When I first arrived, I was hearing a very loud call from the nearby bushes. Sometimes the smallest birds make the loudest noises. This time it was a pair of Carolina Wrens. They were flitting back and forth, as if showing off for each other. Yep, spring is definitely on the way.
The sun’s rays were just reaching this Great Blue Heron when I saw him on the side of the boardwalk. He’s looking very spiffy in his breeding plumage. I wonder if he belongs to the nest I found later that day. He looks like he needs a few babies to keep him busy, don’t you think?
I was hoping for some Roseate Spoonbill flight shots, and I was not disappointed. This spoonie waited for the morning sun to come out, then flew across the wetlands, showing off his breeding colors. Last year was so much fun with the nesting spoonbills. I hope they decide to stick around this year too.
I spotted a Pileated Woodpecker in the distance. I had to shoot through nearby tree branches, but you still see the shimmer of his red feathers. I would love to find his nest and watch his little ones grow up!
You hear the rattling call of the Belted Kingfisher long before you see this bird. He zips through the air and challenges photographers to get his picture. Sometimes I succeed! :)
This Sandhill Crane was sleeping on her nest. Rest, little mama. Pretty soon you will have your hands full with two tiny babies. And photographers. Lots and lots of photographers. I’m sorry, Mama, but I’m not going to visit you this year. You deserve a place to raise your babies without worrying about the paparrazi.
As I left the wetlands, another pair of spoonies flew over. One waved goodbye in a unique way…I guess that’s his method of telling me to come back soon!
We seem to get a lot of rain on weekends lately. So I quite enjoyed a recent afternoon opportunity to take the Beast into the backyard – and it was sunny out!
The House Finches were the first to show up. First the male started to sing from the top of my beautyberry bush, then I noticed the female hanging out nearby. I loved how my neighbor’s crape myrtles created a fall-lake blur of yellows and reds behind the female.
My little Orange-crowned Warblers have been very active lately. They love to hop around in the flowers, like my purple salvias and this coral porterweed. I think they drink the nectar from the flowers.
We have lots of Painted Buntings this winter. At one point I looked out and saw six males – 4 on the same feeder (!!!) and a couple more around the birdbath. But when I am out with the camera, they tend to get a little shy. This one hung out in the bushes for a while before he ventured to the feeder.
Despite the spring-like weather, it was a quiet afternoon for birding. So when the squirrels started bounding across the yard, I started watching them. My mom nicknamed her squirrel “wingless” because he flies across the yard despite the absence of wings.
As the sun’s glow turned a golden orange, this Palm Warbler ventured out to go bug-hunting. You can see his stomach starting to turn yellow. I think the birds agree with the groundhog this year…spring is here!!
Finally the tiniest star of the backyard showed up – my little Rubby-throated Hummingbird. I had such fun photographing him as he zoomed back and forth, nectaring at the feeder and then returning to his watchpost in the crape myrtle. Look at his flash that bright red gorget!
This afternoon may have inspired me to get out some “pretty perches” and see if I can convince these birds to pose in more photogenic settings. Time will tell… :)
Want to know how quickly light changes at sunrise?
This image was made at 7:17am, a couple of minutes before sunrise. The sky was orange with the light that was about to explode in the wetlands. A gentle fog rose from the waters of the lake.
This image was taken at 7:22. The sun had made its appearance over the edge of the horizon. Although you can’t see it in the image, its bright light is reflected in the still waters. Look at the orange light it cast on the fog! It was gorgeous.
This was at 7:23. The giant orb was fully visible above the distant trees. This kind of light only lasts for a couple of minutes, and it’s pure magic. These images are all bracketed (5 exposures) and processed with HDR. But the colors are exactly what I saw that morning.
When it’s too bright to continue photographing the sunrise, it’s time to switch gears to the birds! The Roseate spoonbills were very active that morning. I made my way along the boardwalk, and I found a small group of spoonies hanging out at the edge of the water. Incoming!
The birds are always lively first thing in the morning. I saw them flying between trees in the foggy mist, and I hung out for a while, hoping I’d get some opportunities for flight shots with the fiery mist. I wasn’t disappointed. :)
This bird is looking his finest in breeding plumage! Last year we had some magical moments with the spoonbills along the boardwalk. The nests closest to the boardwalk were also heavily predated. The birds seem to be giving the wetlands another try for their breeding grounds, so I look forward to seeing what Spring 2024 brings us!