The Bird Meme: Day 22

Day 22: Favorite bird you've photographed

Peregrine Falcon

We're going to very clear about terminology here: this is not "favorite photograph you've taken of a bird," but rather "favorite bird you've photographed," which is somewhat more difficult for me. As a photographer of avifauna, I am both notoriously bad and notoriously persistent. I take photos of birds regularly, and they almost inevitably turn out poorly. Part of this is, I'm sure, my technical limitations--I don't own a zoom lens, so any bird I want to capture had better be very large or very close or both. A bigger part of it, however, is simply my own lack of an eye for things like composition, lack of awareness regarding lighting and focus issues, and lack of ability to do things like hold the camera still when closing the shutter. That's how you get pics like these:

Kirtland's Warbler:
American Oystercatcher:

And Vermilion Flycatcher:

So yes, technically, those crappy pictures might actually qualify for today's prompt, if I loved any of the above birds enough. And two of the three (KiWa and VeFl) were life birds, so it's not a ridiculous possibility.

Still, I'd prefer to write about a bird where I am both deeply fond of the bird itself and reasonably content at the photographs I took. There is such a thing as luck where PC and bird photography are concerned, and on occasion I have managed to stumble across a good picture. In the late spring of 2011, I was walking the grounds of the CLO when a Blue-winged Warbler came down to the creek where I was standing, and I took a string of pictures of it bathing and drying itself, pics which are still probably the best bird photos I've ever taken. Here's one:

On our trip to Seattle I had relatively good luck with the camera most of the time, such as when I documented the Bald Eagle attack I mentioned a few days back, but most of my opportunities were defeated by distance; I just didn't get very close to the waterfowl--Harlequin Duck, Common Loon, Surf Scoter, Western Grebe, etc.--or to the Anna's Hummingbirds flying around, or the one Lewis's Woodpecker we logged. I did get some excellent looks at a Marsh Wren, however, and I was pleased to get a photo of the Canada Goose we found nesting in a hollow tree:

DSC03218.JPGBut all in all, I have to put one bird, and one opportunity to photograph it, at the top of my list: the bird Mary Stevens and I observed and photographed at great length when we hiked to the top of Hogsback Mountain in July 2013. There we found the hacking box where several young Peregrine Falcons were being raised, and we got to observe them as they whirled around the box (where a volunteer had left them some bits of quail). Having seen only a handful of Peregrines at that point in my life, I considered this an all but magical morning, and I gleefully wasted shot after shot on attempts to keep the birds in my lens while they flew. My favorite pic, however, came when two of the young birds perched near one another and promptly began an attempt at a dominance display, showing off their beautiful speckled plumage:

DSC01248 Zoom 2.jpg
So that's my bird--one of my very favorite birds, period, but also a bird I am very, very happy to have captured with my camera. 

I do wish I could share one favorite bird photo that, alas, I haven't digitized; taken with my old reliable Canon AE-1, it currently rests in a photo album of pictures from our honeymoon. As Kelly and I were making our way along the west coast of Scotland, we came around a bend to a small, shallow bay, and in it were a pair of Mute Swans and their cygnets. They were simply sitting on the water, close to shore, with no sign of concern about our car whatsoever, so i was able to pull over, climb out, and snap a photo of them with the green hills of the Highlands looming beyond them. In the US, Mute Swans can be rather hostile, as they're an introduced species and seem to know it, but in their natural habitat they were simply a portrait of pure serenity, and (we hoped) an omen of good fortune for our marriage. On that last, at least, the swans seem to have delivered.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on October 8, 2017 10:59 AM.

The Bird Meme: Day 21 was the previous entry in this blog.

The Bird Meme: Day 23 is the next entry in this blog.

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