Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Camera

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! I sure did! Santa brought me a brand new superzoom camera! The Fuji Finepix HS10 with a 30x zoom lens (up to 720mm). Great for birding! I couldn't wait to get a shot at the Belted Kingfisher that has been hanging daily at the local fish pen. My old camera just didn't have enough zoom to get in as close as I'd like. But with this new camera, I was sure to get up close. Today, I look down at the fishpen to see if my buddy was there, and what do I see? The fishpen has collapsed! The frame and netting above water level had fallen. Then this afternoon, I see two guys in a canoe, paddling with snow shovels while they broke the ice around the fish pen. That's something I'd never seen before, canoeing with snow shovels! They were able to get the frame off of the pen for repairs. So I'm wondering where my kingfisher friend is today? Then I see him, perched on our dock on the high dive frame. He loves that spot, but has been favoring the fish pen lately. With the fish pen in repair, his roosting spot was gone! Good for me though, because he is now much closer, and a perfect scene for my new camera!!! I rush to get it, and am happy to snap a few photos of my friend. I haven't ventured outside of the Auto mode with scene recognition. But after I got a few shots, I decided to try the multiple shot mode. Boy, oh boy, did it shoot 7 shots quicker than spit! Then I tried the mode that shoots 3 shots at closer zoom each time. I think I'm gonna like that mode. Since we are in the middle of a snow storm, almost blizzard conditions at times, my pictures weren't as clear as I would have liked. But they are certainly the closest shots I've ever gotten of a Belted Kingfisher!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thanksgiving is over!

Now the turkey's show up!

We haven't had the turkeys here for a couple of years. But they used to roost in the neighbors cedar trees, and roam the beach daily. I'm glad to see them back. The turkeys and other birds will come up on my patio. Sometimes I'll throw my cockatiel Dixie Chick's left over seeds outside in the winter, so of course they love that. My cat Stanley Oliver loves to stalk the turkeys. They act like they couldn't care less if Stan was there. Here is a picture of him taken a couple of years ago by my friend Jeannie. Stan was hanging with the gang of turkeys... I call it Turkat...

Also hanging with the turkeys, are a covey of quail. Such sweet little birds. I always hear them before I see them. Every time I'm like... what strange bird is that I hear? Only to discover the quail nearby. They make such sweet little birdie noises. I love the little bobble on their heads, although I think only the males may have them. Nope, just looked it up, and the females have a small plume, the males a larger plume and black faces with white. Here is a male, that I just took today.

Here is my favorite of my quail pictures. I shot this in the parking lot of Shopko, believe it or not! Doesn't the weather look fabulous??

Today while I was fixing myself a little lunch, I heard a loud tap, tap, tap outside. Sounded like it might be a woodpecker under the eaves of the house. The Red-shafted Flickers have been hanging around lately. Never have I heard them tapping at my eaves here at this house, but when we used to live in Poulsbo, Washington, they roosted on the edge of my window and sometimes peck at the house. We were renters back then, so didn't care if they wrecked the eaves. But now, we are in our forever house, I really don't want them ruining it. My friend Jana hates the flickers for just that reason! I have a hard time hating them, cause they were one of the first birds that got me interested in birdwatching. And it was because of them roosting on my window. I had to know what these birds were! The other birds that peaked my interest was the Pileated Woodpecker. The big Woody Woodpecker kind. I'm working on getting a decent picture of a flicker to share.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Winter Visitors

Female Hairy Woodpecker

I hadn't had any decent bird adventures for quite some time, but since we've had snow, things seem to be getting busy! I had a great sighting today, but unfortunately no pictures to share. Just a binocular's view away, across the bay, a fairly large dark bird was flying around and caught my eye. When it landed in a snowy pine tree, I immediately got my binoculars out, and searched the branches until I found it. It was difficult to decipher what it was. For awhile, I thought it might be an owl, wishful thinking I'm sure. After staring at it til my eyes were buggy, and searching in one of my favorite bird books (Stokes Field Guide to Birds - Western Region), I identified it to be a juvenile Bald Eagle. No white head or tail, but definately an Bald Eagle. They keep their immature plumage for up to 4 years. The young eagle roosted in the pine tree for at least an hour or so. I was disappointed that I didn't see it fly off.

