Strix the harbinger
guards the exit gate, quizzing all
Who will pass this night?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Short-billed Dowitchers ? (Long-billed)

It was really warm today. We didn't go out until after lunch when it was clear blue skies, sunny and 85F. These are really not great conditions for taking pictures, sucks - the light is harsh and the birds tend to find sheltered places to nap. We went down to the Santa Ana Refuge not expecting much and that is about what we found at the Pintail Lakes. Nada.

We walked from the sun-baked open area around Pintail into the humid, buggy shade on the path to Willow Lake, where my Valentine, Ms Lorna stopped to get some photos of an Olive Sparrow. With her fetching British influenced sports-skirt, tastefully badged vest, coupled with her matching turquoise cap, shirt and shoes, she has set the outdoor fashion bar pretty high for this birding season. Well done.



As I obviously wasn't going to get any special bird shots, I thought I would just shoot some pictures of the scenery to help me remember the day.



Suddenly a flock of Black-necked Stilts flew by, really close. It was just amazing. I was caught completely off-guard; they seemed to come out of nowhere. They flew at us, did a fly-by right in front, and wheeled away and showing black wings, white underside, trailing flashing pink legs. I never even lifted my camera. I do that a lot - stand stunned stupid - just watching, forgetting that I even own a camera until the moment has passed. I determined that if they flew by again I would at least try to take a picture. They didn't. 

But later a group of Short-billed Dowitchers (see note) did and I was ready this time. As I saw them approach I flicked the camera to manual mode, concentrated on following them, swinging the camera rapidly, but smoothly as I continually focused, shooting a quick set as they flew by. They fly pretty fast, were quite close, and honestly I didn't think I would have anything to show for it. I was pleasantly surprised this evening when I looked at them on the computer. I got lucky. Usually I try to pick the best of a set, maybe crop it a little and just post it. Not this time. I just couldn't decide, so here they are. Enjoy. I know I did.

Update: Paul Prappas (Redwing) has suggested that these are Long-billed Dowitchers. As he is far more expert than I am, I defer to his knowledge.
















Wowzer!

You all be well,
Gunnar

1 comment:

Redwing said...

Way to go, Gunnar! Great shots! Helps to remember you're carrying a camera.