Part 2 of my Favorite 2017 Wildlife Photos. This time, bird portraits…Just nice photos of interesting birds.

DSC04811

Mountain Bluebird [Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming]

The Mountain Bluebird is a very different blue than our familiar Eastern Bluebird. It is more sky blue and almost iridescent. I love the contrast between the snowy Yellowstone landscape and the blue bird. This early migrant risks weather like this to secure the best breeding territories.

[Sony A6500 with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; Metabones adapter; 1/160 sec at f6.3; ISO 100: tripod]

IMG_0368

Common Raven [Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming]

Ravens in Minnesota are VERY SHY and fly as soon as you even touch the brake pedal. But in Yellowstone, they can be very gregarious. This guy wanted to join our winter picnic lunch. I converted this image to black and white because it basically already was back and white…a black bird on a snowy background. I took this with the Canon 200mm f2 lens which is extremely sharp and the detail in the bird’s feathers is amazing! You can event see the pine trees behind me in the reflection in the Raven’s eyes.

[Canon 7D with Canon EF200mm f2L IS USM lens; 1/320 sec at f2; ISO 100; +1.66ev; hand-held]

Willow Ptarmigan Launch Road Golf Balls Churchill Manitoba Canada IMG_1658

Willow Ptarmigan [Churchill, Manitoba, Canada]

This is probably the one photo that was my number 1 target for all of 2017. I knew I was going to Churchill, and I’d only caught a brief glimpse of this species once before (from a train to Churchill in 1987) so I really wanted to see and photograph a male Willow Ptarmigan…and colorful tundra flowers in the background would be a bonus. I got all my wishes!

[Canon 7D with Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-f5.6L IS II USM lens at 164mm; Metabones adapter; 1/500 sec. at f5; ISO 800; +o.66 ev; hand-held]

American Avocet Oak Hammock Marsh near Winnipeg Manitoba Canada DSC09378

American Avocet [Oak Hammock Marsh, near Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada]

I love reflections, and this American Avocet made a compelling subject with its beautiful plumage. Oak Hammock Marsh near Winnipeg, Manitoba is a great place to see this “shorebird of the prairie.”

[Sony A6500 with Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-f5.6L IS II USM lens; Metabones adapter; 1/400 sec. at f5.6; ISO 100; hand-held braced on railing]

Black-backed Woodpecker female Tamarack gold Orr Bog Walk Orr MN IMG_4321

Black-backed Woodpecker [Orr Bog Boardwalk, Orr, Minnesota]

Every autumn look for critters to photograph against the backdrop of brilliant yellow Tamarack trees. Their needles turn from green to yellow in mid October and make for stunning landscapes, reflections and backgrounds. This Black-backed Woodpecker obliged (though I wish there wasn’t the branch jutting out towards me that is out of focus).

[Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; 1/320 sec. at f5.6; ISO 320; tripod]

Great Gray Owl Nichols Lake Road Sax-Zim Bog MN SNY04166

Great Gray Owl [Sax-Zim Bog, Minnesota]

Great Grays are built for the harsh climate of the boreal forest….wind, snow, cold can’t keep them from hunting for voles under the snow. This one was out at dusk listening intently for scurrying sounds under the snow pack. Shot at 1/60 second to allow the snow flakes to blur a bit….Fast shutter speeds in these conditions often turn the snow into distracting white spots.

[Sony A6500 with Sigma 50-500mm f4.5-6.2 OS HSM lens; Metabones adapter; 1/60 sec at f6.3; ISO 1250; tripod]

Common Loon Spring Lake Carlton County MN DSC03122

Common Loon [Carlton County, Minnesota]

My kayak is tiny, and really a whitewater boat. But I regularly take it out to a small lake near me to photograph a family of loons. The cockpit is cramped but I love the near eye-level intimate images you can get from being so low to the water. These loons tolerated my presence and would often come close to check me out.

[Sony A6500 with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; Metabones adapter; 1/1000 sec. at f5.6; ISO 400; hand-held from a small kayak]

 

 

Marsh Wren Cowhorn Lake Itasca County MN DSC02622

Marsh Wren [Itasca County, Minnesota]

The feisty Marsh Wren lives in cattail swamps across the northeast and northern plains but it is fairly uncommon in northeastern Minnesota. I took my kayak out to a wild lake near Grand Rapids and found

[Sony A6500 with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; Metabones adapter; 1/2500 sec. at f5.6; ISO 320; hand-held from small kayak]

Nelson's Sparrow wet tundra Launch Road Churchill Manitoba Canada DSC00933

Nelson’s Sparrow [Churchill, Manitoba, Canada]

What’s the matter with you, Sparky? Why would you put a sparrow as one of your favorites of 2017? Well, the Nelson’s Sparrow is an uncommon bird of restricted range (basically the northern plains and prairie provinces) and only found in very specific wetlands. They are normally very shy and don’t often come into the open. I found this male singing in a patch of tundra about a mile from the road.

