Thursday, February 16, 2012

Just Another Day After The Office

I had some time after work to go birding by the McCormick Ponds near Scottsdale. Although the bird populations have skyrocketed since I visited in the fall, there was a certain dearth of color on display. Gadwalls, Cormorants, Mallards, Coots, and Great Egrets were the birds of the day, and the green headed Mallards, no doubt glad to be free of migratory duck competition, felt like undisputed prom queens (kings?). The Vermillion Flycatchers, which had been consistently visible last year, were no where to be found, so I set out to practice my in-flight photography.

We're reading Peter Pan, among other books, in my 4th grade class right now. In the story, the children delightedly discover that with a happy little thought and some pixie dust, they can fly. Birds have it even easier. They can fly happily, or in a state of fear, hunger, mindless habit, etc. And they don't need any contaminating pixie dust like those moths and butterflies either. If only a happy thought and a spritz of dust were enough to generate nice in-flight photography...
It's a work in progress, I guess what they call a labor of love.

The Mallards were reveling in the ponds, probably content in knowing that they were the most beautiful birds to be seen, an unusual if somewhat unfair recognition for them.

Although Gadwalls are still very pretty and intricately plumed ducks, it says something about their style that the black beak is perhaps their most striking feature. Why is it that the Mandarins and Wood Ducks have developed such extensive plumage to attract a mate, and yet the Gadwalls remain in their stately grays and browns?

I'm really bad with the shorebirds, but I believe this is a non-breeding Spotted Sandpiper. He didn't look too sure of himself either as he skulked along the water's edge. It's kinda far away but I like his pose here and the concentric water ripples behind him.

Even the little peeps get moving pretty quickly, and I didn't quite get the right focus before he was gone.

It was kind of a brown bird day, but that's just as well. It was some good photo practice and got me geared up for this weekend's trip down to southeast Arizona, where the birds and colors abound.

Vesper Sparrow

These are some older photos, taken back in late July of 2011. At the time, I thought I was observing some adolescent Sparrow something or others. Since the photos were kind of blurry I largely ignored them and moved on. Upon review though, I think I'm looking at some Vesper Sparrows, which I've never recorded before! This is better than finding 5 dollars in the back pocket of those pants you haven't worn for 2 years...