Birds of Arizona: Glendale Recharge Ponds – Pt. 2

Note – If you missed part 1 of this story, you can find it here:

Birds of Arizona: Glendale Recharge Ponds – Pt. 1

As we continued our walk and circled around the pond, we came across several Cormorants sunning themselves. I usually associate these birds with shorelines, but they were probably just passing through.

cormorants

closer view of cormorants

As we returned to the parking area where our car was located, this Black Phoebe was sitting on top of a no fishing sign. It didn’t say he couldn’t catch flies!

Black Phoebe

The southern boundary of the recharge pond park, had a nice wide path for walkers and bikers.

walking path near parking area

Having had enough gnats and/or flies, we headed back to our car. We did not anticipate that a good number of the annoying recharge pond denizens would want to hitch a ride with use, but pack into the car they did.

The morning was moving on and the prime bird watching window was closing, so we decided to head to the Tres Rios Base & Meridian Wildlife Area which often attracts a variety of birds. Our GPS led us a bit off course, but we finally made it.

It is located very near the ISM Raceway, South Phoenix.

ISM Raceway, Phoenix

There was no event at the racetrack so parking was wide open. We parked along the side of the road and walked through the gate toward the river inlet.

Tres Rios Sign

While the water was not “raging,” it was moving well. Several people were fishing as we walked along the riverbank looking for birds.

Wide area of the river

We could see movement in the trees and we knew there were birds in the distance, but I am not skilled enough to be able to identify them by song. I would need a relatively good visual sighting to confidently ID a bird.

As we walked under the roadway overpass, we could see the Swallow nests

Swallow nests under the bridge

swallow nests under the bridge

I did spot another Phoebe waiting in the tall, dried grasses.

Phoebe waiting on a reed

Not having much success finding birds to identify, we decided to leave. As we made our way to the parking area, we spotted a Cormorant sunning on a partially submerged log.

Sunning Cormorant

He wasn’t alone long as a “buddy” also thought this would be a good location for sunning.

Second Cormorant heading for the perch

Two Cormorants sitting on the log

What is it they say about “birds of a feather?”

It was an interesting day and we enjoyed finally visiting the areas to see what they had to offer.

The Tres Rios Base & Meridian Wildlife Area hosts a number of events including nature awareness and bird watching opportunities. You can follow the along on their Facebook page to see what the upcoming functions offer.

See previous JBRish posts about birds HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018


Birds of Arizona: Glendale Recharge Ponds – Pt. 1

We had heard about the Glendale Recharge Ponds and the variety of birds they attract. As hikers and explorers, we decided we would head out that way to see what birds we could find. We started our jaunt early to have the best chance at seeing the most birds and while we thought it might be a bit tricky to find, the directions were actually quite good (see Part 2 for directions).

Right away we saw the discharge for which the ponds were named.


water being reclaimed

The facility is located west of and in a direct line with the University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals football team.


University of Phoenix Stadium

Along the access road leading to the ponds and along the sides of the waterways, there was a variety of farms and stables.


Small farms and ranches abut the ponds


Very quickly we noticed something very, very annoying – – flies. Loads and loads of flies. Perhaps gnats would be more accurate! This might be very good for the birds, but not so pleasant for us.


Gnats were abundant and annoying

Can you see all those light brown specs in the picture above? Those are some of the flies that were flitting around as soon as we left the confines of our car. Let me circle (in red) a couple for you.


Gnats circled for reference
Only five were circled, but there were hundreds upon hundreds!

We traveled for about an hour to get to our destination so we were not be deterred. A move perhaps we would later regret.

Only a few short steps along the pathways we saw what I identified as a Cattle Egret. If you look closely on the neck you can see flies on the bird. Other gnats are also clearly visible on the bird.


Gnats on the Egret

We hadn’t planned on most of the wildlife to be so far away. As we walked, the waterbirds swam to the far side of the large pond to seek safety and therefore escape our gaze. While I had three cameras with me, the only camera that was useful was the Canon SX50 HS with a large zoom lens.


