Tag: naturephotography

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

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

Photography Challenge Winner: Southern Prairie Skinks

So the winner for today’s entry in the photography challenge is a pair of prairie skinks that I noticed crawling around on one of our wood racks the other day.

Prairie skinks

These skinks are actually quite secretive and are usually only seen out and about during their breeding season. We usually have skinks along the creek side of the yard (numerous insects and small arachnids for them to eat), and occasionally in the garden area closer to the house during the spring to fall months. The one that I usually see running around is probably the more common five-lined skink (which I will be on the lookout for this year).

There are actually eighteen different lizards that can be spotted within Oklahoma, and I’ve probably only have seen two to four of them (and I’ve lived in this state most of my life). A goal now is going to be trying to get a picture of each of the different lizards (especially the Texas horn lizard–or the horny toad, as we called them when I was a kid).

Do you have lizards running around in your yard? What species?

No Comments natureoutdoorsPhotographyreptilesScience

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

The runaway crayfish–winner of the daily photography challenge

So the winner for the photography challenge today is the crayfish, and it is pulling double duty–a blog post and a photography page.

Crayfish moving around in the creek

I’d been meaning to write and publish the photography page for about a month now–ever since I managed to get the pictures back in March.

This was one of those double take sightings–you know when you see something that you know is ‘real’ but at the same time you mentally ask yourself: ‘did I really see that?’

I mean I thought that someone had thrown a lobster into the creek due to its size–and turned to google to make sure that crayfish in Oklahoma actually get to this size. I’m totally use to the small ones that are usually used as bait for fishing, and swim away from you if you get to close to them–this one probably would have stood its ground if I tried to pick it up.

I was lucky that the water was fairly clear and slow moving–usually when there is a decent amount of water in the creek it is murky and you can’t see anything.

Crayfish trucking along in the creek

But the water was ‘clear’ enough that I managed to track this guy for probably ten to fifteen minutes before I lost sight of it under a branch and some other debris.

I also know that I’m not going to be wandering through the creek bare-foot either (not that I’ve done that for years), cause I don’t want one of these biting my toes.

Do you prefer small or large crayfish?

No Comments natureoutdoorsPhotographyScience

Photography Challenge Day 3: The Great Blue Heron on the hunt

So the winner of today’s photography challenge is a familiar bird–it’s the great blue heron.

Great Blue Heron at Boomer Lake

This was one of the first birds that I made a page for under the birds, birds, and more birds section of the blog. This is also one of my constant photography ‘targets’ when I’m walking at Boomer Lake. I may not always see one–but I’m always on the look out for one.

Great Blue Heron starting to stretch out its neck

I’m always on the lookout for great blue herons at Boomer Lake for a couple of reasons: 1) there are several that fed/hunt at the lake, at one point I think I counted six different birds; 2) they’re usually in different areas of the lake–therefore different ‘poses’ are possible; and 3) they’re just majestic birds that I like to photograph.

I saw this one in the brush in one of the little ‘coves’ of the lake as I was walking across the bridge. I noticed that it was walking slowly around the edge of the ‘cove’ and looking down–so it was looking for something that was bigger than the minnows that were probably swimming around its legs.

Great blue heron stretching its neck and looking forward

While it stretched its neck out like it was going to strike and grab something–it never did, it just walked around, stopped and waited–probably for me to leave it alone to hunt in peace.

The great blue heron will probably show up several times throughout the photography challenge–especially as we move into summer and I manage to get at least a weekly walk in at Boomer Lake. My hope is that I manage to get enough pictures of them in different areas of the lake, that I don’t feel like it is the same ‘bird’ constantly–even if it may be the same heron a time or two.

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotography

Winner for Day 2 photography challenge: black-crowned night heron

So the entry winner for today’s photography challenge is the black-crowned night heron.

Black-crowned Night Heron spotted at Boomer Lake

I actually have a birding page already dedicated to the black-crowned night heron, and can semi cross of the photography goal that I had set–which was to try to get another picture of the heron, but within the continental US (since the only other time I’d seen the heron, I had been in Hilo, Hawaii).

I was pretty shocked when I realized that I’d managed to get a picture of one during the day light hours (usually they’re roosting within trees/shrubs, though they may be active during the day light hours during the breeding season).

The black-crowned night heron actually migrates and/or breeds within Oklahoma, so I may actually be able to spot it again this summer (if it decides to stay and breed–and since I saw it during the day I’m going to guess that it may be breeding in the area), or possibly in the fall when it migrates back through.

The goal is semi-crossed off, because I managed to get a decent picture–the goal will be totally crossed off, if I can get a ‘closer’ picture, and while I did have my longer lens for my camera with me, I didn’t have the tripod with me that particular morning.

So, currently I rank this picture right up there with the great horned owl and white pelican pictures I got last year, as one that I’m ost proud of getting. It will be interesting to see what other birding pictures I can get this year, once I’ve gotten my vaccine.

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotography