Changes…

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Dear reader… now that I have your attention thanks to this lovely Northern Flicker, I have a few changes to announce: After much reflection, I have decided that, although you will definitely continue seeing posts on this blog relatively regularly, they will be far less frequent than before. But fear not! When I have a longer story to tell or photo album to publish, you will see it here first!

From now own, most single photos will be posted to my Facebook photography page or my Instagram account. I would therefore strongly urge you to “like” one (or both!) of these to stay informed about my latest photos. And I am also working on setting up my own website over the summer and hope to be ready to launch it in earnest by the end of the summer. So… I look forward to continue interacting with you here, on my future website or on Facebook/Instagram:

Northern Flicker (female) | Pic flamboyant | Colaptes auratus cafer: Taken May 21, 2016, in Ambleside Park, West Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (ISO 800 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/500), cropped for composition. Not baited, called in or set up.

A short break from blogging…

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You may have noticed that I published this blog a few hours later than usual. I guess I was inspired by this handsome gentleman (Wood Duck) to take a bit of a rest… from blogging, that is. But I promise to not be away for too, too long: I’ll be back in a few days with more photos! And please know that I greatly appreciate your visits, likes and comments.

Wood Duck (male) | Canard branchu | Aix sponsa: Taken February 16, 2016 near Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park, Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (ISO 800 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/500), cropped for composition. Not baited, called in or set up.

 

Unsolicited Praise: Pat Bumstead

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This week, I would like to give a tip of the hat to Pat Bumstead. This blogger, naturalist and birder is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Pat is pretty passionate about birds and about their role in the larger ecosystem. In March 2009 she decided to enter the blogosphere and launched Bird Canada, a decision she says has changed her life. She also contributes to the Birding Is Fun and Birds Calgary blogs, and is a Canadian co-ordinator for the Pledge to Fledge program of the Global Birding Initiative. In the name of full disclosure, I should finish this paragraph by saying that when, in early 2013, she decided to convert her blog to a multi-author affair, I asked to join the effort and Pat accepted!

When you read Pat’s blog posts, you never know what you will learn (and normally, you will learn a lot!). To see what I mean, take a look here, here, here or here! I also cannot resist pointing you to her most popular post, “Unbelievable Snowy Owl Behaviour,” published almost two years ago, on November 19, 2012. I strongly urge you to take a look at her blog and especially take a look at some of the older articles.

I must admit I had some difficulties choosing a photo for this week’s post, because Pat is fairly discrete about her favourite birds. I’m guessing that’s because he likes them all! Still, I have noted that she seems especially fond of owls – as she pointed out in one of her first blog posts on March 31, 2009, “to many birdwatchers, owls are the ultimate challenge.” As a result, I chose a photo of a Northern Saw-whet Owl that I took in March 2014 at the Reifle Migrating Bird Sanctuary in Delta, BC. (I wish I had noted the out of focus green branch just in front of the owl before taking the photo, but I still like the result – besides, this means I have to return to Reifle to try to get a better photo of these beautiful small owls.)

Unsolicited Praise: Rebecca Budd, a.k.a. Clanmother

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This week, I would like to shine the spotlight on a prolific and highly talented blogger (and adventurer), Rebecca Budd (a.k.a Clanmother). Rebecca was of the earliest people to follow this blog, which was launched when the We Love Birds website/blog became a mere Facebook page. And she has been a loyal follower ever since, diligently liking my posts and providing interesting comments from time to time!

Now aside from being a highly talented photographer, Rebecca possesses one of the most important qualities that a blogger can have: She is an excellent storyteller! Her musings on the meaning of life and what constitutes art, culture and civilization are deceptively simple, yet profound. I especially like her reflections on the necessity of myth and heroes in past and present societies. She argues her positions quite convincingly, especially since she combines her great writing with excellent visuals (her photos). Although Rebecca maintains several blogs and social media streams, I especially like Clanmother, ChassingART and Lady Budd.

If you want to see her talents as a photographer, take a look here, here and here. When it comes to storytelling, you can start here, here and here. But please be aware that this barely scratches the surface… you could spends hours, perhaps even days, looking through Rebecca’s blogs and photos.

