Snowy Owl

One of the items on my Long Island “bird”  bucket list was to see a snowy owl, a friend of mine has seen one for the past few winters and I was hoping to be as lucky.  WELL  today was my lucky day.   Headed down to the Hamptons area early on this cold but promised to be a sunny day.  I have been to this beach during the summer, but my first trip in the dead of winter…looks very different.  My hope was to find a snowy owl but was happy to be out and see what I could find.   First sighting was a sandbar filled with seals… not very good shots as they were in the distance quite a ways….

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Then I as I was scouring the landscape there was a brightish something that just didn’t seem right….so sure enough as I got closer and looked through the 300 mm lens there she was!  I was so thrilled!  Took a few shots, walked closer, took a few shots walked closer  🙂  you photographers know the drill, have to capture an image even if it is only a record shot and hopefully eventually get that great shot!!

 

Snowy Owl

Immature female, Long Island NY

 

Well did get some good shots, but I think between the extender and the fact that I was so cold I was probably shaking the camera they are not as clear as i would have liked…but happy to have captured this pretty immature female Snowy Owl!

Snowy Owl

Immature female, Long Island NY

 

Kempf Preserve at Wading River

Today was my first adventure out from my yard with the camera.  I spend Friday night searching possible places, I had originally wanted to go to the south shore /ocean but the weather was saying clouds so I stuck close to home. Edward and Dororthy Kempf Preserve at Wading Rivier is where I finally ended up, a short 5 min drive from the house.  Very peaceful place indeed.   I didn’t capture many photos as the canopy is quite full and not good light for shooting, but saw and heard quite a selection of wildlife.  The usual songbirds, some wild turkeys, deer, chipmunks, a few heron’s and if I am not mistaken I also heard a kingfisher.

So now that I am back on Long Island I don’t have to worry about running into feral hogs, or snakes HOWEVER, there is a “predator” here. My BFF warned me to wear long sleeves, long pants, and spray with bug spray.  I did follow her advise and assumed I would be OK….shortly after leaving the preserve I starting itching and feeling like I was getting bitten…figured I had just rubbed up against some bush that irritated my skin…no such luck.  I finally pulled my pants leg up and horrors……ticks, itty bitty , way too many ticks all over my legs.   I mean no bigger then the head of a pin,  if they hadn’t moved I never would have seen them.  YUCK!   showered and scrubbed and washed everything I was wearing in hot water.   Felt much better, but I won’t be visiting any treed areas again until after the first frost…that’s fine I’ll stick to the beaches  🙂

Here are the only two photos worth posting from this morning’s walk.  An immature Cooper’s hawk that was carrying on like a spoiled little boy 🙂   And there were plenty of deer along the trail, caught one before he saw me and took off.

Kempf Preserve, Wading River NY

Kempf Preserve, Wading River NY

 

Kempf Preserve, Wading River NY

Kempf Preserve, Wading River NY

The Journey has ended

It’s been a 5 month journey.   We decided, well I desired and my hubby agreed, to move back to NY.  We had been in Texas for 10 years and I longed for home.  Last April the journey began with listing our TX home, packing, planning and waiting.  I won’t bore you with the details but we are finally settled into our new home on the north shore of Long Island NY.  I just love it, surrounded by trees, vineyards and farms, 5 minute walk to  the water and only  miles from any store you could possible need.

Those of you that follow this blog know I’ve been hooked on photographing birds for 3 years now.   Well I am in heaven…our home is surrounded by big old oak tress and all kinds of new species for me.  We are going on our third week in our new home and today I pulled out the camera to see if I could remember how to shoot 🙂 I put out thistle, suet and sunflower seeds last week in feeders and have been greeted by the locals!!! The goldfinches have discovered the thistle and I believe they will be too fat to fly soon!

GoldFinch

Younger male goldfinch

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White Breasted Nuthatch

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Titmouse

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I will eventually leave my yard,  but until then I am so enjoying all the birds that visit daily!

A few hours exploring

Saturday promised to be a sun-filled day, I’ve spend the last 3 weekends packing and organizing and cleaning….and I was done with that.   Well still a lot more to do, but I needed a break.  Journeyed off to LLELA…Lake Lewisville Environmental Learning Area, one of my favorite spots and only 10 minutes from the house.  A quick explanation is likely due here to those that read my blog and do not live in the Dallas area.  Last spring resolved all of our drought concerns…Lake Lewisville was full so the dam was wide open allowing the water to rapidly flow down the trinity river and throughout LLELA.  Trails have been underwater since last spring.  I haven’t been there in about a month so I was pleasantly surprised to find the dam at a trickle and the trails emerged fully from the water.   I arrived around 7:30 and the mist was still coming off the many little ponds

early morning mist

As far as birding goes, it was not a fruitful day, rather quiet but the walk was wonderful.  I hadn’t realized how far I’d walked until I came upon the Bittern Marsh Trail, zig zagging along I’d probably gone 5 miles.   Wildflowers were starting to bloom and butterflies and dragonflies were everywhere.

