Thursday, February 2, 2012

Flycatcher or Phoebe

I know, a Phoebe is a Flycatcher, but I've always been a sucker for alliteration.
Anyway, these two photos were taken in late summer at the McCormick ponds in east Phoenix. There were a pair of Vermillion Flycatchers, one male and one immature, flying among the palo verde trees looking for bugs. They mingled with Yellow-Rumped Warblers, a Black Phoebe, and a Say's Phoebe. None of them actually seemed to be enjoying each other's company, but that could've just been the competition for those yummy gnats.

It was only reviewing these pictures later on that I noticed how oddly similar an adult Say's Phoebe is to a juvenile Vermillion Flycatcher. Can you tell which is which?

Snow Goose

The Snow Goose is a medium sized white and black goose that is most well known for its massive breeding populations up North. They migrate south for the winter, and can often be found in huge congregations. They're casual visitors to Arizona, which is largely out of their normal range, but there's always a chance you'll see a couple mingling wherever else geese are found. There was a vagrant pair out in the middle of the Gilbert Water Ranch ponds this last Saturday.

These are the first Snow Geese I've seen in the state, and the first I've had an opportunity to photograph. With the noon-time sun beating down on these alabaster birds, I decided to try a new route in photography. I don't normally use any sort of image manipulation, other than cropping, when I process photos. But since I couldn't get rid of the sun's white-washing effect, which almost makes the Geese glow purple in pictures, I just went black and white.

Black and white photography is most often used to make classy portrait shots. It is also used by artsy kids in tight jeans who take pictures of dilapidated lawn chairs and rusty bathtubs to make themselves look brooding and contemplative. I'm not crazy about the result here (and not just because it's blurry), but at least the species is discernible, and not engulfed in a purple hue, which is even less natural.

*I found and photographed these Snow Geese and Ross's Geese (2 and 2) several weeks later in Glendale.