As we walked, most birds fled
Those specks in the distance are numerous waterbirds

A more intrepid pair of birds, Black-necked Stilts, weren’t as quick to run away. They were busy searching the shallow depths for food. These are very interesting birds not only because of their somewhat whimsical black and white coloration…


Black-necked Stilts looking for food

but because of their long legs! Now we know how they got their name!


Long legs of the Black-necked Stilts

Lurking farther down the path and around the bend was an alert and somewhat wary Great Blue Heron.


A wary Great Blue Heron keeping an eye on us

In several locations there were warnings about no fishing! I have since learned that people do fish there even with the signs posted.


No Fishing sign

There were many, many Coots in the ponds, but also in the group were several other water birds. The male Northern Shoveler Duck was quite handsome.


Northern Shoveler Duck among the Coots

A Killdeer looked on with interest probably wondering what we were doing out-and-about with all these bugs in the air.


Watchfull Killdeer

To read the other JBRish posts about our Killdeer visitors:

Birds of Arizona – Killdeer ( Charadrius vociferus )

Killdeer Eggs in Our Yard; Oh My!

Killdeer’s Empty Nest in our Front Yard

For more information about the Killdeer’s rearing process, you can read The Precocious Killdeer.

Unfortunately, wherever people go, there are bound to be traces that they were there. Whether intentional or not, we found a floating flip-flop and this football.


Floating lost football left behind at the ponds

Overall, however, there wasn’t too much debris. We continued to walk a while longer to complete the circuit around the one large pond nearest our car. We were becoming a bit uncomfortable trying to “chase down” the birds with all the bugs buzzing around.

Read Birds of Arizona: Glendale Recharge Ponds – Pt. 2

See previous JBRish posts about birds HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018


Birds of Arizona – Red-tailed Hawk ( Buteo jamaicensis )

For casual bird watchers, identifying a particular bird can be quite a challenge. One would think that a Red-tailed Hawk would look very much like every other Red-tailed Hawk, but it isn’t quite that easy.

Unfortunately, there are often variations on a theme. One problem, for example, is that a juvenile bird often looks quite different than it does as an adult. This can reveal itself with differnt feather patterns or colors or perhaps a less developed feature that, when the bird is mature, would be quite prominent.

Facing this challenge, I often farm out the job of identification to the wonderful world of birders on the Internet. That is how I was able to determine that the bird below is a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk.

As you can see, we have a power pole near our house and very often one hawk or another will stop by to enjoy a meal or keep a lookout for the next one. While they are atop this perch, I am often able to walk close to them to capture a portrait.


Red-tailed Hawk
As I approached, the bird wanted to keep an eye on me.


Red-tailed Hawk
Here the bird decided to turn around to face me.


Red-tailed Hawk
When approached, hawks don’t necessarily run away, but will often just stare back!

Read more identifying Red-tailed Hawks – Telling Juvenile from Adult Red-tailed Hawks

 
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Metadata for the bottom Photograph

File Name: 000022_49.CR2
Capture time: 9:55:03 AM
Capture date: February 6, 2016
Exposure: 1/640 sec @ f/6.5
Focal Length: 215mm
ISO: 200
Canon PowerShot SX50HS
Lens: 4.3-215mm
Edited in Lightroom

See previous JBRish posts about birds HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018


Hassayampa Preserve Bird Walk – 20180203

It was quite a while since we had a good dose of nature and the warmer than usual winter has given us added impetus to “go outside!” An opportunity presented itself which allowed us to combine two of our interests, bird watching and hiking. As I have explained on these pages before, I am an “occasional birder.” I enjoy birds and bird identification, but I am not ardent. I take it as it comes and it adds enjoyment to my wanderings.

We registered for a guided bird walk at the Hassayampa River Preserve in Wickenburg, AZ. This is riparian zone that has running water all year long; a rarity for the desert. As such, many birds are attracted to this wooded environment. The warmer temperatures have brought featehred visitors that don’t usually come this far south during February.


The inviting ponds at the Hassayampa River Preserve

The inviting ponds at the Hassayampa River Preserve

If you have never done bird watching, then it may be difficult understand the highs and lows of the experience. There will be those in the group who see so many birds while you might be gazing at the leaves and branches and wondering: “What do they see?” or “Where is that bird?”

