Feathers (all blog posts)

 My final destination on my January trip to Costa Rica was La Selva Biological Station in Sarapiqui, Costa Rica. It proved to be one of my favourite places to visit due to the diversity of bird species found there and some pretty good photographic opportunities, which was the case with Mealy Parrots, which are highlighted in this post. Mealy Parrots are one of the largest Amazon Parrot species.

Last weekend I returned to Colonel Sam Smith Park in Toronto, Ontario along Lake Ontario in an effort to locate a HADU that had been seen in the marina area. Sure enough upon arrival on the scene, a beautiful adult male HADU was swimming quite close to shore in the marina.  Every winter and early spring I look forward to photographing this species somewhere along Lake Ontario. HADUs, which are an attractive sea duck are seen occasionally in this part of the country and you can usually count on the odd one or pair hanging around for part of the winter.

When I head out to photograph birds, things don't always work out as planned. In fact, it rarely goes as planned, but that doesn't mean it's all for naught. Take this past weekend when I set out to photograph a Western Grebe that was reported near the harbour in Port Credit, Ontario along Lake Ontario. Western Grebe is not very common in this part of the country and I thought if I headed out reasonably early in the morning I might have a chance of capturing a nice photo if it happened to be near shore. I quickly spotted it upon my arrival using my scope and observed it for quite some time.

Much of the information on macaws and The Ara Project for this blog post was obtained from The Ara Project's website (http://thearaproject.org) and I would encourage anyone interested in learning more about this project or interested in volunteering at one of their sites to visit their website for more details.

While birding the Long Point area this past weekend, our small group came across several Pine Siskins (PISIs) hanging around a feeder and some nearby thickets. It took a while, but with some patience a few of the birds came out into the open and perched on some thin branches where I was able to capture some images with a blurred background. Of all the images I made, the photo above provided the cleanest background, in my opinion.

On Saturday I visited the Long Point, Ontario area located on the north shore of Lake Erie. We came across hundreds of Tundra Swans flying over nearby fields, many of them landing to feed in the area. A combination of fog, cloudy skies and distance hampered any attempt to capture strong images of the Tundra Swans. Early in the afternoon we came across two adult Bald Eagles sitting on a nest. Although the skies had cleared up somewhat by then, distance to subject meant that I had to be satisfied with excellent looks through my spotting scope while my camera gear took a rest.

Seeing my first Gyrfalcon, a juvenile, last year near Castlemann, Ontario was very exciting and I was thrilled to capture precious few record ID images at the time, in spite of braving extremely cold temperatures of -26C and trudging through snow that was almost waist high at times while carrying my camera gear. Yesterday in Lambton Shores, Ontario, under much more comfortable temperatures and gray skies I got a second opportunity to see this powerful and formidable species, only this time the temperature was a little above freezing, which made it much more pleasant.

Hummingbirds are only found naturally in the Americas from Alaska to as far south as Chile. One of the many good reasons to visit Costa Rica are the numerous species of hummingbirds, with the greatest diversity occurring at middle elevations. Over 50 hummingbird species appear in a checklist for the country. These avian jewels often consist of brilliant iridescent colours and to first-time visitors can prove to be quite a challenge to identify, which certainly was the case for me.

As we made our way along a quiet riverbank in Costa Rica in mid-January during the early morning hours, we came across our first adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron (YCNH) partially hidden in the tall grasses. Although I typically strive to get clean views of my bird subjects, it's also nice to capture some environmental portraits such as the one below, which provides some context.

Upon leaving the harbour in Port Ryerse, Ontario on Saturday, my friend Andrew and I quickly stumbled across a flock of Cedar Waxwings landing in some nearby berry trees. They are one of my favourite species to observe; however, I haven't had many opportunities previously to photograph them in good light. I quickly got out of the SUV and I smiled upon realization that lighting conditions were close to optimal and so I proceeded to make several images, a few of which I've shown here.