American Kestrel migration is heaviest in the afternoon, as it is for most falcons. During this period it is quite common for kestrels to halt their migration and hunt. If you examining a small, distant, low-flying falcon, and it suddenly pulls up and hovers, it is clearly an American Kestrel (Dunne, Sibley and Sutton 2012). This situation pretty well describes what happened before me at Hawk Cliff, Ontario this past weekend.
As I mentioned in my previous post about the Western Sandpiper, I was fortunate on the same morning (September 6) to also come across my best looks by far of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper. The scaly backed buff-coloured plumage was striking and with the very close views I obtained of this seemingly gentle and tame shorebird, there was no confusing it with any other shorebird species.
On August 27 at Paletta Lakefront Park in Burlington, Ontario I spotted and photographed an Olive-sided Flycatcher; a “lifer” for me. This uncommon large-headed flycatcher often perches on dead snags at the tops of trees and that was exactly the situation here. In the photo below, I cropped it and did some minor cloning to remove a couple of distracting twigs. Additionally I used an 80A photo filter in Photoshop to enhance the blue sky in the background (but using a mask so as not to apply the filter to the bird or branches).
Out west, Wilson’s Phalarope is a common breeder and abundant, however, it is uncommon in the east, although it does breed in southeastern Ontario (Source: Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Guide Companion). On the morning of August 15 as I headed out, the rain made me wonder if bird photography on this day would be a worthwhile pursuit; however, the weather forecast suggested it wouldn’t last most of the day.
Yellow Warbler is by far the most common warbler that I see. While at Second Marsh, Ontario back on July 21, I spotted this male Yellow Warbler perched on a nearby branch and posing quite nicely for me. I made a few images and upon reviewing my photos upon returning home, I smiled when I saw the image below. I assumed that with the number of sightings I've had of this species, I must have lots of good Yellow Warbler portraits in my Lightroom library, but I was wrong.
At five inches, Black-capped Chickadees are small to begin with, but seeing a tiny fledgling chick on its first day out of its nest is quite the sight to behold. The photos below show just how small and adorable this young Black-capped Chickadee is, who explored our backyard for the first time. It’s an experience that I will remember for a long time.
The Vesper Sparrow is uncommon and local across most of the East. I’ve only seen this species a couple of times, most recently in Quebec. As I reviewed my photos upon returning from my recent Quebec trip for possible inclusion in one of my photo galleries or a blog post, I realized that I had not edited some Vesper Sparrow photos from Carden Alvar Provincial Park, Ontario from last summer.
While in San Diego I came across some excellent photo opportunities along the shoreline. Today I highlight the Snowy Egret, which I was fortunate to get quite close to. Capturing fine detail in the white feathers without blowing out the highlights requires close attention to exposure settings. I usually check the back of my LCD to make sure none of the highlights are blown. I make sure to turn on “blinkies” (highlight warning) so that I can quickly correct my settings, if necessary.