Below is an example of one of the frustrations. This bird appeared on the top of a nearby Cottonwood tree. It was vey much in view although quite a distance away. Unless an observer knew this bird from previous experience, it would be difficult to identify.


Phainopepla hard to identify from a distance

I had seen this bird several times before so I knew it was a Phainopepla. One distinguishing characteristic is its red eye which, because of the distance and lighting, was not visible. The black tuft on top of the head is also a distinguishing feature. I was able to get my best picture to date of this bird in November. You can see it HERE.

When I attended my first guided bird walk, I was surprised to learn that most birders don’t rely on sightings to identify the bird at first. They identify the call or song and then look for the specific bird. I must admit that this is a skill which mostly eludes me. I do know certain very defined bird calls like the Mourning Dove, Cactus Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, etc., but all those chip-chip-chips and too-wees just escape my grasp. This is one reason I greatly appreciate having a guide.

The bird in the picture below, for example, was identified as a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The birds are particularly difficult to identify and even more so to photograph. They jump around incessantly. Although this bird is totally shaded, the guide followed it from several trees and was able to identify it for us. I take her word for it!


Flitting Ruby-crowned singled silhouette

Another photo of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The most distinguishing mark of this bird is a red tuft on the top if the head. The angle, lighting and other factors did not capture this marking.


Better view of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet

You can see much better photos of this bird HERE.

There were some birds that were more conveniently situated and thus more easily identifiable such as this Hermit Thrush. The problem here is that the bird has very distinctive spots on its whiteish underbelly, but as you will note, that characteristic was not clearly visible from the back.


Hermit Thrush

The lesser Goldfinches were a bit more cooperative once the morning warmed a bit. They would cling to the thin branches of a nearby bush and pose for a while. The trick here is to take a number of pictures as the autofocus (which I use for birding*) will sometimes choose to focus on a foreground branch and render the bird out-of-focus.


Lesser Goldfinch


Lesser Goldfinch

Black Phoebes often will flit away and then return to the same branch from which they flew so it may be easy to wait a moment while gaining focus on the perch and then snap the shot once the bird returns. The first shot has only the back of the bird, but it later turned sideways for a profile shot.


Black Phoebe


Black Phoebe

The next series is of a Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Woodpeckers, creepers and other similar birds cling to the side of trees and climb upward. They will then fly to a nearby tree and begin to hop while ascending that tree. It appears to me that they know when they are being watched and they scoot to the side of the tree away from the viewer so they can hide. At least it seems that way!

While the pictures are a bit blurry because the bird was madly pecking away, the distinctive markings are visible.


Ladder-backed Woodpecker


Ladder-backed Woodpecker


Ladder-backed Woodpecker

One last sighting before we left revealed three Western Bluebirds sitting on the same branch. They were catching the mid-morning rays of the sun. The blue of their backs does not show that well, but the rufous color of their underside is clearly visible.


Western Bluebirds

 
Additional sightings by me and others, but not photographed:

  • Abert’s Towhee
  • American Coot
  • Brown Creeper
  • Canyon Wren
  • House Finch
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow
  • Plumbeous Vireo
  • Verdin

* NOTE – The only camera I used during this bird walk was my Canon SX50 HS which is a bridge camera with a telephoto zoom lens. Pictures are best at low ISO (200 and below) which limits the aperture and shutter speed. The aim of these photographs was not to capture beautiful pictures of birds, but to take pictures that would enable identification. Of course it would be wonderful to have an excellent photo along the way!

 
See previous JBRish posts about birds HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018


Photography: As Shot – Colorful Tom Turkey

NOTE – “As Shot” photographs are some that I have posted on Instagram, but without any unwarranted imposed crops, less detail reduction and more of an explanation.


On the road near Hereford, Arizona with storm clouds closing in

Tom shows his colors when is around the hens – Happy Thanksgiving – 2017!

On a hiking trip to Brown Canyon in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, southern Arizona, we were treated to a display by this Tom Turkey who was parading around in front of two hens.

