Liron's Nature Photography- Blog



 

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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Boundary Bay Shorebirds again - July 7 2014

July 18, 2014
On July 7 2014, I spent another awesome day at Boundary Bay! After almost 8 hours of lying in the mud, I left with some shots that I am very happy with!

It did not take long for me to spot some shorebirds from up on the dike. It was a group of Western Sandpipers, and I went down on the mudflats to try for some shots. The morning light made for some really nice reflection shots:

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Of course, as usual at Boundary Bay, there was a Peregrine Falcon around. It made a pass, causing shorebirds from all directions to take flight. Although the falcons often ruin your close up shots, they make for great flight shots of the sandpipers:

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After a while the shorebirds settled down, though many disappeared in the distance. Next up was a group of Least Sandpipers that were feeding:

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While photographing the Least Sandpipers I heard a Killdeer calling and sure enough this chick was walking around with its parents:

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Check out the camouflage!
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I then went back to the migrant shorebirds. Another group had arrived, and this flock had three species in it: Western, Least, and Semipalmated Sandpipers. Most were Western Sandpipers, so I started off photographing them:

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Next, I got some nice shot of a Semipalmated Sandpiper that was in the flock:

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The third species, Least Sandpipers, also posed for shots:

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After getting tons of shots, I left the group to feed, and continued walking. It wasn't long before I spotted another small flock land nearby:

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These were all Western Sandpipers except for one Semipalmated Sandpiper. I decided to focus on getting shots of the Semipalmated Sandpiper. I ended up getting very close shots that I am very happy with!

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The Semipalmated Sandpiper soon wandered off so I went back to shooting the Western Sandpipers:

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These sandpipers were nice and close, which meant lots of good shots. It is hard to get them with their beaks up as they are constantly moving them in and out of the mud! While photographing them I noticed another sandpiper flock flying around:

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What happened next was amazing, and it has only happened to me a few times before. The flock landed all around me. I was surrounded by sandpipers and many were way to close for me to focus! If this bird was one centimetre closer it would have been out of focus:

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They soon realized they had just landed close to a human and after staring at me for a minute they hustled off to some sea grass for cover. I backed away and began looking for more shorebirds. To my delight nearby there was a large flock of Western and Least Sandpipers bathing in a deeper tidal pool:

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After they finished bathing, they went up onto some rocks to rest and preen:

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Cool feet!
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Though the flock had mainly Western Sandpipers, as I mentioned there were a few Least Sandpipers. One of them came up on the rock as well:

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By spending so much time at the bay I have learned the shorebirds behavior cycles after doing things like bathing and preening, so I was ready for this shot:

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It was getting late now so I decided to call it a day. It had been another great day!

Here is are some video clips I filmed of Western Sandpipers on the 7th. Be sure to set quality to HD!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rccVIpCwYdM&list=UUHJsuToncE2kbInUZ6cxtsg


I am now running private shorebird photography workshops out at Boundary Bay. These birds are very difficult to photograph and it has taken me years to come up with strategies to allow me to get close to these amazing but shy birds and to get good shots. To join me for a day of shooting at the bay, visit:http://lironsnaturephotogalleries.yolasite.com/workshops.php


Thanks for looking! :) 
Coming soon: more shots from the bay that I took on the 16th, including my best shots yet of Semipalmated Plovers.
 

More shorebirding at the bay

July 8, 2014
On July 4 2014 I biked all around Delta, covering about 45 kilometers. The highlight was my stop at Boundary Bay, where the shorebird migration had definitely picked up since my last visit! My last visit on June 24 turned up 5 migratory shorebirds, Western Sandpipers and a Dunlin. This visit turned up well over 2,000 migratory shorebirds, Western Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, a Dunlin, and a Semipalmated Plover. It was awesome!

It did not take me long to spot some Least Sandpipers feeding while riding my bike, so I locked it up and down on the mudflats I went! The mud crawling began and I got closer than I have ever been before to these birds:

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After a while I left the Least Sandpipers behind, and went out farther on the mudflats. I soon spotted a Dunlin feeding. This bird was almost completely still in breeding plumage, something we don't see often with Dunlins around here, so it made for some really nice shots!

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At one point a Northern Harrier flew over, and the Dunlin ran towards the nearest cover. Not a great shot but a very interesting behavior to see! I knew something was up when it ran for cover, but I did not see the harrier coming until long after the Dunlin did!

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To see a video of the Dunlin feeding, go to this link (make sure to set quality to HD): 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nNa7ac ... InUZ6cxtsg


I continued walking out on the mudflats, and I ran into my first large sandpiper flock of the season! There were at least 1,500 Western Sandpipers with other species mixed in such as a Semipalmated Plover and multiple Semipalmated Sandpipers.

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The flock disappeared in the distance, and I was pretty sure I wouldn't see them again. To my luck later on they came back and landed not too far from where I was, so I began some more mud crawling! At first they were very shy but eventually they got used to my presence, and some even came too close for me to focus!

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You know if they don't mind having you around if they start to sleep right in front of you!

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While photographing the Western Sandpipers I had my eyes open for any other species, and soon this Semipalmated Sandpiper stepped out right in front of me. Unfortunately I did not get the head in focus in this shot:

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This Semipalmated Plover, one of my favorite shorebird species, made a brief appearance as well before disappearing back among all the sandpipers:

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Later, back on my bike, I stopped to take some photos of this Merlin that was perched in a tree:

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It was a great day of shorebirding! :) 


Today (July 7) I was out there again and got more good shots including my best ever of Semipalmated Sandpipers and also some more nice ones of Western and Least Sandpipers.


I am happy to announce that I am now running private shorebird photography workshops out at Boundary Bay! Migratory shorebirds are very difficult to photograph well, and it is taken me multiple years to develop techniques to allow me to get close to these amazing but shy birds. If you would like to join me for a day of shooting at the bay, visit:http://lironsnaturephotogalleries.yolas ... kshops.php


Thanks for looking! :)

 

Red-eyed Vireo at last!

June 30, 2014
On June 20 2014, I went to finally track down one of my nemesis birds: the Red-eyed Vireo. Seeing Mike's photos the day before made me want to give it a go, so I got some great directions from him and set off to Burnaby Lake.

Within minutes after arriving (at the Avalon entrance), I heard what I was 99% certain was a Red-eyed Vireo singing. I heard it singing non stop from the top of a tree that was right into the sun. I tried to spot it, but I didn't have any luck.

After staring up in the treetops for a long time, a bird flew down to the other side of the trail fairly low in the tree. It was the Red-eyed Vireo! I snapped away, and got a nice shot of it singing:

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The vireo then came even closer and lower down, and it caught an insect for breakfast:

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I was very happy with the shots I had gotten! That was good because after that, though I heard and got brief glimpses of 5 more Red-eyed Vireos, the birds just didn't wan't their photos taken.

It was a great morning! Later on the other side of the lake at Piper Spit I ran into Nick, and we walked together and got to see many other good birds like Western Tanager, Pileated Woodpecker, Cinnamon Teal and more.

Thanks for looking! :)

 
 
 

 

 

 

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