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White Wagtail (M.a. ocularis)

So keeping up with the theme of California rarities, a White Wagtail was found by Bernardo Alps at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro by Bernardo Alps while we were in Sacramento. Another bird that should probably be somewhere in Japan at this time of year. In fact, I was photographing them two years ago around this exact same time at a park in Tokyo. I kept my fingers crossed the bird would stick around a few days for me to get home from Sacramento to go look for the bird and as you can see, that it did.

White Wagtail
White Wagtail

White Wagtail
White Wagtail

White Wagtail
White Wagtail

 

Posted by on December 10, 2012 in Photography Adventures

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Falcated Duck returns to Colusa NWR near Sacramento

For a second winter in a row, the Falcated Duck showed up at Colusa NWR – presumably the same bird since what are the chances of a bird this rare showing up at the exact same location at almost the exact same time? This is a bird that should be in Japan or China at this time of year.

This one has somehow taken a liking to Colusa NWR 45 miles north of Sacramento. Since I didn’t get a chance to go after the bird last year (was in the UK), I decided to make a trek up there with some friends. Lucky for us, the bird showed up after 1 or 2 hours after sunrise at a brisk 30F and light winds.

Falcated Duck
Falcated Duck

Falcated Duck
Falcated Duck

Since this is the Central Valley during winter, it also provided great opportunities to photograph Tundra Swans, Greater White-fronted Geese and many other waterfowl that are quite ubiquitous at this time of year. Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails, American Wigeon and other waterfowl by the thousands.

Greater White-fronted Goose
Greater White-fronted Goose

Tundra Swan
Tundra Swan

It is also a great place to photograph raptors and I couldn’t resist photographing a silhouette shot of a Great Horned Owl at sunset!

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier

Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl

Belted Kingfisher
Belted Kingfisher

Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike

American Kestrel
American Kestrel

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk

 

Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Photography Adventures

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Gray Hawk (juv) in Santa Barbara County!

Just a day after we returned from New Mexico, a juvenile Gray Hawk was discovered by Eric Culbertson in Carpinteria, CA – not only a first Santa Barbara County record but first record ever in California. To give you an idea of how improbable this is, this is a bird that is normally found in South and Central America. It’s range barely extends into the extreme Southeastern corner of Arizona. I’ve photographed them many times in Patagonia, AZ – just 25 or so miles from the Mexico border. The even cooler part is the bird decided to stick around the entire winter!


Range map:

I decided to take my chances waiting for morning rush hour to end and rush up the 160 or so round-trip miles to Carpinteria to photograph the bird. Lucky for me, the bird was perched in a cypress tree right on the side of the highway as I drove up. I almost felt guilty spending 5 minutes photographing the bird (before it flew off) and then getting back in my car to drive home. Total time invested: 3 hours.

Gray Hawk
Gray Hawk

Gray Hawk
Gray Hawk

 

Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Photography Adventures

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Santa Fe, New Mexico

So aside from Santa Fe being one of my favorite places in the country for a mini-vacation (especially around the holidays), it is also a very enjoyable place to photograph montane species of birds. One particular spot I like to spend time photographing at is the Randall Davey Audubon Center. The following photos were all taken there during our most recent trip:

Mountain Chickadee
Mountain Chickadee

Townsend's Solitaire
Townsend’s Solitaire

Curve-billed Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher

Spotted Towhee
Spotted Towhee

Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey

 

Posted by on November 25, 2012 in Photography Adventures

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Space Shuttle Endeavour – The Final Flight

Today, those of us in the Los Angeles and San Francisco area were treated a spectacular final display (or parade if you will) of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. It took off from Edwards AFB in Palmdale bound for the Bay Area where it toured around the Golden Gate Bridge and the Silicon Valley before heading back to Southern California.

Endeavour Space Shuttle
Endeavour Space Shuttle

It approached Los Angeles from Malibu, flying over the Getty Center, Santa Monica, Venice Beach heading east past the Hollywood sign, over Griffith Park and onward to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena where it made a massive arcing turn and headed south toward Orange County. It did fly by’s over Disneyland, Boeing in Seal Beach, over Huntington Beach and back toward LA where it came to the end of its final flight at LAX.

Endeavour Space Shuttle
Endeavour Space Shuttle

It will soon be moved to the California Science Center in Downtown Los Angeles where it will be put on display (vertically) for everyone to enjoy.

 

Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Photography Adventures

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