Friday, April 30, 2010

Yellow-rumped Warbler

The Yellow-rumped Warblers were out in force last Saturday at Jackson Creek. Only trouble was to get one to sit still, not hide behind a branch or get under-exposed against the bright sky. I got this picture of a nice example of a male Audubon variety in a tree along a grassy path.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Turkey Vulture

Of the over 200 pictures I took of these Turkey Vultures one night on my way home from work, these are about the only two that turned out well enough to post. The dark feathers against the bright sky resulted in an underexposed bird. This even after I adjusted the camera to overexpose. Oh well, live and learn. I'll have other opportunities. For some reason, I've seen Turkey Vultures at this spot for years. I also took some pictures of the Vultures perched up near the top of some tall pines. One of them would open its wings facing into the sun on occasion. I believe they do this to help kill bacteria they pick up eating rotting carcass'. I haven't gotten through all those pictures yet. If one is good enough, I'll post it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Black-capped Chickadee

I wish I could have been a little closer to this Black-capped Chickadee. Fortunately I had the 400mm lens at the time. I took this series of pictures at Wilsonville Memorial Park from the walking bridge not far from the off-leash dog area. The Chickadee had found a hole on the underside of this broken branch and kept poking its head in it. I'm not sure if it was looking for a nest or just looking for food, but eventually it pulled out what looks like a seed.

Black-capped Chickadee

One of the first pictures I took after purchasing my new camera was of a Black-capped Chickadee. A common bird from my childhood, especially in the winter. Since then I've seen a number of them and tried shooting them, but I could never get a decent shot. This one isn't too bad. It's a little off in the distance, but otherwise quite good.

Golden-crowned Sparrow

This Golden-crowned Sparrow's crown has better defined coloration than the last one I posted, but I wasn't able to get as close.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bald Eagle

This is one of the images of the Bald Eagle that I took the morning I arrived at TRNWR to use the bird blind. It was perched on top of a tall pine next to the visitor center. I used both the 400mm lens and the 1.7 teleconverter I had rented. The teleconverter added some softness, but the picture turned out pretty good. It was quite the exciting experience.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Red-tailed Hawk

I haven't mastered taking pictures of birds in flight yet. I have two problems. Either the focus is bad and/or the bird is terribly underexposed against the bright sky. Case in point, I ran across five or six Turkey Vultures a week or so ago both roosting in some tall pines and circling near by. I took a couple hundred pictures of what looked like fantastic images though the viewfinder, but when I downloaded them to my computer, I was disappointed to find that all of the pictures I took of the Vultures flying overhead were under exposed with very little detail. I had even adjusted the exposure on my camera to help compensate for this problem.
It's with this and other experiences in mind that I wasn't too hopeful that these shots of a Red-tailed Hawk I took at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve would turn out well. I almost didn't bother to shoot them. But when I transferred them to my computer, I was pleasantly surprised. A longer lens would helped out with the grain as I had to crop quite a bit to fill the frame, but all-in-all, these didn't turn out too bad.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I spent another morning at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve. It was very active and the water had receded quite a bit from the last time I was there. It was an interesting morning weather-wise as it was sunny one moment and pouring the next. While I got a lot of good pictures, I'm not sure I got any great ones. I did see some birds that I would have loved to have gotten pictures of such as a rooster Ring-necked Pheasant and either California or Gambel's Quail. I only saw each for an instant before they took cover.
I saw these Dunlin just before leaving the preserve. I don't have much experience with shore birds and was concerned that I wouldn't be able to identify them as so many look the same. The black patches on the bellies, however, made it quite apparent as to their identity.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Common Yellowthroat

I would have missed this Common Yellowthroat had it not been singing. It was hanging around in the bushes by the first small ponds at TRNWR. It was hard to get a clear shot as it moved around a lot and liked to stay hidden. With a little cleanup this image turned out pretty good. This is the first time I have seen a Yellowthroat in Oregon. I saw a few when I was young in Minnesota, but only during migratory time in the spring.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Red-winged Blackbird - Immature

It's interesting how you can get so caught up in the process of picture taking that sometimes that you don't realize what you shot. That happened in this case. I was looking though some of the pictures from the bird blind (I still haven't gotten through all of them) and came across these pictures of an immature male Red-winged Blackbird. I thought I was shooting a male and a female at the time I shot these pictures.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Song Sparrow

Maybe I should start a blog just for Song Sparrows. :-) I caught this one just as a burst of wind occurred on an otherwise calm day. Another image from the bird blind at TRNWR.

European Starling

This European Starling was one of the first birds I photographed from the bird blind at TRNWR.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Golden-crowned Sparrow

A week ago last Saturday while I was on my way to the bird blind at TRNWR, these were the first birds I shot (well they were the second after the Bald Eagle in the parking lot). They were along the path in the wooded patch just before the first bridge snacking on some dandelion seeds. Their golden crowns are not a solid as most pictures I've seen of this species, but they are obviously Golden-crowned Sparrows.

Brown-headed Cowbird

I hope I have this one right. Brown-headed cowbirds are not new to me, but the bill on this one seems too thin and the eyes too light. But, I can't find anything else that looks like it so, I'm sticking it. I took this shot during a cluster of great opportunities at the visitor center at TRNWR.

Canada Goose and Gosling

I pulled into Mentor Graphics last Sunday to see what was hanging out at the ponds. There were a few people who looked like they had been taking a walk standing off a bit from the first pond looking at something. I didn't think too much of it until I got out of the car and saw that the two Canada Geese that were on the grass next to the pond had several goslings! What an experience. They were the cutest things. I had the rented 400mm lens and almost didn't need it as I kept having to back up to get everything in the frame. I still haven't had a chance to go through all the pictures I took, but I just happened to look at this one and decided I had to post it. What a cute picture of what looks like a shy gosling peeking its head out from behind one of its parents.

Monday, April 19, 2010

White Fawn Lily

I sprinkle flower pictures throughout to hold my sister's interest. :-) This White Fawn Lily was low to the ground along the path at TRNWR. I should have changed lenses to improve the focus and depth of field.

Song Sparrow

What the heck, how about another. I took this shot of a Song Sparrow from the observation deck at TRNWR during another quick lunch walk.

Song Sparrow

Another Song Sparrow. They seem to be everywhere. I run across them and think to myself, "Another song sparrow, I have so many pictures of Song Sparrows." But they are so much fun to shot and usually provide some great poses. I ran across this one at just before I emerged from the trail onto the parking lot. The lighting was nice and I love the broken tree trunk it's sitting on.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I thought the last Killdeer picture I posted turned out nice, but this one beats it. Some of it is a better angle (not shooting from my car), some of it is a better background intensity and a lot has to do with the 400mm, f2.8 I rented last weekend. Sure wish I could own one of those. As hard as it is to lug around and more difficult to shoot with, it's worth it as it really performs well.

Lesser Goldfinch

Another new bird for me and this one right outside my kitchen window! This was a little tricky take as there were a lot of obstacles in the way. First I had to shoot through the window pane that didn't have a screen (a more severe angle). Then I had to work around the smudged areas on the window. And finally there were all the branches in the way. All-in-all, these two turned out quite nice. Normally, Lesser Goldfinches have a more solid black crown. I assume this one either has winter plumage or is an immature male.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I had a hard time identifying this bird. It looked familiar, but I couldn't find it in my field guide. Finally after seaching through Cornell's All About birds site, I realized it was a Bushtit. The reason I was confused is that the previous Bushtit I posted had a pale eye and this one had a dark eye. The picture of the Bushtit in my field guide had a pale eye. What I discovered is that the female has a pale eye while the male has a dark eye. Cornell's site says that female's eye turns pale within a month of fledging, while Wikipedia just says the female's eye is pale. I trust Cornell over Wikipedia. So, it's possible this is a young female, but I am betting it is a male.
These pictures are the result of luck and patience. Bushtits are almost constantly on the move. This one was a little calmer than some I've seen. I spotted it a fair distance from me and waited patiently while it got closer and closer. Towards the end it got quite close and remained still long enough, fairly unobstructed, so I could get some nice shots.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Scrub Jay

As common as Scrub Jays are, I would have never guessed how difficult they are to photograph. They spook at the least little thing. I finally got one to sit long enough to get a good shot. It was sitting on a bench along a path at TRNWR. It's interesting how it is holding one leg up. I read somewhere that birds don't have a lot of feeling in their feet so cold doesn't bother them much, so I am not sure why it is holding it up like that. Besides, it was a nice warm day.

