Tag Archives: photo

Andean Gull ~ Cusco Region, Peru

(birdingthedayaway; 15 March 2017)

I had convinced myself that this species was going to be fairly straightforward, well it wasn’t easy …
So the plan was that on route to Machu Picchu I would get a taxi to the train station from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and stop at lakes or whenever needed for the species ..
Errrrrr NO that’s not what happened !!
I sat out in the sun the previous day and paid the price with sunstroke, up most of the night being sick.
The taxi ride was challenging, I did have an emergency bag in my pocket just in case but managed to sleep for most of it ..
I did see two gulls from the train which boosted my straightforward theory ..
Two days at Machu Picchu was fantastic  but didn’t see any gulls even though the River Urubamba flows past Aguas Calientes where I was staying ..
After Machu Picchu I had pre-booked another night in Cusco but I cancelled this for another night at the lake, doubling my chances with the gulls ..
The train ride back and a few more gulls spotted ..
Taxi to the lake $80 yep take me !!
3 hours later and I’m at Lake Huacarpay not a gull in sight !!
But it gets worse the Hotel is closed and has been for 7 months ..
Thanks alot Booking(.)com
I then tried the surrounding area for another hotel but in the end had to return back to Cusco for the two nights.
The whole day wasted and a taxi fare of $160 for nothing ..
At this point my straightforward theory has got a slight crack in it !
Once at the Cusco hotel a car and driver were arranged for the next morning.
06:30am and the first stop is Lake Huaypo a gigantic lake which did have a few gulls but they just never came close ..
Next was Lake Piuray this was a humongous great lake and the tiny white specks never came close ..

My straight forward theory is shattered !!

Time for something to eat so the taxi driver took me to Chinchero an ancient city with ruins, after some food, the taxi driver stopped at the ruins from an elevated vantage point and flying past were two gulls which landed in the valley below ..
I gestured to the driver take me to the Blanco Aves ?
In the midday sun I managed a few shots just before they were flushed.
With one more lake to try we headed off towards Pisaq, the road just kept on going up and reached 3,870m ..
By now all the Inca Kola that I’d been drinking needed to come out so I asked the driver who did a u-turn and stopped outside what looked like a house but was actually a Textiles Shop, as I got out the car I could see a small lake behind the shop so grabbed the bins and looked over the fence, I was immediately rumbled and invited in by the owner.
The bins were dumped in favour of the camera and then I had to get rid of the Inca Kola and into the garden I went ..

I could not believe what I was seeing a pair of Andean Gulls with another circling overhead, I’m glad I got that Kola out or else I would of just wet myself there and then ..!!

The location was Lake Huayllarccocha and it was time to cash in my Karma points …

I had 15 minutes with the birds and went away happy giving the man some money for letting me in ..

We then went further up the road towards Pisaq but this nagging feeling ate away at me so after 90 minutes it was a return to the small lake which is when all the grass shots took place ..

Another 15 minutes and I gave the man $20 more …

If you want to just tick n run then any suitable habitat is straight forward ..

But if you want to photograph them keep your fingers crossed and wear your lucky pants !! 

Avian Gems of the Caribbean Foothills

(Patrick O’Donnell, 18 March 2017)

Want to know a good recipe for tons of different bird species? Mix high mountains with abundant water, add warm stable temperatures, throw in a pinch of dry areas, and blend it in a place where different evolutionary lineages meet. The end result is southern Central America and in terms of birds, we get a bonanza of literally hundreds of bird species in a pretty small place.

Whether volcanic, tectonic, or both, the mountains are a vital part of the species equation. The slopes catch or prevent water from falling and thus produce conditions for different habitats and continue with habitat generation by lifting land to different elevations with accompanying cooler temperatures. Microhabitats also come out of this situation for an extra dose of biodiversity, including transition zones that have their own suites of adapted birds. One of those transition areas is my favorite habitat in Costa Rica because it blends the richness of lowland avifauna with some aspects of the highlands along with a local set of restricted bird species. Although the prospect of rare and little known birds is always a draw, the slightly cooler temperatures and dripping mossy vegetation of foothill forests likewise make them an attractive place to visit, and in Costa Rica, another bonus comes into play for birding foothill forests. While steep slopes and heavy rains make these interesting transition areas tough to access in many other parts of the globe, the rare combination of good roads and protected areas makes them one of the easier places to access when visiting Costa Rica.

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Baby Ospreys Now!

( , 5 march 2017)
Ospreys, fish-eating raptors, are breeding now on Sanibel, FL. This female is delivering fish to her partially grown young. She ate some of the fish herself first, starting with the head,  then she began to feed the babies, pulling off very small bits of fish.
The Osprey nestling period is 50-55 days. Ospreys can have from 1-4 young and eggs do not hatch at the same time. The first egg may hatch up to 5 days before the last one. The oldest hatchling dominates its siblings and may monopolize the food brought. If food is abundant food will be shared and all the chicks will survive. Ospreys breed in parts of the West and northern U.S and across Canada, and live all year in FL and parts of the Gulf Coast. You can see them migrating through much of the country.

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse

(Redgannet; February27, 2017)

A Pin-tailed Sandgrouse flew across the front of the hide and landed on the other side of a freshwater sluice, just a few meters away under the watchful eye of a Slender-billed Gull. A security guard who mans the hide had spotted it earlier and pointed it out, but at the time it was quite a long way off and in a small hollow, making it difficult to identify.

Not very many hides come with their own defence personnel. This one was at the Ras al Khor Sanctuary in Dubai where a “caretaker” is employed to ensure that visitors to the hide are safe, that they respect the birds’ refuge and don’t run off with the scope which is provided free of charge.

