons or advice. I just relied on experience and imagination. It was a one shot deal. There are other things I might do since I am more experienced now. It’s great that things change and make you want to get better.2008 07 5908 Puffin landing a


_DSC6194You always remember the things that were hard to accomplish. This was a tough event for me. I had seen a poster or post card many years ago when we visited Maine on a bicycle trip. But I had never had an opportunity to see the birds. And it turns out that it is not easy. I read about a couple of places you could go to see puffins. On one boat trip you never got close enough to see more than a dot in your telephoto lens. That was no good at all. Then there was a boat trip out of Machias. It is way the hell up near the Canadian border and you really really have to want to be there. The boat goes out early in the morning and it doesn’t guarantee a landing on the island in bad weather. Twice!! Twice I made the six hour drive from my location in southern Maine. And twice I was unable to get any shots. The seas were too rough. I learned that as long as the boat was headed out and moving straight it was no problem for motion sickness. As soon as the boat stops, it begins to rock and roll with the waves, and then shortly afterward I feed the fish. It happened twice. And I paid good money to lose my breakfast. Third time is a charm, right? Yes! We got on the island. You have to go into a blind, which is setup to minimally impact on disturbing the birds. And of course I had neglected to bring my big telephoto along. Sometimes you just can’t win. But with what I had along, I filled up a memory card. I stayed until they pulled me out of the blind. Everyone was long done. I had just waited so long to get this opportunity it seemed a shame to not savor the moment. The action was in the birds flying. It’s not hard to get lots of images of puffins standing around looking cute. I got them flying around thanks to Manny who showed me the technique of applying actions sports photography to flying puffins. There’s always a shot you don’t get. That would be an image of a puffin holding fish in its mouth. No, there will not be a fourth trip. _DSC6316


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There is a square in which someone attends the pigeons, leaving out food and water. Julia especially liked the flying pigeon. _DSC0400 copyThe pigeons took wing because a feral cat wandered through. Though emaciated, it made no effort to get a pigeon meal. The pigeons weren’t taking any chances. _DSC0410 copy



The hard thing is getting birds in flight. If it was easy everyone would have great shots. And if you get them in flight, you’d like to see more than a dark dot on your image. Otherwise the big vultures and such are easy to capture when they sit and eat. No try catching birds in flight. It’s focus and shutter speed….and a bit of luck.





I suppose that when birds eat fish whole, it makes sense to them. Eagles tear their food apart. But this guy was going to swallow lunch in one gulp. He spent quite a while attempting to get this done. First the fish had to be turned head first. It doesn’t go down tail first easily. It (fish) kept flopping so it would be lost if the bird lost its grip. And there were other birds waiting just to grab this fish if there was any mistake. Yes, he did swallow it whole. Didn’t mom always say to ‘chew?’


2372 27 MysticI’m slowly working my way through pictures from my archives. I’ve got many thousands. It would intimidate the average person to know how many images, I’ve culled and then scanned (tens of thousands). I love penguins. They are still exotic to me. I have a wish to go to Antarctica and see them live and in person. Considering how many things on wish list have come true in my life, maybe it’s not entirely impossible. For instance, I’ve been up in a helicopter many times and I’ve learned to scuba dive. I did these things more than once. But it’s not near the top of the list and so I take shots of the penguins whenever I see them.

Bird on a Wire

The title was also a movie with Goldie Hawn and Mel Gibson. Driving along in Costa Rica, the road was bumpy and dusty. Our driver suddenly stopped and beckoned. How he knew I was a photographer, or whether he was working for a better tip, I won’t know. But I got this nice shot and won’t forget his kindness.

Long Island Duck Farm

We bicycled over a bridge to a road parallel to the Montauk Highway. There, behind the trees and hidden from view was a duck farm. We didn’t look threatening or like any sort of animal rights extremists. So, the migrant workers just smiled and let me wander around for a few minutes. I have been back only one more time. This looks pretty innocent. The barracks in the background held younger ducks/ducklings. I got to look in the window. I don’t recall anything upsetting. In the foreground of this enclosure [out of view] was a duck clearly ill and dying. What made this surreal was that the gathered group would one by one come over and peck at the dying duck as though to kill it. Ah… this is what Long Island duck dinner looks like in the raw…

Egret Central Park

There is a large lake upon which row boats are rented. People are constantly strolling the edges or picnicking along the banks. So, it’s a surprise to see an egret along the edge. If you can make it in New York, you’re tough. So this guy and I had a stare down. He didn’t back off. It’s a New York kind of attitude.

Central Park Statue

I am reminded of an old joke that starts with: A male and a female statue were given the gift of life. They promptly disappeared into the bushes. Emerging, the male said to the female, “Again?” And she replied, “Yes, …but this time you hold it while I shit on it.” And, yes, even in Saudi Arabia, there are plenty of pigeons.


Parade Man


Parades occur in New York City on a very regular basis. It has become a source of street photography for me. This man shows up at about as many parades as I attend. Here he has a dragon hat for the Chinese New Year. Otherwise his threadbare clothes and colorful beard are pretty standard. I think his beard is permanently this color. And his poor little dog dresses too. This year there was a grey parrot. It was cold but the bird seemed nonplussed. I guess I’ll continue to see him as long as I go to parades.

