Tuesday, February 26

Friday, February 22

Friday Bird Blogging: the Bushtit

The Bushtit is a Western Bird that we spotted while staying in New Mexico a few weeks ago. Cornell reports the Bushtit as being one of the birds that adapts well to changing landscapes, having learned to adapt to suburbs in the state of increasing its range.

Like many birds its size (3-4"), this is not the easiest bird in the world to photograph, but having a small flock of them feed in a tree in a populated area meant a bird which was used to people, which made my job a lot easier.

Friday, February 8

Friday Bird Blogging: Sandhill Crane taking flight

A Sandhill Crane taking flight at Bosque Del Apache from our trip to New Mexico.

I'd never seen sandhill cranes before, though there is a pair that shows up in Vermont from time to time, so this was an incredible treat. You could pretty much consistently see them in flight in and around the refuge the whole time we were there.

As usual, clicking on the image gives you a larger version with details.

Monday, February 4

Friday Monday Bird Blogging: Snow Geese at Bosque Del Apache

I just posted 85 new photos from our trip to New Mexico. These are mostly bird photos, but there are a couple bits of landscape and architecture photos in there as well.

The trip was unreal; I've never been any place like this before. I love the refuges we've got on the Northeast but many of them are coastal or forest refuges so we don't get to see birds in wide open spaces like this.

Each morning we were able to watch snow geese take off from the central pond in Bosque Del Apache wildlife refuge. I tried a few different ways of capturing the brilliance of this event, but none of these really did it justice. Most of the time it started at daybreak; you can hear the snow geese and the sandhill cranes making lots of noise in the middle of the pond, and you can watch them from the deck with the sun rising to the left.

The noise builds for a time, and you can hear other geese coming in from the distance. Then, suddenly, there is this noise, that I can't even begin to describe; at first it was just a really loud collection of the geese honking back and forth, like this sort of strange loud chatter. Then it all just *stops* at once for a moment. Then there is this bursting forth of noise from the center of the lake and this incredible lift-off. Then hundreds of geese just fly forth across the pond, flying directly overhead. You can hear the beating of wings and the volume is just incredibly intense.

I did a variety of approaches to try to capture this, but not with the best success. I just don't think there's a way to capture it that comes anywhere near the experience.

I've mentioned "life lists" before. I had hoped to get 5-10 new birds on my list, which for me is a list of all the types of bird I've photographed. I got at least 27 new birds during the trip, some of which were birds I'd never even heard of before. I also got some great photographs of birds that I'd already pictured, such as Northern Shovelers, Snow Geese, Northern Harriers, Pintails, a Kestrel and lots more.

The trip was not without its complications. We drove up to the peak of Sandia Crest to get a trio of finches (Rosy Finches) which are almost never found outside of high mountain terrain. We'd never been up that high before (it was over 10,600 ft high) and though I did manage to get some amazing photos, I got serious vertigo while up there (I made the mistake of moving too fast walking up a hill: the thin air made that a real problem and I almost fell over at one point).

The trip home was a bit of a nightmare. We had a stopover in Chicago that took an extra four hours due to bad weather. So we were stuck in the airport, didn't make it into CT until 3:30am, then had to pick up the car and rive home. By 6:30am, we were finally home, and today it's been land of the zombie people. Hopefully a (full) night's sleep tonight will get us back up and recharged again. It was a great trip, but now I'm totally wiped out.
Tomorrow, it's back to real work, but in the meantime here's a quick list of what I've got photos of:

Northern Harriers
Snow Geese
Ross's Geese
Neotropic Cormorant
Black-Throated Sparrow
Mountain Chickadee
Brewer's Blackbird
Black Rosy-Finch
Brown-Capped Rosy-Finch
Gray-Crowned Rosy-Finch
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub-Jay
Ladder-Backed Woodpecker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Western Bluebird
Northern Flicker
Loggerhead Shrike
Western Meadowlark
Rusty Blackbird
Spotted Towhee
Chihuahuan Raven
Sandhill Crane
Gambel’S Quail
Greater Roadrunner
Ring-Necked Pheasant
American Bald Eagle
Red-Tailed Hawk
Northern Shoveler

I also have a few landscape photos as well as a really nice picture of an old Church with lovely architecture and colors.

This was a real treat. I'm glad we did it, even if I may need a few days to recover :)