This Canada Jay was standing guard over a parking lot about halfway up Pike's Peak. Every time a car came or went or someone walked around, he would watch keenly, often flying from tree to tree to keep watch. I later learned that very little escapes their attention.
I don't see many shorebirds but enjoyed watching this Willet move back and forth across the beach. I'm sure they get entirely wet sometimes, but this one seemed to dance with the waves, dragging along a temporary seaweed bracelet. As well as I could tell, only the legs got wet.
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
I noticed a bird that was familiar but different. When I caught up with it, I could see it was the male Yellow-rumped Warbler, the Myrtle variety, one of three within the species and quite familiar. What was different was the bolder markings of full breeding plumage.
Cinnamon American Black Bear
Sometimes I miscalculate. We saw a Cinnamon-colored American Black Bear in Yellowstone NP and stopped about 1/4 mile ahead of where it was heading. My wife pulled back the branches so I could get a distant shot of its approach. This is the uncropped image.
I knew there were Broad-tailed Hummingbirds in the area but had not seen one. Then I spotted this male. He was atop shoulder-high bushes near some water. I positioned myself with a clear view of one of the branches he seemed to prefer and waited until I could get this shot.
I watched this White-tailed Kite soar over large expanses of tall grass and low shurbry. It was a little hard to follow in the air, but I got this shot as it banked to the left in one of its broad sweeps.
Brewer's Blackbird is widespread in the west/central US. The male's black plumage shimmers with black, blue, and green in bright sunlight. The glimmering effect makes it difficult to make out feather detail, so I was happy to find this one in a bit of filtered light.
The Wild Rose holds a special place in my heart. It requires neither particular soil or trimming, no chemicals, or careful attention. I find it in wild and remote locations no one would expect, adorning the earth with its simple but stunning beauty.
I try to photograph Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay every time I see one, but they often just don't cooperate. This one was weaving in and out of branches, rarely in the clear. I finally got this shot in sharp shadows that show how different their colors look in sunlight vs. shade.
Female Black-chinned Hummingbird
I had seen a Broad-tailed Hummingbird in the area and positioned myself in a promising spot. He didn't show up, but this female Black-chinned hummer did. Since she was another first, I didn't complain.
Sometimes I go to an area that seems promising for birds/wildlife and don't find any to photograph. Even though I'm disappointed, I always look for something in nature to appreciate and enjoy. In one location it was this beautiful bloom of Pearly Everlasting.
The words rang out in my mind, "We have the Black-throated Sparrow here." I had never seen one and then looked for this bird, occasionally getting a glimpse of one, but seldom in the clear. Then this guy landed in lovely light, and I couldn't wait to share it with you.
Stopping along the road for a break, I noticed a small pond. There I discovered a pair of tiny Wilson's Warblers flying out and catching insects. Although bright and exciting, their energy and almost endless motion make them quite a challenge to capture.
This Bewick's Wren is another bird generally of the southwest and Pacific Coast. He was flitting through dense foliage as if to taunt me into catching him. He finally landed in the open with this "Uhoh, he got me!" look.
If you remember the adorable Verdin I posted on 4/11/19 you may recognize these reeds. As I was winding my way through the dense grasses looking for birds, this Javelina found me. They have tusks and have attacked people, 😬so I stood perfectly still until it passed.
Male Anna's Hummingbird in flight
I was able to follow this male Anna's Hummingbird between plants, but I had no idea how long it would take him to return. So I waited. He did eventually return, but it is so tricky getting and editing this shot correctly, I'm thinking of focusing on perched poses in the future.
Immature Male Bullock's Oriole
I watched this immature male Bullock's Oriole as he was gleaning insects from a small clump of trees. Once when he was away, I positioned myself below one of the trees and waited. He eventually came back and leaned into the light, exposing his eye in great detail.
Male Painted Bunting
The Painted Bunting is another bird of the south-central US, and the male is arguably the most colorful. Once I found him, I spent hours and days blending into the environment. I'm still sorting through the photos but wanted to share this with you in the meantime.
Male Ring-necked Duck
I'm still sorting out how to get close to ducks. They seem to be very skittish. However, I was able to get within about 60 feet of this male Ring-necked Duck. I love his golden eye and the way the water was rippling in the gentle wind, reflecting the blue sky here and there.
I had seen the Black-headed Grosbeak here and there in my travels, but they were always too far away or never in the clear. I finally found this guy, and he was a little more cooperative. I took my time so as not to scare him off, and it was a good thing. I haven't seen another.
Baby Moose with Mom Nearby
This baby Moose stayed close to his mom as she grazed beside him. He occasionally sniffed the vegetation around him and romped nearby, only to return to her side. I'm not as close as it looks. Adult Moose can be dangerous, especially with young.
I could see birds flying around an area with a mix of trees and bushes. I worked my way there and saw several birds, but was stunned to see this Lazuli Bunting. I stayed still where I initially saw him, and he eventually reemerged, curious to see who had invaded his territory.
I was hoping to find something more colorful, but on the third day of just dreadful birding, I was delighted to see this Dusky Flycatcher. He's another first for me, and I was oh so grateful that he returned to this perch after flying out to catch a snack.