Rufous-sided Towhee

I rarely saw a Rufous-sided Towhee when I was a kid, though it was one of my favorite birds. They seemed to only appear occasionally in the spring during migration and it was a treat to see one. Here in Oregon they are more common and I see them most anytime of year. There seems to be a tendency to now call them Spotted Towhees, but I can't get used to that. I should research why the change has occurred. I saw this one at the Mentor Graphics campus. I discovered that there is more to the ponds at Mentor than the two near the street. It's really quite a nice place. I wonder if they are hiring. :-)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bewick's Wren

I took this picture of a Bewick's Wren from the overlook over Tualatin River at TRNWR. It was pretty cooperative for a wren. They are usually pretty flighty. I got one image that was a little clearer than this one, but I like the fact that the wren is singing in this one.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

This is one of those images that isn't very good technically, but I was excited enough about it and the bird was fairly new for me that I wanted to post it anyway. It is the only image of the Kinglet that I took that was is in reasonably focus and it took quite a bit of post processing to clean it up. I confused as to what it was, but the little bit of red that you can see on its crown in this image led me to identify it. It was a difficult to shot as it was actually below me along the banks of the Willamette River in Wilsonville Memorial Park. I regularly check this spot as it seems to be a favorite of small birds, but it can be difficult to shot as you are looking down about 15 feet to the waters edge. I was using the rented 400mm lens on the monopod and wasn't quite sure how to point it down at first, but found if I straddled it like a stick pony it worked quite well.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Western Trillium

This Western Trillion was hiding in the shadows of the trees along a path at TRNWR.

White-crowned Sparrow

Occasionally I will see a bird while driving and wish I had my camera. Early last week I saw a Western Bluebird sitting on a fence top along the road as I was driving home from work. I haven't seen them that often but there is a program around the area to revive their numbers by placing bird houses in appropriate areas. So where am I going with this? I think the Bluebird was the catalyst for a dream I had a couple of days later. I would have really liked to have gotten that shot of the Bluebird. In my dream I was walking through some sort of a garden area and I came across a White-crowned Sparrow. I hadn't seen a White-crowned Sparrow since I was a kid and of course I didn't have my camera. Well, as I was leaving TRNWR on Sunday, the last outing of the weekend and last with the rented 400mm lens, what do I run into but a White-crowned Sparrow. Was my dream prophetic? I don't know, but it was a fun coincidence.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Belted Kingfisher

While I was in the blind Saturday morning, I suddenly heard a loud chatter noise. I quickly looked out all the blind openings, but didn't see anything. Then it stopped and I decided I missed whatever it was. But it started again and this time I saw it a short distance from the blind. A Belted Kingfisher was trying to swallow a small frog it had caught. I was able to get several pictures. This one captured the moment the best as it offers a good view of the bird and you can plainly see the frog in its beak. Getting this picture made sitting in the blind all morning worth it!


My sister Kathy has been a good supporter of my new hobby. She sent me this picture, along with others, of a Goldfinch she saw in South Dakota this past weekend. Per her email, "We went to S.D. last weekend to visit a college for Tabitha. She stayed on campus while Gene and I stayed with a couple who opened their home to us. They had lots of bird feeders out and the birds were very busy by them. I tried to get a pic of the mountain bluebird for you, but all I could get were these goldfinches."
Thanks for the picture Kathy!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

