Tag: birdphotography

Dove & Pigeon Pages are Live, and additional bird news

Did you know that the mourning dove is a very distant relative of the dodo?

Or that the rock pigeon, domestic pigeon, and feral pigeon are all the same species (though possibly considered three different sub-species)?

These are just two of the facts I learned as I was doing my research for their bird pages. The four pages for the pigeons and doves (Order Columbiformes, Family Columbidae, Mourning Dove, and Street Pigeon) are live under the bird tab.

The mourning dove is a ‘constant’ visitor to our backyard during the year. Since we have so many feeders, they’re guaranteed to find some food somewhere in the yard.

Mourning doves on the fence in the backyard

The ‘street’ (feral or rock) pigeon I’ve only seen when I was out in Boston and then over in London–they seem to prefer larger cities where people gather more (larger parks, plazas, open shopping areas and food).

Pigeons and gulls at the entrance to the Tower of London

In addition to these pages, I’ve also added in the first of the four additional organizational pages: the ‘Raptors’ or birds of prey. This allowed me to group those bird orders together under a tab (each order is still listed separately, but easier to scroll to). The other three additional organizational pages (the song birds, the water birds, and all other birds) will be getting added over the next few weeks–the ‘raptors’ was the first on the list, and also the ‘easiest’ to do as I had all those groups done and up on the site. The others may still have more ‘orders’ being added.

The next group I’m going to look at starting will probably be the ducks, swans, and geese. This group will result in another fourteen to fifteen pages being added, in addition there are a few single pages I need to add to a few sections for the birds I had spotted over in the UK and forgot about until this week.

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Highlighting Nature Photography Day: Diversity of Wildlife at Boomer Lake

The North American Nature Photography Association designated June 15 to be Nature Photography Day.

Red-eared sliders swimming in Boomer Lake

Water snake gliding through the waters at Boomer Lake

Their first ‘Nature Photography Day’ was back in June 2006, and their goal is to promote the enjoyment of nature photography, and through the use of the camera advance the ’cause of conservation and protect plants, wildlife, and landscapes both locally and globally’.

Hybird Baltimore and Bollock’s Oriole spotted in Boomer Lake Park

They (the North American Nature Photography Association) also run a photography contest every year marking the holiday as well. This year the challenge started on June 4 and ends tonight (June 15). You are able to enter multiple nature photographs throughout the week and a half that the contest runs–I’m sad that I only saw the contest this morning, but one can either download the app (iNaturalist) to your phone or sign up on the site (iNaturalist) to submit pictures for the contest. Though even after the contest ends–you can still share pictures through the site.

Cedar Waxing in a cedar tree

I will be setting up an account via the site (and deciding when to also put in an application to join the North American Nature Photography Association) some time this afternoon, so that I can share a few pictures that I’ve taken over the past week and half (Luckily my last walk up at Boomer Lake was on the 4th).

Double-crested Cormorant spotted at Boomer Lake Park, Stillwater OK

I’d decided years ago that nature photography was going to be one of the photography ‘sub-areas’ that I’d focus on for several reasons: 1) I enjoy being outdoors and exploring, 2) I like to ‘look’ for various animals (such as birds or insects), and 3) it is almost always a ‘free’ thing to do when exploring new areas.

So here are some of the nature photographs that I’ve taken over the past few months that I would rank among my favorites so far for the second quarter of 2021:

Nymph on an wildflower

As I was walking back across the bridge, I noticed this little grasshopper nymph sitting in the wildflower. Since I’m not an entomologist, I’m not sure what nymph stage this insect was at or if it is even a grasshopper.

Possible Orchid Oriole spotted at Boomer Lake Park

I spotted this bird on one of my walks, and I think based on the red flank that it was possibly a male orchid oriole.

Green Heron preening itself at Boomer Lake

Just about a hundred yards or so after spotting the possible Orchid Oriole, I spotted a green heron preening itself in one of the covers. Also captured in the picture was a grackle and a couple of turtles sunning themselves.

Two scissor-tailed flycatchers sitting in a cottonwood tree

And finally–the state bird (the scissor-tailed flycatcher) is in the area again for a few months. This beautiful flycatcher is a resident from about late April through late August/early September (though sometimes still spotted in late September or early October).

So these were just a small number of pictures that I’ve taken over the past two months since I’ve been trying to get back into at least doing a monthly walk at Boomer Lake. Now that summer is here–I will probably only be doing a single walk a month at Boomer (unless really nice temps hit), so I will also use the backyard and creek area as inspiration for practicing nature photography as well.

Reference for Nature Photography Day: www.nanpa.org/events/nature-photography-day

How are you spending nature photography day?