[Sony A6500 with Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-f5.6L IS II USM lens; Metabones adapter; 1/3200 sec. at f5.6; ISO 400; tripod]

Pacific Loon Launch Road Churchill Manitoba Canada DSC09848

Pacific Loons [Churchill, Manitoba, Canada]

Yet another tundra bird that I’ve always wanted to see and get a nice photo of. I like this composition but wish I’d had better light…and used a smaller aperture to get more of both birds in focus. But really stunning birds!

[Sony A6500 with Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-f5.6L IS II USM lens; Metabones adapter; 1/400 sec. at f5.6; ISO 100; +o.66 ev; hand-held]

Short-eared Owl Stone Lake Road Sax-Zim Bog MN IMG_0397

Short-eared Owl [Sax-Zim Bog, Minnesota]

A fun surprise on a cold early November day in the Sax-Zim Bog was the sudden appearance of a large raptor floating down the ditch line of a back road. At first I thought it was a Rough-legged Hawk but then it landed and I saw that it was a Short-eared Owl! My 9th owl species seen and photographed in the Sax-Zim Bog. I crawled across the icy road to get semi-close. I was careful not to spook her. The sun was getting low, so the light on her was beautiful. She hunted for another day but I wasn’t able to get another decent photo.

[Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; 1/400 sec. at f5.6; ISO 100; hand-held while laying down on an icy dirt road]

Long-tailed Duck Twin Lakes Road Churchill Manitoba Canada DSC00630

Long-tailed Duck [Churchill, Manitoba, Canada]

Another tundra bird that I’d always wanted to photograph in breeding plumage (and this male is nearly there, but note that the top of the head still has some white on it). Like their name implies, the long tail is an identifying characteristic but it is often dragging in the water. I like how visible it is in this photo.

[Sony A6500 with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; Metabones adapter; 1/1250 sec at f5.6; ISO 250: hand-held]

 

Lincoln's Sparrow Admiral Road feeders Sax-Zim Bog MN DSC02271

Lincoln’s Sparrow [Sax-Zim Bog, Minnesota]

Every bird has a distinct personality…I’m sure other birds know this…but we humans can sometimes notice the difference in how bold or shy certain individuals are. This Lincoln’s Sparrow, a denizen of open taiga-like Black Spruce bog, was one of the bold ones. He obligingly perched and sang for me while I shot lots of video and took many photos.

[Sony A6500 with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; Metabones adapter; 1/500 sec. at f5.6; ISO 250; tripod]

Eastern Kingbird Arkola Road-CR52 fencepost Sax-Zim Bog MN DSC08036

Eastern Kingbird [Sax-Zim Bog, Minnesota]

Sure I’d prefer this Eastern Kingbird to be sitting on a more attractive perch, like a weathered wood post, but the real star here is the blurred out background of yellow flowers.

[Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; 1/1000 sec. at f5.6; ISO 320; hand-held and braced on car window frame]

Common Eider Cape Merry Hudson Bay Churchill Manitoba Canada IMG_0623

Common Eider  [Churchill, Manitoba, Canada]

Am I sounding like a broken record? Probably my number 2 target of 2017, and I knew I’d see them on my June trip to Churchill, but I never dreamed I’d be able to get eye-level with this gorgeous sea duck as it fed on Hudson Bay! Love the blue background.

[Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; 1/3200 sec. at f5.6; ISO 320; hand-held]

American Three-toed Woodpecker Julies Jewel of a Bog St. Louis County Cook MN DSC03775

American Three-toed Woodpecker

Simply and nice eye-level portrait of a rarely seen bird. The American Three-toed Woodpecker is a resident of deep Black Spruce bogs in the Far North. In Minnesota they are most common in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area along the Canadian border. But this year they seem to be more common as far south as the Duluth area. No one is sure why they sometimes make these irruptions south.

[Sony A6500 with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; Metabones adapter; 1/400 sec. at f5.6; ISO 1250; hand-held]

 

Surf Scoter White-winged Scoter Black Scoter Hudson Bay Churchill Manitoba Canada IMG_0142

Black Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Surf Scoter  [Churchill, Manitoba, Canada on Hudson Bay]

Admittedly not a good photograph, but I had to include it because it is a very rare photo…All 3 North American species of scoters in one frame! Maybe only birders will get excited over this photo, but I’m pretty proud of it. These 3 were part of a much larger mixed flock floating and feeding on Hudson Bay.

[Canon 7D with Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-f5.6L IS II USM lens at 164mm; Metabones adapter; 1/640 sec. at f5.6; ISO 200; +1.0 ev; hand-held]

 

 

 

Advertisements