Categories
Malheur Wildlife Refuge

American White Pelican

I was looking forward to seeing the White Pelicans in Toppenish, but, again, had to wait until I got to Malheur to see them. I was greeted by a small flock at the entrance, much closer than I’ve ever seen them before, except in the zoo.

It didn’t take long to get some good shots,

American White Pelican

though I’d observed quite awhile before seeing one lower its head into the water and pull up a meal.

White Pelican Feeding

I’m used to seeing Brown Pelicans dive from some spectacular heights to capture fish, but I’ve never seen one do this. Of course, when I thought about it, I’m not sure this pond was deep enough to be safe to dive into from any great height.

Of course, if you go to All About Birds you learn that:

The White Pelican does not dive for fish as the Brown Pelican does. Instead, it dips its head underwater to scoop up fish. Several pelicans may fish cooperatively, moving into a circle to concentrate fish, and then dipping their heads under simultaneously to catch fish.

I guess I’ll have to wait awhile longer to capture a shot of a group of them cooperatively fishing.

Until then, I’ll have to be satisfied with shots of synchronized swimming

Pair of White Pelicans

and with the Pelican’s strange beauty.

White Pelican

Categories
Malheur Wildlife Refuge

Black-Necked Stint

I stopped in at Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge on my way to Malheur in hopes of seeing the Black-Necked Stilt I’d seen there last year, only to discover that there are no ponds open to the general public, at least not until hunting season when most of the range is open on hunting days only. Disappointed and frustrated, it seemed unlikely that I would see any on this trip.

Luckily, I found them at the ponds right outside Malheur, both on the way in and on the way out. Last year I was struck by their brilliant black and white colors and red legs. But once I saw them foraging, I realized immediately where their name comes from.

Just look at the weird looking right leg:

Black-Necked Stilt

It’s also obvious when they’re wading in shallow water,

Black-Necked Stilt

and even more when you see them next to a flock of yellowlegs and a Wilson’s Phalarope:

Black-Necked Stilt

Malheur is definitely a birder’s delight.

Categories
Malheur Wildlife Refuge

White-Faced Ibis

One of my goals in returning to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge this week was to get a better picture of a White-Faced Ibis, a bird I didn’t even know existed until I returned home from my first trip their this Spring and examines some long shots I’d taken of a flock of birds flying overhead.

I certainly met that goal this time, for it seemed like they were everywhere, though none of them had white faces, which they only have during breeding. Nor did any of them look quite as colorful as the ones I found in my birding book.

I really wasn’t terribly disappointed, though, because its really the shape of the bird

White-Faced Ibis in the Distance

not its colors that first drew my attention. It’s a good thing, too, because this shot is symbolic of most of the Ibis I saw.

As it turned out, the shot I took the first day in the ponds you cross before you make the turn to go to the tour captured the iridescent color of the Ibis

White-Faced Ibis

better than any picture I got on the rest of the trip, though I much prefer this pose,

White-Faced Ibis

and the definition of the feathers. Unfortunately the sun was shining from the back and the photo had to be lightened to bring out what little color there was.

The beautiful green in this shot of an Ibis flying away

White-Faced Ibis Flying Away

gives me reason to believe that I have plenty of reasons to return to get better shots, particularly in the Spring when they are in breeding colors.

Categories
Birds

Dowitchers

While I’m not adverse to seeing a “first” like the recent Pectoral Sandpiper and I’m not totally immune to the disappointment of not seeing a recently sighted rare bird, I’m am content to just photograph birds I see regularly, learning to see them better and, thus, getting a better shot than before.

While we were at the beach looking for a Ruff, I was content to spend an hour or so taking pictures of Dowitchers, a common bird around here.

Three Dowitchers

Once at the computer, though, I’m less satisfied to merely present the pictures as shot. I almost always re-crop pictures to fit the size of the screen, even though I might like the picture better cropped less tightly in a larger format. Since I shoot with no adjustments in the camera, I also end up sharpening at least the main subject of the shot. And, more often than not, I tweak the lighting to adjust for shooting conditions.

Sometimes, though, I look for new ways to draw attention to the photo, as in this shot,

Dowitchers

where I played around with the texture of the water but left the main subject untouched, something I often do.

Truthfully, the camera is seldom capable of capturing any subject the way I actually see it, so I consider Photoshopping a picture a better way of showing what I actually saw, or, at least, what I was paying attention to the moment I pressed the shutter,