Another visitor, that has been spending quite a bit of time around here, is a Belted Kingfisher. I love these short squatty, noisy fishing birds! Every since our neighbors volunteered to host the fish pen on their dock for the winter, the kingfisher can be seen several times a day, perched atop the fish pen. Every once in a while, he will dive down through the gaps in the netting at the top, and catch himself a snack fish. I am certain there will not be 10,000 trout to let loose next May!
This was taken several weeks ago, before the snow came.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed something on our skidock rolling around in the snow and playing on the dock. At first, I thought it had to be a muskrat, but it just didn't fit. Muskrats aren't that big, and they don't play like that. They swim in a straight line, and duck under the docks. Not get out and do somersaults on them. Beau thought it looked like a weasel. I thought it looked like a little sea lion. When my husband got home from work, and we told him about the 'muskrat', he looked outside and there it was again! He was convinced it was an otter. After looking online, for sure, it was an otter. Certainly, the critter was visiting the fish pen too! I haven't seen him now for a few days, but he was here on and off for a week or more. I did manage to get a distant picture and some video.

Once the ice forms on the lake, I will miss all of my duck friends. I am amazed at how many types of ducks come in the fall and winter before the ice hits. There have been a pair of male Common Mergansers in the bay this last week. One day I saw a large duck roosting on the snow on the ski dock. When I looked in the binoculars, I thought perhaps there was another smaller duck on the edge of the dock, and snuggled up with this larger duck. But the detail in the pictures showed it was just the merganser and the 'smaller duck' was it's tail. You don't normally see the tail when they are in the water swimming. They really are a beautiful duck.

Christmas is on it's way... on my wish list is a DSLR camera. My old 4 megapixel FujiFilm camera needs upgraded badly! Sure hope Santa comes through for me!

Friday, July 16, 2010

New Bird Book

I was in Northwest Seed and Pet the other day, and at the checkout where some lovely bird books sitting there so nicely, whispering to me "You should buy me"! Just so happens that I had exactly enough money in my wallet to get it, so I figured what the heck, I haven't had a new birding book in quite some time. So I purchased "Birds of Washington Field Guide" by Stan Tekiela. It is a small pocket-sized book with beautiful, full-page pictures and the birds are grouped by color.

The last few days, when I have a few spare minutes, I've been looking through it and was pleasantly surprised that I have seen just about every bird so far and I'm about 1/2 way through the book. There's a neat check list in the back where you can mark off each bird that you have seen. I'll have to get busy and get to the rest of those birds! I need to get out and about in other areas in Washington to see a wider variety of birds.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tiny Egg Shell

I was on our beach a couple of days ago scoping out my flower beds, and noticed a small white object in the sand. I picked it up to examine it better, and it was a tiny egg shell, in two pieces. Nothing inside the little egg shell. Probably discarded by a mothering bird who was cleaning the nest for her new batch of chicks. The picture doesn't show how small it really is. It is not small enough to be a hummingbird egg. After doing some research online, I've decided it could very well be a Tree Swallow egg. Given the description and size of the egg and the location. There are several nesting Tree Swallows around here in the neighbors and my own bird houses and other 'nooks and crannies' of our homes. As I sit on my patio lately, one particular swallow flies right overhead down to the lake, and is a likely candidate for disgarding the tiny egg shell on the beach.

Here is an older photo of a baby tree swallow in one of my bird houses on my balcony. It's one of my favorites, and has been published in Birds and Blooms magazine!