While I'm in nature, I'm always looking for beauty. Sometimes I don't see birds where I expect, and turn my attention to flowers or other parts of nature. I think the important thing is to fill my life with beauty wherever I can find it. I think this is some variety of Penstemon.
After wrapping up an afternoon of birding in the desert, I was walking back along a defined trail. As I passed a dry wash, I decided to branch off and explore a slightly different habitat. About a 100 yds in I saw this Bendire's Thrasher with a mouthful of treats for the babies.
This plain-looking Black-capped Chickadee is a first for me but more special. The Carolina Chickadee is its near-twin, but with a different call and range. I remember thinking I would probably never see the Black-capped, but finally, I did. Sometimes "never" does come.
Birding exposes me to more than birds, like this 2-3 week old baby elk, initially through dense foliage. As he moved into the open, I saw his mom and another young elk, part of a small herd crossing a hillside. It was just as exciting as seeing a bird.
Male Western Tanager
As I walked through a western forest of mixed conifers and aspens I heard the piercing call of the Western Tanager. It didn't take long to find him proclaiming his territory. He seemed content to stay on his perch, but kept a watchful eye on me as I passed by.
Female Red-breasted Nuthatch
This Red-breasted Nuthatch landed near a bird I was trying to photograph. It was a welcome interruption as I rarely see this nuthatch in Tennessee. Unfortunately, she was gone as quickly as she arrived. This shot is the best of the three I got before she disappeared.
This is a closeup of the cute Red-tailed Chipmunk as he worked his way to the end of a branch to sniff some sort of white lichen. This photo belies how fast they are and how difficult they are to photograph when they're on the move.
I went birding near a river and discovered a Northern Waterthrush calling loudly, but he initially ducked into dense foliage. I had to wait a while for him to come back out. I got this shot as he puffed out his chest, warming up to start singing again.
Immature Male American Redstart
A lot is going on with birds this time of year. This immature male American Redstart is changing into his more striking adult plumage. Youngsters like this are often less timid and more curious than their parents. This one spent a full minute checking me out before leaving.
When I stopped at a rest area along the highway, I noticed this Western Kingbird flying out from the top of a small tree to catch insects in true flycatcher style. I worked my way around to where the light was better and got this shot before heading on down the road.
I seem to struggle with the Cedar Waxwing. I see very few, and while they are beautiful birds, their feathers are tiny and compact. It has been challenging to get any feather detail, so one of my goals is to get even closer next time.
If you want to hear a bird with a lovely call sing incessantly, you can't do much better than a House Sparrow. I realized two things with this one, he had a nest at the top of this tree, and he intended to spend the rest of the summer proclaiming his accomplishment.
I was intrigued when my wife described a bird I knew was an American Dipper, another first for me. After 1.5 hours the next morning, I had only seen it fly by, too fast for me. After 1.5 hours the following day, I finally got this shot, so I call it my 3-hour Dipper.
Female Common Yellowthroat
After sitting for about an hour late in the day watching sparrows flit through the underbrush, this female Common Yellowthroat hoped into view. I never did see the male but was taken by how she seemed to collect the warm sunlight and reflect it back.
Male American Goldfinch
I watched this male American Goldfinch fly around a little garden and occasionally land on this perch. I slowly moved around the perimeter, stopping along the way. It took a while, but at one stop, he eventually returned, and I got this shot.
This Townsend's Solitaire was another first for me, but its bright white eyering and buff wing touches are about its only distinctions. I struggled to capture it in anything but a matching gray background, but it was not to be. Always alone, it also lived up to its name.
To continue the story of new life, this male Yellow Warbler had a mouth full of treats for his chicks but was still looking for more. I love how birds can continue to catch insects and caterpillars for their family when they already have a beak full.
Yellow Warbler Nest
I've recently spent time with Yellow Warblers and will soon share a close-up of an adult. However, I wanted to show a more distant shot of these industrious nest builders and attentive parents. They were undisturbed by me, and I eventually counted 4 chicks.
Say's Phoebe is another favorite bird from the western deserts. His warm colors blend with the special light and shades of the terrain, and yet it stands out in its own way. I positioned myself between his favorite perches and waited for him to take flight.
This is my current nemesis, the Cassin's Finch. This is the female, which I have identified in several locations in southwest Montana. While she is lovely in her own right, I have yet to see the male anywhere. Are there no males? Are they late to arrive? I have no idea.
As a nature photographer, I'm constantly looking for good light, colorful subjects, completely natural settings, and interesting poses. Sometimes I find one without the other three. If I can get at least two I'll take it as in this photo of a Chipping Sparrow.
The Canyon Towhee is a bird of the US southwest and Mexico. Its warm colors and friendly disposition grew on me as I spent many hours with this bird. Before it hopped up on this branch, this one had been peacefully foraging on the ground just a few feet from me.
This beautiful Lesser Goldfinch demonstrates two of my pet peeves. 1st, what makes it "lesser" and how did it get its name? If you know, please share a link. 2nd, why do birds seem to prefer to perch on a manmade object when there's a lovely natural perch just a foot or two away?
One of the strategies for photographing a bird in flight is to watch a perched bird and look for the telltale signs that it's about to take flight. That's what I did in this case but had no idea it would take 38 minutes for him to decide to lift off.