House Finch

This was a big weekend for me. I reserved the TRNWR bird blind on Saturday morning for the first time (first time in any bird blind) and for the occasion, I rented a f2.8, 400mm Nikon lens for the weekend. I was extremely excited to get started. After taking a few a few shots on Friday night to try it out, I woke up as early as I could (I am definitely not a morning person) Saturday morning and got to TRNWR about 7:30 just in time to see a huge Bald Eagle come swooping in from behind the visitor's center and landed at the top of a tall pine. What a way to start! I took 59 pictures of it and 1799 pictures overall this weekend.
It turned out to be a weekend of high highs and low lows. In addition to a new lens, I also decided to try adjusting exposure based on the background in which the bird was up against. I've taken so many pictures where there is a bright sky or bright water in the background that the bird gets underexposed. The trouble I had this weekend with this is that I didn't know what I was doing and I over did it in some cases. I totally ruined what could have been some great pictures of a Great Blue Heron because I should have underexposed a little, but instead forgot the camera was set to overexpose by .7. They turned out totally washed out. I also rented a 1.7 teleconverter because I had wanted to rent the 600mm lens but it was already reserved. It turns out the teleconverter reduced the clarity so much that I would have been better off just shooting without it. Luckily, I switched back and forth even before I was fully aware of this. Unfortunately the Bald Eagle images were taken with the teleconverter, but luckily many were still pretty good, just a little soft, even after sharpening in post.
On the high side, I got some great shots, especially after figuring out how to use the lens. After I realized how much quality I lost with the teleconverter and ditching it and being careful with exposure, the pictures improved greatly. The lens brought me in a little closer and the superior light gather capability (my 300mm zoom is only f5.6) made for sharper photos.
Oh ya, I'm also posting an image. It's going to take days to look through all the images, but I was excited about the photos I got of a House Finch. It was one of the last of the weekend, but I decided to post it first because it turned out great and I have seen only a few House Finches in my life.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Black-tailed Deer

This was taken during a lunch break at TRNWR. I took pictures of nine different birds and this Black-tailed Deer in that half hour. There were actually two deer, but one was in the woods a little further. I actually didn't see it at first, but then it flicked its tail a few times and I happened to notice it through the branches. This one eventually followed the other into the woods and they both disappeared.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lesser Scaup

A couple of male Lesser Scaup. The one in the lower image has more mottled breast and rump feathers. I'm not sure if it is winter plumage or a immature male. Based on some information on Cornell's site, it may be a non-breading male.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Herring Gull

I'm pretty sure this is a Herring Gull. There are a few gulls like this that are pretty similar. This was taken back a few weeks ago during my Saturday afternoon at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. At times, taking pictures there felt a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, because the birds were so used to people you could get real close. Not as much sport, less natural. But it sure is nice to get real close shots. Even will my telephoto zoom at 300mm, it's best if the bird is within 20 feet or so to get a real nice clean image.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

American Robin

Pro Photo in Portland had a nature photo contest that ended on April 1st. I thought it would be fun to enter but the pictures had to be taken in Washington county and I didn't have anything I felt was good enough to enter that I took in that county. I really wanted to enter the sleepy goose image, but that was taken in Multnomah county I think. So on March 31 I took a quick walk through TRNWR over lunch and got this picture of a Robin. I don't necessarily think it is a great picture of Robin to illustrate what a Robin looks like, but as a picture I really like it. I also took some more images of the Bullfrog and entered a couple of those. It was a good experience having done it because I learned a few things about the process and why and when you save as 72 dpi vs. 300 dpi.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Marsh Wren

I was walking around Pintail Pond at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve when I heard this fascinating bird song in the reeds very close by. I inched my way closer until I spotted a small wren in the reeds right in front of me. I took a couple of shots and then tried to get a better view, but it kept hiding down in the grass and reeds. It turned out there were at least three of these Marsh Wrens in through that stretch. I pursued different ones trying to get a close, unobstructed shot. It was hard, but I did get a few decent shots. At one point while creeping in down low, I happened to notice one of their nests right in front of me. If you look close you'll see it in the bottom photo. The opening to the nest is right in the middle of the image. I waited for a while to see if I could get a shot of it at the nest, but gave up after a while thinking I didn't want to disturb it too much. All-in-all it was great fun.