Another picture of baby swallows waiting for mamma to feed them. Living in the neighbors 'nooks & crannies'.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Definition of "A Good Birding Day"

Sometimes, when my husband gets home from work, I will say to him "It's been a good bird day". Usually this means, I have seen several types of birds throughout the day, participating in various birding activities. Yesterday, was one of those days... and it also just happened to be our 24th anniversary! I can remember back to our 5th anniversary. We were staying in a rental apartment in Leavenworth, a sweet little German town in central Washington, while on a white-water river rafting trip with some friends. I happened to visit a quaint little bookstore, where a bought myself my very first bird identification book, in hopes it would help me identify a couple of birds I had seen at our home in Poulsbo. The book was called "The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds (Western Region)", and I still use it to this day, as well as some others I have added to the collection. The birds, I finally identified where a Pileated Woodpecker and a Red-shafted Flicker, also of the woodpecker family. They are still exciting birds for me to see, even after all these years.
Back to my "Good Bird Day", on our anniversary day, I spent quite some time out on my balcony trying to get the perfect action photo of the Great Blue Heron that was patiently fishing on our ski dock. I set my camera up to take multiple shots at once, so I could get some pictures of the heron flying when he decided to leave. I even got my mini-tripod and setup on the railing of the balcony so I could get just the right shot. As, I was getting things prepared, the family of white-breasted nuthatches showed up to feast again. They make several visits each day.

Also visiting, were the Black-headed Grosebeaks and a Downy Woodpecker.
A female hummingbird kept buzzing me while I setup my tripod, as it was right below the hummingbird feeder. While I was taking pictures of the heron, the hummer would be right there by my hand. When I have someone to help with the camera, I can film the hummers landing on my fingers to drink. Such a cool feeling for sure. But today, I was snapping away at the heron, who several times flew off of the dock and dove into the water to try to catch a fish, only to come up with nothing, and then fly right back to the ski dock. Each time he did this, I took bunches of photos, or so I thought. I was sure I had my camera set to take multiple snap shots, but found out later, it was only saving the last 3 of the shots. So all my action shots of it flying and diving were not recorded. I only ended up with this one shot.

I try not to judge my good bird days by pictures alone, because some of the best birding adventures happen too quickly for the camera. Sometimes, it is worth just sitting and enjoying the moment, rather than trying to capture it with the lens. Now if you can do both, that is the BEST!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Moose in the Hood

This morning I was woken up by my husband, which usually only happens when there is something really cool to see that early in the morning. Our dog Cubby Bears alerted us that something was up. Sure enough, there was a huge bull moose on the beach. It's always a magnificant site when a moose is in the neighborhood. The last moose happening was spring of 2009 when a mother moose and her baby wandered out onto the ice, and the mom moose fell through the ice (check out the video here My husband and some neighbors had to rescue her. During the hot summer months, it is not unusual to see a moose swimming in the lake at least once a year.

I wrote the other day about the Red-breasted Nuthatch family coming to the feeders to eat. The last couple of days, the White-breasted Nuthatch family has been bringing the entire family by for feeding too. My husband swore he saw about 10 of them. The most I've counted at one time is about 6. The babies are so sweet, begging for food. Hope to get some better pictures soon!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mating Mallards

Yesterday, as I was trying to get some pics of the pair of Black-headed Grosebeaks at the suet eating together, but all I succeeded in was scaring them away. But, all was not lost... I noticed a pair of Mallard ducks mating right by our dock. Do you think I could get a picture of that before they parted ways? Nope! No such luck. Here is the lucky duck afterward though...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Oodles of Nuthatches

Red-breasted Nuthatches are daily visitors to my feeders. I've even had baby Nuthatches being fed by a parent before, which is pretty special to see. Today was a little different though because an entire family of Nuthatches showed up! Mom & Pop and 4 babies (I'm pretty sure). The parent birds would pick at the suet and take it to the babies and feed them. It was so darn adorable. Since it was raining out, the little babies would stick close to the trunk of the tree as possible, while waiting on a branch for their food. I wish I could've gotten a photo of the parents feeding the babies, but by the time I got my camera out, the photo opportunity had passed. I did manage however to get a couple of shots through the window of a couple of the babies. I didn't want to open the slider door and scare them all off.