No Comments bird watchingflowersinsectsnatureoutdoorsPhotographyRandom Celebration DaysScienceTurtles

One of the many morning birding surprises: the green heron

So on my walk at Boomer Lake today I managed to spot the ‘secretive’ green heron.

Spotted the Green Heron

The green heron is a migratory bird that spends its summers in Oklahoma, and we’re lucky enough that there is usually a mating pair in town. Due to the start of the pandemic last year, I didn’t get in many walks at Boomer Lake during the summertime so I missed trying to get a picture of them last year.

A little closer view of the heron, and spotted a grackle and a few red-eared sliders as well.

I wasn’t expecting to see the green heron this morning–mainly because I was out ‘late’ (i.e. well after dawn), and usually these birds are roosting/hunting in the brush around the lake edges.

I was passing the area of the lake, that a birding expert refers to as ‘heron cove’ and noticed the green heron perched on a branch over the water cleaning its feathers.

Looking back towards the green heron

I tried to move down the hill quietly so that I could possibly get a closer picture, and while I did get a little closer–I’m not sure if the pictures give it justice or not.

Within the picture series, I also noticed that I managed to get a picture of several red-eared sliders and a grackle. I’m thnking that I may try to explore a little more of the wooded areas around the lake to see if I can possibly spot the black-crowned night heron again, and possibly even the belted kingfisher. As all three of these birds are usually more ‘morning’ birds (best seen usually close to dawn), though I have managed to spot them later in the morning.

Bird watching and photography are two of the things I enjoy doing during nice weather. What hobbies do you enjoy doing durin ghte nice weather?

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A Sunny Day Surprise: The Redheaded Woodpecker

So I’ve realized that the photography challenge is going to be sporadic this year–I’m aiming for new photographs at least 90% of the time, and the other 10% will be older pictures, but on specific days (such as #waybackwednesdays, #throwbackthursday, or #flashbackfriday). It will be a sporadic challenge, as I am also trying to vary the photograph subjects as much as possible. Since May is also National Photography Month, I was aiming for daily photograph postings–but will be going with at least weekly entries.

The winner for the challenge today was a redheaded woodpecker that I spotted up at Boomer Lake at the end of April. While I know that they’re in the area–I don’t go specifically looking for them, as I tend to avoid walking through heavily wooded areas (I’ve developed an allergic reaction to ticks, so I try to avoid the areas where I know that I could come across them).

Redheaded woodpecker on a light post

The redheaded woodpecker flew over my head and landed on the light post. Since it was a beautifully sunny morning (unlike the last time I got a photography of one), I managed to get a picture of it in all it’s redheaded glory. This woodpecker is named ‘redheaded’ because it has a totally red head–unlike the red-bellied woodpecker, which only has a pale red spot on it’s belly, but a red stripe down the back of its head.

Redheaded woodpecker

I actually had my longer telephoto lens with me that day (but no tripod), but by the time I got the lens on the camera, the woodpecker had flown off. I’ll be keeping my eye on the various light posts, which seem to be landing spots for various birds (possibly to eat their snack or meal), and then the tops of dead trees (since that is where I spotted the first one a couple of years ago).

I’m also keeping my eye out for the hairy woodpeckers as well–they’re similar in shape, size, and coloring to the downy woodpecker. Therefore I may already have a picture or two–just in the wrong bird folder. I think that if one chore this summer–make sure that all pictures are correctly labeled for the various woodpecker species.

What is your favorite woodpecker?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographyScience

Photography Challenge Winner: the small & elusive pied-billed grebe

The winner of the photography challenge for today is the pied-billed grebe. This is a small grebe that is a year-round resident in central Oklahoma and I’m usually lucky to spot one every couple of months up at Boomer Lake.

Pied-billed grebe spotted at Boomer Lake

It is also serving double duty in announcing that there are another series of bird pages live under the bird tab.

The weekend addition to the birding portion of the site includes the order Podicipediformes, the family Podicipedidae, and the pied-billed grebe. This is one of the seven grebe species that can be spotted within the United States and Canada; and is the only one that is found year-round in Oklahoma.

Over the past couple of years I’ve started to get better at getting a picture of the pied-billed grebe. Since they’re such a small bird, if they aren’t close to the shore it is difficult to get a picture (at least without a good telephoto lens and tripod).

One thing I’ve noticed about the grebes–they’re great at literally sinking out sight and then reappearing quite a awaays away, unlike the loons that dive (though the grebe will do that as well on occasion).

Pied-bill grebe on the calm waters of Boomer Lake

A goal is to possibly get a picture of a family of grebes sometime this summer, though that may mean possibly lurking around the cattails and tall weeds.

