Cute Chicks – Part 1

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) with Goslings
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; MAY 2020

I am presenting the first of 2 parts entitled Cute Chicks. This part will present some local waterfowl.

One of the images is entitled Huddled Sord of Baby Mallards. I learned that a group of Mallards in flight is called a flock or sometimes a flight. Mallards on the ground are called a SORD. If the name sounds weird, it is because it appears to have no other uses.

Female Mallard Duck (Anas platyrhynchos) with Ducklings
Mississippi Bar, American River Parkway, Orangevale, CA; MAY 2020
Mute Swans (Cygnus Olor) with Young
Mather Lake Regional Park, Sacramento, CA; JUN 2020
Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) with Ducklings
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; MAY 2020
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) with Young
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; MAY 2020
Huddled Sord of Baby Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos)
Sailor Bar, American River Parkway, Fair Oaks, CA; MAY 2020
Juvenile Canada Geese (Branta canadensis)
Mather Lake Regional Park, Sacramento, CA; JUN 2020

Please visit my website, www.earthwatcher.us to see my collection of landscapes and wildlife.

These and other images are available to purchase by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

Some Recent Bird Sightings

Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)
North Staten Island Rd, Galt, CA; NOV 2019

A week ago, we visited Staten Island, CA. It is an island in the Sacramento-San Jouquin River Delta. More importantly, Staten Island is owned by The Nature Conservancy and is managed to allow conservation friendly agriculture and as a place for birds to stop on winter migrations as well as to winter over. For this area, it means we have an opportunity to see Sandhill Cranes, Tundra Swans, White-fronted Geese and many other birds. On this visit, we got to see the Sandhill Cranes, Cackling Geese, Snow Geese and Sora.

The Sora (Porzana Carolina) was my surprise bird. I didn’t even know they existed. It is one of those drab, gray birds that hide in the brush, along streams and irrigation ditches. But drab and gray is not a fitting description. They are quite beautifully marked and have a bright yellow bill. Three Sora gave me the rare opportunity to see them in the open and photograph them.

Please click on caption to see images in higher resolution.

Sora (Porzana carolina) – P2
North Staten Island Rd, Galt, CA; NOV 2019
Juvenile Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens) and Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)
North Staten Island Rd, Galt, CA; NOV 2019
Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)
North Staten Island Rd, Galt, CA; NOV 2019
Sora (Porzana carolina)
North Staten Island Rd, Galt, CA; NOV 2019
Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)
North Staten Island Rd, Galt, CA; NOV 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

Swans

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus Buccinator)
Swan Lake Flat, Yellowstone National Park; SEP 2018

Today I am sharing images of swans I’ve photographed over the past several years.

Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus Buccinator) are North America’s largest waterfowl. Thy can have a 6 foot wingspan and weigh as much as 26 pounds. According to All About Birds, a Website from Cornell Labs: “They breed on wetlands in remote Alaska, Canada, and the northwestern U.S., and winter on ice-free coastal and inland waters.” The odd thing here is that I found some on the icy Yellowstone River in February.

The Tundra Swan (Cygnus Columbianus) is a winter migrant to the US. We see them winter over on the Pacific Flyway from late October through about the end of February. They nest on arctic tundra. The Tundra Swan is sometimes called a Whistling Swan.

The Mute Swan (Cygnus Olor) is not native to North America; it’s a European immigrant. It is the swan we see in ponds and lakes at parks, farms and estates. According to All About Birds: “ All of the Mute Swans in North America descended from swans imported from Europe from the mid 1800s through early 1900s to adorn large estates, city parks, and zoos. Escapees established breeding populations and are now established in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes, and Pacific Northwest of the U.S.” The ones I am presenting may be from a wild colony or may be feral.

I found the Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus) in Iceland. According to Wikipedia, Whooper swans can migrate hundreds or even thousands of miles to their wintering sites in southern Europe and eastern Asia. They breed in subarctic Eurasia. Icelandic Whooper Swans breed and winter over in the United Kingdom and Ireland. They can have a wingspan of 9 feet and weigh over 30 pounds. Whooper Swans pair for life.

Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

Tundra Swans (Cygnus Columbianus)
Staten Island Road, Galt, CA; JAN 2018
Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus)
South Coast of Iceland; SEP 2017
Mute Swan (Cygnus Olor)
Scott Road, Folsom, CA; FEB 2016
Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus Buccinator) – P1
Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park, WY, FEB 2013
Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus Buccinator)
Swan Lake Flat, Yellowstone National Park; SEP 2018
Mute Swan (Cygnus Olor) – P2
Willow Creek Recreation Area, Folsom, CA; OCT 2019
Trumpeter Swans at Sunrise (Cygnus Buccinator) -P1
Swan Lake Flat, Yellowstone National Park; SEP 2018
Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus Buccinator) at Sunrise – P2
Swan Lake Flat, Yellowstone National Park; SEP 201
Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus Buccinator) – P2
Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park; FEB 2013

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

Similar But Different Birds

A couple of weeks ago, I went to photograph sandhill cranes. While there, I saw what I thought was Canada Geese. They seemed a bit unusual though, they were darker in color and instead of a handful, there were hundreds. I took a few images and thought little more about them. I stopped to talk to a person that led a tour I once took. I mentioned the geese. He told me they were not Canada Geese, they were Cackling Geese. I knew that several years ago, the powers that classify birds, split Canada Geese into 2 separate species: Canada and Cackling. All I ever knew was that the cackling geese were smaller. This person told me that there were other indicators: most have a white ring at the base of their dark neck and their call is more of a cackle than the honk of the Canada Goose; thus their name. So, it was a great experience. I learned something that will help me in the future. By the way, this was the Aleutian subspecies migrating to California’s central Valley from Alaska. They’ll start their trip back in January.

Please click on caption to see higher resolution image.

Canada Goose
Canada Goose

Cackling Goose, Aleutian Subspecies
Cackling Goose

In November and December, the chinook or king salmon migrate from the ocean into the American River. The salmon breed and die. So, along with the salmon, the population of gulls and Turkey Vultures rise greatly. I assumed that what we see are California Gulls. After all, a gull is a gull. What I learned is we also get Herring Gulls. Both are white with a gray mantle, back and wing feathers. The California Gull is a noticeably darker gray, the Herring Gull is medium gray. The California Gull has yellow legs, dark eyes and a black spot on his bill; sometimes there is both a black and red spot. The Herring Gull has pink legs, yellow eyes and a red spot on his bill. Some of those colors change with the winter molt. I understand we also get the ring billed gull but I haven’t seen one.

California Gull
California Gull

Herring Gull
Herring Gull

Finally, I added 2 other birds for interest. I caught a great egret fishing. I also caught a sleeping great horned owl.

Great Egret Fishing
Great Egret Fishing

Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry@earthwatcher.us

The Magnificent Wood Duck

Image of a male wood duck perched in a tree
Male Wood Duck

Ducks swim in lakes, ponds, rivers and oceans. They waddle around on the ground. Many display beautiful coloring. One of my favorites is the strikingly colored wood duck. They are a bit of an oddity among ducks; they perch and nest in trees. When the young have developed enough, the parents make them jump to the ground, without help, and waddle to the water to begin their life as a duck.

Note: Click on caption to see image in larger size.

Image of a pair of wood ducks.
Pair of Wood Ducks

Image of a male wood duck in a pond.
Male Wood Duck

Note: These and other images are available for purchase by visiting my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting: larry@earthwatcher.us.

Birds

I am not typically a bird photographer.  When I do shoot birds, I try to take them in the context of their environment, trying to answer the questions: this is who I am and this is how I survive.  Living in the Sacramento, CA area affords me the opportunity to shoot migrating winter birds but, I find I really like to go back to the usual suspects – herons, egrets, Canada geese and mallards, hawks.  Learning about them, observing their behavior gives me a lot of pleasure.

The last week or so, I’ve had the added pleasure of trying out my new Fujinon 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 lens and 1.4X Tele-converter.  Its a great lens but its been more than a year since I shot with a long lens so, I made a few depth of field mistakes.  Oh well, I guess I just need to go out and shoot more.

Anyway, here are a few images I shot.  I hope you enjoy them.

20160209-Wm-Pond-Park-047-WEB
Great Egret

20160209-Wm-Pond-Park-027-WEB
Canada Goose

20160209-Wm-Pond-Park-030-Edit-WEB
Snowy Egret

Mountain Plover - Winter Plummage
Mountain Plover

20160209-Wm-Pond-Park-043-WEB
Red Shouldered Hawk

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

Snowy Egret
Snowy Egret

 

Pintail Duck

Pintail Duck
Pintail Duck, Cosumnes River Preserve, Sacramento, CA DEC 2015

We are very lucky to be near the delta that flows into San Francisco Bay because it attracts many beautiful migrating birds in the winter. One of the birds that makes California’s Pacific Flyway their home is the Pintail Duck. I shot this image of a beautiful pintail Sunday morning, DEC 27, 2015.