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American Dipper

December 16, 2014
Here are three shots from a few weekends ago, when I was using the rental 600mm in the Fraser Valley. This American Dipper was one of the most cooperative I've ever photographed! I never managed a clear shot at one from a good angle of a dipper just sitting on the side of the water, but the birds cooperated really well for swimming shots and I am very happy with the results!


Canon 7D Mark II | Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM | 1/1000 | ISO 1250 | f/4

American Dipper



Canon 7D Mark II | Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM + 1.4x III (840mm) | 1/1640 | ISO 1600 | f/5.6

American Dipper



Canon 7D Mark II | Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM | 1/1000 | ISO 1250 | f/4

American Dipper


Thanks for looking!
 

Another owl, winter waterfowl, Swamp Sparrow and a Long-billed Curlew

December 15, 2014
Birding has been awesome lately so here are a few more recent shots.

Long-eared Owl
Delta, BC, Canada - Nov 7 2014
Canon 7D Mark II | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/200 | ISO 500 | f/5.6

Long-eared Owl



Photographing winter waterfowl is always fun too, and I have spent some time doing that recently in many spots including Stanley Park.

Hooded Merganser
November 30 2014
Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Canon 7D Mark II | Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM + 1.4x | 1/1600 | ISO 400 | f/5.6

Hooded Merganser


Here's another winter duck:

Common Goldeneye
November 30 2014
Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Canon 7D Mark II | Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM + 1.4x | 1/1600 | ISO 640 | f/5.6


Common Goldeneye



Yesterday (December 13 2014) I birded around Delta with highlights being two Swamp Sparrows at Reifel and an Eared Grebe at White Rock. Both of these were BC Lifers! The Swamps Sparrows were hard to photograph but I managed some shots, the Eared Grebe was about 600 metres away so to far but still neat to see, and it is always rewarding to self-find a bird like that!

Here is a Swamp Sparrow shot:

Swamp Sparrow
December 13 2014
George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Delta, BC, Canada
Canon 7D Mark II | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/320 | ISO 640 | f/5.6

Swamp Sparrow



Here is another shot from yesterday, a Long-billed Curlew. This long staying bird comes every winter and is always lots of fun to photograph! The bird was a bit distant yesterday but the light was too good to resist!

Long-billed Curlew
December 13 2014
Blackie Spit, Surrey, BC, Canada
Canon 7D Mark II | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/800 | ISO 400 | f/5.6

Long-billed Curlew


Thanks for looking!

 

Recent shots

December 6, 2014
I haven't post on my blog in quite a while but as always I regularly post on my flickr page so be sure to check there if you don't see activity on my blog! 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/lirons-nature-photography/

Here are some recent shots from the past couple months. These months have brought lots of good birds and photography opportunities and here are some:

Surfbird: taken in Victoria on Nov 8, one of the many cool birds I saw there on a day trip to the island


Surfbird


Surf Scoters
 - I have spent some time photographing winter ducks in English Bay recently. I have gotten lots of good photos but this is one of my favorites. Taken on November 11 2014.


Surf Scoters


Barrow's Goldeneyes - also from English Bay, but on November 23 2014. This was my first birding outing with my BRAND NEW 7D MARK II which I am very happy with!

Barrow's Goldeneye pair in flight


From Nov 28-30 I had the chance to use a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM. This is an amazing lens, and I rented for a weekend to photograph the Bald Eagles that come to the Fraser Valley each year to feast on salmon. While due to high water levels there were not nearly as many birds as last year hundreds were still around and I got lots of good pictures! I've only gone through 1/5 of them so far so lots more coming, stay tuned to my Flickr page!

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On this trip to the Fraser Valley I also had a chance to photograph the Northern Pygmy-Owl, Canada's smallest owl which is less than 7 inches long! I did not except to find one, but to my surprise I did and it didn't even take very long! It was very dark (after sunset around dusk) when I spotted this guy, but nonetheless set up for some shots and I am happy with the results! Here this beautiful bird is eating a Dark-eyed Junco. It was an amazing experience to see this bird! This is only the second one I have ever seen.

Northern Pygmy-Owl


Here is one last shot for this post, of a Short-eared Owl. I took the 600mm to Boundary Bay one evening and these owls did not disappoint!

Short-eared Owl



Thanks for looking!   :)
 

Recent mountain birding

October 15, 2014
I have learned a few things about birding on mountains in BC over the years. Sometimes you will go up and only see a couple common birds, but other times it will be the most rewarding birding you have ever done. I've down two big mountain outings in the past while, and both were very rewarding!

Cypress Mountain - October 5 2014

On October 5 I went with Mel (birdergirl) and her sister Megan up Cypress Mountain to look for Pygmy-Owls. There, we ran into many others, who were all there for the same reason.

The wait for the owl began, but many birds kept us company including lots of Gray Jays. I spent some time getting wide angles flight shots of them, and I am very happy with the results!

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There were lots of Steller's Jays too:

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There were at least five Sharp-shinned Hawks that generally remained distant but I still took a few shots:

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After about three hours, I told everybody I was going to head down and look for the owl lower on the trail. Not three minutes after I began looking lower down I got a call. The pygmy owl had flown in! I raced back up and was so happy to see the pygmy owl was still there. It was a lifer!

The owl flew to various perches over the next while, this one being the closest. My 1.4x teleconverter on the 400mm f/5.6 (giving me 560mm) made a big difference for this shot, even though it meant using manual focus.

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On the way home we stopped where Nick had told us he had seen some Greater White-fronted Geese. Sure enough they were there, and also a few Cackling Geese!

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It was a great day of birding!


Manning Park - October 13 2014

On October 13 I went with Mel (birdergirl) to Manning Provincial Park to look for some target birds. It was a great day, we saw some great birds and I got a lifer!

The lifer was this beautiful male American Three-toed Woodpecker that we saw while hiking around. It was so awesome to see it!

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Not long after the success with the three-toed woodpecker, we ran into this beautiful Red-breasted Sapsucker:

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There were also lots of Gray Jays around, as expected:

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We now began the drive up to higher elevations to look for some more birds. On the way up we saw a Sooty Grouse beside the road that disappeared when we stopped for a photo, and this Ruffed Grouse too:

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At we arrived at our next stop where a couple Clark's Nutcrackers were happy to have their photos taken:

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There were beautiful trees around here, just like the rest of the park:

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We were very happy when this Pine Grosbeak flew in while we were watching the nutcrackers! The 1.4x teleconverter on my 400mm helped in this shot.

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While our search in even higher elevations for Boreal Chickadees was unsuccessful (lots of Mountain Chickadees though), we did find this Sooty Grouse on the drive down, which posed for us for a long time! A Pika (rodent) also made a brief appearance.

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It was an awesome day! :) Thanks to Mel for driving me there and for knowing where to look for my target species.


Here are some of the bird species we saw in the park that day:

Ruffed Grouse
Sooty Grouse
Red-tailed Hawk
hawk sp. (brief look)
Northern Pygmy-Owl (heard only)
Red-breasted Sapsucker
American Three-toed Woodpecker
Steller's Jay
Clark's Nutcracker
Common Raven
Mountain Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Pacific Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Townsend's Solitaire
Varied Thrush
Dark-eyed Junco
Pine Grosbeak
Pine Siskin
 

Peregrine Falcon V.S. Whimbrel and other recent shots

October 2, 2014
I had a great day of birding at Boundary Bay on September 27 2014. In addition to seeing lots of good species such as Red Knot, American Golden-Plover, Greater White-fronted Goose, Cackling Goose, Horned lark (flock of 45!), my first Snow Goose of the year, two Whimbrel and more, I also managed to get great photos of many birds.

It was the morning at the Boundary Bay, and I had already seen a variety of good birds. The list of good birds went higher when I spotted two Whimbrel flying around. They landed, and I decided to try to go in for a photo. I began stalking, but before I got close enough a Peregrine Falcon appeared out of nowhere. The two Whimbrel took off, but the falcon saw them and flew right at them, snatching one out of mid-air. It flew straight towards me, and I shot like crazy. The Peregrine Falcon landed, hidden in the grass, but all of a sudden the Whimbrel exploded out. It escaped, and flew off in the direction its partner had flown. The Peregrine Falcon did not go after it and flew off, probably looking for a different meal. This was quite the sight to see! Here are some photos that I got:

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Here are record shots of the Red Knot and American Golden-Plover. It was the second time I had seen these birds, but the first time I have found them by myself. They are needles in a haystack, usually hanging out with Black-bellied Plover flocks with at least 200-800 birds. These flocks are extremely difficult to approach so photos are very difficult. In this case finding the golden-plover was fairly easy as it was only with a couple dozen birds, but as I began to get closer many hundred more black-bellied plovers flew in and I didn't see the golden again.

American Golden Plover record shot
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Red Knot record shot
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Here are a few more recent photos from around the Lower Mainland:

Franklin's Gull - Vancouver - September 22 2014
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White-throated Sparrows - QE Park - September 18 2014
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Black-bellied Plover - Boundary Bay - September 17 2014. It took 1.5 hours of lying motionless in the mud for these birds to come close enough for photos, but it was worth it!

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Steller's Jay in flight - backyard setup - September 16 2014. Getting these birds in flight is much easier said than done. I thought it wouldn't be too hard to get a flight shot, but it ended up taking quite a while to get this shot, which I am very happy with! They come in very fast (way too fast for even the fast autofocus on my lens) and it is unpredictable where on the setup they will land. After a while of trying however, I managed to get this shot!

The light was not very good so I ended up having to use a very high ISO (4000). Next step is to try to get this shot when there is some more light so I don't have to set the ISO so high.

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Sanderling, Black Turnstone, Black-bellied Plover, Surfbird - Iona South Jetty - September 14 2014. Not often you see all these birds up on the same rock!

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Ash-throated Flycatcher - Boundary Bay - September 14 2014. Although I have seen this bird about five times now (every time I have recently been at Boundary Bay) I never get tired of seeing it. Here is a shot from the first time I saw it, the day after Nick found it.

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Thanks for looking! :) September was a great month of birding and photography for me.


 

Alaska Cruise

September 26, 2014
In this past August, I went on a one week cruise to Alaska. It was an awesome trip, full of amazing scenery and incredible birds and other animals. For more about the trip and to see photos from the trip, go to this page.

Humpback Whale Double Breach

Hubbard Glaicer calving

Cassin's Auklet

Siskin in the alpine
 

Recent Boundary Bay Shorebirds

September 13, 2014
During the past few weeks I have taken literally thousands upon thousands of shorebird photos at Boundary Bay, so many it is hard to go through all of them! I am still processing most but for now here are a few:

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
Lifer, #645! :D ABA Code 3.
Every year a few Sharp-tailed Sandpipers are seen in the Vancouver BC area. On September 4 2014 at Boundary Bay, BC, Canada, a flock of Pectoral Sandpipers flew in, and in among them I was really excited to spot this guy, a juvenile Sharp-tailed Sandpiper! A beautiful bird!

Canon EOS 60D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/1250 | ISO 320 | f/5.6

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Stilt Sandpiper
These birds are fairly easy to see at Reifel, but this was the first time I had seen one at Boundary Bay.

Canon EOS 60D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/1600 | ISO 320 | f/5.6

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Least Sandpiper
Often when you use an aperture like f/5.6 that creates lots of depth of field on a bird that is very close you end up with not all of the bird in sharp focus. For this reason it is sometimes worth stopping down a bit to something like f/9. The only issue with this is that you will lose a bit of depth of field in the background, even though your whole subject will be in better focus. For this shot I used f/5.6 and it worked out very well because the bird was exactly horizontal to me, so the whole bird was in sharp focus even at f/5.6.

Canon EOS 60D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/1000 | ISO 250 | f/5.6

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Short-billed Dowitcher
Feeding with Long-billed Dowitchers, Lesser Yellowlegs and a Stilt Sandpiper were a few Short-billed Dowitchers. Note the striped tertials which area good way to separate juvenile Short-billed Dowitchers from juvenile Long-billed Dowitchers. I am very happy with this shot, my best so far of a Short-billed Dowitcher. :) 

Canon EOS 60D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/1600 | ISO 320 | f/5.6

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Pectoral Sandpiper
Over the years I have spent a lot of time at Boundary Bay during shorebird migration, and I have learned how to find and photograph these birds very well. One of the steps that comes with getting a good photograph of the migrating shorebirds is being able to get close enough for a photo. This takes a variety of things on your part, but it also takes a cooperative bird. On many occasions, especially in the more recent couple of years, I have photographed birds at the bay that end up coming too close for me to focus. While leading a shorebird photography workshop on September 7th, we got a very cooperative Pectoral Sandpiper that allowed for close photos like this one.

Canon EOS 60D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/800 | ISO 200 | f/5.6

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Semipalmated Plover
Although not recent, I did not process this photo from July until recently. Semipalmated Plovers are hard birds to get close to so I was very happy with this shot. :) 

Canon EOS 60D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/800 | ISO 200 | f/5.6

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Baird's Sandpipers
It was late afternoon and the tide was high, so high that it came all the way up to the dike. There was a group of Baird's Sandpipers that was flying back and forth along the dike looking for a place to land, and two of them decided to land on this log that was one of the few places left to land on. I went in for a photo, but the water around the log was deep so for this shot I was almost entirely underwater except for my head, arms and camera. It was worth it though! The water was as still as it possibly could have been so I wasn't worried about a wave splashing my camera. After taking a few quick shots I went to dry off in the sun.

Canon EOS 60D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/1250 | ISO 200 | f/5.6

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It has been a great past while of shorebirding! :) I will hopefully upload some more shots onto my Flickr or maybe here soon, so stay tuned!

