Posts Tagged: scalderphotography

Green Jay lifting off in flight

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I photographed this Green Jay lifting off in flight from a dead branch. The Green Jay’s range is from a tiny part of southern Texas to Honduras where they live year-round. The Green Jay is not migratory so you are likely to experience these vivid birds any time of the year in southernmost Texas, Mexico, and Honduras. These beautiful birds are brilliant green, yellow, and blue. They are noisy garrulous and entertaining to watch and photograph.

Northern Gannets

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The Northern Gannet is an extraordinarily large, magnificent seabird. They live at sea on the open ocean except for the breeding months. A few months out of the year they nest on cliffs in the North Atlantic or Iceland. They are graceful and unique with blue eyes and a snow-white body with a yellow head and dark wingtips. The Northern Gannet has a beak that looks as if they could use it as a bayonet. They plunge dive at high speeds into the ocean to feed on fish. The Northern Gannet is a proficient underwater swimmer, diving as deep as 72 feet. They retract their wings so they look like a v-shaped airplane as they dive. The Northern Gannets are monogamous and mate for life. Both sexes feed the young and take turns going fishing. When the pair meet or reunite, they greet each other at their nesting site. The greeting ritual is a lot of head shaking, bill clacking, and mutual preening. The Gannet form of billing and cooing, maybe? I photographed this pair of Northern Gannets in flight off the coast of Machias Seal Island from a boat.

Merlin

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I discovered this Female Merlin flying like a rocket to the top of this bare tree. She looked like a Peregrine Falcon as I watched her from a distance. I was photographing in Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge and had seen a Peregrine the preceding day and was eager to see it again. As I got closer, I realized this falcon was too small to be a Peregrine. When I got close enough to photograph her, she was scanning the area below her from the top of this tree. I learned later (after I identified it as a Female Merlin), that they can fly 30 plus mph and even faster and they eat smaller birds. They catch these small birds in midair with a high-speed attack. Even though the Merlin looks just like a miniature Peregrine, Merlins are prey for Peregrine Falcons!

Long-Billed Thrasher

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This Long-Billed Thrasher came out in front of my camera, and I took multiple photographs before I realized that it wasn’t a Brown Thrasher. I was in a bird blind in South Texas, and thankfully a Texan was with me and identified this beauty. Later, as I studied my images and had time to inspect the differences, it was obvious. The bill is darker, longer, and curved. The face of the Long-Billed Thrasher is grayer, and the breast streaks are blacker. I didn’t recognize any of that while I was eagerly taking pictures. The Long-Billed Thrasher uses its long curved bill to rummage on the ground for insects and berries. I learned that the Long-Billed Thrasher lives only in a small section of South Texas in the Rio Grande Valley and northeastern Mexico. They are year-round residents of these areas, so any time is a great time to spot one of these elegant Thrashers! 

Common Eider

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This large colorful duck is the Common Eider. This is a Male Common Eider with his black, pinkish-white, and green feathers. The Female Common Eider is a reddish brown but with the same long bill and head shape. Before photographing this one on the bank of a pond near the ocean, I had only seen them through binoculars bobbing on the sea. This diving duck is large, weighing up to six pounds, and is unique with a wedge-shaped head. They eat shellfish and aquatic invertebrates. Aquatic invertebrates are little creatures without a spine such as crayfish, clams, and snails that live in rivers and streams and the sea. The Common Eider dives as deep as 65 feet to the bottom to find its food. Common Eiders build their nests on the ground near water. The Female Common Eider lines the nest with down that she plucks from her breast. People gather and clean the Eiderdown from nests after Mama Eider and the ducklings leave. Humans have been using eiderdown for centuries to stay warm. Eiderdown is the world’s most appreciated and prized down for insulation. It has springy characteristics without quills or feathers.  This springy quality allows the down to keep its shape and last for decades when made (usually by hand) into clothing, pillows, or bed coverings. Most of the world’s Eiderdown products come from Iceland. Now I know why Eiderdown products are so expensive!