There are three other species that may be spotted within Oklahoma during the migratory season: the horned grebe (and this one may even winter in state), the eared grebe, and the western grebe. The last three grebe species that are found within the US and Canada are more regional specific: the red-necked grebe is a ‘northern’ resident (Canada, Alaska, and some northern states), the least grebe is a Texan resident, and Clark’s grebe is found in the western half of the US.

I’m going to try to get up to Boomer Lake more often in the early mornings–especially in fall and spring to try to get a peak of other possible grebes that are migrating through town. Though I should also possibly expand my birding area to another small area lake and see what species I can spot there as well.

Have you spotted a grebe in the wild? If so–where and when? Do you have a favorite grebe?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographyScience

Happy World Migratory Bird Day!! Though it is really every day…..

So today is World Migratory Bird Day–at least in the US and Canada. It is celebrated on the second Saturday in May, though if you live in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central or South America it is celebrated on the second Saturday in October.

I decided to look through all the pictures that I have taken over the past two years (give or take six months) and make a collage of all the migratory birds that have passed through the central part of Oklahoma.

So far I have managed to spot 28 different birds.

Those birds include (going from top left to bottom right):

The great (or common) egret, the ruby-throated hummingbird, the yellow-rump warbler, the eastern kingbird, the green heron, the western kingbird, the turkey vulture, and the scissor-tailed flycatcher.

The blue-winged teal, the bufflehead, the black-crowned night heron, the Baltimore oriole, the white-crowned sparrow, and the Mississippi kite.

The laughing gull, the yellow warbler, the purple martin, the spotted sandpiper, the canvasback, the dark-eyed junco, and the white pelican.

The double-crested cormorant, the cedar waxwing, the common loon, the osprey, the ring-billed gull, the northern shoveler, and the sharp-shinned hawk.

Plus the one that I somehow forgot to add to the collage: the cliff swallow.

Cliff swallows flying over Boomer Lake

So, technically then the number of migratory species seen is actually at 29.

Several of these birds already have their own page under the bird tab, and those that don’t will be getting their pages added throughout the year.

I’ve decided that a goal for the late spring/summer season is to see how many other songbirds I can spot at Boomer Lake, and a goal for the fall/winter is to get up there earlier in the day and see how many other duck species I can spot that are only stopping briefly during their migration to their winter grounds.

Did you know that the Oklahoma state bird is only present in the state during late spring to early fall? Do you know what the state bird of Oklahoma is (hint–it’s within the collage)?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographyRandom Celebration Days

An Elusive Fisher on Boomer Lake: The Belted Kingfisher

Another series of bird pages are now live under the bird tab.

This week’s addition to the birding portion of the blog/website is the order Coraciiformes, family Alceidinidae, and the belted kingfisher.

Belted Kingfisher at Boomer Lake

As mentioned on the order page, there is just basic information on this order as there is still debate on which families actually belong within the order. So I’ve added the Coraciiformes order to my ‘research’ list along with the Gaviiformes order (the loons) in terms of looking more in the scientific literature and adding information from there. Though currently–this ‘research’ project is one of thw many on both the mental and the physical to-do lists.

Belted kingfisher in flight

While the family Alceidinidae has over 100 species within it–there are only about eight species within the ‘New World’, and only one that is ‘common’ within North America. That ‘common’ kingfisher is the belted kingfisher.

I’ve been on the lookout for the belted kingfisher ever since I manged to get a couple of pictures of one back in 2019. These are ‘secretive’ birds that you may not see unless you startle them from their perch or they’re on the way back to the burrow.

While writing the pages, I also realized that when I had managed to get the pictures–I had been at the lake fairly early in the morning (within about a half hour of the sun rising), and lately it has been about an hour or so after the sun comes before I leave the house. So, I think that if I want to be able to spot them again–I’m going to have to get up to the lake a little earlier in the mornings.

My main goal is to try to get a picture of the kingfisher from the front–that way I can tell if I had managed to get a picture of a male or female kingfisher.

2 Comments bird watchingCraftsnatureoutdoorsPhotographyScience

National Photography Month: Celebrating all things dealing with photography

Did you know that May is also National Photography Month?

It was established in 1987 by Congress, and over the years has evolved as the art of photography has also evolved from physical photographs to digital photographs and videos. I’ve always enjoyed photography–most vacations I’d have a camera on me and go for walks to see what type of nature photographs I could capture.

