Showing posts with label birds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label birds. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Weber Kettle songbirds

Immature Dark-Eyed Junco, Snohomish County, Washington

For the past month my grilling tent has been a nursery. A pair of songbirds, dark-eyed juncos, decided to try to raise a family in it.

I don’t have any great pictures to show you. Given that I am a nature photographer, that may seem odd, but their little lives are far more valuable than any pictures I might make.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

5 Minutes in Nature: Listening

Song Sparrow Singing, Washington

We often talk about what we can see, but sometimes it’s enjoyable seeing what you can hear. With songbirds returning for spring in the northern hemisphere, spend five minutes listening to them sing.

(This is part of the 5 Minutes in Nature project, a series of activities that are designed to help you recharge by spending five minutes concentrating on nature. Learn more about the project here, and see past activities here.)

Sunday, February 28, 2021

5 Minutes in Nature: The selectively forgetful bird

Chestnut-Backed Chickadee in Snow, Washington

When I launched the 5 Minutes in Nature project, I purposely avoided talking about specific plants or animals. This project is about finding your own connections to the natural world. I also didn’t want to suggest something that you would never see in your own area.

But today, I’m going to introduce you to the chickadee. It’s a fascinating bird. And you can find it almost everywhere. You can likely even find it now before other birds arrive for the spring.

Monday, February 15, 2021

5 Minutes in Nature: Backyard bird teamwork

Spotted Towhee in Snow, Washington

Have you ever taken the time to observe how many different types of birds use your yard? In this 5 Minutes in Nature activity, we’ll venture out to appreciate the variety of birds and see how they get along.

This post is part of the 5 Minutes in Nature project, a series of quick activities designed to help you relax and build a deeper relationship with nature — a few minutes at a time.

Monday, January 25, 2021

5 Minutes in Nature: Diving for dinner

Ring-Necked Duck Diving, Magnuson Park, Seattle

I suspect for most people, ducks are the first wild creatures they remember encountering. Ducks are everywhere and some species, like the mallard, don’t show much fear toward people — probably because we have a reputation for tossing bread at them.

We now know we shouldn’t give them bread. It’s like junk food for them, making them feel full without giving them the nutrients they need. But it’s still fun to watch them feed. Take five minutes to study them.

Monday, November 30, 2020

5 Minutes in Nature: Winter flocks

Flock of Ducks and Olympic Mountains, Washington

If you’re in one of the many communities that are returning to stay-at-home orders, you might find some enjoyment in appreciating how social some animals are this time of year.

This post is part of my 5 Minutes in Nature project, a series of short activities designed to help you relax and feel closer to nature. Numerous studies have found that spending even a few minutes outdoors is good for our well-being.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Portrait of a barred owl

Portrait of a Barred Owl, Edmonds, Washington

While it can be incredibly exciting to photograph in a new place or to spend time with an animal you’ve never photographed before, I also enjoy revisiting old subjects. It’s allowed me to make some of my more creative images. It’s that familiarity that allowed me to make this portrait of a barred owl.

Monday, June 22, 2020

The bald eagles of Hood Canal

Bald Eagles Fighting, Hood Canal, Seabeck, Washington

For a few weeks a year, hundreds of bald eagles congregate along a short stretch of Hood Canal near the town of Seabeck, Washington. Bald eagles are opportunistic. While they are skilled hunters, they don't work any harder than they have to for their meals. Between a fish migration and wide tidal swings, the feeding is easy there in May and June.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Big bother for little fluff

Great Blue Heron and Brewer's Blackbird in Midair Tussle, Skagit County, Washington

Occasionally, I'm a witness to things that are so bizarre you almost have to see a picture to believe it happened. Such was this odd encounter between a great blue heron and a blackbird.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Walled-In Pond

Cherry Blossom Reflections, Snohomish County, Washington

To call these unusual times minimizes how unusual they really are. Over the past seven weeks, the majority of my photography has been conducted within a few feet of my front door. And given that the stay-at-home order in my state has just been extended, my yard will continue to be my photography subject for at least another four more.

It’s easy to fixate on the limits. My spring and summer travel plans have been scrapped. And I can’t help but think of the photo opportunities in the parks close to home, which are off-limits to my camera and tripod. But these nearly two months at home have also been eye-opening.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Speak up to save migratory birds

Western Sandpipers and Mount Rainier, Washington

The bird population in North America has plunged by nearly a third over the past 50 years. That’s a loss of nearly 3 billion birds. And that’s even with regulations designed to protect vulnerable birds.