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Metadata

File Name: turkey_tom_0597.CR2
Capture time: 2:26:46 PM
Capture date: April 12, 2014
Exposure: 1/640 sec @ f/5.6
Focal Length: 25.065mm
ISO: 100
Camera: Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
Lens: 4.3-215mm
Edited in Lightroom

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Read more photography posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017 – JBRish.com



Birds of Arizona – Phainopepla ( Phainopepla nitens )

Yesterday was an interesting day for me as the weather prediction was not excellent, but still fair and relatively mild with a predicted high in the low 80’s and we were eager to take a hike. We decided to select a route off of the Granite Mountain Trailhead (The Bootlegger Trail) which is part of the McDowell Mountain Preserve.

Whenever I hike, I anticipate capturing a picture of a bird that is either better than one that I currently have of that bird or, as a bonus, a bird for which I do not have a picture.

I have seen many Phainopeplas, but I have never been able to take a good picture of one. I also know that this is the time of the year that they visit the Sonoran Desert. I spotted one just 100 yards from my backyard a few days ago, but it was not in a very nice setting so I passed.

Today I was able to take a “starter picture” of a Phainopepla that we spotted along the Bootlegger Trail. I am labeling this a starter because I am hoping to capture a photograph that is even better one of these days!

As I have stated on this blog before, I am an amateur photographer with very limited bird photography experience and just a bit more as a birder. The only camera I have with a long reach is my Canon PowerShot SX50HS and that is the equipment I used for the shot below.


Phainopepla captured at the McDowell Mountain Preserve
Phainopepla captured at the Granite Mountain Trailhead along the Bootlegger Trail which is part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Phainopeplas remind me of Cardinals or Waxwings because of their sleek profile and the tuft. Males are black while females are more grey. Interestingly enough, they have a red eye which is very striking and not always easy to capture in a photograph. I am placing a cropped image below to show more detail even though it may not be as sharp as I would like.


Phainopepla captured at the McDowell Mountain Preserve
A cropped version of the image above

Now I have one more picture for my collection!

Read more about Phainopeplas HERE

 
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Metadata

File Name: 000017_IMG_0806.CR2
Capture time: 9:28:51 AM
Capture date: November 15, 2017
Exposure: 1/500 sec @ f/7.1
Focal Length: 215mm
ISO: 80
Canon PowerShot SX50HS
Lens: 4.2-215mm
Edited in Lightroom

See previous JBRish posts about birds HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017


Birds: “Curiouser and Curiouser”

“Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Green-tailed Towhee

I think humans like to look at other living creatures and assign to them characteristics of our own species. We anthropomorphize other living things. We immediately understand that animals feel fear and love of some kind. I am not sure if all non-human animals share a sense of curiosity, but some obviously do. Dolphins, whales, primates, etc have all demonstrated behavior we would tend to classify as curiosity.

I have found that some birds are curious as well.

In the picture above, there is a bird sitting far away from where we were standing. Because of my interest in birds, we stopped to watch it for a while. You can’t make out the bird in the yellow circle in the photo above, but there was a very pretty bird sitting on that rock. A bird I had never seen before.

It took me a while to get out my superzoom camera and take a closeup of that particular bird, but here it is.

Green-tailed Towhee

As we rested a good number of yards away, sitting on a rock, the bird continued to flit around, but at one point it landed on a tree stump that was only about twenty feet away; relatively close for a wild creature. I had the distinct impression that this bird was curious about us and what we were or weren’t doing. Since we were sitting quietly watching the bird, taking a drink and resting, I think the bird realized we had no bad intentions and it took chances to come close to us. It didn’t “park” there or stay very long in any one spot, but it did fly away and then come close again.

Eventually we packed up and moved on. Later I was able to identify this bird as a Green-tailed Towhee. This is one of the prettier birds I have seen with it’s red-orange tuft atop.

NOTE – Green-tailed Towhee. Park Ridge Fire Lookout Station Trail, Kings Canyon, CA

Green-tailed Towhee

Read more about the Green-tailed Towhee

See previous JBRish posts about birds HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017


Photography – Retrospectography


Leaf-footed Bug on Yucca

Retrospectography – The further appreciation of a photograph or picture which reveals insights into that image which were not recognized or appreciated at the time of original capture.

