Birds, Birds and more Birds

I love being a wildlife photographer!! It is a great and healthy lifestyle. I get to go out into fresh air, walk through beautiful places and see some incredible creatures. The draw backs are that there is no real sleeping in (usually up and out before the birds wake up!), the insects seem to like me (way too much!) and you sometimes have to sit for hours waiting for your subject to do something special . . . and all you get is a half yawn!

You can see in the photo below that it is pretty fuzzy . . . I captured this female Ringed Kingfisher at about the farthest reach of my 600mm lens. There were three of these birds flying around the edge of the pond at Donnelly WMA, near the Lodge, early in the morning. Obviously it was a squabble on territory and fishing rights. This one bird was really defending her rights, and after watching her for about one and a half hours, I was able to determine that she had a favorite limb on the edge of her claim that she would light on, and then screech at the intruders. So I set up the tripod and waited. Actually I have a series of her scolding the other two usurpers!

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I love owls . . .all owls . . . big and small owls! they are adorable, expressive and each very unique. But what fascinates me more than anything about them is how quietly they fly. I have been in the field with them, when their wings pump them through the trees, or when they launch out over a field and there is virtually no sound, even as they dive down onto the poor unsuspecting prey! Yet, I have only been able to only see wild Barred Owls in South Carolina and wild Burrowing Owls in Florida. To really see some beautiful Owls and Raptors you need to visit the Raptor Center in Awendaw, South Carolina. Here are two of my favorites! First is the Scops Owl with its almost Horned Owl visage, Second is the immature Bespeckled Owl. He is just about the cutest owl ever and will grow to have black circles (like a pair of glasses) around their eyes.

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The Raptor Center also has Raptors . . . go figure . . . and as always there is the ever gorgeous Osprey, found almost everywhere along the Eastern Seaboard, and a beautiful bird, the Mississippi Kite, a creature I saw for the first time this year in the wild.

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On my way early one morning as I headed out to Bear Island WMA, I came upon this fellow in a tree. It is always a joy to see a Bald Eagle, even more enjoyable when they sit still long enough for me to grab a quick picture.

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In California this year, while I visited my sister, she introduced me to some of her feathered friends . . . hummingbirds! She has a feeder on her deck that sits close to shrubs and partially under an awning, apparently nirvana for a thirsty little bird. This one had obviously established the feeder as HIS!! He was very aggressive and surprisingly vocal in his manner of claiming his territory. Why is it that I had to be almost 60 to realize that even hummingbirds sing?!

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And finally, and I wish I had a longer lens, I captured this photo of a father California Seagull babysitting his chick. The little one was hiding under the plants most of the time, and the father seemed very aloof to his job, so periodically the little one would wander out where I could see him! Isn’t he cute??

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So . . . this is it for this evening. I hope you enjoy one or two of these. Your comments would be greatly appreciated . . . or if you have any ideas of new locations for me to see new wild things at . . . please let me know!!

Matt

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