American Kestrel – A Signature Move

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.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper – A Shorebird With a Gentle Expression

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. 

Olive-sided Flycatcher Perched on Dead Snag

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).

Wilson’s Phalarope – Slender and Delicately Featured

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 - A Simple Portrait

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.

Snowy Egret

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.