While I was shooting super bikes at Shelton, I was wandering along the fence line out on the circuit when a lot of bird noise started up. Regular readers may recall my previous post about a killdeer in Bellevue that was making a lot of noise. This was a pair of killdeer and they should probably reconsider their tactics.
I was totally unaware of them until I got close at which point they started making a hell of a racket. The reason was that they had a couple of chicks with them that were hiding in the longer grass trying to stay out of sight until their parents encouraged them to move. The adults would make a lot of noise and would fan out their wings and turn their butts in my direction. Clearly they didn’t think too much of me.
Once they started making this display, I looked around until I could see the youngsters. I would never have seen them otherwise as they were well concealed even though they were out in the open. I had no desire to make them any more stressed than they already were so I moved along to leave them in peace. They did try to move away from my approach which meant going where I was going but I was soon passed them and they could go back to avoiding the motorbikes.
I walked out on to the jetty at Olga to look back at the shoreline. A short distance around the shore was an inlet which had about a dozen herons fishing within it. They were constantly stalking through the shallows and grabbing at fish as they passed by. With so many of them there, it must be a productive place to hunt. A heron drive through (or should that be fly through?).
With the feeders in our backyard, I have been able to shoot plenty of photos and videos of the hummingbirds coming in to feed. This has been a lot of fun but it has always lacked a little something because of the artificial nature of the environment. Our recent acquisition of new hanging baskets for the backyard has changed this a bit. They are plenty of tiny flowers in these baskets and these have appealed to some of the hummers.
Not all of them, though. The majority still seem to prefer the sugar water in the feeders but some like to work their way around the flowers. This requires a lot more flexibility from the hummingbird to get in to the flowers but they make it look so simple. The flowers are only in sun for part of the day so some of the shots I have got have been in shade while others have been better lit. What matters, though, is that a bird against a flower backdrop has a far more natural feel to it than when they are feeding from one of the artificial food suppliers.
I spent most of the time getting stills of them working around the flowers. It all looks good when you are watching it but only certain angles make for good photos. I did get some video too so a little edit of that is included below.
We had a day out on Whidbey Island and we stopped off at Fort Casey to eat our lunch. We parked up near the lighthouse and there was a bald eagle hanging around along the cliff tops. The updrafts made soaring around a piece of cake for it. It landed in the top of a tree near us as we walked along the cliff. When we turned around and headed down the slope towards the fort, it started flying high above us and then appeared to swoop down into the bushes – presumably to catch a snack. We lost track of it at that point but a short while later it emerged from the bushes flying just above head height and straight towards us. I had the camera on the wrong settings to maximize my chance of getting a good shot but I still managed to get a few slightly blurry ones as it buzzed by.
After a visit to a shop in Renton, I stopped by the airport to see what was going on. I was taking a walk along the trail alongside the Cedar River that runs parallel to the runway. As I headed back to the car, I heard a noisy bird making its presence felt. Looking up at a power line across the water, there was an osprey a short distance away. I didn’t have anything other than my phone with me so went back to the car to grab a long lens and to see if it would wait around for me.
Sadly, it didn’t appreciate the situation and had gone by the time I returned. However, the river was not empty. Tons of swallows were swooping along its length feasting on the bugs above the water. Looking along the river towards the bridge from the Boeing ramp, you could see loads of them at work. Getting photos of swallows is not easy. They move very fast and do not hold course for long so getting a track on them with a long lens and keeping it is tough. The 500mm is a challenge for this but it is what I had.
There were tons of failures but you don’t get to see these. I was surprised how often I managed to track one and that the camera did a really great job of getting a focus. There was a little predictability of the flight paths which did help but, even so, I was rather pleased with the results. Also, given that these are still heavily cropped, to get this sharp was quite a result.
Nancy and I were at Meydenbauer Park in Bellevue when we saw this Killdeer. A crow was hopping about nearby and it seemed to be causing the killdeer some concern. We wondered whether the crow was going to harm it in some way when we suddenly realized that the killdeer was far from defenseless. It suddenly went on the attack and charged the crow which freaked out and took off. There was I worried about this bird and it was totally in control.
The end of the boardwalk at Nisqually brought me to a view over a piece of land that seemed to be the favored spot for the herons. I had never seen so many in such close proximity. They were hanging out on the grass rather than by the water so maybe this is a safe spot to rest after a busy session of fishing before heading back to the water to start feeding again. Periodically, one of them would head back to the mud flats to look for some food but the rest were just hanging around doing nothing much in particular but slowly wandering around their buddies.
When walking along the shore at Mukilteo, I will often see one or two Murrelets diving for food in the shallows along the edge of Puget Sound. They are not rare but nor are they particularly abundant. Consequently, I was rather surprised when at the new ferry terminal to see a large number of them swimming in the water around the new pier structures. There was a constant stream of them diving down and surfacing again.
I can only assume that something is growing on the surface of the steel posts that support the new loading spans. The birds would swim up to the posts, dive straight down for a while – presumably as they grabbed the food – and then surface at an oblique angle. The result was a cycle of birds going down and back up again. It looked really strange and seemed like something that would stop but there must be plenty to eat as they just kept going. I figured video was the best way to show what was happening so below is a short clip of them feeding away!
Anyone a bird specialist reading this? I saw this heron sitting in the trees along the shore at Camano Island. It didn’t seem in a hurry to go anywhere and wasn’t spooked as I got closer to its perch to get some shots. It was high enough that it didn’t see me as relevant. I have seen Great Blue Herons but this didn’t look like that (it could be and I just didn’t recognize it). If you know what it is, please let me know.
There were a few bald eagles hanging out on Camano Island during our trip there. There was one in a tree near the shore when we first got there. It didn’t seem in the least bit interested in us as we walked below it. If an eagle has recently eaten, it is quite likely to hang around for a long time doing nothing so we didn’t wait around to see what it did.
When we came back there were now two eagles in the area. I’ve no idea whether one was our original or if these two had come along since. A third flew past at one point getting the two quite agitated. If you have never heard the noise a bald eagle makes, you might be quite surprised. They have a high pitched squeak which doesn’t seem in keeping with their size. It is easy to identify though.
I wandered around trying to get the two of them in shot together. They were quite offset distance wise which meant getting them both in focus wasn’t practical. I did try and little Photoshop focus stacking when I got home though. It’s funny that bald eagles are so common in this part of the world but it is still exciting to see one and everyone seems to respond the same way.