Saturday, April 20, 2013

New Colours - Blue and Ruby

Over the last week or so, I was eager to make a few outings with the newness of my lens still keeping me eager to see what it could do.  I made a trip LaSalle first, hoping to see an Eared Grebe which had been reported there.  But it must have travelled on, because it was not there and I saw no more postings about it afterwards.  I walked along the small boardwalk and was treated to a pair Carolina Wrens who were uncharacteristically comfortable with my presence.  Slowly I raised my lens and was greeted with the message "NO CARD".  Aghhh!  I was "forced" to enjoy nature without electronics in between!  How terrible.

The next trip out I headed to Valley Inn Road with reports of a number of interesting birds.  Unfortunately the ponds were rather quiet, at first seeming to only leave a few pairs of Northern Shovelers.  But then I spotted a GreenBlue-winged Teal which made the trip rewarding, adding life bird number 119 to the list.  It was not terribly close so I didn't get really good looks and required some cropped photos for posting.

(Thanks to Dwayne for correcting my mess-up on the bird ID! They don't really even look alike and somehow the name colour got switched in my head.)

male Blue-winged Teal (centre) with Northern Shovelor pair.

male Blue-winged Teal and female Northern Shovelor

A Ring-billed Gull was floating in the water not far from where I was sitting with the hopes that the Green-winged Teal would meander close.  Suddenly, from its floating mode, it started diving which isn't typical for gulls.  A number of times it did it and then finally came up with a catch - a big juicy snail.

Ring-billed Gull with snail catch.

My next outing I headed back to LaSalle, hoping but not really expecting to see the brave pair of Wrens again.  Not in the same location, but I believe I did in fact find them!  The male was singing its heart out as I walked the trail past the boardwalk to the east.

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren with Northern Cardinal.

Carolina Wren in full song.

Now for a tale on learning humility.  I've been enjoying the birding/photography hobby for a long 28 months or so now.  In months it sound longer than saying it as just over two years.  A few people walking along the trail were wondering what birds I was enjoying and I gladly pointed out the wrens and White-throated Sparrow all skittering through the leaves in the underbrush at that moment.  I was glad to share my knowledge and be able to point out some of the birds I have learned to some apparently obviously novice but interested walkers.  Good of me really to be so kind! A smaller bird which I had actually noticed earlier in the background to my Wren watching was noticed by one of the ladies and she asked what it was.  I over-confidently stated it was only a female Goldfinch.  No, she was not sure that it was.  I gently, but still a confidently, told her I thought it was.  Again, she said, no, she didn't think so.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

I had taken a shot or two of the same bird out in the distance earlier, actually thinking it strange that a Goldfinch was making its way thought the lower portions of the under brush.  A grainy zoom in check on the playback had me thinking though that that is all it was.  I had gone back to watching the wrens again.

Rub-crowned Kinglet showing off its bright crown.
With the lady, I followed the bird in question as it was now closer to the trail.  A sudden bright flash of bright ruby red made my ID immediately known as completely wrong.  Ruby-crowned Kinglet we voiced together in unison.  I looked over and immediately had to acknowledge my previous identification as quite wrong.  Looking back, I should have known the olive green and less pronounced wing bands were the clues!  Humble pie!!  Turns out the lady's son is an avid birder and she's picked up the knowledge to ID a bird or two from a number of years under his tutelage...  I had to apologize for my rather bold but incorrect identification.  I admitted I didn't mind too much being wrong, as it was a new life bird for me... #120.

This little bird is one of the the smallest  North American birds and we are on the southern fringe of its nesting range.  They are extremely active little birds, sharing the characteristic of being constantly in motion with their cousins the Golden-crowned Kinglets.  They are finding insects hiding in corners and edges of buds and bark of the slender branches of trees.  This bird must have been resting for bit of a breather as I was able to get quite a few shots before it moved on again.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

The  White-throated Sparrow I had mentioned earlier was not cooperating at all for a picture.  It was carefully sticking to the densest sections of the brush.  Interestingly, it was constantly singing its "Oh Sweet Canada Canada" call, but very quietly, all along its foraging journey.  I wonder why it was calling so quietly.  I finally got a chance for a few pictures when it too stopped for a brief break.

White-throated Sparrow.

One thing I discovered I had done on this trip was to forget to turn off my SteadyShot on the camera - a feature of the Sony cameras which provides image stabilization in the body.  The new lens has its own optical stabilization which is better than the in body option.  And when the two are on together, they are actually often fighting each other.  Since this is a shared camera for the around the house photos, I'll have to remember to switch that function off and then back on for every outing.


  1. you are getting some beautiful birds Brian. very nice

  2. Kudos to you, Brian, for getting so many great shots of the Kinglet! I tried and tried today to no avail. They're too fast for me. :)


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