Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story

The Worst Day Birding…

…is better than the best day at work. I actually took these pictures on Monday, but got caught up with a bunch of stuff the last couple of days and never posted them. I went by the Oso Creek waterway, spaces shown to me by Bill Mays, who’s published a couple of my short stories. I asked him about the amazing pictures he gets, and he showed me his secret spots. I go there occasionally, but I don’t see as much as he does. On my way there, though, I gained sympathy for people who commit one of my pet peeves: turn or change lanes without using their signal. I was getting into the lane from which I’d need to turn, eventually. There was no one in the lane I needed, so, I turned on my blinker and started to move into the lane. When I did that, I realized the person that had been about twenty car lengths behind was ten car lengths behind and was speeding as if he was hoping to close the gap so I couldn’t change in front of him. (And then, later on, he turned before he ever caught up to me.) Our society seems to value courtesy far less every year.

Now, for the birds. Didn’t see many worth taking pictures of. The waterway is beautiful, though and I took a pictures in one place. I thought I had a few more, but I didn’t.







As I walked toward my first stop, I saw a black, duck-like bird flying. When I looked at the picture later, I realized that he was a double-crested cormorant. When I got to the place, I saw a bird that I thought might be the same one. Examining the pictures later made me realize it was. So, here you have a picture of a double-crested cormorant in flight, and then at rest….ok…fishing. I missed the shot of him diving into the water.








I’ll show the picture later, for reasons that will become obvious, but I heard the call of what I thought was a gull. Now, gulls are not one of the birds I get excited taking pictures of, but, given how few birds I had seen or heard, I decided that a good picture of a gull in flight would be nice to have. So, I snapped that picture and moved on. I kept looking into the foliage on the side, not seeing anything. OK, as I walked, I must admit that I was disgusted by the amount of litter left in the area. How hard is it to take your trash back out with you when you’re in the woods. (Hint: if it’s too hard to take out, then don’t bring it in with you!) One spot I looked at had a stalk of celery left on some branches. I decided that someone had done that to draw some kind of animal to the area, hopefully for a picture, and chuckled at that. Then, I looked up and saw these birds. At first I thought they were loggerhead shrikes, but I found out later that was some kind of trick my imagination was playing on me. Just sparrows, but since it looked like they were the fruit of the tree, I still snapped and am posting the picture.







As I looked for that picture, I saw one that I had thought about posting, but decided not to. It was a fuzzy female cardinal, because my autofocus looked at the trees instead of the bird. Now, back to the “gull” earlier. But first, I walked across a flood plain down to another prime picture spot and there in the trees was this beautiful osprey. It was hard to decide which shot to use and decided on this one because it showed so much of the beauty of the bird. When I got home, I realized that what I thought was a sea gull, was, in fact, this same osprey. i haven’t see many of these beautiful birds, but I love seeing them when I do.









As I’m returning to my picture taking, I’m getting hungry for a new lens. I currently have a lens that adjusts to 250 mm. I’d really like one that extends to 600 mm for much clearer shots, especially on birds in flight. My wife isn’t excited by the idea. How can I convince her that this would be a great investment? I’d love your suggestions!

Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story

January 4 – Along Oso Creek

Today I revisited a walk that I took last Saturday with William Mays who wrote a book that included pictures he took along this walkway: The View From Oso Creek. While I didn’t remember all the pathways he took me on, I remembered enough and had a good day. Last Saturday, the only exciting capture was this Anhinga. The rest of the day we saw nothing. Today was much better, as was the weather!



Today when I went to the same area, I startled a pair of Tri-Colored Herons (I believe) and they took off before I could get any pics, except of them flying away. I started walking a little bit down river to see if I could spy anything along the way, but saw a couple of people sitting right where I wanted to go. They were either fishing or enjoying each other’s company, and i didn’t want to intrude. So, I headed back up the hill. As I headed up the hill, I started hearing some bird singing merrily at the top of his lungs. I walked as quietly as I could to avoid spooking him. I needn’t have worried. I did scan the area, making sure he wasn’t in one of the bushes, and then I saw him, at the top of a tall tree. When I first saw him, I took a long distance picture. It wasn’t very clear, but you could tell he had caught an insect and was chowing down. I had a different idea as to what kind of bird it was, but I was set straight.



This is a Couch’s Kingbird. I took numerous pictures of him. I was proud of the way that I caught his eye. One of the ways I judge my own pictures is how well you can see the eyes. On most of these, the eyes were sharp and clear. Interestingly, I’m in a Photo a Day challenge and today’s challenge was “Yellow.” I used this picture!


After getting my fill of pics of this bird (I had lots) I turned and saw this bird off at a distance. I took the long distance shot just in case I didn’t get anything else, hoping I’d be able to identify it later in Photoshop. I approached her cautiously, but without too much worry because she was so far away. Then, she took off. While this picture is a bit fuzzy, it’s her flying away. I was a bit disappointed.



My disappointment turned to smiles though when I realized that she had been answering the call of her potential mate. I didn’t get too close because they looked like they were still feeling each other out, but the bird on the left is the same Couch’s Kingbird you saw earlier.




Then, I headed towards the area I had been looking forward to since I decided to take this route. We had seen an owl there on Saturday, as it flew through the brush and Mr. Mays had noted that he had taken lots of owl pics there. I haven’t seen many owls in real life and I definitely hadn’t taken any pictures of them. I was anticipating a great owl shot. Alas, there were none. I think I found the reason though. 

This is the rare and dangerous Wild Plastic Flamingo. She was sitting in the trees guarding her territory. She can sit that way, motionless for hours, ready to strike at a moment’s notice. This was not a tame domesticated plastic flamingo. This was a wild one. When threatened, they can destroy dinosaurs! I plan on going back in the future, but will show extra caution when approaching this area.

While walking a little farther on, I saw a Mockingbird less than five feet from me. She stared at me with an attitude, wondering who let me walk in her area but she let me take numerous pictures. (I think it was 6 for $5.00.) Her beak seems to have a malformation. You can’t see it in this photo, but her top beak is two times as long as her bottom beak.


I saw another Couch’s Kingbird a little later. Mr. Mays had told me that the insect eaters will sit on the tree where I saw the Kingbird, zip out after the insect, and return to the tree to munch their lunch. I’ll probably get better pics later in the year. I also aw a beautiful egret flying around there. Again, I’ll have plenty of egret pics later, so I’m not gonna add them now. Later I walked down to an area that has a flat sandy area and was surprised by two sandhill cranes! I had just talked to a couple who was asking about this pair of birds that I thought were pelicans. Was I ever wrong! When I saw these cranes, I realized she saw them flying around. They are such beautiful birds! I’ll sign off tonight with that picture. It was wonderful to get out in nice weather with the sun shining.