If you would like to join me for a shorebird photography workshop at Boundary Bay, visit:http://lironswildlifephotography.yolasite.com/workshops.php

"I had a great afternoon birding in the Boundary Bay with Liron last weekend. Liron knows exactly where to go, find and photograph shorebirds along the vast bay area without wasting time. His knowledge of the area and bird species was very impressive. He is also a great photographer and helped locate good shooting locations and angles, as well as the right way to approach birds. I would highly recommend him to anyone who is interested in capturing fantastic shots of migratory shorebirds that are moving through Boundary Bay at this time."

Thanks for looking! :)


 

Iona South Jetty - September 1 2014

September 3, 2014
On September 1st, I took public transit into Richmond and then biked to Iona Island. I pulled into the parking lot at around 9:00 AM, and then right away began biking the 4km (8km round trip) south jetty. On the way out I spoke to a few birders who were on their walk back in, and I was informed that 144 Surfbirds had been seen at the tip of the jetty earlier in the morning! Awesome! That would be a lifer! Unfortunately the birds had apparently flown off and had not come back yet.

After a 15 minute bike out to the tip of the jetty, I was a greeted by a few birders who also had gotten out to the tip that morning. After a fairly short wait at the tip, 5 shorebirds flew in to join the Western Sandpipers that were sitting on the rocks. They were much larger than the sandpipers. Surfbirds!! I got some nice photos and killer views of these birds. They were a life bird, #644. Awesome!!:D 

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The Surfbirds did not stay for very long because the tide was rising very quickly and soon the rocks they were on began to get splashed. The Surfbirds did not like this and soon took off:

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Also being impacted by the tide were some Common Terns. They had been on some rocks a bit too far off for photos, but the rising tide caused those to be submerged so they came and landed much closer:

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A birding friend of mine, Mel, who was already at the tip when I got out there now took me to where she had seen the Wandering Tattler earlier on. This was only my second BC Wandering Tattler, the other being on the south jetty last year. This bird was a juvenile so it is definitely not the same bird from last year. I got lots of shots including this one of it stretching a wing:

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I now went back to the tip where the terns were still present. The wind was blowing at the perfect angle for flight shots. Birds will 99% of the time land into the wind, and that is exactly what the terns were doing:

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I spent the next 6 or 7 hours at Iona, most of that at the tip. I walked the last kilometer of the tip a couple times, biked back to shore once, checked out the ponds, went back out, ect. It was a fun day! I spent a lot of time photographing the terns, and it was so much fun to watch their interactions as they came and landed. Notice how they are all landing away from me in these shots, that is because the wind had shifted.

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It was also fun to get some portrait shots of the closer birds:

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It was a great day at Iona! I biked around 40 kilometers in total, so in addition to lots of birding I had a great time on my bike. Here is one last shot of the Wandering Tattler:

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Thanks for looking! :)


 

Photographing Steller's Jays

August 28, 2014
Firstly, sorry for the absence to this blog! I have been away for much of the past month. If you ever want to see some photos during long blog absences (with less of a back story though), be sure to check out my Flickr page: http://flickr.com/photos/lirons-nature-photography/

Every year I get Steller's Jays in my backyard, particularly in late summer and fall, when they come to feast on and stash the nuts from our hazelnut tree. Starting last year I put out peanuts for them as well as some perches in order to do a perch setup. This was inspired by a blog post done by a fellow nature photographer, Alfredo Fernadez:
http://alfredofernandez.ca/blog/2012/10/photo-tips-photographing-stellers-jays

Last year it took weeks before I successfully got a jay on the perch. This year, it has been much easier, and there have been birds coming to the yard and to the perch literally all day, rarely ever leaving the yard unless they are going to stash a nut somewhere to eat later on. They take as many nuts as they can carry but they eat very few; almost all the nuts they go and stash somewhere so they have food in the winter. They are stashing them all over the yard, and they are all hidden extremely well.

It is amazing to see how intelligent these birds are, in many ways. Firstly, in the way they hide the nuts, not only how they tuck them away in all sorts of places but also how they cover most of them with leaves and dirt. Secondly, they pick up every nut the see and weigh each one so they always take the largest and heaviest nuts first. Thirdly, they are fantastic mimics and almost fooled me by mimicking a crow.

I look forward to spending more time photographing these birds soon! :) 

Canon EOS 60D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | f/5.6 | 1/250 | ISO 100 | pop-up fill flash and separate off-camera fill flash

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My favorite:
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Behind the scenes video of the setup:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Je5sAwUw6pU&feature=youtu.be&list=UUHJsuToncE2kbInUZ6cxtsg


Thanks for looking! :)


 

Bears!

July 25, 2014
I had a chance to photograph some bears yesterday, all from a vehicle thankfully! It was raining and there wasn't tons of light (shooting at ISO 1000 and fairly low shutter speeds) but I am still very happy with the results. This was the first time I have had a good opportunity to photograph these amazing animals.

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