We have plenty of wildlife in our backyard. We get a variety of birds visiting. Recently, while sitting out on the deck, we had a new visitor. I am not an expert on birds but I do have a very big book with lots of pictures of them. There are so many that it is easy to pick the wrong one but I think this one was a Steller’s Jay. It stayed around for a couple of minutes before flying off. If you are knowledgeable about birds and I am wrong, please feel free to let me know what it actually is.
We have been having some issues with our hummingbirds. One of them has decided the feeder is his and no other birds can use it. He sits around and feeds to his heart’s content. Even when he is in a local tree, anyone coming close gets chased off quickly. We have named him “Cartman”. One of the recommendations in such a situation is to have a second feeder so we have added one to the fence nearby. One of the benefits I have found with this is that it puts the birds at a different angle between me and the light and it brings out the colors more vibrantly. Here you can see Cartman – he is still trying to dominate the place.
I took a walk by Bachman Lake next to Dallas Love Field as part of my weekend in the area. Clearly I was there because of the planes but there was a lot of bird activity over the lake. Given how this was right under the approach to the airport, I was surprised that they weren’t doing anything to deter the birds. Putting that aside, I was happy to see a lot of cormorants. I was surprised to see how they were hanging out together.
Cormorants tend to rest in larger groups. You might see them on pylons near the water or piles in the water in large groups providing some safety in numbers. However, they tend to go off hunting alone. I have seen the occasional pair of cormorants flying together but most of the time they are on their own. The Bachman Lake residents were very different. They were flying around in a large flock. They circled around the lake and then landed in a large group on the water. They would then take off together and fly around as a group again. I wonder if this is common in other areas.
Having had some success with the GoPro as discussed in a previous post, I decided to play with the slow motion capabilities of the camera to get some different shots. The nice thing with a GoPro is that you can put it almost anywhere to get different angles. While playing with this, some hummers came in to feed and, since I had my phone with me, I shot some video with that too. They really didn’t seem too bothered by my presence. Here is some more video results.
I posted a photo of a cormorant sitting on a post in Lake Washington in this post. More recently, the same post became the resting place for a heron. I had plenty of time to inch closer to get a better shot of the bird. The background was rather distracting so I ended up crouching in an strange position in order to get a cleaner background. The heron seemed content to wait for me to get the shot.
I had finished up a shoot and was driving back towards home but decided to divert to Kenmore. The evening light was looking good and I thought some floatplanes might be returning to base. By the time I got to Kenmore, it must have too late as I didn’t see any planes. However, there was a cormorant sitting on one of the posts near the end of the jetty. As the sun set, he was stretching out his wings to gather maximum warmth. How could I resist yet another cormorant shot?
We stopped off for a spot of lunch during our trip to Fir Island. We had a recommendation in Edison that we took. As we headed back out after lunch, we were driving across some marshland when we saw some bald eagles. Pulling off the road, we watch them swooping across the marsh land. At one point they came right over where we were standing. An immature eagle was the one that came closest to us but we got a good look at several of them as they went looking for their lunch. Obviously they didn’t try the place we had been too!
The waterfront of Victoria Harbour has a statue of Captain Cook. This is a long way from his home town of Whitby but the lad did get about a bit. Given the nature of his efforts, you might think he deserves a bit of respect (unless you come from a place that he ended up harming irreparably). A local gull -or one of its cohorts – was clearly not from the respect camp.
It’s been a while since I had a cormorant post on this blog so time to have another one. This one is to showcase something I love about watching cormorants but that I hadn’t got good images of. When cormorants take off from the water they start flapping and running across the surface. They take quite a while to get up to a speed at which they can sustain flight. This trip across the surface usually is too far away to get a good shot of, even if you do spot them in time to get the camera on target.
However, if you are in a boat and the boat approaches the cormorant, you might spook it into taking off. They are pretty resilient creatures so may just float on by and ignore you but sometimes they will take off. Then, if you notice in time and the camera is to hand, you might get the takeoff sequence. They hop from wave crest to wave crest as they flap and accelerate and then they are flying. You can also lose a little weight before take off to improve performance!
On our day trip to Fir Island, one of the first birds we came across was a heron that was standing in the water near the parking lot catching lunch. I am guessing that the fish in these waters were pretty small because he seemed to catch a lot but always was after another. Must have been bite sized portions! With the water so calm, his reflection was very clear giving a nice emphasis to the shape of the body.