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I ended up at the dam and heard one of my favorite fishermen….the Belted Kingfisher…they are sooooo fast and I was amazed when I got home to find I had finally captured an in-focus photo of one in flight…couldn’t resist the captioning 🙂

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As I was about to head home there were two gentlemen looking up at a treetop,  knew there was a bird up there but couldn’t really tell what it was, thought perhaps an indigo bunting. Allen and George,  were trying to identify the little guy.  They asked if I would snap a shot and then zoom in so they could get a better look.  Well a lifer for me.   It was a blue grosbeak,an immature male so all the blue was not yet there.  They apparently spend their summers here and return south when it gets chilly

 

 

LLELA , Lake Lewisville, TX april 23, 2016 Juvenile Male

LLELA , Lake Lewisville, TX april 23, 2016 Juvenile Male

 

All in all a wonderful Saturday morning 🙂

UTSW Rookery

I’ve heard about a rookery in downtown Dallas for a few years now, gone a few times to try to find it but never could.   My son-in-law starting working there a few months ago and I finally asked him where the heck it was…..  Sunday promised to be a beautiful spring day in Dallas so decided I would try once again to locate this special place.  Well damn, so easy to pass it by, because it is between 3 major roads and who would have thought!   There are hundreds of Great Egrets and hundreds of nests!!!  I walked without the camera for a bit just to take it all in…Egrets are monogamous  and then there are those males that are trying to find a mate.  They do this fantastic ritual, poof out the feathers, shake their heads and reach for the sky.  Totally captivating!

Engaged in the mating ritual

Engaged in the mating ritual

Those that already have mates tend to the nest.

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They rarely leave the area, and when they do they return with twigs.  I didn’t see any returning with food, but I have to imagine at some point they must.

 

Great egret BW

The entry to the rookery faces east and the early morning light provided an opportunity to silhouette some of images….added a little text here, but otherwise a straight shot against the morning sun.

 

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had to convert one to B&W…while you lose that green facial breeding coloration, the contrast is striking.

So according to the information posted at the Rookery, the Great Egret is the first to arrive, after their chicks hatch and can fly, the Snowy Egret then comes.   I will be visiting again and share the latest update

 

New Neighbors

When we moved into our current home 9 years ago it was a new community, hence no trees….   Now 9 years later NOBODY has trees but us  🙂   We have 2 maples, another large one that I have no idea what it is and an oak.  I also have 5 feeders with assorted menus and 3 birdbaths.  Each year I get more new visitors, besides the regular sparrows, finches, cowbirds, hummingbirds, doves, cardinals and redwinged blackbirds this winter we had a resident ruby-crowned kinglet and yesterday a new surprise!!

I was playing Tom Sawyer ….endless feet of fence that needed whitewashing…OK not whitewashing, staining.   I started at 7:30 am and by 3pm I was covered in stain, feeling quite exhausted and ready to go lay down somewhere.   I was finishing the last part, being stabbed by rosebushes, which are under that tree that I have no idea what it is….I heard an unusual sound, not one of my regular songbirds….I looked up and there they were, 10 cedar waxwings coaxing me on to finish that darn fence!!!  🙂   like I said, covered in stain I thought about getting the tripod and camera but figured for sure by the time I set it up they would be long gone.  So I enjoyed their visit and hope they will return again.

This image is from a few years ago, in fact it was one of my first images with my long lens.  Since I didn’t capture one yesterday I thought I’d share this one.

 

Cedar Waxwing

Adobe Lightroom print module

I subscribe to KelbyOne and always find a course of interest…came upon one last night “Lightroom Series: Cool Layout Ideas for Lightroom”.  For those of you that are subscribers, I highly recommend this class, those of you that are not signed up….What are you waiting for? so many tips and tricks with LR and PS.   No I don’t get any royalties for this promotion 🙂   Want to improve your photos…sign up!

 

Birds Poster

 

 

NYC poster

 

 

Hagermans National Wildlife Refuge

Spent a day at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge a few weeks ago, it was a beautiful sunny day and I haven’t been there in over a year.  Due to continued flooding here in north Texas the main road into the refuge had just emerged from underwater so access to the trails was much easier.   There had been eagle sightings recently and was really hoping to spot one….posing for me in a nearby tree of course! 🙂

I searched the area where he/she was supposed to hanging…nothing.  Decided to take the Meadow Pond trail as I’ve always enjoyed the 6 mile walk and rarely see another person….I like my Saturdays to myself!    I was totally engrossed in a purple finch that was in fact posing for me when out of the corner of my eye I saw something large flying overhead   YUP it was the American Bald Eagle!!!  Didn’t get a very clear picture but what a thrill.  First time I’ve seen one in the wild, well actually the second time, first time was while driving at 80 MPH on an interstate in IOWA.

I planned on spending the day so was prepared and had packed lunch and plenty of water.  Mid-day was quiet as far as birds but just totally enjoyed the peacefulness of the refuge.  In the afternoon sun I came across this Great Blue Heron fishing in one of the creeks.  He wasn’t having too much luck, I must have watched him for 30 minutes and he never came up with anything other than this beautiful pose.

 

American Bald Eagle

American Bald Eagle

 

Hagermans National Wildlife Preserve

Purple Finch – female

 

Great Blue Heron