Monday, November 26, 2012

Woody Woodpecker on Wood


The light was a bit bright on the beach for shooting sunday morning at maplewood but it was really nice to be out regardless.

Was surprised however to get a Pileated on a log, again (just like in April of 2010 on same log!), 2010 shots were sweet, 2012 version not as, but a privilege to witness the bird working a log from end to end anyways :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Citrine Wagtail

Audy and i woke up early Saturday morning and headed out on the first ferry to Nanaimo, ultimate destination Comox and the Citrine Wagtail, a far out of town vagrant from asia that has chosen a farmer's field and mud puddle as it's extended stop-over destination.

When i first heard of this sighting i wasn't that excited, thinking i already had this species in Thailand, turns out i don't.
Grey and Yellow wagtails yes and White even (seen but not photo'd) but no Citrine.
I've missed a few big birds this last while like last December when the Ross's Gull showed up just below the Okanagan in Washington state (lens was being fixed, for the first time) so really wanted a shot at this one.

Citrine Wagtail is a bird one might expect to find in Thailand in the winter but it's not a "common" bird, i don't think.
I have a Thai language field guide that gives it a 2 binocular symbol rating while Grey and Yellow rate 3.
The lower the number, the rarer, or something like that.

So, coffee programed to peculate the night before, we woke up at 4:30am, leaving just after 5am and arriving at Horseshoe bay terminal with plenty of time to spare.
I imagined that all the cars were going to Comox to see the bird, the cafeteria no doubt would be full of birders and the captain would come on the PA at some point to announce that the Wagtail had been seen that morning.
None of that of course happened, there might have been a few birders on board but our paths never crossed.

I made good time driving and we arrived at the location at around 9:30am, i had heard that mornings were more reliable sighting-wise and this was a good time to arrive.

Wagtail Congregation

I set up my camera and looked for familiar faces among the crowd, perhaps these were all island birders, i didn't recognize anyone.

I heard there was a guy from California in the crowd (embarrassingly enough, i later spaced out and misheard him being referred to as "Mike Toochin" and went up to him and asked if he was Mike when the real Mike was standing right next to him! - i've even met the real Mike a few times before in the field, never had a real conversation, but i should have known the californian wasn't Mike, it was a little funny because he turned to me and said coldly "No, i'm something something (i never did get his name) from California..." oops.

The Wagtail was not in view when we arrived as a shrike had just tangled with it, everyone had their scopes up in a tree looking at the shrike and i was like "uh, anyone seen the wagtail lately?"
Shrikes are cool and all but..

I took note of the arrival of Ilya, a lower mainland birder of renown, i was reassured since his scope looking would surely turn it up soon. He didn't recognize me but all eyes were on the muddy farmers field anyways.

I felt a bit foolish having left my bins (binoculars) in the car as i could have used them (and i've been scolded in the past for saying that i don't typically wear them when out shooting as all good birders should), ironic then that it was first Audy mentioning that she saw with her bare eyes a bird land in a different way than the other sparse birds out at the grass line and then my scanning through big lens that turned it up again.
Chalk one up for the photogs i guess LOL

"I've Got It!"

Where's Waldo?

The bird was so far out at the end of the field that it was pretty much just a blob of pixels, even with my 500mm f4 + 1.4x teleconverter on.

Here's where the story gets interesting, when we  first arrived we noticed a couple of hunters dressed in camo walking back to their pickup truck from the dirt laneway we were on, separating two fields (both for sale).
Later i saw more hunters coming back from being out in the fields, ducks around one's hips like a belt. 
I'm not even sure if it was a hunter or birder (or both perhaps) but at one point a fellow came up to the group and announced that he had just gotten off the phone with the owner of the field and said that since the bird was so far off in the distance at the moment for this day only, the owner would let those that wanted to get a closer look (i wasn't the only photog there, and every birder with scope had a camera by their side as well it seemed) do just that.
please just stay on the high ground and stay out of any muddy areas or puddles of water.
I was pleasantly surprised as i wasn't expecting to get anything other than distant barely ID'able record shots of this bird.
Some local birders there were hesitant and spoke to the fellow to get more info (and see if this was all just being made-up i suspect), the name of the landowner was asked and i guess the answer was the right one, the fellow assured us that he did in fact know the owner quite well and permission had been granted this time only.
At that point half the group that was standing started to walk out to get a closer look, and Audy and I followed them. 
The bird had a largish puddle of water between it and us so the plan was to ease up on the bird slowly, bit by bit.

In the end, we never really got close enough to get much better than this last cropped shot, still, so much better than if the "Where's Waldo" shot was all i had to go back home with, right?

The bird eventually got spooked by a Merlin i believe and headed out of view.

When we were heading out in our car i thought i spotted the bird on the other side of the field by the road and would later read that it had indeed been located there later in the afternoon.

For us, a quick jet back down island and we were on the 12:30pm ferry back home.
yep, that's how we roll, bing bang boom, getter done and all that.

