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!