Baby animals are so adorable. This is a Killdeer chick about ten days to two weeks old. It couldn’t fly yet. Its wings weren’t developed enough. It’s legs are long and seemingly out of proportion to its body. But those legs could scurry. We encountered a couple of Killdeer families with chicks when we visited the Robb Athletic Field near Ocean Beach in San Diego. Killdeer nest in the open on the ground. The adults try to lure potential threats away from their nests or chicks by pretending to have a broken wing. There were three chicks in this family and the mother Killdeer was desperately trying to lure us away from her chicks. Then she’d call to the chicks. They scurried to and fro and would crane their necks to see mom then they would continue circling around. They finally figured out how to get to mom and they all disppeared.
This Willet in breeding plumage struggles to eat a Sand Flea (a tiny crustacean) on the beach at Silver Strand State Park in San Diego. Nikon D500, Nikkor 500mm PF.
The Sea Lions spent the afternoons basking in the sun on the rocks at La Jolla Cove. I had never seen flippers up close before and was surprised to see the nails, which look quite sharp, on their flippers. When I watched, they used them to scratch the itches on their chins.
Birds stretch their wings and legs to relieve stiffness and tension because they spend so much time on their feet. They seem to always stretch one wing and leg on the same side of the body in a slow, ritualistic way, usually followed by the opposite wing and leg. My Red-lored Amazon does it and shore birds do it, too. This Marbled Godwit stretches on the beach at Silver Strand State Park in San Diego the other day. The beach is strewn with tiny clams with colorful shells that look like tiny butterflies when the shells are empty and scattered on the beach. These clams are a tasty feast for the shore birds that were attracted to the stretch of beach because of them.
Nikon D500, Nikkor 500mm PF lens. Panning plate.
We spent Tuesday afternoon on the rocks at La Jolla Cove surrounded by Brandt’s Cormorants, Double-crested Cormorants, California Gulls, and Pacific Brown Pelicans. Pacific Brown Pelicans are large birds with wingspans of more than six feet. This pelican spent lots of time basking in the sun, preening, and stretching its neck. I thought this pose was quite practical, using its back as a head rest.
The first shorebird I photographed at Silver Strand State Park this week was a Marbled Godwit, a bird I’d never seen. The tide was coming in so we had to keep a close eye on the incoming waves. Nikon D500 and Nikkor 500mm PF lens.
One of my favorite types of photography is what I call “beach panning.” I got another chance to do it on Silver Strand State Beach in San Diego Tuesday morning. The day started out foggy and cool, more like a June morning in Santa Rosa than a spring day in Southern California. And while there weren’t too many birds on the beach, we did see some I hadn’t seen before including Marbled Godwits and Surfbirds. What really caught my attention were the several Willets in breeding plumage. I’m used to seeing Willets in drab grayish winter feathers, not their more interesting breeding plumage.
The morning remained overcast and as the tide came in we perservered, laying prone on the wet sand while making sure to keep our hands and our camera gear, on their respective panning plates and Frisbees, sand free by getting up and down when necessary using only elbows and knees. At the end of the morning, it was still cool and overcast and our bodies were wet and covered with sticky wet sand. The beach had an outdoor rinsing station so we took turns washing the wet sticky sand off our elbows and forearms, our feet and legs, our shoes, our knees, and the fronts of our shirts. Some in our small group wore shorts or had zip off pant legs. I however, wore pants that had legs that rolled into capris. I had to unroll them to rinse the sand out of the cuffs so I was the only one whose pants were still dripping wet when we went to breakfast. During the couple of hours that we were shooting, I didn’t notice the coolness of the water or the air. And, I got some shots I love.
This is a Willet in breeding plumage plucking a tasty morsel out of the wet sand. Shot with Nikon D500 and Nikkor 500mm PF lens.
A male Evening Grosbeak finds something he can sink his beak into at the feeding station at the Red Canyon Lodge in Flaming Gorge, Utah. A female Evening Grosbeak is behind him and a couple of Cassin’s Finches are in the back.
Happy Earth Day today. Almost fifty years ago, in 1970, I stuck an Earth Day decal to a window in my 1969 Firebird to celebrate the first Earth Day established to create a national day of focus on the environment. I’m not sure how extensive an effect Earth Day has had on the environment but I’m happy to report that California Poppies still bloom here in the spring. Nikon D850 and Nikkor 500mm PF Lens.
A White-breasted Nuthatch looks up from extricating something from a crack in the bark of a Ponderosa Pine in Flaming Gorge, Utah.