She looks good, i however look like crap.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Early Bird at BBay

I was watching the weather forecast this week and noticed that the rains were supposed to come in during the weekend, i decided to get out friday morning instead (it was my forced day off work anyways).

I had hoped to get a blurry shot or two of the Cave Swallow at Iona but hadn't heard a positive report since Wednesday, heading out there first thing probably wouldn't be the best anyways, for i planned to get up at my regular work day time of 5:15am and just head out with my camera.

Since Boundary Bay was a blast last friday i decided to start there again, only i got there so early i had to wait in my car almost 1/2 an hour for it to be light enough to see anything :lol:
There was only one other car parked and i found out later it belonged to the lone hunter, set-up by the waterline, duck decoy wings flapping in the wind and his duck call going over-time. I secretly hoped that my movement out there would discourage any ducks from falling for this guy's blood-sport but at the same time i didn't want to get too close, for obvious reasons.

It was kind of cool to have the whole place to yourself, first time it has every happened to me there.
I saw a couple of great whites and was able to get some shots of a pair from a distance.
I was using the 500mm and the 1.4x tele and got pretty wet, crouched down on my knees.
One of the 2 birds i encountered decided to do a bit of flying around but the other was content to stay put and i was able to nail some shots, again from distance.
I've always wanted to get one of these (and Shorties for that matter) on a nice stump and this one will do i think.

Getting my shots and leaving with the bird still perched meant good bird karma for me as an American Dipper flew out of nowhere and landed by me at Maplewood later that morning :)

Images cropped, ISO 800, no flash.







PS, i never saw the Cave Swallow at Iona (did get a couple of blurry shots of Barn swallows though) but did meet a couple of nice birders out looking for it at the same time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Back at It

The company i work for put everyone on a 4 day work week again recently but i didn't really complain too hard, as long as i could get out shooting instead.
Now that i have my lens back from Nikon i was eager to test it out finally.
My morning started at Boundary Bay and while i saw human shapes prowling the shoreline off 72nd no doubt looking for great whites i decided to just wander the dike, i was super happy to just be out again, i had no target birds, it was all good.
I'll get the crummy part out of the way right away, for some reason the new 1.4x tele i picked up in May after the original one got crunched (in the bump that lead to my lens eventually being repaired) has now gone faulty - it reads dark, and it causes the shutter to stick when it's on.
Imagine my fright when i went to test my levels first thing and everything was dark!
After taking the tele off i realized that the lens worked just fine, and after fellow photog Raymond lent me his 1.4x tele to test on my camera i realized that it was in fact just the tele and not lens (as i initially feared) that needed to be looked at.
I have no problem sending it back on warranty (hopefully) no rush, as i bought another yesterday in the meantime :)

here then are some shots, all without the usual tele.

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Golden-crowned Kinglet

American Robin

Tropical Kingbird

Rough-legged Hawk

So yeh, i think it's pretty cool that i was able to get a Lifer as well, the fact that it was a warbler made it all the sweeter.

I saw this bird flitting about in the trees twitching it's tail like a wagtail, my first thought was a warbler i don't even have yet - Palm Warbler, i wasn't 100% though and soon forgot about this bird as the Tropical Kingbird later put on a show.
Later at home i confirmed it with the field guide and duly reported it.

Northern Shrike
this guy was one of those "you just had to be there or you wouldn't believe it" moments :lol:

I went out in the drizzle today to visit the Clay-colored Sparrow in West Vancouver, this is the second winter this little sparrow has come back to the backyard feeders and while i was hoping for a shot of it on a tree branch i'll take this feeder shot (magazines pay for these types of shots too i've found).


The Grumpy Old Man

The grumpy old man rejoices.
I'm still pissed at Nikon Canada but whatever, life is too short, and i got my lens back.

A Letter to Nikon Canada

A Letter to Nikon Canada.

Hey, whatever happened to the email confirmations you were
supposed to supply me with??

I'm really upset about the way i've been treated by Nikon, it seems like every time i called i was told whatever would get me off the phone, last week i called a number of times (since i heard nothing from you) and was told i could have it on Friday, i waited around all day and was

told later by Nikon Richmond that nothing came in.

Today, after i made plans to take time off work to go to Richmond to get it i find out that the shipment was brought back to TO and now i find out that i have to wait 2 more days for my lens!

This is ridiculous, why do i support Nikon so much when i get treated like i'm bringing in a P&S camera?

My lens is worth $8000 and i feel i should have been afforded Nikon Pro Service at least.

If this is the way i can expect to be treated by Nikon Canada in the future then i will do my very best to let everyone on social media etc. about how lousy the service is at Nikon Canada, i am a bird photographer on the west coast and have always made a point of tagging all 7000 of my pics on Flickr, blog etc. with Nikon tags etc., have bought Nikon logo clothing to wear even and have always said only the best things about Nikon product but again, if this is how i can expect to be treated, then i can't say anything good about Nikon Canada again.

Paul Kusmin

Over 8 weeks for a repair - Nikon Canada is a JOKE.

The Waiting Area

The Waiting Area