We’re used to Turkey Vultures where I live in California but in the eastern United States, both birds coexist. This Black Vulture sat perfectly still and posed for me in the Orlando Wetlands Park in Florida this past February. In my view, the Black Vulture is not nearly as homely as the Turkey Vulture, but neither one would win a beauty contest.
Killdeer nest on the ground in the open on dry barren fields, on farmland, on arctic tundra, and, according to The Sibley Guide to Birds, even on ball fields The front page of the Saturday edition of The Sacramento Bee announced that a Killdeer had built its nest on the newly installed artificial turf of Rio Americano High School’s football field, thus forcing the closure of the track and field until the eggs hatch. I was reminded of the nesting Killdeer I photographed two years ago in Churchill, Canada on the arctic tundra. The bird was skittish and kept getting off its eggs and moving around watching us the entire time. It was so obviously concerned with our presence that we quickly abandoned the area to keep from further disturbing the nervous Killdeer.
A Hairy Woodpecker clings to the side of a feeding platform in Flaming Gorge, UT.
“Bobo!” That’s what I called out and what made her look up in this shot as she busily tried to destroy the green disk mounted on the back of the puzzle box. Tiny shards of green plastic are visible throughout the scene. These are considered “bird-safe” toys and are meant to be chewed on. She also chews on cardboard disks, two of which are visible on the right side of this shot and she recently chewed completely through the thick pine perch in her cage. What a busy beak. And almost all of the chewing is done while she holds a dried chile pepper in her beak which, incidentally, is not destroyed while she chews on something else.
This is a photograph I didn’t think would be possible for me to get—a light painting of Bobo. How did I do it? It took me a few tries and it turns out third time was a charm. Although she has plenty of experience with my camera and will even poke her head inside a lens hood if the camera is setting on the table where she has access, the lighting that I needed for this photograph, both flash and flash light, were obstacles as well as was a completely dark room which usually means bedtime. On two separate occasions, I tried things which ended with Bobo racing back to her cage and as a result, no photograph. She is quite skittish and unfamliar things frighten her. On my third try, what got her attention so that she stayed in one place long enough for me to arrange and rearrange the scene and the lighting, were a huge pile of dried chile peppers and some black matboard. The chiles are her favorite thing and for some reason, when I put out black matboard on the windowseat where I shot this, she’s right there chewing on the edges of the board.
I used the matboard to block the early evening light from the windows, dumped a pile of chiles in front of the little “puzzle” box that requires her to open the drawers to extract a treat, and she immediately came over to investigate. I knew that a flash at the end of the exposure would freeze her in place so I set a long exposure and used a penlight to light paint the scene. When I was ready, I called out “Bobo!” and she’d look up so I could end the exposure with a flash directed at her.
Nikon D850; Nikkor 24-70VR at 48mm; ISO 64; f/9; 11 seconds shutter speed; Flash set to one half power.
We were hopeful that a Bighorn Sheep would suddenly appear on the crest of one of the crags by the Sheep Creek Scenic Byway on Highway 44 in Flaming Gorge last week. In the end, this tree was the only thing on the crags. Nikon D5 and Nikkor 500mm PF lens.
“Four dudes and a lady!” exclaimed our enthusiastic waitress at the Flaming Gorge Lodge Restaurant. “I’ve been waiting for you all day.” We’d made dinner reservations there that morning after realizing it was the only place to get food of any kind in the Flaming Gorge area this time of year. We were fortunate that the food was excellent and our waitress that evening (and on a couple of subsequent evenings) was charming and ebullient. This photograph shows the “four dudes and a lady” but you have to search for one of the dudes and the lady. A hint: check out the rear view mirror. We were in the Chevy Suburban intently searching for Bighorn Sheep in Flaming Gorge when I took this shot with the 8-15mm Fisheye lens.
The Bighorn Sheep in Flaming Gorge, Utah were elusive. We did see a small band of seven ewes and one young ram foraging in the same general vicinity several times. We were hopeful when we saw the first four that appeared on our second day because without warning, the band doubled in size to eight. However, we never saw any big rams with tightly curled horns that were what we hoped to photograph. As we drove out of the canyon on the way to the Salt Lake City Airport Friday morning, we encountered two ewes and a ram that watched us from the edge of the road as we drove by, then after we turned the bend, we are convinced that they crossed the road and made their way up the steep sandstone cliffs to pose on the edge, mocking us. On one of our brief encounters earlier in the week, we saw a few from the first band crossing the road to forage. This ewe munched on grasses at the edge of the road. I shot this from the vehicle, skewed in my seat, using the D5 and 500mm PF lens.
The remote location of the Red Canyon Lodge near Dutch John, UT where we stayed last week attracts lots of birds. During the hour and half we spent shooting at the feeders behind the lodge’s office, I saw 13 different species of birds there, including two different species of woodpecker, the Downy Woodpecker and this, the Hairy Woodpecker.
Nikon D5, 500mm PF lens. 1.4X Teleconverter.
Pygmy Nuthatches are tiny, adorable birds that, according to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, live almost exclusively in long-needled pine forests and are particularly closely associated with ponderosa pines. I’m pretty sure this is a Ponderosa Pine and I’m certain this is a Pygmy Nuthatch. Taken at the Red Canyon Lodge in the Flaming Gorge area of Utah with Nikon D5, 500mm PF lens and 1.4x Teleconverter (700mm).