The losses could soon grow even worse. The Trump Administration now wants to essentially eliminate one of those protections: The Migratory Bird Treaty Act. You have only until March 19 to speak up to try to save it.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The modern cliff dwellers

Great Horned Owl Nest, Montezuma Well, Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona

The Montezuma Castle wasn’t built for the Aztec leader. It isn’t even a castle. But it and the other cliff dwellings in central Arizona are still supporting life to this day, even though people haven’t lived in them for 600 years.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A gull, its shadow and a lesson in beauty

Heermann's Gull and Shadow, Venice Beach, Calif.

As I stood on the fishing pier at Venice Beach, Calif., there were potential photos in every direction. To the west, the sun was about to set over the Pacific Ocean. Surfers were riding the waves. To the east, clouds were beginning to take on color in the sky above the city of Venice. To the south and north, the shoreline led to the Los Angeles skyline and the Santa Monica pier.

Below me, a gull waited for its last meal of the day. Of all the possibilities, that may seem like the least interesting, but it had me captivated.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Waiting for the owlet

Great Horned Owl and Owlet on Nest, Skagit Valley, Washington

As I write these words, more than a quarter-million people are watching a live Internet video stream of a captive giraffe that’s about to give birth. Or so they think. April’s keepers have been saying she’s due for a couple of months now.

I’m not much of a giraffe-cam groupie. I’ve seen a few minutes of the video every now and then as I scrolled down my social media feeds. But as a nature photographer, I realized I have a lot in common with those people who’ve been hanging on for her every tail flinch.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A sight to see: In For The Night

Crows at Roost, Glowing Eyes

There is no one today who has witnessed the spectacular migration of the passenger pigeon. The last bird died more than 100 years ago, but decades earlier their numbers had dwindled so much that they were no longer able to eclipse the sun.

Today, there is a similar spectacle. But just like when the passenger pigeons were in their prime, relatively few people appreciate the show.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The legend of the first robin

Robin in Snow

There have always been stories about the origin of the land and the life that calls it home. Before there was science, those stories came from imagination and spirituality. In this series, I have created contemporary nature photography to illustrate them. Read more about my Legends of the Land series.

The transition from boy to man isn’t easy for any teenager, but it was especially difficult for a boy named Opichi. He made that transition many years ago and we still celebrate it to this day — every year when winter transitions into spring.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The legend of the black crow

Black Crow and Full Moon, Bothell, Washington

There have always been stories about the origin of the land and the life that calls it home. Before there was science, those stories came from imagination and spirituality. In this series, I have created contemporary nature photography to illustrate them. Read more about my Legends of the Land series.

Today, crows are as black as night, but they used to be as white as snow. But appearances can be deceiving anyway.

While its color has changed over the years, its voice hasn’t. The crow has always been a loudmouth. And that’s what got it into trouble.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The thrill of the hunt

Atlantic Puffin, Close Up, Iceland

It may be hard to believe, but there are still a few wondrous places on Earth where animals aren’t afraid of people. With word this week that a hunter with more money than compassion brutally slaughtered a lion from one of these special places, I’m afraid we’re about to lose another.

I’ve never photographed a lion in the wild, but like most nature photographers who’ve ventured very far off the beaten track, I’ve had my share of absolutely magical encounters with wildlife. One that has had a dramatic impact on my view of animals and our relationship with them happened nearly 10 years ago on my first trip to Iceland.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hands on with the Canon 100-400 IS Mark II

Spotted Towhee on Branch, Spring, Snohomish County, Washington
Captured with a Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L Mark II, and a Canon Extender EF 1.4X Mark III

I spend relatively little time on this blog talking about equipment — I’m drawn more to the art than the mechanics — but there’s no denying that equipment plays a critical role. The wrong equipment can limit your creative vision. Bad equipment can cause you to miss the shot entirely.

With that in mind, I thought I would share some of my thoughts about the new Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, which I’ve been using for about two months now. You won’t find test charts and studio comparison scenes here. There are plenty of those already that are produced under very controlled conditions. This is a Canon 100-400 Mark II review in the context of how it has performed for me as a professional nature photographer in real-world situations, which includes handling and other features that make a difference in my work.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The protection of Protection Island

Harbor Seals, Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge, Washington

Protection Island is a small island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca whose name now has a double meaning.

Harbor Seals and Mount Baker, Protection Island, Washington

Located at the mouth of Discovery Bay, the name originally referred to the island’s usefulness to humans. The island nearly stretches across the entrance to the bay, shielding it from some of the strait’s choppy waters.

The island still offers that protection, but now it protects a whole host of wildlife as well.