Originally coined by Jeffrey Ross on JBRish.com – as far as research reveals

One of the wonderful things about photography is that there are retrospective insights to be garnered after the initial experience. One of my favorite parts of being a photography enthusiast is arriving home after an excursion and reviewing the pictures. Every once in a while there is an interesting surprise!

My wife and I were hiking in the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico for several days and on one of the last days we were exploring an area near Fillmore Canyon when we passed a noteable yucca.

I was drawn to the plant by the interesting arrangement of leaves and tendrils dancing in the air. I stopped to admire and photograph the yucca.

I did notice the bug above the flowers at the time, but there was something that went unnoticed until I arrived home and reviewed the photographs.

During the moment of photographic capture, I did not appreciate the beautiful color of the antennae of the Leaf-footed Bug (Acanthocephala terminalis). Isn’t that an amazing orange color?

Leaf-footed Bug on Yucca

Not Only did I enjoy the contemporaneous photographic experience, I also appreciated learning more about, and further admiring this creature of the wild.

You can find more information about Leaf-footed bugs at this Austin Bug Collection page. This is a large family of insects.


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017



Identification for the Birds

Here is a problem every novice or occasional birder is bound to face…

We were enjoying a beautiful hike through Zumwalt Meadow in Kings Canyon, CA observing all of the plants, scenery and wildlife we encountered.

Keep in mind that much of this trail has tree roots, rocks, boulders, fallen branches, etc. so keeping eyes ahead or up is not an option for those hiking along. We would stop when a sudden motion or noise caught our attention or we just wanted to gaze at the scenery. We are avid gazers and thus would probably be considered somewhat pokey when it comes to the more speedy hikers.

But I digress… We were climbing upward through a somewhat narrow corridor formed by boulders on either side and ahead, no more than twenty feet away, an attractive multi-colored bird landed in a tree. I was almost sure this was one that I hadn’t identified yet so of course I was very interested in photographing the bird for future identification.

NOTE – For those who want to know why I didn’t or more truthfully, couldn’t, identify the bird right there and then, read my earlier post – Photography and Birding: Good Photo, Bad Photo

The bird was mostly black, with orange-brown sides, a buff bottom and rump with white markings on black wings. The face also had some blotches of other colors as well. Immediately I thought this was an oriole of one type or another.


Black-headed grosbeak

By the time I was able to stop and take note, the bird was flitting from branch-to-branch and this (above) was the first photograph I was able to capture. Hmmmm – pretty hard to ID from that shot.

What was infuriating was that the bird would jump down closer to me, let’s say eight feet away, but would be among a mass of branches; drats!


Black-headed grosbeak

There was one instance, when the bird was just above my head and I got a good luck at its rump and underparts.


Black-headed grosbeak

Although the bird was skittish, it appeared to have a certain curiosity as it lingered in the area for a long time; in bird minutes!


Black-headed grosbeak

In the field it is hard to tell exactly how good the photographs are and whether or not there would be enough information to piece an identification together, but using all of the photos, I believe I was able to correctly ID the bird.

Let’s take a look….

Using the Internet, I was able to find a few reference photographs. This was one of the better shots


Black-headed grosbeak
Photograph By Alan Vernon – Male Black headed grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)Uploaded by Snowmanradio, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12140735

NOTE – Text added by JBRish


Looking at my less than stellar photos, I was able to locate most of the same markings. For those new to birding, keep in mind that males and females often have different markings and colorations. I knew this wasn’t an oriole as I originally suspected primarily because of the shape of the beak. An oriole would have a much more pointed beak.

NOTE – This is why I like to take multiple photographs and work the identification at my leisure.

What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comment section below.

To read more JBRish.com posts about birds or birding, click HERE.


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017



Photography and Birding: Good Photo, Bad Photo

Introduction

We were recently visiting Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks on one of our bi-yearly hiking vacations where we take to America’s beautiful national parks and spend a week or so hiking up and down mountains and admiring as many beautiful and natural areas as possible during the time we have set aside.

As stated on this blog before, I am an occasional bird watcher. For those who are just chiming in, I enjoy locating and identifying birds especially when I am in a new area. Here’s my problem…I am not a very well educated birder. I am a rank novice, but I don’t let that discourage me.

