Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pretty Birds Close to Home

It is overcast and rainy today, and by all accounts will stay so for the rest of the day. I was planning to go down to the Gilbert Water Ranch today, and also check out a potential Yellow-Headed Blackbird reservoir to which Robert Mortensen made me privy a few days ago. Alas, I already had one Saturday of photography frustrated by overcast weather, so I shall try to go tomorrow instead. In the mean time, I did get some photos at Grenada Park on the way home from work, and this seems as good a rainy day as any to share them.

The sun was out in full on Friday. Even though it's setting by 5:30pm now, I still had a very pleasant hour of photography around the duck ponds and bordering chaparral that Grenada Park provides. I counted over 24 Lovebirds enjoying the romantic sunset, a new personal record for the park.

These two Lovebirds were in the same tree. The first bird was perched near the trunk and sitting contentedly within the shade. The second bird was at the edge of the overhanging canopy, watching the sun's retreat. I know the lighting accounts for a lot of the difference in saturation and color here, but it's still interesting to note the difference of hue created by the lighting, and the bird's actual difference in pigmentation. Looking at the top bird, I'd be inclined to call it Rosy-Faced. Looking at the bottom bird, I'd be more inclined to say Peach-Faced...

The evening also afforded me an opportunity to photograph Yellow-Rumped Warblers that were, for once, not in palm trees. When I spotted this first subject in a distant creosote bush, I suspected my string of bad luck with the Yellow-Rumps was about to be cut.

And so it was that on 12/02/2012, around 4:15 pm, I took my first satisfactory pictures of the western Yellow-Rumped Warbler. The tell-tale yellow flanks and rump are visible, but I especially liked the buffy chin and slight grey on the back of the head. Even in their muted autumn/winter plumage, there's much to appreciate in the Yellow-Rumped Warbler.

It's a grand feeling to come away with some good warbler shots, and it gave me an excellent peace-of- mind as I headed down to the duck ponds. There are several  pairs of American Wigeon that hang around the Grenada ponds and provide a welcome relief to the scores of Mallards and Ring-Necks that patrol the shores. The green and white head of the male Wigeon is pretty fantastic, but I think my favorite attribute is harsh difference between the stippled coloration or the neck, and the rich brown of the breast. It's such a stark contrast. It seems like there are usually liminal areas on the birds, where the different colors mix and overlap a bit. Not so with the fashionable Wigeon!

It's not often I get to see the white belly, and unfortunately my shutter speed was too low to catch the Wigeon stretch in all its glory. But you can see the difference in the transition between the white belly and the brown breast, where the two colors overlap and mix quite nicely. The same goes for the green coloration on the Wigeon's head, as it slowly blends into the back of the bird's neck. The Ring-Necked Duck's ring is almost impossible to see, but the border between the neck and breast of the Wigeon is incredibly defined.

It's always a pleasure to see Pied-Billed Grebes. They remind me of little tug boats.