Some 2018 pictures to wish all of you a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!
The following three photos show an adult Mockingbird feeding a young one, like 2018 passing the baton to 2019.
In 2018, some of my photos did not appear on this blog, normally because I didn’t want to have too many in any post. Now at year end, looking at them, some actually deserve to be shown, and here they are.
Long-tailed Ducks breed in the Arctic parts of Canada and Alaska, and only migrate to the coast of New Jersey in the winter. Thursday of this week, I saw several near Barnegat Lighthouse.
I could not photograph a male Long-tailed Duck swimming in the water, so here’s a photo of two males taken in 2016.
This past Thursday, there was a male that took off from the water as shown in the following flight shots.
These ducks are about half the size of Common Eiders, and their take off is shorter and quicker. Although there are no estimates of their current population, they are classified as Common Bird in Steep Decline as of 2014.
In late fall, Common Eiders appear as far South as the coast of New Jersey. Yesterday several dozens of them were swimming along the jetty at Barnegat Lighthouse. They are the largest ducks, weighing from 2.5 to almost 7 lbs (1.1 to 3 kg).
It is not breeding season yet, so the males are not showing their distinctive and handsome colors.
There was some kind of hunting going on and I often heard sounds of gunfire coming from the other side of the bay. An immature Common Eider was sitting on a rock right next to the jetty. It would not move even as I came very close to it. A fellow photographer said that it may have been wounded by a shotgun pellet, could not move, and would probably die eventually.
In the 19th century, hunting almost wiped out this species in the Atlantic. However, their population has rebounded and Common Eiders are not on the list of endangered species.
One of the must-have equipment for wildlife photography in general, and bird photography in particular, is to have a telephoto lens powerful enough to capture subjects with sufficient details and sharpness, without having to come too close to them. Since most of us can’t afford super telephoto lenses, also called second-mortgage lenses, some of us resort to using an extender, which is much less expensive, to increase the reach of our lenses. With a 1.4 extender, a 400 mm lens will be equivalent to a 560 mm lens.
I have had such an extender for two years, but almost never used it because the results had been disappointing especially in terms of sharpness. Finally, looking at photos posted by Jerry from Quiet Solo Pursuits here on WordPress, I decided to give it a try with the Canon 5D Mark IV that I have been using since last year.
Following are some of the shots I took yesterday at the refuge and at Colonial Lake under a bright sun with the 100-400 mm lens and a 1.4 extender.
The following photos are some of the favorites that you, my WordPress readers, have either liked the posts where they were posted in, clicked on their images to see them in larger size, or mentioned them in your comments.
At this time of the year, I often see Northern Shovelers at the refuge. From afar they look like Mallard ducks, but with longer, oversized bills. They dabble back and forth with those bills to catch crustaceans and seeds from the marsh.
Flocks of Northern Shovelers are known to swim in circle to corral food and make it easier for them to catch. However, I saw this band early in the morning and many were still sleeping.
Now that the Ospreys have migrated South, their nests are being taken over by squatters, temporary ones anyway . One of them is a Peregrine Falcon that I saw perched on a nest.
This is the season for Snow Geese migration, and there were many thousands of them at the refuge.
Friday morning, a Great Blue Heron was standing in the water at the refuge, looking left then right. As the light was near perfect, I started to photograph it. When it decided to take off and fly away, I just kept pressing the shutter.
Buffleheads are the smallest diving ducks, no larger than 16 in (40 cm) in length. They are a joy to see as they appear to be constantly smiling and moving about, bobbing, and diving to find food. They swallow their catch of crustaceans (shrimps) and mollusks under water, and I have yet to see a photo of one Bufflehead holding food in its short, smily bill.
In past years I usually had a hard time taking good pictures of them, especially the male ones, because their eyes are often lost in the dark patches around their heads. This year sunlight was with me, most of the time, as you can see in the following photos.
Hooded Mergansers are small ducks that are seen in the fall and winter at the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. The male ones have a prominent crest (hood) in black and white, making them stand out from other ducks. This year there seems to be many Hooded Mergansers, male and female, and I had no problem shooting the following photos.
As I was taking a shot, one Hooded Merganser decided to fly. I missed capturing that take-off.
The following day, almost at the same place, I was chatting with a fellow photographer when a male Hooded Merganser decided to fly.
After about a minute, I saw him, accompanied by a female, flying overhead.
Several young Bald Eagles were flying around a small island in the middle of the marsh. Some attempted to catch a fish but failed.
The one above landed on the island where a mature Bald Eagle was watching everything.
For several minutes the older Bald Eagle seemed to be calling to the new arrival.
After the young one landed and stood to the side, the mature Bald Eagle kept calling, perhaps telling the younger one to fly again and go catch some fish.
Finally the younger Bald Eagle had to take off again.
Yesterday at the refuge, a pair of Bald Eagles were flying in a courtship ritual that was dramatic, fast, and hard to catch for my camera. They were alternatively soaring to the sky and plunging toward the marsh at high speed. Often they were too far from where I was, and I could only get good focus on about half of the shots. The following photos will give you an idea of what took place.
A Great Blue Heron held in its bill a small fish that it had caught. A Willet had just caught a bigger fish, and flew up right in front of the heron. I was too far and actually did not see this small drama until I got home and displayed the image on my computer monitor. It looks like the Willet was bragging about its catch, and the heron was by no means happy.
Here’s a closer look.
As of today, the Amaryllis I have been photographing for the past two weeks has opened six of its eight flower buds. Here are some close up of these brilliant red flowers. As the blooms grow larger, it is more difficult to capture all of them in one frame. I am already standing in another room to take the following shots.