Chicken Little

barred rock hen portrait

I captured this image last summer, when this lovely hen was resting in the grass in a corner of her compound. Artists seem to love painting chickens, I guess the color of their combs contrasting with their feather colors are just irresistable. I like to photograph them because of all the interesting textures in their face area and the beautiful feather patterns.

Unfortunately, this handsome bird is no longer with us. A couple of months ago, she and her 5 companions fell victim to a predator that managed to get into the henhouse 6 nights in a row, absconding with one hen each night. 😦

Northern Shoveler

northern shoveler drake looking over shoulder

This week I haven’t processed any images that have inspired me enough to post. But feeling a need to post something today, I selected this image of a Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) that was hanging out with a flock of mallards near shore in the bird sanctuary. Generally very shy, I was surprised that this drake allowed me to approach so close to him while he was primping, but he finally turned and looked at me with apparent exasperation, so I quickly captured this image and gave him a little more space.

At a casual glance, shovelers can easily be mistaken for mallards but can be distinguished from them by the large blue patch they display on their shoulder and their iridescent green speculum (a lustrous colored patch on the wing) as opposed to the absence of a shoulder patch and violet blue speculum of the mallard

This bird favors broad, shallow marshes where it can use the comb-like teeth along the edges of its large bill to strain aquatic animals, plants, and seeds from the water. They tend to forage on water bodies that provide seed from various plants including pondweed, bulrush, various grasses, sedges and algae. The remainder of its diet consists of mollusks, aquatic insects and zooplankton.

The unique bill morphology of Northern Shovelers allows this species to exhibit one of the most unusual feeding behaviors of any duck. Its large spoon shaped bill is adapted for sifting large amounts of muddy water. Their tongues are highly specialized with extensive comb-like teeth called lamellae, which help filter food items from the water. Moving its head side to side, water is drawn in at the tip of the bill, filtered through the lamellae to pick up any food particulate and then expelled at the base.

Socially, these dabbling ducks occasionally work together in groups while feeding, rotating like a ‘pin-wheel’, stirring up the surface water and skimming it for food particles. They also dabble through muddy bottoms in shallow ponds and will occasionally dive and feed underwater in deeper water bodies

During the breeding season, Northern Shovelers are widely distributed throughout central and western North America, Europe and Northern Asia. In the fall, Northern Shovelers migrate to the southern regions of North America, South America, North Africa and Southern Asia to over winter. Freshwater and saline marshes, industrial cooling ponds, agricultural wastewater ponds, coastal lagoons, estuaries and mangrove swamps provide wintering habitat.

Text drawn from http://www.borealbirds.org

 

In camera motion meets FX software

I think it’s fair to say that wildlife is my favorite photography subject, yet with the limited gear that I have capturing wildlife images is frequently an exercise in frustration. I cannot hope to compete with all those photographers walking around with enormous lenses who are looking for the same unique angles that I may be after. And if I do succeed in bringing home something worthwhile, I usually have to crop aggressively, leaving me with a vastly reduced image size. It can be very discouraging because I have a very limited budget which doesn’t allow for equipment upgrading (let alone any photo tours). OK yes, I took a couple of trips in the past year, but suffice to say…I owe an enormous thank you to my very generous family.

So what to do to produce images that are larger in spite of the cropping…resize in post processing and apply some kind of artistic treatment. I’m a creative person who also has a techie side. I’m completely at home on a computer and tend to play endlessly with my software’s possibilities. Creative in-camera movement combined with creative software effects of various styles can be a marriage made in heaven even when image size isn’t an issue.

Here’s a series of Great Blue Heron in-camera blur images that I captured a couple of summers ago, but they’ve just been taking up space in my photo library until this weekend, when I threw a few creative effects at them and quite liked the results.

 

 

Ebbing tide patrol – Monochrome Madness Challenge Week 40

Here is this week’s submission to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness Challenge. Click on the link to view some lovely black and white photography.

Following on from yesterday’s post, this image shows some gulls patrolling the receding tideline, and one of them has found a clam. When they couldn’t break into them, many of the gulls were dropping the clams from a height to crack them open, and then swooping down to capture their prize before somebody else rushed in. A few smarty-pants were flying up to drop their clams on the pier decking, as seen in the images below.  This tactic was very successful – dropping the clams onto the beach was not very effective, not surprisingly, and dropping them onto the rocks above the beach risked losing the clam between the larger rocks.

 

 

White Rock sunset

I was down at White Rock pier again yesterday. It had snowed lightly the day before and the temps were hovering around freezing and there was still snow on the pier decking, making the footing a little treacherous and icy. Once the sun got low on the horizon the colors in the sky started to put on a show.

The first image was captured from part way along the pier, looking approximately ESE, the volcano Mt. Baker on the left, and part of the Cascade range to the right of it. The Cascades are a pretty hefty range of mountains, yet Mt.Baker almost dwarfs them. The tide was on the way out and the gulls and ducks were hunting for clams and other edibles in the tidal pools and along the receding waterline.

Click on images for larger view.

The second image overlooks the pier a little later, looking in an approximately SW direction towards the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island in the background.