The Captain announced that we were flying over the Grand Canyon and that the view out the right side of the plane was better than that out of the left side. I rarely have a window seat but with recent changes in air travel I ended up with a window seat on the left side of the plane. I couldn’t see much of the Grand Canyon but I thought the cloud formation hovering over it was quite spectacular. Now that I always have my Nikon Z50 with me, it was easy to pull out the camera with the Nikkor 16-50mm lens already attached and snap a few shots when the view out of my window was just right. I’m having fewer of those “gee I wish I had my camera” moments.
The tiny Bushtits are usually well hidden in the bushes and unless they’re splashing around in the fountain, the only evidence of their presence is leaves shaking in the bushes. It is rare to see one in my yard that isn’t completely obscured by the leaves. The Japanese Privet leaves are only about two inches long and the Bushtit, including tail, isn’t much longer. The Bushtits often feed on the tiny bugs on the privets and other trees and shrubs. The webs in this shrub must have caught the attention of this male Bushtit.
Black-legged Kittiwakes are abundant on Kachemak Bay. We saw them every day flying in great numbers around the cliffs protruding from the water. Although we were on Kachemak Bay to photograph Northern Sea Otters a month ago, we didn’t pass up the opportunity to photograph some of the birds in the area as they flew above and around our watercraft.
Hummingbirds have been on my mind lately for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve been working hard to make my backyard more hummingbird friendly for the Anna’s and Black-chinned Hummingbirds that live here year round. Second, in a few days, I’m heading to Madera Canyon, AZ to photograph hummingbirds there for a week. The species of hummingbirds in southern Arizona are so different from the few species we have in Northern California. One of the most prevalent hummers that I’ve photographed in past years is the Broad-billed Hummingbird. Its gem-like teal and blue feathers in contrast with its orange bill make it a striking bird to see.
It always amazes me how a hummingbird can hover and keep its head completely still while the rest of its body is a blur. I took this shot at 1/40 second and only the eye, the top of its head, and part of its beak is in sharp focus. Taken with Nikon D6 and Nikkor 500mm PF lens.
The male Anna’s Hummingbird that dominates all six nectar feeders in my garden has now claimed one of my carefully positioned perches as his main guard post. Facing one way, he has a perfect view of four of the feeders. A quick glance over his wing gets the other two. In a second, he can reach each of the feeders to chase off any hummers he considers interlopers and, with few exceptions, they are all interlopers in his mind. During the heat of the day, this Anna’s prefers the shaded Photineas or Xylosma from which to oversee his domain but in the morning and late afternoon, when the sun does not directly strike the perch, he often sits in anticipation of his next sip of nectar or his next chase.
In Sacramento County where I live, setting off legal fireworks is allowed only from June 28 through July 4. There was no sleeping in my neighborhood last night. Everyone was using up all of the fireworks in their possession. Not that the fireworks being detonated were legal let alone safe and sane. Safe and Sane fireworks don’t leave the ground. And I don’t think they make the thundering booms that were setting off my neighbors’ car alarms right and left. I photographed these fireworks from my sidewalk and they were detonated around the block or even further away and they certainly left the ground or I would never have seen them as they rose high above the two story homes across the street. After I started hearing the loud booms and Bobo retreated trembling to her cage, I went out to test my Nikon D6 with the MIOPS Lightning Trigger which I plan to use in a couple of weeks when I go to Arizona. Fireworks make a good substitute for lightning. The D6 and the MIOPS performed perfectly. Since I couldn’t see where the fireworks were coming from, I had to guess where the next display might be. I got it right about a half dozen times. It’s sort of the same with lightning. You have to guess where it’s going to strike. This shot is a composite of three of the images I took in my neighborhood.
In a week I’ll be heading back to Madera Canyon, Arizona to photograph hummingbirds so I’ve been reviewing the photographs I took there last year. We spent a day at The Nature Conservancy’s Patagonia Sonoita Preserve last year and most of the 1000 plus photographs I took that day were of this very cooperative Violet-crowned Hummingbird. For most of the day he was perched on one of the several decorative rusty iron perches where he seemed to be quite comfortable. This is one of the very few (fewer than a dozen) shots I took of him on a natural perch. Sadly, this year the Nature Conservancy’s Patagonia Sonoita Preserve is closed until further notice, another casualty of the pandemic. Hopefully I’ll see some Violet-crowned Hummers in Madera Canyon.
My efforts to make my backyard more inviting to my feathered friends is paying off. Thursday, my new feeders arrived, one, a sock feeder for nyger seed that Goldfinches love, and a second for sunflower seeds that is safe from squirrels. I hung them on a double shepherd’s hook next to each other. The Lesser Goldfinches found the feeders immediately and perched on top of one of the hooks, as if trying to decide which one to try first.
The Lesser Goldfinches have dominated the fountains in my backyard for the past couple of days. Even the gregarious Bushtits have not been as evident as the Lesser Goldfinches. They seem to be more acclimated to my presence and do not immediately leave the area when I walk outside with my Nikon D6 and Nikkor 500MM PF.