Tag: wildbirdphotography

European Edition: Two more Rail Member Pages are Live

So there are two more bird pages live under the birding section, and they aren’t geese, swans, or ducks: they’re two members of the rail family that I saw on my trip to the UK a couple of years ago.

Ever since I started this project (creating bird pages for the various birds I’ve gotten pictures of over the years), I’m constantly going through my old pictures and asking–which bird is this, and am I sure that is the correct bird?

For most birds, I’m usually correct with my identification, but there have been others that I’ve been wrong on. As it turns out I wasn’t correct with my first identification of these two birds; I’m made a ‘rookie’ mistake and assumed they were just ‘regional’ variations of birds I’d seen back in the US.

Well, it turns out that that was the wrong assumption to make–they’re actually separate species from the ones I’d spotted within the US.

The first one is the common moorhen. The reason why I’d thought that it was similar to the one I’d seen down in South Padre Island, is that they had been considered the same (or possibly subspecies) up until 2011–so only a decade ago, and I have an ‘outdated’ bird book.

The ‘Old World’ has the common moorhen, while the ‘New World’ has the common gallinule.

Common moorhen spotted within Kensington Park in London, UK

The second one I had ‘mistakenly’ identified was the Eurasian coot–I thought it was the American coot. Yes, I know that the name ‘American’ should have given it away that it probably wouldn’t be found in the UK–but if the pied grebe can occasionally migrate over the Atlantic Ocean, whose to say that the coot couldn’t?

Eurasian coots swimming in Kensington Park

I now know that there are several coot species, and I’ve managed to get pictures of two of them–in order to make it a perfect trifecta, I now need to head back to the Hawaiian islands and get a picture of the Hawaiian coot.

There are still one or two more birds from the UK trip that will be getting pages, but currently this brings the rail family up to date for members that I’ve spotted either within the US or abroad.

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographySciencetravel

Cormorant, relatives, and news: more bird pages are live

So this is a spin on doing a #FishyFriday post–instead of posting about a #fish, I’m posting about a couple of #fishers instead–namely the magnificent frigatebird and the double-crested cormorant.

Possible magnificent frigatebird resting in the lagoon

These two pages, along with their family pages (Family Fregatidae for the frigatebird, and Family Phalacrocoracidae for the cormorant), and the order page (Suliformes) are all live under the birding tab.

Young double-crested cormorants resting on logs in Boomer Lake

Getting these five pages up, have brought the birding section to a total of 68 pages, and I still have roughly another 83 pages to add for all the other birds I’ve seen. Therefore I’m going to possibly be adding in three or four new organizational pages to the birding section over the next week or so:

Raptors–and then have all the different birds of prey orders linked to this page

Songbirds–this will be the ‘organizational’ page for the order, with all its numerous families and species (this section actually accounts for over half the pages I still need to add)

‘Water Birds’–orders that are associated with the water

‘All other birds’–the game birds, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and those that don’t fit into the other three categories

This way as I continue to bird watch and work on improving my birding photography, the tab/section will be better organized, and the drop down menu will be easier to navigate.

As the summer temperatures have settled in over Oklahoma, I realize that I probably won’t be seeing any cormorants until early to mid-fall (the last of the youngsters should have moved out of the area), and to try to get a better picture of a frigatebird means travel–and I’m not feeling comfortable yet to travel.

Have you been able to see the magnificent frigatebird in flight? If so–off of which coast?

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The ‘duck-like’ rails: American Coot & Common Gallinule pages are live

So another series of bird pages are live under the bird tab.

This week, I managed to add pages for the order Gruiformes, family Rallidae, and then for the following species: the American coot, and the common gallinule (also know previously as the common moorhen in most bird books).

The pages for the order and family are ‘short’ (less than 300 words), and I decided that I could add more information and update the pages throughout the year. I figured that it was more important in actually getting the pages ‘up’ than having a ‘perfect’ page–I’m slowly getting better at the whole progress over perfection.

