Spotted at Newport Beach
I’m looking back at old photos today, not just because I’ve hardly been out of the house to take new ones, but because I’m looking for a set of photos that I could say are in my photography niche (an assignment for my AAUW photography group). I have several “niches”, I guess, but in the last few years, my favorite place to take photos is at the beach. I like to take photos of beach people, beach birds, and the water itself. This photo is part of my intentional camera movement/slow shutter series of gulls in Alaska. I love the look of the white gull over dark water- and it required almost no editing.
Life and Death in the Backyard
My husband spotted this beautiful hawk in the backyard this evening. He was perched on a low birdhouse- and was eating prey. I took photos through a window, but he was behind branches and, was, well . . . eating. I ended up sneaking out the back door and brazenly going out on the patio with my camera. He heard the door and flew to the top of one of the shepherd’s poles we have in the back. He looked at me, but didn’t seem to recognize me as the source of the noise. He looked all around, and I slunk back into the house. He is gone now.
My bird app tells me this is an immature Cooper’s hawk. I hesitate to post this, because I have had commenters argue back and forth about Cooper’s hawks vs. Sharp Shinned hawks. I will say we have had Cooper’s/Sharp-Shinned hawks in our yard many times over the years, but this is the first immature one I’ve seen.
Just a typical day at Newport Beach…
We saw them! I’ve been reading about the two Mandarin Ducks spotted at Lynx Lake here in Prescott and went out just before Christmas (on icy trails!) to see them. No such luck. We had seen some in Alaska a few years ago, but this would be a first for us in Arizona. Today, thanks to some Phoenix photographers I met up with on the trail, we were able to find them and take photos. They are such pristinely beautiful birds!
Watching egrets on a southern California beach was new to us. We were used to seeing them in the marshes of the Bay Area, but watching them march through the waves on Newport Beach was a whole different experience. I took many more photos than I needed!
This photo taken at Newport Beach tickles my funny bone and makes me smile. It’s even in the place of honor on my iPhone lock screen. If you have an appropriate caption for it, let me know!
We took a quick, last minute trip to Southern California to visit our son’s family before Thanksgiving. We spent a couple days at Newport Beach, spending time each day at the beach and meeting up with the family for the evening. It was so relaxing to be back at one of our favorite spots! The weather was great, the beach not crowded, and we saw lots of beach birds. What was surprising to us as infrequent visitors was that the pelicans were on the beach, not just flying low over the water as we usually see them. We were closer to them than we ever can remember. One of the days we drove up to Huntington Beach, and as we walked on the pier, this fellow landed on the rooftop above us. Soon another joined him, and we had a great time pelican watching. I took so many photos that I not only had to change batteries, but ran out of room on my SD card!
Morning coffee these days means sitting on the front porch watching the monsoon rains or sitting on the back patio and watching the hummingbird show. Today it was the hummingbirds.
We have had more hummingbirds than usual this summer and often they are vying for dominance in their territory. This morning they were zooming around so fast it was difficult to focus. Although they were focused on each other (and the feeder!), I considered they might actually fly right into me as I stood taking photos. As I write this, they are back at it again after a forced respite due to heavy rain.
I was in the mood for a soft photo when I edited this image, so muted the colors and added a blur and a paint filter over all. This is a look I like in photography- but does NOT reflect the mood of these feisty hummers.
Most of my Alaska photography time last month was spent photographing the loons that swam peacefully around the lake. Often they would dive beneath the water for food and then surface with a spray of bubbly lake water. They were usually in pairs and would call to each other when they were separated, flapping their wings when the other was spotted. There was a pair with babies which I never saw, unfortunately. Next year…
Breakfast time for this cute little hummingbird!
During our “elder years” (I put this in quotes, because I haven’t quite accepted my role as an elder), my husband and I have taken to eating many of our summertime meals out on the patio while we to watch the birds. Last night, I was enjoying watching the goldfinches, when many more finches swooped in and crowded each other on one of the feeders. I was surprised to see the spotted towhee (on the left) join them; I’m used to see the towhees under the feeders, rather than ON them.
What a relaxing way to start our evening!
We have a hummingbird feeder hanging outside our window by the kitchen sink, and nearby is a hummingbird swing. The hummer in this photo (a quick snap taken through the window glass) was not swinging for fun. He was guarding the feeder from a hummingbird who kept trying to come in for a drink. Never mind that there are three feeders- these aggressive little guys do not like to share!
Here is another view of the hummingbird I posted yesterday. Although it’s not my favorite pose (the wings forward), I love how you can see the flower, sky, and part of the head through the wing as the morning light hits the front of the bird, its wings frozen in place with the high shutter speed I was using to photograph bees.
It was my lucky day! First of all, I was trying out my new macro lens- a gift from my good friend, Carol of infocusdaily.com , who is changing out her traditional Nikon lenses for lenses made specifically for her Nikon mirrorless system. I brought a chair out to the front flower bed so I could sit by the lavender and try out the lens. My intention was to to capture some of the buzzing bees, but as I sat down and raised my camera, I was “buzzed” by this little hummer (likely a black-chinned hummingbird). It was not intimidated by my camera, but was letting me know I was in its territory. It continued sipping nectar out of the blossoms as I snapped these photos- and I was very impressed by how well my Nikon with the new macro lens was able to capture the details on this little bird, who was probably 6-10 feet away. It was all over within five minutes, but I felt very lucky indeed to have this wonderful new lens and to have its first subject be this sweet hummingbird! Thank you, Carol!