Friday, January 30, 2009

Red Tail Takeoff

How many times have you drove past hawks that were perched just off the road and you stop just in time for them to fly off and miss the shot? Me too...Sometimes though, you get just enough time to fire off a few frames.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dirty Birds!

Finding this tiny stream was like finding gold. With the temperatures well below freezing for weeks, finding a fresh water source is tough for the birds. This spot was like a magnet, bringing in cardinals, sparrows, juncos, and even a flicker. Here's what I captured yesterday under clear blue skies:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Horned Larks

I've never paid attention to flocks of random birds as they swoop past my car while touring the backroads and farmland over the years. Somehow, I have awakened to the discoveries of such birds to be found, such as the Snow Bunting, Horned Lark and the Lapland Longspur which are abundant if only I have looked before. Capturing these species is another story, as the Snow Bunting has eluded me thus far. But, as you can see, I have found the Horned Lark. You can even see their tiny little horns:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Terrible Day for a Dove

O.K., so the photos kinda suck, but the capture was cool! A male Northern Harrior was lunching on what I think might be a Mourning Dove. The pink/red feet and feather coloring seems to point in that direction. I didn't see the kill, but passed the harrior on my way home. I turned around, because I've never seen a harrior so close to the road with kill, and I was interested in what he was actually eating. He didn't stay long. I never did get stable with the car moving/camera shooting, so I am lucky I have what I have. Click on the last photo for better detail of the kill and see what you think the bird might be.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Amazing Camouflage

What you can't see in these photos was the perspective I had while driving through the woods, looking for 2 things: The Pileated Woodpecker and the Barred Owl, in which both have been spotted here before. The P.W. was captured digitally a few months ago, but the Barred has eluded me forever. I once seen him fly deep into the woods, after unknowingly spooking him while chatting with a guy (your Dad, Fred) in another vehicle. I have even heard an eerie call once or twice, which I attributed to the barred, but could not locate him. Anyway, I'm driving along, minding my own business, when I see what I think is a paperwasp nest hanging in a tree. I thought it odd that I haven't seen it before, because I drive through these woods most every day. It was about 30 yards in and finding an unobstructed view for the lens at first, was frustrating. I almost gave up, because who really cares about a wasp nest, but I pressed on. At last, I found a hole through the limbs to look through. I grab the lens & see the distinctive brown and white feathers of the barred. Woohoo! Not only did I find an owl, but I found a better vantage point and the sun was at a great angle with shadows. What a great day!

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Day at the River

I spent the day at the rivers edge, bundled up but comfortable, with a campchair, banana & water, just so I wouldn't have an excuse to come in early. I lasted for quite a few hours in 30 degree temps. It was a gorgeous day with barely a breeze, and the ducks kept me busy, as my hiding spot proved worthy. A deer came over the hill not 20 feet from me and bedded down, trusting its location just out of my view.

Great Blue Heron

Female Common Goldeneyes

Female Common Merganser

A fish in one mouth, and drool in the other.

Male Common Merganser

Male Common Goldeneye

A female Merganser diving just like Michael Phelps.

I just liked the reflection pattern of the water.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Snowy Scenery

The landscapes surrounding a cooling lake makes for some interesting textures, caused by the steam that comes off the warm water.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Feast or Famine

Wildlife photography.
It's a fickle hobby.
Feast AND famine.
The famine is that I can't find anything but eagles to shoot.
So, right now, I feast on Bald Eagles.
The deep freeze has brought them to me in good numbers.
As a matter of fact, I have never seen so many at my watering hole before.
I counted 12 the other day, with 2 being about the average, that I would see.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Swimming Hole

Only ducks would consider a swim in these temperatures!

It's Not Much to Report, But it's Something...

Yeah, I know, another eagle. But...This one is special. I didn't go to Iowa for this one, it was a local. We do have locals around, about a handful, but to find this one in such a strange location makes it a good find.

Perching on a dead tree, which was kinda pleasing to the eye, under a clear blue sky, off the beaten path, among the snow covered corn fields, the bald eagle was a treat to capture digitally. He let me approach pretty close, but yet, not too close. I think we all know where bird boundaries are, so I kept a slight distance for comfort.

And Fred, if you are reading, he was on your road near the natural gas pipe area.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Trip to the Mighty Mississippi

Deciding what to do over the weekend resulted in a trip to the border. The state of Illinois' west ridge boundary stops at the Mississippi River. A great avenue for bald eagles, the trip took 3 hours to make.

Any chicagoland birder can tell you Locks 13 and 14 will produce hundreds of eagles, numbers peaking in January and February. I counted 99 in this image.

The sky was perfect! The temperature was not!

Our first stop was lock 14 where, believe it or not, the parking lot provides the closest views. This shot proves the theory.

It was a great day and well worth the trip, although I couldn't get home fast enough, it was a long thaw getting home.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Kestral Hunting

Walking a path lead me to a Kestral perched at the top of a sapling. I froze and lifted my lens. Of course it flew, but what I didn't expect was for it to rise up and flutter over some unlucky rodent. It was pretty cool to be so close and watch.

She never did snatch her prey, but the show lasted for at least a minute or so, before she selected a new area to hover over.

It was the coolest thing to happen to me so far this year!