How I Bird

Here is my approach. A couple of years ago, I purchased a bridge camera with a long zoom lens. It has the equivalent of a 24-1200mm lens on a 35mm camera. That is a long zoom and it allows me to photograph birds at quite a distance. Truth must be told here…I can’t say this is a great camera. It is a good camera and certainly good enough for me. When I chose the Canon SX50 HS, it was a “cost-benefit” decision. In other words, it was a camera that had what I wanted at a price I thought was reasonable and I was willing to compromise a bit on picture quality.

That being said, it has done most of what I asked of it. The one thing I now know that I didn’t know before is that it has a relatively slow autofocus and doesn’t always select the object of my photographic desire. Even the best cameras, costing ten times more than my selection, have misfires as well.

OK, so let’s get to the meat of this post. I have my bridge camera and we are hiking through Zumwalt Meadow near Road’s End, Kings Canyon. BTW when they say Road’s End, they mean it. That is where the road ends!

The meadow was beautiful. We had some concern that parts of the Zumwalt Meadow trail would be under water, but we got lucky and the water at receded enough that we could complete the loop.

During our walk, shortly after we crossed the boardwalk portion, I saw a quick moving bird a distance away. Surprisingly, it looked like a shore bird that I would see on the coastline. What was it doing here?

I quickly got my SX50 HS ready and began to focus on the moving subject. I fired away and, at the time, I knew I was missing some of the shots because the focus was “hunting” for the bird, but I also knew it was getting some pictures of the bird.

Lucky for me, I was able to capture three photos that, added together, enabled me to identify the avian mystery.

WARNINING *** These photos are not of great quality. They are what I call “good enough.” I generally take time to compose and double check focus, etc., but with moving birds it is a bit difficult.

The Evidence

Here is the worst picture of them all.


Sandpiper Photo number 1
Spotted Sandpiper moving across a fallen log

As you will note from the photograph, there is a lot of debris between me and the bird. Now remember the camera is zoomed in so it is difficult to keep the bird in the viewfinder. If you ever tried to follow a bird or even find a stationary bird using a binocular, I think you will understand the problem.

The camera had a hard time deciding what was the area of focus. It appears the camera locked on the branch or broken part of the log as the main subject. I really can’t find fault with that. The bird was scurrying so there was no way for me to change the focus options at that point. This is a small version of the photo so it may look sharp to you, but the bird is not in focus.

My main goal in this situation is to get the pictures of the bird and worry about the details later. It doesn’t always work, but more often than not I have success (check out Photography – When is good enough, good enough? A bird story).


Spotted sandpiper picture number two
A photo of the Spotted Sandpiper just as it started to move its wings

The photo above is a bit better because more if it is in focus and the movement of the wings still leaves the head relatively clear.


Spotted sandpiper photo number three
This was the last photo I took in the sequence before the bird was totally hidden by the nearby foliage

This is perhaps the sharpest overall photograph I was able to capture of this particular bird. It is a shame that the sandpiper was slightly out of frame and the beak is only partially visible, but that’s the way it goes sometimes!

Please understand…I am not blaming the camera. I am not as skilled in using this equipment as I should be, but I do the best I can. That being said, when I added all three pictures together, I have a good idea of what this bird looks like.

Solving the Mystery

My modus operandi is to review my photos when I get home and then gather my bird identification books and a good piece of birding software – iBird Ultimate – to identify the mystery bird.

Let me say one thing about iBird Ultimate. This is a great program for someone like me. One of the major benefits is that the user can enter a geographic location in the United States and it will show which birds may be visiting at that time of the year. This helps to narrow the search.

Additionally, if you find a bird that looks like the potential subject, there are usually several additional photos to view which enables users to see a variety of views and variations for that particular bird.

Once I queued up my resources, I was easily able to determine this bird was a Spotted sandpiper. The last thing I do, which is much fun, is I take out my ABA North America birding list and mark off the bird as “seen.” Now I have one less bird to worry about although I will continue to seek a better photograph if the opportunity presents itself.

Read more about the Spotted Sandpiper HERE.


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All content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross