Jelly, jelly so fine

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Bird day

I received my new, used nikkor 17e II teleconverter the other day and wanted to check it out on the 400mm 2.8. Supposedly give me 70% more reach with little optical loss.

I convinced Ken to come up to San Jacinto with me today. Actually it didn't take a lot of convincing.

Gorgeous day. First we microtuned the lens and both cameras to the new teleconverter. Not there ten minutes when we spotted a lovely juvenile red tailed. Then, around the next bend this Swainson's Hawk, rare and very early for this beautiful bird at SJWA. And I had a front row seat.

It was around this time that we ran into my friend Larry Moskovitz, all around great guy and very experienced and accomplished bird photographer.

He i.d.'d the Swainson's and right around that time another Swainson's showed up and they started doing aerobatics.

postscript: Mark Chappell ( Professor of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at UCR) says that the other bird (on the bottom), which he also photographed, is actually a juvenile ferruginous. thank you, Mark!

I flubbed my shots and I am sure that theirs are much better so will not even post mine this time.

They both dived (dove?) and nailed something on the ground, displaying behavior much like the Swainson hawk Leslie and I saw up in Yellowstone.

It was perfect conditions with raptors seemingly everywhere. Harriers in every direction, red tailed and coopers.
Mark Chappell from UCR emailed me to tell me that I had misidentified this bird. Appreciate the heads up.

 red tailed juvenile
Surprisingly few kestrels, compared to my recent visits anyway. Must be too cool for the dragonflies they like to eat. You usually see them ten at a time on the poles on the Walker Rd.

But saw some beauties.

This kestrel was huge. Merlin size.

Caught my old friend the vermilion flycatcher but he was across a pond on an island and we couldn't get too close. I already have some great shots of this beauty. They are such pretty fliers.

We walked the big loop with heavy tripods and massive lenses giving us guys quite the workout.

Saw this yellow breasted chat. Or at least I thought it might be. Might be a yellow rumped or Audubon's warbler instead upon further inspection. (ed. pj says it is a Yellow rumped or Audubon's warbler. thanks pj.)

Photographed this Nuttal's woodpecker.  I also think the lens combo needs more micro adjustment. Seems to be front focussing a touch still. Almost but not quite there.

We will dial it in. These shots were taken with both my Nikon D7200 and D810, and both my 400mm and Sigma 150-600mm c lens's.

A badass little loggerhead shrike.

A harrier on the drop.

Honestly I took more shots than I can post. Saw huge flocks of white faced ibis, largest numbers I have ever seen. Lots of coots, lots of egrets. Very few herons this year for some reason.

And then to the piece de resistance. We drove out to the Walker Ponds, chasing these little mountain bluebirds from fence post to fence post.

Such a lovely hue, beautiful bird.

Then we saw it. A bald eagle, I think a third year juvenile, eating its feathered prey atop a power pole.

We got our tripods out, took our time and enjoyed the spectacle. A crow joined the eagle on the pole at one point, a rather familiar sight.

The crow eventually left. Another hawk flew in and tried to mob the eagle and he crowhopped with his lunch.

I took a lot of shots and will take the time to peruse. In any case had a really great day.

Always an honor to photograph our national bird, a very regal animal indeed.


Jon Harwood said...

Doesn't look like it happened here, but crows have a thing about challenging raptors. It seems to occur with young crows who are showing the other crows how brave and tough they are. Ravens will antagonize raptors to steal food. In that case it is a brains vs brawn thing where the smart raven rips the tough raptor off.

Blue Heron said...

You know, after reading the recent story about the fire hawks I think we might have to dispense with the "smart corvid, dumb but strong raptor" narrative.

Jon Harwood said...

I am on the side of the crows. Ha ha!

Anonymous said...

Wow wow wow. These eagle photos are unbelievably good. The rest aren't bad either.