Sunday, April 15, 2012

Welcome aboard

Taking a break from Hawaii pics to share some photos I took over the weekend of a couple of birds that visited my birdfeeder for the first time. Or, at least, the first time I was sitting there with my camera ready.

First up, a European Starling:

As you can see, it's a bit large to sit comfortably on any of the perches, so it kind of has to tuck itself in a bit:

A photo that shows how wide the Starling can open its mouth, much more so than most birds; one of the Starling's primary methods of hunting insects is to stab its beak into the ground, pry open a small hole, and stare down at the tip of its bill to see what bugs it may have uncovered:

I liked how the bird's beak was backlit in this shot:

I thought this one provided a nice look at the plumage that gives the Starling its name:

Digging in to grab a bite to eat:

Success! And I also love how the sunlight brings out the iridescence of its feathers in this particular shot:

Showing off its prize to me:

An incredibly lucky catch of the peanut going down the hatch:

One last beauty shot of our Starling:

The second newcomer to my feeder is the Red-bellied Woodpecker. And it just happened to perch at an angle that allowed me some nice shots of the patch of feathers that give the bird its name:

Proudly displaying the pistachio it pulled from the feeder:

Another visit, another morsel—this time a peanut:

Finally, a closeup I thought came out really nicely:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Kauai 2012: Lighthouse visit the first, part 1

I may or may not have gone a little nuts with the picture taking during my visits to the Kilauea Lighthouse this year, which may or may not have left me with a boatload of photos to go through. My first visit of our trip will likely take me three posts to cover

To start things off, photos of various Red-footed Boobies I saw over the course of the day. With this first one, I really liked how the bird looked against the blue water:

Caught this one with its mouth open:

How I managed to capture this one looking right at me, I'll never know:

I liked how this bird was backlit, making the wing bones more visible:

I know this is very similar to the photo I started with, albeit with the water in the background being a darker shade of blue, but I liked how it came out so much I couldn't resist including it:

Loved the combination of colors in this Albatross photo:

Just a touch of lens flare on this one, but I think the overall effect works quite well:

The lighthouse itself; trying to take a shot that doesn't have people in the foreground is nearly impossible, so I felt fortunate to snag one with a fairly minimal human presence:

What made this first trip to Kilauea particularly special to me was the presence of several female Great Frigatebirds flying around and over the lookout point. In the past, my photos of these birds have involved a fair amount of distance between me and them, and thus not a lot detail in the final product. On this day, though, they were flying lower than I'd ever seen before; between their lack of altitude and my new, slightly stronger zoom lens, I finally got some good closeups of this breed of bird:

It's not perfectly in focus, but it was my best photo of one of the Frigatebirds from this particular angle:

Last year, I was fortunate enough to capture an Albatross using its foot to scratch its head mid-flight. This year, lightning struck again, this time with a Frigatebird. I didn't get nearly as many clear shots as with the Albatross, so I selected just a pair of photos for posting. Although, really, this first one pretty much says it all—you can practically hear it thinking, "Oooooh yeah, that's the spot...":

And with this one I liked how well you could see its claw against its head:

In addition to the scratching, I also captured some mid-flight preening:

Not the best shot focus-wise, but I thought catching the curve of its wing mid-flap made this one post-worthy:

A couple of my clearer photos:

I only managed one decent shot of this bird as she turned herself around:

I definitely lucked out with this one; the similar body/wing positions combined with the right-hand bird being out of focus makes, at least to my eye, for a really interesting bit of symmetry:

Finally, another fortuitous bit of lens flare produced one of my favorite shots of the entire day: