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Santa Barbara CBC

So I decided to participate in the Santa Barbara Christmas Bird Count this year. Normally being out of town during this time of year, I thought it would be fun to drive up to Santa Barbara and participate with some friends. We started the day off with a Western Screech Owl just before sunrise in the foothills about Santa Barbara. I also got some great opportunities to work on photos of chaparral species like Wrentits, California Thrashers and some nice shots of a well displaying Anna’s Hummingbird.

Western Screech-Owl
Western Screech-Owl

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird

Wrentit
Wrentit

Hutton's Vireo
Hutton’s Vireo

California Thrasher
California Thrasher

 

Posted by on January 5, 2013 in Photography Adventures

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White Wagtail (M.a. ocularis)

So keeping up with the theme of California rarities, a White Wagtail was found by Bernardo Alps at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro by Bernardo Alps while we were in Sacramento. Another bird that should probably be somewhere in Japan at this time of year. In fact, I was photographing them two years ago around this exact same time at a park in Tokyo. I kept my fingers crossed the bird would stick around a few days for me to get home from Sacramento to go look for the bird and as you can see, that it did.

White Wagtail
White Wagtail

White Wagtail
White Wagtail

White Wagtail
White Wagtail

 

Posted by on December 10, 2012 in Photography Adventures

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Falcated Duck returns to Colusa NWR near Sacramento

For a second winter in a row, the Falcated Duck showed up at Colusa NWR – presumably the same bird since what are the chances of a bird this rare showing up at the exact same location at almost the exact same time? This is a bird that should be in Japan or China at this time of year.

This one has somehow taken a liking to Colusa NWR 45 miles north of Sacramento. Since I didn’t get a chance to go after the bird last year (was in the UK), I decided to make a trek up there with some friends. Lucky for us, the bird showed up after 1 or 2 hours after sunrise at a brisk 30F and light winds.

Falcated Duck
Falcated Duck

Falcated Duck
Falcated Duck

Since this is the Central Valley during winter, it also provided great opportunities to photograph Tundra Swans, Greater White-fronted Geese and many other waterfowl that are quite ubiquitous at this time of year. Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails, American Wigeon and other waterfowl by the thousands.

Greater White-fronted Goose
Greater White-fronted Goose

Tundra Swan
Tundra Swan

It is also a great place to photograph raptors and I couldn’t resist photographing a silhouette shot of a Great Horned Owl at sunset!

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier

Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl

Belted Kingfisher
Belted Kingfisher

Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike

American Kestrel
American Kestrel

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk

 

Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Photography Adventures

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Gray Hawk (juv) in Santa Barbara County!

Just a day after we returned from New Mexico, a juvenile Gray Hawk was discovered by Eric Culbertson in Carpinteria, CA – not only a first Santa Barbara County record but first record ever in California. To give you an idea of how improbable this is, this is a bird that is normally found in South and Central America. It’s range barely extends into the extreme Southeastern corner of Arizona. I’ve photographed them many times in Patagonia, AZ – just 25 or so miles from the Mexico border. The even cooler part is the bird decided to stick around the entire winter!


Range map:

I decided to take my chances waiting for morning rush hour to end and rush up the 160 or so round-trip miles to Carpinteria to photograph the bird. Lucky for me, the bird was perched in a cypress tree right on the side of the highway as I drove up. I almost felt guilty spending 5 minutes photographing the bird (before it flew off) and then getting back in my car to drive home. Total time invested: 3 hours.

Gray Hawk
Gray Hawk

Gray Hawk
Gray Hawk

 

Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Photography Adventures

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Santa Fe, New Mexico

So aside from Santa Fe being one of my favorite places in the country for a mini-vacation (especially around the holidays), it is also a very enjoyable place to photograph montane species of birds. One particular spot I like to spend time photographing at is the Randall Davey Audubon Center. The following photos were all taken there during our most recent trip:

Mountain Chickadee
Mountain Chickadee

Townsend's Solitaire
Townsend’s Solitaire

Curve-billed Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher

Spotted Towhee
Spotted Towhee

Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey

 

Posted by on November 25, 2012 in Photography Adventures

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