Tag Archives: birds

How To Spook Geese

I was riding along the Sammammish River Trail back in to Woodinville one weekend when the noise of geese suddenly filled the air.  On the other side of the river from the trail are fields which often are filled with geese feeding.  A large flock was gathered there on this day but their grazing had been interrupted by the arrival of a bald eagle.  It flew across the area and barely changed course as it did so but it certainly startled the geese and they all took to the air.

They flew around in circles for a while waiting for the eagle to get safely out of the area.  Then they gradually calmed down and more and more of them settled back in to the fields to resume eating.  However, this was a slow process as they had clearly been spooked and weren’t going to relax easily.  This was all starting as I cycled up but I did manage to pull my phone out and get a bit of video of this happening so here is the brief burst of excitement before things settled down again.

Trumpeter Swans on Fir Island

The snow geese are a famous visitor to the Skagit area of Washington but they aren’t the only big birds to show up.  Trumpeter swans are also a regular visitor and they are even larger.  They don’t have the same social gathering approach as the geese so you won’t see them in their thousands.  However, they do sometimes travel in smaller groups.

I was driving out towards Fir Island when I passed a bunch of them in a field.  They were right next to a church which made for a convenient place to park without being in anyone’s way.  They were not far from the parking lot and seemed to be busy feeding.  Some immature examples were still showing their grey plumage but were well grown at this point.  A little dispute resulted in some noise and flapping of wings but it all settled down quickly when the important matter of eating took over.

Family of Swans

A small bay on Cascades Lake was a spot that a family of swans was hanging out as we hiked by.  The cygnets were almost fully grown but still had the darker down to show that they were still not fully mature.  The parents were still clearly paying attention to the safety of their kids, despite their size.

Airport Birds

The viewing deck at Haneda is not a place I had gone to photograph wildlife.  However, despite the usual concerns about birds and planes not mixing well, there were a lot of small birds that seemed to be hanging out on the roof of the terminal buildings.  I imagine the number of visitors to the viewing decks means there will be crumbs of some sort for them to feed on.  They were pretty close to the people but just the other side of the fencing.  I guess they knew they were safe.

Ducks at Low Level

While walking along the Sammammish River Trail, a couple of Mallard Ducks flew by me at low level.  I pulled the camera up at short notice to get a shot.  No time to change the settings so this is what I got on the spur of the moment.  As it happens, the shutter speed did a nice job of blurring out the background and making them look super speedy.  I kind of like it!

Picking Up More Than You Can Handle?

After work one evening, I headed to Log Boom Park in Kenmore.  I was thinking I might shoot a few floatplanes as they returned at the end of the day but I hadn’t timed it right for that and didn’t see any.  However, the local wildlife was busy including a few bald eagles that were out hunting on the lake.  Some immature eagles were out and about but a couple of adults were also trying their luck.  I saw one of them start to dive down on a target and followed with the camera.

The eagle struck its target and grabbed it out of the water successfully.  However, it hadn’t fully appreciated just how large a fish this was.  It was a beast and the eagle started to try and climb away without success.  This fish was too heavy for it.  That wasn’t going to deter it though.  It had caught dinner and wasn’t intent on letting it go.  Flapping furiously, it tried to gain speed and altitude.  Speed was fine but altitude was a different story.  Instead, it adopted a new tactic.  Dangling the fish beneath it, the tail of the fish was slapping on the surface of the water.  This seemed to provide a little support and the combination proceeded to skim across the surface of the lake.  Only when at the shore was a final surge of effort put in to pull up on to an awning where the eagle landed and laid out its catch.

Silhouettes on the Water

My sunbathing cormorant got his own post here as a result of being easy to photograph in the evening light.  There were plenty of other cormorants around that evening but the rest were around the piles out in the water in into the sun.  That did make for some nice silhouette shots instead so here they are.  You won’t be able to identify individual cormorants, though.

Formation Work with Gull

Hayman and I were shooting at Anza Fisherman’s Park.  As the name suggests, this is a popular spot for fishing and this seems to attract the attention of a lot of gulls.  There was a steady breeze which allowed the gulls to hover close above us and sometimes alongside us.  We didn’t have anything of interest for them but it took them a while to work that out.

I got some shots of them as they hung around us.  The background of a few was disturbed a little by the fishing poles that were propped up but the long lens wide open managed to isolate them from most of the background.  They were a bit like photographing aircraft in formation but they didn’t necessarily respond to the directions I had for the shots I was after.  Not the best formation pilots for photo work I guess.

Swans on the Lake

When I was still at college (and because I am an old git, I was shooting on film), I spent some summers in Huntingdon, a town in Cambridgeshire that my mum lived in at the time.  The river Ouse ran through the town (actually separate Huntingdon from Godmanchester) and there was a park along the river that I walked in frequently.  One afternoon I was walking there when a swan took off on the water alongside me and I grabbed a single shot of it that was one I was really happy with.  (After I write this, I will go back through my stuff to see if I have a good scan of it to add to the bottom of this post.)

Ever since I have been shooting digitally, I have wanted to get shots of swans flying.  However, I haven’t lived in places where swans were very common.  That has changed since moving here.  There are some wetlands north of here that are heavily populated by swans and I shall be checking them out before too long.  However, we do get some swans in Juanita Bay.  Nancy and I were out for a walk a while back when three pairs of swans took off from the water near us and flew right by.  You can probably guess that I wasn’t carrying a camera that day.

A week or so later, I was back at Juanita Bay with the camera this time and there were swans hanging out in the same area.  I thought that, this time, my planning would pay dividends.  Sadly, that was not to be.  They seemed very content where they were and all I got was pictures of them sleeping, swimming or occasionally stretching their wings.  I shall be back for another attempt though.

Who Scared You Guys?

I was walking along the edge of the lake in Juanita carrying the camera.  Juanita Bay is popular with bird life and I saw a lot of the wildfowl suddenly burst into life and start flying towards me.  I pulled the camera up and started shooting.  I wasn’t sure what was going on but figured I could try and work that out later.  Meanwhile there were a lot of birds coming at me.

It was soon clear what was occurring.  There is a pair of bald eagles that frequent the bay and one of them was soaring across the bay.  It pulled up and landed on a pole out in the water and very close to the birds.  This obviously spooked them and they all bolted for the shore and, perhaps, safety.  The eagle didn’t seem to bothered about them to be honest but they are not averse to a change in diet once in a while so I understand why there was such a reaction.