American coots swimming at Boomer Lake

Of the 138 species that make up the family Rallidae, nine can be found within the United States. Though spotting roughly a little over half of them (five of the nine species are rails) will take quite a bit of patience on my part (it is easier to spot a coot, gallinule, or crake than it is to spot a rail). Of the remaining forty-five percent (four of the nine species)–I’ve managed to spot two: teh American coot (which is present at Boomer Lake, basically every winter), and the common gallinule (which I saw on a trip down to South Padre Island, Texas years ago).

Common Gallinule and chick grazing

It always amazes me when I see the coots out on Boomer Lake and I remember that they aren’t ducks, but members of the rail family (since they swim and occasionally ‘dabble’ like ducks), but once you see their yellow-green legs and lobbed toes, you realize you’re not looking at a duck.

If I want to try to spot the purple gallinule, that will require another trip to the gulf coast or Caribbean. Spotting the sora might be as difficult as spotting a rail (they’re not quite as secretive but pretty close), though they are a migratory species through Oklahoma–so I might be able to spot them close to the banks of either Boomer Lake or possibly Sanborn Lake this fall (if I’m willing to be closer to the ‘weeds’).

As I mentioned on the various pages in terms of the photography goals: overall I would like to get a picture of a member of each family (and for the Rallidae family–a picture of the other North American species, plus a picture of one on each of the other continents), and possibly a picture of one grazing with the young or possibly trying to take off in flight.

Next up in terms of bird pages will be either the order/family/species for the cormorant and freightbird, or the mourning dove and rock dove (feral pigeon).

Have you managed to see a rail in the wild? If so–where were you, and how long did you have to wait for it to come out of the thicket?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographytravel

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

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

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

The ‘game birds’ (order Galliformes) pages are up

So another series of bird pages are live under the bird section of the website.

The latest series is on the ‘game birds’ or the order Galliformes.

These are called the game birds, because all the ‘popular’ birds that are hunted such as the ring-necked pheasant, wild turkey, quails, and grouses belong to this order.

There are basically 290 species found within this order (with over half of them belonging to the family Phasianidae) that are divided into five different families.

The other four families are the Odontophoridae, Numididdae, Cracidae, and Megapodiidae.

North America is home to species found within three of the five families: Phasianidae, Odontophoridae, and Cracidae.

I’ve been lucky to capture pictures of a member of each of those families, and for the family Cracidae it is the only member of the family that is found within the United States.

Wild turkeys grazing in a neighbor’s front yard.

The wild turkey is ‘common’ throughout the lower forty-eight states, and while it’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen them in the neighborhood, we’re close enough to the woods that I’m pretty sure they’re still around. They can even be seen within ‘city proper’ of some larger cities (such as Boston,MA).

Quails are more ‘shy’ and usually can be observed earlier or later in the day foraging for food in groups. That made getting the picture of the Gambel’s quail that much more special–since it was a single quail out in the ‘semi-open’.

Gambel’s quail walking through the brush

If you can’t spot the quail (no worries)–head over to the page, and I added an additional picture highlighting where it is in the picture.

The plain chachalaca is the only member of the family Cracidae that is found within the United States, and you have to either be in southern Texas or possibly on islands off the coast of Georgia to be able to spot them.

Adult and young plain Chachalacas foraging for food

So out of the basically 290 species, 21 can be found within North America (emphasis currently is on the US–so there probably are more species that are native to Canada or Mexico that I’m not addressing), and I’ve managed to spot 3 of them (or a seventh, or 14%).

As noted on the different order/family pages, a photography goal is to get pictures of other members, including any that may be native to Canada or Mexico (and not seen within the US).

With the addition of these 7 pages, it brings the total number of bird pages to 52 (9 bird orders, 14 bird families, and 29 species). Looking at my ‘master’ list, I still have (in total) another 95 pages or so to add (8 bird orders, 26 bird families, and approximately 61 species). Therefore I may have this section ‘up-to-date’ with current pictures possibly by the end of summer or early fall.

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