Archive For The “raptor” Category
For the Christmas Bird Count in Kitimat, there’s usually a lot of ground to cover in a very short period of time–that’s because here in the northwest daylight hours are limited as we get closer to the Winter Solstice. So we started before dawn, which is OK for those who are counting but not so good for photography.
The highlight of my day came at what is known as the Maggie Point trail to a gazebo overlooking Kitmat harbour built by members of the Haisla Nation. The problem is as you get older, hiking a trail in icy weather can be quite dicey, especially for me who has had minor hip problems since I was a kid. So with ice on the trail, I decided to stay by the cars and wait while the rest of the gang went to see what they could see from the gazebo. Then a swift flying bird landed on the branch not far from the parking area. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I began shooting with my SonyRX10iii which is 24 to 600 mm 35mm equivalent.
I wasn’t sure what the bird was, but I guessed it was a raptor since it sat there for almost ten minutes, surveying the area. At one point a crow flew by and the raptor didn’t budge. Then it swooped down over my head and into the bush. It was only then I checked the display to see the yellow rimmed eyes. The birders debated whether the raptor was a merlin or a sharp-shinned hawk and then came to the conclusion looking at the eyes that it was a dark red-tailed hawk.
And here are some other views from the Christmas Bird Count 2019.
All the images were taken in the morning up until about 11 a.m. I went home for lunch, ingested the morning images and then we went out again. But with heavy cloud cover, fading light and fewer birds, the afternoon session was a bust. No photos worth posting.
The weather here in Kitimat on Saturday, November 3, 2018, was miserable, with heavy rain. I don’t often get ravens in my backyard but on Saturday morning, one landed in the mountain ash tree in my backyard to sample the berries. You can tell just how wet it was from the drips on the berries.
The raven gulps down two mountain ash berries.
Sony Alpha 55 (the camera I always keep by my backdeck) with a Tamron 70- 300.
Cackling geese (Branta hutchnisi) make look like Canada Geese, but they’re a separate species, smaller (close to the size of a mallard duck) with a shorter neck, rounder head and a stubbier bill. The west coast species often spend summers in the Aleutian Islands and then fly south to the Central Valley of California, so these probably stopped in Kitimat on their way south.
So what did I do on my summer “vacation”? I am (semi) retired, so it isn’t a formal vacation, but I did have some relaxing down time on my trip to England in June. After attending a conference in Liverpool, I went to Stratford-upon-Avon to see the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Julius Caesar, then spent some time with cousins in Oxfordshire and finally went to London to see some shows and some friends. I didn’t set out to concentrate on bird photography but that was what the photographic gods provided,
Oxfordshire Upper Thames River
Our route in the Miss Moffat II along the Upper Thames River. King’s Lock is at the beginning of the line following the route of the river and the Farmoor Reservoir is the large body of water in the lower left (where we stopped for lunch). Wytham Woods are the wooded area roughly to the right of the river.
Wytham Woods – Oxfordshire
Wytham Woods are an area of ancient semi-natural woodland to the west of Oxford, UK, owned by the University of Oxford and used for environmental research for the past sixty years, including climate change research for the past eighteen. Hiking is permitted by special permit.
The Serpentine – London
The Serpentine is a small lake between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens in London.
I was able to photograph my second sequence of aerial bird combat in a few weeks on June 15, on a boat trip on the upper Thames River in Oxfordshire, in England, above me a carrion crow (Corvus Corone) was taking on what in Britain is called a buzzard and internationally the common buzzard (Buteo buteo)
The buzzard is a hunting raptor, and although it does eat carrion, its main diet consists of rabbits, voles, other small mammals, small birds, including young pigeons and crows. It may be that the crow was defending its young. (Robin Rowland)
I first spotted the two high up over the fields of the English countryside along the Thames. (Robin Rowland)
It was just a couple of weeks earlier that I photographed a red winged blackbird taking on a hawk over Topley, British Columbia.
Here’s the approximate route we took on the Thames River, with the track from my Garmin Extrex 20x uploaded to Google Earth. (The straight line is where the GPS jumped from where I was staying to when we began the boat trip). Oxford is in the lower right corner.
The persistent crow mobs the buzzard over this and the next few images. (Robin Rowland)
All images were taken from my cousin Bob Timm’s boat, the Miss Moffatt II, with my Sony Alpha6000 and the Sony G 70-300mm lens with ISO 1250 and shutter priority at 1/2500 at f8/
Driving back to Kitimat from Prince George on May 20, I stopped at the Topley rest area. Not only is Topley a good place to break up the drive, there is a small marsh that if the time and season is correct provides an opportunity for great bird and landscape photography. Moments after I got out of the car, out of my eye I saw something high above, tiny in fact, a small bird chasing a larger one, probably a raptor of some kind, in a weaving dancing movement, reminiscent of a aerial fighter dogfight (or if you prefer, since today is the 40th anniversary of Star Wars A New Hope, a chase between an X-wing and a Tie fighter.)
No time to get back to the car to get my 500mm, just point at the sky and shoot using my Sony Alpha 7ii with the 70-300mm zoom G lens.
The first shot above is from the full frame from the 7ii, below it is cropped and enlarged and but for this shot I still couldn’t identify the smaller bird that appeared to be the aggressor and the much bigger raptor, the bird that was being pursued. Actually the G zoom performed quite well as I followed as the small bird chased the bigger hawk across the sky.
The two birds wheeled, the smaller one pushing at the larger hawk.
It was only with the second shot that I could identify the unique red and yellow wing patches of a male red-winged blackbird as you can see in the closer cropped image of the blackbird.
The bird books say that a male red-winged blackbird will aggressively defend its nest, although usually against similar size birds such as other males, yellow-headed blackbirds and marsh wrens.
The hawk climbs higher into the sky, with the red-winged blackbird still following, and below a smaller bird (bottom right just left and above the watermark) prudently stays well away from the “dogfight.”
You can see the smaller bird in this close crop.
Not all the shots worked out, the lens did “hunt” as the birds got higher.
But then the hawk circles around, with the red-winged blackbird still riding his tail feathers.
Finally, it seems,the red-winged blackbird had made his point and the hawk heads away in clear skies.
So what kind of hawk was it? I asked my birder friends. Two votes said a possible Swainson’s hawk, although the Hazelton and Bulkley Ranges are at the far north of the Swainson’s hawk’s range. One vote was “I don’t know.” If you have a better idea add a note in the comments.