Choosing a photo as a homage to (and representative of) Rebecca did not come immediately, but when the idea popped in my head, I wondered why I did not think of it earlier. It is a photo I took (and already featured in this blog) in January of “The Lions,” two magnificent peaks that stand guard over Vancouver, on its northern shore. This photo was taken in North Vancouver’s Cleveland Park and show the peaks being reflected in Capilano Lake. It is good to note that before being given their current name by European settlers (of an African animal), the Squamish people (one of the region’s original inhabitants) called these majestic peaks Ch’ich’iyúy Elxwíkn (“Twin Sisters”). According to the Squamish, the peaks were created by the Sky Brothers (or Transformers) after twin sisters of the Squamish nation married twin brothers of the Haida nation, thus setting in motion the end of a lengthy war that had raged between the two peoples. Their descendants still live in the region around the peaks.

Unsolicited Praise: Ron Dudley

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Today, I will feature another great bird (mostly) photographer, Ron Dudley, author of the very prolific blog “Feathered Photography.” If I may cut right to the chase, one of the reasons Ron’s work is so good is that his photos demonstrate a deep understanding of bird behaviour – he is really quite good at capturing “action shots.” And on his blog, Ron knows how to tell a good story, in both pictures and words, about how he obtained a picture or what he observed a bird doing. He has given me many interesting tips about what to look for in a bird’s behaviour and how to capture it. And I greatly admire Ron’s ethical sense: He is completely opposed to attracting birds in any way to his camera (by baiting, setting up or calling in). In other words, everything you see is natural and un-staged behaviour. So when you see his photos, you should admire the work, commitment and understanding that is behind each picture. Oh, and he has a great sense of light and composition, too!

A very small number of examples of Ron’s interesting observations and stories may be found here, here, here and here. And you may find a tiny sample of some of his great flight and “action” shots here, here and here (this last post is a great example of mixing in a great story, flight shots and action shots).

Now anyone who follows Ron’s work know that he uses Canon cameras and lenses. If you are in any way familiar with cameras and those who use them, you know that their is a minor (!?!) rivalry between Canon and Nikon users, especially when it comes to sports and wildlife. Ron’s work is proof that, when it is in good hands, Canon equipment takes superb photos. In fact, when I see his work, I almost regret not having Canon equipment. Almost. And the fact that he and the blogger that I spoke about yesterday, Mia McPherson (a loyal Nikon user), have been friends all these years proves that it’s not the equipment that matters as much as what you do with it. And given that both have equally high artistic and ethical standards (Mia is also completely opposed to “staging” her photos in any way) surely also creates a great bond between them. These standards also increase the value of their work.

I have included this photo of a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk because I have noted that although Ron likes all of the birds he features on his blog, he does seem quite partial to raptors of all sorts. And although I am quite fond of his Magpie photos and observations, I have not been able to capture any good shots of these birds where I have seen them, either in Europe or British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. One day perhaps.

I have also included this photo because it tells a story (or at least, presents a mystery): This Cooper’s Hawk was simply sitting on this tree branch with its wings open and tail fanned out. My guess (although I’m not 100% certain) is that it was drying itself out following the rather lengthy and heavy downpour that had stopped only a few minutes earlier.

Unsolicited Praise: Mia McPherson

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On this Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, I thought of starting a series called “Unsolicited Praise,” which will feature a heartfelt post on an extraordinary blogger. As the title implies, these people did not ask for to be included here and nothing is required of them in return. I will include a variety of bloggers in these articles: Although many of them are birders or wildlife photographers, other kinds of photographers or naturalists will also be included. And some bloggers will be featured because they possess one of the great gifts any person can have: That of being able to tell a good story. As much as possible, instalments in this series should appear every Monday, although some weeks may feature additional posts. And at least one of my photos will be included with the story and dedicate to the person in question because it is in some way related to this person’s blog, stated interests or online personality. I hope you will like this feature as much as I am looking forward to writing it!