I had selected automatic white balance on my camera, but in review the first few pictures lacked colour and warmth. The day was well advanced and the bright sun was burning out the shots. I changed to a warmer temperature setting for white balance and compared the reviewed shots with the actual scene in front of me. They appeared to be much closer to reality than the AWB had achieved. Now that I see them on the computer, I doubt that the colours were as intense, but my eyes, much like my normal grip on reality, may have been unreliable. Anyway, back to the bird.

The Pin-tail Sandgrouse, Pterocles alchata, is a bird of the dry lands, inhabiting stony semi-desert and plain. The bird featured today is a female of the eastern race P.a. caudacutus which includes northern Africa and the Middle East within its range. It was introduced into UAE. The nominate form can be seen in Spain and southern France.

Much of the water at Ras Al Khor is brackish, pushed up by the tide, but at the mangrove hide, there is a freshwater outlet and it was for this that the bird had come. They are often associated with areas of cereal agriculture. They will eat new green shoots as available, but much of their diet is made up of dry seeds, so a reliable source of fresh water is important.

Something strikes me as I write….

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Birding Lakeview Drive Ponds, Paradise Island, New Providence, Bahamas

(Corey, March 6, 2017)

From 20 February through 25 February I was on a family-and-friends vacation on New Providence in the Bahamas. This was not a birding vacation but a beach-and-water-park vacation. Regular readers here at 10,000 Birds, however, will not be surprised to learn that I managed to see some birds in between riding water slides, lounging on the beach, and drinking rum.

I made the one-block walk to the ponds seven times, four in the morning and three in the evening, and totaled forty-three species on those visits. So, what birds did I see?

The obvious and easy-to-see stuff were waterbirds. White-cheeked Pintails, Common Gallinules, and American Coots (of the red-shielded form, not the white-shielded, Caribbean form) were in-your-face and impossible to miss. Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and Green Herons were all seen on every visit. Neotropic Cormorants provided the best looks I had ever had of the species and Least Grebes, more common in the pond east of the road, provided me with my lifer look at them.

The reason for all of the waterbirds being so willing to come close was made clear to me on the first morning I was there when I was sitting on the wooden observation platform on the western pond and a woman pulled up in her car, walked over, and dumped out a bunch of grain for the ducks. She apparently does this almost every day and I somewhat doubt that she is the only one who feeds the birds. Whatever the reason, I was pretty stoked about White-cheeked Pintails displaying within a few feet.

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White wading bird study

(Thomas P Brown, March 01, 2017)

For those of us who live full time on a boat, we use a nickname for those who do not, “Dirt Dwellers” Now don’t get me wrong, a very good portion of our friends all fall into that category. Many of those said “Dirt Dwellers” are also birders, who just cannot understand how I go without a backyard or similar area to enjoy the birds that tend to congregate around houses. It’s just not a problem, as you have your robins, sparrow and warblers, and I have herons, egrets grebes and gulls. My office is, as measured by my Fitbit, 107 steps from my boat, so my morning commute is pretty reasonable. Along the way to work I get to see a pretty decent number of species. A couple of weeks ago, I was treated to a visit by juvenile bird that I had never seen before, at least I don’t think I have. And, it was that very question that got me to thinking about the identification of this bird versus other mature birds that look similar. Just a couple of days ago, a photo opportunity came along that just had story written all over it.

The juvenile bird that started all this ruckus was a Little Blue Heron. While this bird is not what I would call a rarity in this area, I only see one or two each season. That compared to literally thousands of the Snowy Egrets and Great Egrets. The fact that the juvenile bird is, for the most part completely white, certainly helps it to blend in when there are dozens of like colored birds out on the tidal flat. Here in side the marina, one of the favorite fishing spots for all of the visiting herons and egrets, is the cement barrier that defines the launching ramp for trailered boats. This launch ramp is about 50 feet from my front door, so I get to watch quite a bit of activity, both birds and boats around that small piece of cement. Then, one morning, it all fell together. This wonderful piece of cement bird magnet had attracted not only the juvenile Little Blue Heron, but a Snowy Egret as well as a Great Egret! I ran to my office for the camera to record this momentous  occasion (well, Ok, it was for me anyway) and by the time I got back, another Snowy had joined them.

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Secret Valley Herons

(Rich Steel, May 01, 2016)

A few weeks ago, I received an email with a couple of photographs attached  taken on a compact camera of a heron nest. This  had been sent to a photographer I know who lives down south, who knowing it was in my area, then forwarded it on to me. The nest was supposed to be one of around ten at a location close to home, which I have driven past many times, and never knew a heronry was there. My good friend lives just round the corner from the herons and he did not know they were there either. So before I get any further I would like to send a big thanks to Ben for sharing the information with me.

The heronry is on the edge of a new housing estate located in a narrow, shallow heavily wooded valley. Where birds have nested in the tops of trees growing from the valley base, by standing on the valley ridge effectively puts you at the interesting perspective of being level with the nests. Given the dense tree growth along the side of the valley there is only one small gap which is clear of vegetation to allow you to photography the birds. When I say small I mean its a 2ft clear hole through the branches which, with some careful camera positioning allows you to photograph three different nests. Each of the nests was occupied one with 4 well grown young, another with 3 and the third with an adult bird which was presumably sitting on eggs.

This is the first time I have photographed a herons nest and it reminded me a little of a scene from Jurassic Park especially with the ‘primeval’ sounds of birds from adjacent nests as adults came back and forth with sticks to build up their nest or fish to feed their rapidly growing young. I did three sessions in total before the spring tree growth obscured by small window through the trees. It proved to be a waiting game as the action only really starts in earnest when the adult returns to the nest with the next fish meal which seemed to occur every 60 to 90 minutes. In the intervening time, the chicks would spend their time sleeping, preening, moving sticks around and stretching their wings and building their wing muscles with some flapping exercise.

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