Bird Feeder

It’s a snowy day on Long Island and we have not yet filled the bird feeder from last weekend. Everyone’s hungry. I have followed some advice I have given and received. Today I used a tripod. Here in the snow are some shots of flying and assertive behavior. I had to get permission to fill the feeder. My footsteps were ruining the new fallen snow. Even after I filled the feeder there were still arguments.

Stork tree


We had passed these trees full of storks. All I could think of were babies. Actually the trees were covered with stork dropping. From a distance you would think that the trees were frosted white. Not all trees but some trees were chosen as roosts for thousands of birds. Their size was disproportionate to the size of the branches they perched upon. The sheer numbers were staggering. I guess there were no predators about.

Parrot II


Buenos Aires, Argentina. My son was at work. Lisa was down with dengue fever. I had the park to myself and wandered. I came upon a tree where the parrots were feeding. They would fly to the ground for a minute or so and then take off. While feeding they were content to let me get a little closer so that the big zoom could get some detail. I wonder if the Argentines think I’m as silly as I feel when tourists are taking pictures of the squirrels in Central Park.



Buenos Aires, Argentina. I don’t know if the parrots are native or they are escaped pets. The central park has many nests high in the palm trees. You can see the parents flying to and fro to feed the young. It was pretty hard to get good shots. They flew quickly and were pretty high within the dark canopy of leaves. Here I was able to get the parrot in a panned shot. The background is nicely out of focus and I am happy to have made this shot.


Cormorant… and Turtle


It was one of those rare afternoons that this heron posed fishing among the cone flowers by the side of the lake. I got a reflection of the clouds and that nice beam of sunlight shining on the feathers. I was just in the right place at the right moment.


It was one of those rare afternoons that this heron posed fishing among the cone flowers by the side of the lake. I got a reflection of the clouds and that nice beam of sunlight shining on the feathers. I was just in the right place at the right moment.

Amelia’s descendents

My daughter had a window box for flowers in her bedroom on the fifth floor in bright sunlight. (quite a string of prepositions) Needless to say we never had any plants because we could never remember to water. One spring day Julia opened her shade to find ‘Amelia’ dove sitting in the box with a nest and two eggs. Julia had a penchant for naming her stuffed animals, etc. Amelia and her mate hatched at least one or two more broods that spring. We tried not to disturb the doves. But they didn’t seem to mind David’s and Julia’s curious faces on the other side of the window glass. Somehow Amelia knew her nest was safe. Well, who knew? Early one morning a few years later, there on the roof top deck, was a family reunion of doves. I would estimate about twenty or more doves peacefully standing, sitting, roosting about on the fence, table, and chairs. It was pretty amazing to see them all just hanging out.




Decatur, Illinois. Some time back I posted flamingoes. Well, whatddaya know? This set is for a more noble cause. They are pink for the fight against breast cancer. I can see that and can support it. I just didn’t expect to see them on an early morning drive across town.


The internet is a wonderful tool. I think this is a common pheasant. Anyway, that’s what matches up on the internet search. This shot from the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray was taken of the birds in captivity. The park takes care of injured animals, many of whom cannot be returned safely to the wild. It was a great opportunity to catch the rich coloration.

Birds in Flight

These are the bird in flight images that I can recall from recent years. I keep a database. In response to Galen Leed’s excellent work/blog, I will admit that this is about all I have on the subject. The last photo is of humans, my daughter and myself, who wish we could fly. (Shhh… my daughter shouldn’t know that I posted her picture here – camera shy.) I’ll post a story about the African photos. Bear Mountain and Nyack New York are on my other blog (Imaged Event – see sidebar). My knowledge of birds is limited. We were at a surprise birthday party in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. The guests of honor have a home on the lake and a pontoon boat. At the end of the afternoon, I climbed aboard for a spin around the lake. As we rounded a small island on the lake, a heron was startled. I happened to have my camera in hand. Serendipity. I got about four frames and hoped that the exposure and focus were sufficient.

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I could be/probably am wrong on the identification here. We came upon this guy at a watering hole. Hippos lay in and among the waterlillies while several species of bird including storks were all around. Idyllic. This heron had caught a fish. It was too large to swallow. Other birds offered assistance, which was ignored. For quite a few minutes the struggle continued until the fish was turned properly and swallowed whole.


Zanzibar, Africa. I won’t begin to tell you what species of birds are in this photo. The word ‘tern’ comes to mind. My daughter and I were walking along the beach as the tide came in behind us. These little guys flew past as I panned and shot. Later we had to backtrack through the high tide and breaking waves. The uneven surface and slippery rocks made it a bit treacherous. I couldn’t swim while holding my camera up and  free of the sea. We made it back in time for lunch.

Lilac Breasted Roller

I love the internet. A couple of clicks and – gotcha – the identity of the lilac breasted roller. At least my picture seems to match up. These little guys are all over on the Serengeti. They flit and swoop. Early one morning just before we departed to Zanzibar, our driver was rolling across the savannah. He stopped short of these birds swooping in for a landing. It was a slow morning to find any of the bigger game animals. But any subject will do when you’ve never been there before.


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