Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dark-eyed Junco

It's been raining now for about 4 days straight. Today it finally broke a little and the sun actually peeked through the clouds at times. I was itching to take some more pictures so I went out for a quick stroll through TRNWR over lunch. It turned out to be a fairly successful day. I got some more cool photos of the Bullfrog and some nice close ups of a Robin, each of which I decided to enter in the photo contest. I also got some pictures of a Great Blue Heron flying through the woods a short distance from me. It happened so fast though that I didn't get great shots of it. I also ran into this Dark-eyed Junco on the path in front of me. It was feasting on something in the rocks so it let me stay pretty close. There are a few different varieties of the Dark-eyed Junco. I believe this one is typically referred to as the "Oregon" variety.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lesser Scaup

This female Lesser Scaup is another duck I have never seen before. I got some pictures of a male too, but none turned out quite as nice as this one. I'll post one of the male soon.

Monday, March 29, 2010


A Mallard swimming in the pond at Mentor Graphics. It had been preening its breast feathers.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tree Swallow

While on the trail at Cooper Mountain Nature Park I came upon an open meadow area. I typically don't find as many birds in open areas, but on this occasion I notice a couple of tree swallows swooping around, at one point perching at the top of a pine. They were typically quite a ways from me and they flew quite fast, but I tried my best to keep up with them. None of the pictures are technically very good, but each shows a little different aspect of the birds. I decided a posting of several of them was better than 1 or 2 mediocre ones.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Wood Duck

A male (top) and female (bottom) Wood. I shot these back on March 13 at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Great Blue Heron

I took Cait out with me late this afternoon. She wanted to try taking some pictures of her own with my old camera, so we headed out to TRNWR. While Cait was taking pictures of landscapes and interesting geometries, I was looking for birds. Things were pretty slow. Late afternoons/evenings appear to be bad times to go birding. We walked all the way out to the Wetland Observatory Deck. On our way back, I noticed this Great Blue Heron sitting down in Chicken Creek. The sun was setting and there were clouds in the sky so the shooting conditions were poor, especially with the Heron 15 feet or so down in the ravine. But, what the heck, it's the first Great Blue Heron I've seen since I got my camera. Most of the pictures were grainy and dark, but the sun poked through a cloud for a bit, and while there was not direct sun light, things brightened up a enough to get a reasonable photo.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Steller's Jay

By doing a little searching on the web, I found that there are a lot of nature parks, etc in the metro area. One such park is Cooper Mountain Nature Park. I took a quick hike around one of its trail loops. It's a very pretty, natural park, but I didn't see as many birds as I would have liked. I heard a lot though. I did get some nice shots of a couple of Steller's Jays. It was a warm sunny day, so this Jay's plumage was not ruffled like the one at Memorial Park a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Great Egret

It's not uncommon for me to see Great Egrets on my to or from work and they had been especially common recently. When I bought my camera it was one of the birds I was determined to shoot. I made a habit of bringing my camera to work with me in hopes of getting an opportunity to get a picture. So, of course, I don't see one for almost 3 weeks after purchasing the camera. How frustrating!
Well I finally came across one wading out in a large pond I drove past on my way home from work last night. I pulled my pickup over along the road and began shooting like a mad man. I tried about 6 or 7 slightly different angles hoping one would turn out decent. The Egret was further out in the pond than I would have liked and the light was low, so the images turned out a bit grainy and most of them were pretty poor. But this angle turn out fair and would have been spectacular if there would have been a little more light and the Egret a little closer. The surrounding colors play well with the white plumage of this magnificent bird. Not a bad picture, but I'm determined to get a better one.

Bewick's Wren

Technically, these aren't the best pictures because this Bewick's Wren was quite a ways away from me, so I had to blow the image up considerably. I decided to post them, however, because I had never seen a Bewick's Wren before, nor knew they existed. When I was shooting it, I thought maybe it was a Bushtit, but when I viewed the images at home I saw it had dark eyes, so it had to be something else. Also, the lateral dark stripes and upward tipped tail suggested a wren. That white stripe above the eye was the deciding factor in identifying it. This is another taken at TRNWR. I get something new every time I go there.


I was trying to get a decent picture of a Red-winged Blackbird at TRNWR when I overheard a mother praising her son for having spotted this Bullfrog sitting in the shallow water of a small pond. Even though it was very close to us it was hard to spot because it blended in so well and was half submerged in the water. It had to be at least 4 inches long, probably longer.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

American Robin

The classic American Robin. Not much more to say. It was ahead of me just off the path at TRNWR yesterday hunting worms. I actually got a shot of it just after it caught a worm, but the picture isn't as good as this one. I also got a few of it in that classic "head cocked" position. I always thought, along with others, that they could actually hear the worms under the ground. After doing some research, I learned that studies have shown that they are actually getting a very good look with one of their eyes and are looking for tell tale signs of the worm such as the worm poking out of the ground (evidently they do this, especially after a rain) and castings or pellets of mud on the soil surface indicating the entrance to a worm hole.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Red-shafted Flicker

It's amazing what you can find in a half hour in the right spot. I took a quick walk through part of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge during lunch and ended up shooting about 7 different birds with several images decent enough to post from 3 or 4 birds. This image wasn't the best, but I liked it as I am more familiar with the Yellow-shafted Flicker found in the mid-west rather than this Red-shafted Flicker. The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds states that the Yellow-shafted, Red-shafted and Gilded Flickers are part of the same species known as Northern Flickers. They just have different color forms.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Song Sparrow (Singing)

At the same time that I was trying to get good shots of the Bushtits, there was a Song Sparrow that was singing happily in the sunshine. It played a bit of hide and seek with me, not letting me get too close, but I was able to get these two shots showing it in a tree and on the top of a bush.

Rufous-sided Towhee

I've been sick with a cold for about a week now and didn't get out much to shoot this weekend, so I thought I'd post an old picture I took in 1999 with my Olympus C-3040ZOOM. It wasn't a bad camera, it just suffered from early technology not being quite up to snuff. This shot was taken out my kitchen widow. It was hard to get a proper exposure with the light siding on the next door house, but this one is good enough to show the characteristics of the Rufous-sided Towhee. I remember being thrilled to see one of these as a kid as they only showed up occasionally in the spring. They seem to be more common here in Oregon.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Bushtits are very hard to shoot because they are tiny, flighty, constantly on the move and hang out in the brush. I came across two at the Mentor Graphics pond that were in a small willow that was just starting to leaf out. That helped get a less obstructed view and I managed to get a few reasonable photos. This one shows one of the Bushtits hanging from a thin branch. My field guide says that the Pacific variety have a brown crown as can be seen in this image. Trying to shoot these can be a bit of a sport.

Fox Squirrel

I believe this is a variety of Fox Squirrel. They were quite common at the garden.

Friday, March 19, 2010


When I first entered the Rhododendron Garden, the first thing I was struck with were all the Mallards. They were everywhere and I hadn't even gotten to the water yet. This male was swimming in a shallow pool. I was not the only person taking pictures of birds that day and the Mallards were very popular since they were plentiful, beautiful and cooperative.

Song Sparrow

While I saw several Song Sparrows last Saturday at the Garden, it was hard to get a picture of them as they were either hidden within some leaves or branches or moving around too much. I did manage to get a few of this one. The top image provides a good view of its back and tail, while the bottom image provides a good view of its breast and face.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Grape Hyacinths

While there weren't many Rhododendrons blooming yet, the Grape Hyacinths were out in full force.

American Coot

I like the fact that you can see one of the American Coot's legs under the water in the upper picture. They have interesting lobed toes instead of webbed feet as seen in bottom image. I seem to remember their bodies being darker like their head when I saw them as a kid in Minnesota.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

American Wigeon

Having done most of my birding as a grade-schooler in rural Minnesota, I find that there are a fair number of birds here in Oregon that I have never seen before in person. This American Wigeon is one such bird. I got several pictures of males like the one in this image, but no females. I assume there may have been some, but I wasn't aware of them. Female ducks tend to be plainer looking than their male counter parts and attack less attention (Hmmm, maybe that's intentional). Now that I know what the female looks like, next time I'm at the Rhododendron Garden, I'll be looking for one.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Brown Chinese Goose

I had a funny feeling about this goose when I first saw it. It didn't seem quite right, and I was right. It turns out that this Brown Chinese Goose is domesticated and the result of cross breeding. It's still a bird, however, just not a naturally occurring one. I'm not sure why it was here at the Rhododendron Garden, I saw no other domesticated animals. I'll have to ask next time I'm there.
Here's a link to a site that gives background on this goose:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sleepy Goose

Another one from the Rhododendron Garden. There were a couple of geese just standing next to me as I rounded a corner on a path. They get fed so much and are so used to people being around that they didn't run off. I also think they were sleepy, as this image suggests, as they were even less flighty than normal. They stood there, still, like they were posing for me.

Brown Creeper

I spotted this Brown Creeper just before I ran into the Steller's Jay in Memorial Park. It was a cloudy, gloomy day and the creeper liked to move a lot, but I managed to get a couple of reasonable shots of it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Double-crested Cormorant

This bird was amazing looking. It truly appears to be a descendant of the dinosaurs. I have several pictures of it sitting out on that log. This was shot through an opening in some leaves. It was the best angle to get its dinosaur like head and the wonderful plumage on its back and wings. The leaves are probably too out of of focus, but I do think it adds an interesting element to the photo.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

I spent about 3 hours at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden today. It's an amazing place. There are ducks and geese galore. I shot about 350 pictures. It's going to take me awhile to sort through them all. I still haven't quite figured out a good work flow with Raw images. On my way out I saw this Northwestern Crow snacking on a carcass of some sort.

Friday, March 12, 2010


I know, they're not birds, but I make exceptions. A pair of Nutria munching away. I saw several of these at the pond at Mentor and they allowed me to get pretty close.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Here's a series of photos of a male and female Hooded Merganser. They were sharing the pond at Mentor Graphics with the Canadian geese. There was a whole lot of strutting going on by both, so I assume they were going through mating rituals. Note that the images show their hoods both extended and laid back. Very pretty birds.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Canadian Goose

On my way to Memory Park last Sunday, I noticed a bunch of Canadian Geese in the pond by Mentor Graphics. Turned out to be a great place to shoot. This is one of many shots I took of the Geese.

Steller's Jay

I ran into this ruffled Steller's Jay while walking along the Willamette River in Memorial Park last Sunday. It kinda startled me as I was watching some Chickadees off to the side of the path and when I glanced forward it was just there. I snapped a few pictures and then slowly inched closer and took some more. This one was taken at my closest, just before it decided I was too close.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Going Raw

Went out at lunch and tried shooting in Raw. Pictures are definitely sharper. Now I need a good editing program as iPhoto does not seem to recognize the Nikon Raw format.
Update: I've been trying to identify this bird. I think it is a Savannah Sparrow.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Test Blog

This is my first blog entry. This photo was taken on my first day out with my Nikon D90.