Sunday, February 22, 2009

More Birds 'n Stuff

The park opens at 8:00am. We figured we'd be there just as it opened, it would be quieter and maybe the new ducks would be less shy. Of course, we waltzed through the gate at 9:15am with this character:

She does not attract birds, to say the least. She has such a great time, though, I don't have the heart to leave her home. Look at that last picture; that is a happy dog! We did take her walking separately, so we could each spend some time on shore without the dog taking pictures. It worked a little better than yesterday.

This is all wrong from a photography standpoint. You're not supposed to have so much junk cluttering up the pretty mountains. I don't care, I like this shot. This is the sun just barely hitting the Spring Mountains. You can't see Mt. Charleston itself because of the clouds, but it's back in there.

Mallards are so common, it's easy to forget how pretty they are. Also, they are not shy. This fella was sitting practically at my feet, so I couldn't resist him.

I wish I'd spent more time chasing this guy. We saw him fly up, I snapped a couple shots, then didn't think too much more of it when he landed in a tree. I had ducks to get to! Turns out, this is a Black-crowned Night Heron. As the name implies, they usually hunt at night. I guess it's not unheard of to see them in the day, just considerably less common, so I passed up a good opportunity.

The rest of the post is Mergansers and Cormorants. A pair of Cormorants came close-ish, so we did get some better shots of those. Incidentally, the bird books reveal that Cormorant feathers are not entirely waterproof. Seems like a design flaw, no? Anyway, in a couple of these you can see how low they get when they are swimming.

Check out the 'do on the guy in the middle!

I did not take these, but I think they probably turned out the best of all the Cormorant pictures.

Parkin' it.

Back to the park! First, a shot of the Shovelers again. This time I was able to get Mrs. Shoveler with her beak out of the water. It seems that a lot of the Shovelers' time is spent spinning in slow circles and sucking stuff (food, I assume) out of the water. The female looks an awful lot like a female Mallard until you see the beak. Also, they are slightly smaller, but you really have to see them together before that's apparent.

The duck-type wimminfolk really got the short end of the looks stick, in most cases. Not all, however! Out in the middle of the big lake (which is way too far, really, for our lens) there was something we hadn't seen before. These pictures are really far away, but once we got home, I looked them up and these are female Common Mergansers. Not, you know, exotic, just common, but we hadn't seen them before. One of my bird books says this is the only Merganser in North America where the female is crested and the male is not. So now you know too.

When I first opened up the pictures, I thought we'd gotten three new types of birds. Nope. The white birds with black heads are male Mergansers. There's one female here, she's the one that looks like a punk rocker. But behind the Mergansers, there are two Double-crested Cormorants. Cool! So here's this flock of stuff we haven't seen before, waaaay out in the middle of the lake where we can't get good pictures.

Another shot of some Cormorants.

Since the park was pretty busy and these guys showed no inclination to leave the middle of the lake, we decided we'd head out and come back early Sunday. I'll put those pictures in another post, but I'll leave you with a couple more.

I've mentioned before I'm partial to coots, but this guy was pretty funny. He was standing on his little hummock stomping his foot. I don't know what he was doing, but it was surprisingly loud.

There's nothing at all special about the geese in this picture, but I loved the light in this one.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chilly Day at the Park

I'm kinda mad about this. We saw a new kind of bird at the park and I'm pretty happy with the pictures. I'm not happy that I'm still unable to get PhotoShop running on my Vista computer and I don't have the editing tools to get these pictures looking the way I'd like. My exposure is a little off, so I'm not thrilled with the pictures, but the white chests of these ducks are not blown out, they just look that way. There's recoverable detail in the white feathers that I can't bring out with what I've got. Arrgh! Ok, anyway....

There were several migratory Northern Shovelers who decided to stop at the park for us. How cool! I have long wanted to see something other than the Mallards that you can find anywhere and yesterday was our day. Lookit the beaks on these guys! I wonder why they're called "Shovelers"?

Just for fun, here's the dog. "My nickname is 'Spitty'!!" I believe dogs actually see birds headless, plucked, basted and running around wearing those little paper booties, just like in the cartoons.