Bald Eagle sitting in a pine tree over looking Lake Vermilion, St. Louis County, Minnesota
Looking out at Lake Superior from the northern shore of Minnesota
Buffalo National River, Ponca Arkansas

As you can tell–I enjoy capturing pictures of the natural world. I remember back in college, I took a forestry class that had an international component to it (spending spring break in Honduras), and I was eager to take the class, as it would have been the first time I raveled outside of the US. I think I took almost 1000 physical photographs on that 10-day trip. Basically all the photographs were nature based, a small number had people in them, and I was present in even a smaller number of pictures. While I have done some ‘selfies’ on trips–those were more for remembrance purposes than sharing on social media. I have all those photographs, plus others from other trips in photo albums sitting in my storage unit, and they’re also digital–but on an older laptop. So once I move–I need to find and charge the older laptop and try to get the pictures off of it, or buy a scanner/printer and start scanning pictures again.

Photography has been one of the things helping me keep my sanity somewhat intact through this damn pandemic. While I didn’t go up to Boomer Lake that often last year (in part due to the shelter at home directive and in part due to not that many people wearing masks outdoors), I did manage to hone my talent with backyard birding.
I would almost consider nature and pet photography to be my ‘bread-and-butter’–those are two topics that I enjoy capturing on digital film. I’m going to be trying to ‘spread’ my photography ‘wings’ and start doing some food and architecture photography as well in the coming months (though I do have a decent number of architecture photographs from my time out on the east coast).

Chaos sticking his head out the door
Rolex sitting in front of the back door.

So how am I going to celebrate the month of photography? I’m going to try to post at least two or three pictures a week for both the ‘yearly’ challenge and to celebrate National Photography Month. I’m also going to look into the history of photography as well and read up on that subject–and possibly post book reviews or other such things here as well. But to totally celebrate–I’m going to try to be active with my camera (whether it is the digital canon or olympus cameras or the camera on the iPhone) and take a daily picture.

No Comments bird watchingCraftsnaturePetsPhotographyRandom Celebration DaysReflections

Photography Winner: Turkey Vultures are back in the sky

So spring is here (more or less), and how can I tell?

Turkey Vulture in flight

The turkey vultures are back and soaring through the skies over Boomer Lake and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Turkey vulture soaring over Boomer Lake

Turkey vultures are unique birds in Oklahoma–they are a year-round resident in the eastern half of the state, but are a migratory/summer bird for the central and western parts of the state.

I managed to get these pictures of one soaring over Boomer Lake earlier this month, but have also noticed them in the afternoon soaring over the neighborhood when I’m out in the backyard (and of course my camera is inside). Since they’re scavengers, they end up spending a lot of time looking/smelling for their next meal. I’m hoping that once the weather gets nice (and stays nice) I will be able to do weekly walks up at Boomer Lake, and maybe spot one sitting atop a dead tree again. Plus maybe be able to spot a young turkey vulture soaring in the sky as well (since they don’t really make nests, and they prefer to roost away from humans I doubt that I’d be able to get a picture of a young vulture near the home turf).

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotography

Photography Challenge Winner: female mallard in a tree

2021 seems to be the year of double takes in terms of photography.

There are just those pictures that make you take a double glance (or maybe pinch yourself) to make sure that you’re not dreaming of the shot.

Since the weather has been up and down in temperatures, the SARS-CoV2 virus is slowly getting under control, and things are slowly trying to return to normal, I haven’t been out and about with my camera as much as I have in previous years.

So far for 2021, my ‘double glance’ pictures have included the large crayfish in the creek; the yellow-bellied sapsucker on the small suet feeder; the black-crowned night heron perched over Boomer Lake, and then this female mallard.

Female mallard ‘in’ the tree

Getting a picture of a mallard (female or male) really isn’t that difficult at Boomer Lake–I think they’re probably the second most abundant waterfowl there after the Canada geese.

Female mallard ‘on’ the tree.

These pictures are unique in the fact that the female mallard was sitting on the trunk of the tree, quacking while her mate was on the ground either scanning the area for trouble, or every so often looking up at her (probably wondering ‘what the hell’…). I’m use to seeing great blue herons, egrets, and even cormorants sitting in trees, but this had been the first time I’d seen a duck that high off the ground.

She’s just surveying the area……

While I didn’t get that close to the tree (since I didn’t want to scare them off), I did manage to get several pictures of the female mallard on the tree, and she seemed quite happy to be at the ‘top of the world’ for a while. Luckily, I doubt that she was scooping it out as a nesting site, since all mallards prefer to make their nests on the ground, hidden, and fairly close to the water (easier for the ducklings to start following their mother into the water after hatching).

Female mallard, standing around and quaking.

One interesting little fact about mallards–if you hear one quacking, that is actually the female mallard; the sounds of the male mallards are more of a quiet rasping sound.

Hopefully I will be able to get back to my walks at Boomer Lake this summer and manage to get some pictures of the female with her young (as only the female mallard takes care of the young).

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotography