Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More albino hummer pics

These are two more pics taken of the albino hummingbird in the Salida, CO area earlier this week. I talked to the property owner just a little while ago and the bird has not returned. Please note that these were more distant so in addition to cropping to enlarge the bird I tweaked the lighting and contrast. SeEtta

Least Bittern fledgling taken yesterday: pic not cropped

As I have had questions about whether the Least Bitterns I saw yesterday were in the middle, top or bottom of the cattails, I am posting this pic that I did not crop so you see what the bird looked like through my long telephoto lens combo (400mm lens + 1.4 extender and with a 1.6 multiplier for not having a full frame camera=equivalent of around 900 mm telephoto or 18 X's normal lens). This also shows the challenge these birds presented for photographing especially since I have to focus manually. Click on pic to enlarge then click on it again to get better view. SeEtta

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Albino hummingbird at feeder in Salida,CO area

Yesterday I was contacted about a possible albino hummingbird that had been photographed coming to feeders in the Salida, CO area. I believe this bird meets criteria for full albino rather than leucistic because it has very white feathering (rather than off-white or a pinkish bill and feet and reddish eyes. I cropped these photos taken by Judith Anne Smith and did not modify the coloration.


True Albino hummingbirds are very rare as are leucistic hummingbirds, just more so.

The other hummingbirds coming to the feeder are Broad-tailed and Rufous and I can't tell from these photos which specie it might be. The property owner where this albino hummingbird has come to the feeders this week is open to visits by interested birders if it stays around. Contact me if you are in the Salida area and would like to try for this beautiful hummer and I will connect you with the property owner. SeEtta

9-1-11 PostNote:  I exchanged photos today as I had Ms. Smith's name incorrect and I did not have the correct copyright symbol--these photos are copyrighted.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Least Bitterns: the male

Shortly after I watched a fledgling (or two) practice clinging to a cattail and looking around (possibly to see what caused all the noise and vibration--a local rock quarry train had pulled up and stopped on tracks about a hundred feet from the birds), I spotted this Least Bittern which I believe due to it's darker plumage is the male.

The bottom pic really shows off the coloration from it's crown down to it's flight feathers. These pics really show details if you click on them to enlarge then click again to super enlarge. SeEtta

Least Bitterns near Canon City, CO: fledglings!

Due to post surgery restrictions I haven't been able to get out to the Holcim Wetlands where the Least Bittern was found 2 weeks ago. Since then other birders have seen possible male and female birds raising the possibility that there might be breeding occurring. I went out this morning and looked for them from 7 am to 11 am--I could hear Least Bittern soft 'cooing' calls off and on but could not spot any birds. Interestingly, the location the calls were coming from was right where I had photographed the Least Bittern the first time as it hunted.

When I left I stopped for some food in nearby Florence and checked my email on my Droid phone--a post this morning while I was at Holcim stating he had seen a male, a female and 2-3 fledglings yesterday between noon and 1pm. So I gobbled down my food and returned to Holcim Wetlands to try again, at this unusual mid-day time frame.

Doug had made it sound like a piece of cake but it wasn't so for me. I had even sat on the log he had referred to thinking that maybe being at a lower angle would obscure my profile and increase my chances. As 1:45 I got anxious and got up to look as I had to leave soon--I spotted an obvious fledgling, with it's fuzzy white feathers standing up from it's head and body, as it clung precariously to a cattail. I returned to get my tripod and tried to see the bird from there, but the angle of view obscured the young bird so I returned to where I first spotted it and got these pics. I took a number of pics over a 10 minute period of time and I am not sure if the fledgling in the top pic is the same one in the bottom pic as it looks darker. The white feathering appears to be left over from hatchling plumage so I believe it is a pretty young bird. Check out the size of this little bird compared to the nearby cattail seed head. (Click on each pic to enlarge then click again for more detailed viewing) SeEtta

Sunday, August 28, 2011

More pics of MacGillivray's Warbler

These are more pics of one of the two MacGillivray's Warblers I found two days ago. They seemed to be together as they fed near each other and moved off together. The top pic shows the whitish throat quite well but I am not sure if this is a female or a juvenile bird. SeEtta

MacGillivray's Warblers migrating through

I found 2 MacGillivray's Warblers migrating through my friend's farm just east of Canon City two days ago. They were very actively feeding in some tree limbs just above a farm pond. Photographing this active warbler species is always a challenge because they like to skulk behind thicker vegetation or messy areas with lots of limbs and stuff in the way of a clear shot like in the bottom pic. I hear them give their 'chip' call more often during spring migration so less auditory cues now also. Plus I am still recovering from outpatient surgery to improve my vision so I cannot yet bring the binoculars or camera eyepiece up to my eye as there are still stitches (and chance for infection) so more of a challenge for me to follow their often quick movements and get good focus (yes, I have to focus manually). So I was pleased with these and pics that follow. SeEtta


Shorebird survives flight through Hurricane Irene!

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While birds and other wildlife have evolved over thousands of years with hurricanes and other severe weather events, they are still subject to their impacts. In a blog entry titled "Seven Things to Know About How Hurricanes Affect Wildlife" by Kevin Coyle on the National Wildlife Federation 'Wildlife Promise' blog site, a story is recounted about a Brown Pelican (like the bird above that I photographed this past January) that was reported in the news media as having been blown very far off course to Nova Scotia during Hurricane Earl.

Mr. Coyle goes on to discuss how perching birds cling with their toes wrapped around branches, an adaptation that keeps them safely perched in trees while they sleep also. Various other species of birds have evolved different strategies to help them cope with hurricanes. Other species are also affected and this blog notes that "some dolphins and manatees have actually been blown ashore during major storms."

[created by Steve Maslowski/USFWS"]I just read one amazing story about a migrating shorebird, called a Whimbrel, that flew through the most dangerous part of Hurricane Irene this week as it flew in migration towards it's wintering grounds in South America. This little bird named Chinquapin, only about a foot and a half in length, is part of a tracking program by the Center for Conservation Biology and their partners in which tiny radio transmitters are attached to ride on the bird's back and send signals that show important information on it's route and progress as it migrates. The radio signals indicate that the Whimbrel apparently made it safely through the hurricane and that it was able to land on an island in the Bahamas on Friday. Additional signals Saturday confirms it appears safe on the ground on this island. The director of The College of William & Mary's Center for Conservation Biology, Bryan Watts, was quoted in an article on this in USA Today as saying, "When he was in the outer bands of the storm he was flying at 30 miles per hour." Mr. Watts was duly impressed, and so am I!

I don't know about you, but I am terribly impressed by this little shorebird's amazing flight through this hurricane. Did you know that Whimbrels can fly up to 3,200 miles non-stop?  SeEtta (originally posted to Birds and Blooms magazine online blog @http://birdsandbloomsblog.com/2011/08/28/shorebird-survives-flight-through-hurricane-irene/