Choosing the first person to thank was, I will admit, very difficult: Over the past few years, I have visited the sites of many excellent bloggers and even exchanged messages with a large number of them. But since I had to start somewhere, I’ve decided to feature this week two bloggers whose work has most influenced my own modest bird photography efforts in the past few years. Today, I will tell you about Mia McPherson, a highly talented and dedicated bird photographer. Although Mia began to perfect her art in Florida, she now calls Utah home. The quality of her blog, “On the Wing Photography,” is simply stunning.

From my perspective, it doesn’t hurt that Mia uses Nikon cameras and lenses, which I have been partial to since I first purchased the FE-2 film camera in the late 1980’s (my first camera was the highly reliable Pentax K-1000). But in truth, I really enjoy her work and her blog because of the effort that she puts into capturing the perfect shot. And this is far more complicated than it seems: She not only has to find and then foresee the behaviour of her subjects, but must also concentrate on issues linked to composition, lighting and background. And she must do all this even if it the day is cold or hot or wet or mosquito-infested.

In short, the photos she choses to publish (and even the ones she “re-discovers” years later in her archives) are not only all extremely well composed, but also communicate the essence of the bird being captured. This is truly amazing. If you would like to see a few examples of what I mean, please take a look here, here, here or here (and I am only barely scratching the surface with these).

The photo featured above is a Wilson’s Snipe, that I captured during the Stanley Park Ecology Society’s monthly bird count in December 2013. I chose it because, in a an excellent article posted recently, (which features a beautiful picture she took in 2009 of a Willet), Mia wrote that “shorebirds were the spark that ignited my passion for bird photography that continues to consume me today.” The photo displayed above does not feature the extraordinarily luminous and “soft” backgrounds that Mia seems to find so often when she photographes birds, but it is one of the best series of shots that I have managed to take so far of a “shorebird.”

Tomorrow, I will write a few lines about one of Mia’s good friends (and fellow bird photographer), Ron Dudley. Stay tuned…

One Lovely Blog Award

Many moons ago (in September 2012, in fact), I had the honour of being nominated by a great blogger for the “One Lovely Blog Award.” Somehow, although I never forgot that I received this nomination, I have not gotten around to following through on these three relatively simple rules:

1)      Give credit to the awesome person who nominated you.

2)      Describe 7 things about you.

3)      Nominate 15 bloggers.

I will now try to make good on this honour and pledge and will thank Rebecca Budd (a.k.a. Clanmother) who blogs or tweets awesome stuff in a variety of places: here, here, here, here, here and here. Take the time to look at each of these websites as they are well worth the time!

I would also like to dedicate the following photo of an Anna’s Hummingbird (taken on UBC’s Vancouver campus a few days ago) to her:

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Here are seven things about me that I will now share with you:

1) I live near Vancouver in lovely British Columbia.

2) I am married to an extraordinary woman and have two fantastic children.

3) I love just about everything about photography.

4) I am a dedicated (obsessive?) birder who likes most birds, from tiny hummingbirds to majestic eagles.

5) I love B.C.’s rainforest, with their towering “Cathedral Trees,” intricate root systems and moss (!).

6) I love mountains.

7) I love the ocean.

I will, over the next couple of hours and days, directly nominate 15 blogs for this award. I would love to nominate more, but I will stick to this number in order to get the task done in a reasonable amount of time!

Why do I like blogging?

Dark-eyed Junco ("Oregon") | Stone bridge at Lost Lagoon, Stanley Park | Vancouver, BC | November 2013

Dark-eyed Junco (“Oregon”) | Stone bridge at Lost Lagoon, Stanley Park | Vancouver, BC | November 2013

Dear reader, you may ask yourself why I like to blog… I like blogging because it allows me to share a passion, namely bird and nature photography, with others. Many of you have said you enjoy seeing them and I hope this is true. Putting these pictures up on my office wall also works, but I can reach far more people with the internet. And I also love the interactions my blog allows me to have with my readers… so please continue sending in your comments!

Hello world!

Hello world! Here goes yet another blog on birds & birding, nature and other random thoughts. I will often use this site to post photos of birds and such. I hope you like it! (My move to WordPress was largely inspired by the imminent demise of the We Love Birds website – may it rest in peace!)