Davey Walters Photography

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Back From Britain with a Boatload Bonanza

Posted on June 23, 2014 at 8:25 PM Comments comments (1)

I just recently returned from an exhilirating 2-week trip in Great Britain. The primary purpose of the trip was to tour London and visit relatives in Wales, but knowing me, how could I not take advantage of the abounding avifauna? Having forgotten to bring a British checklist, I lost track of all the birds we saw but I'm quite sure the number is around 65. Of course, nearly every single one of these species was a life-bird, but you can't put them on your ABA checklist with a straight face.

Now, I took simply far too many photos. I'm sure any serious photographer knows well this situation, and the only thing to do is take 15 minutes and cull away. I took over 3500 photos in all, but kept only 1100. I will begin to share them with you now.

You can see the bulk of them immediately on my Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thebirdguy/sets/72157644919735468/, but I will be uploading images to my gallery for the next few days as I complete the editing.


Here are the absolute highlight photos of the trip:


This (Carrion Crow) was taken at St. James's Park in London:



This photo offers a rather odd but mesmerizing angle of a pair of Ruddy Shelducks, also at St. James's Park:


To leave the trip without a nice photo of the Rock Pigeon would be a crime:


Rock Pigeons do have a better side in Britain, though, in the form of the Wood Pigeon (this time in Hyde Park):


Let's not forget the classic European Starling, who looked rather nice even in this natural setting, also in Hyde Park:


Hyde Park produced a few more decent shots, including this one of the thriving Ring-necked Parakeet:


And finally, I got the heron photo that I've wanted to get for a while, though instead of a Great Blue this one was a Grey who had nothing to Hyde:


A bird that is much coveted in the U.S. was much a dime a dozen in Hyde Park; the Tufted Duck:


And the beloved English House Sparrow in central London:


While on school tour, I had to take a quick snap at the much-fabled Tower of London Common Ravens:


And who would you believe was feasting on the ravens' food (raw chicken dished out in clumps)? A Common Kestrel, that's who:


But now we must enter Wales, the land of the dragon, for the Common Blackbird:



And taking a hike through the vast hills revealed hundreds of Meadow Pipits and Sky Larks, singing their songs as they plummet from the sky:



Here is the male Common Chaffinch, ripe in breeding plumage:


And at the same place as the chaffinch, we have the majestic Common Buzzard, much considered to be conspecific with the Red-tailed Hawk:


This male Stonechat was seen at the gorgeous bay and cliffs at St. Justinian's:


Also at St. Justinian's was a Pied Wagtail:


We finished a day in Pembrokeshire with fish and chips, which attracted the attention of the pigeon-like Eurasian Jackdaws:


Just a few minutes walk from our flat in Wales was the sea, bordered by long tall-grass fields. These proved perfect for Meadow Pipits:


The wonderful Kenfig Reserve in south Wales was not amazingly productive in terms of tallying species, but it did provide some photos. Here is a whitethroat:


Another Kenfig bird was this European Robin, one of many that we saw and heard during the trip:


A not so well-known but perfectly interesting bird is the European Greenfinch. Males are vibrant green and yellow, and the spiked tree shows this one off:


An overlooked, ground-dwelling species offers a problem for photographers. The Dunnock is a very shy bird, and I barely managed one sharp shot:


The final photo I have (and just about the last photo I took) is a real prize for me. I was not expecting this bird to show up during my trip, and I was really excited to see him perched on the wire. Though it was very low light, I compensated by blowing out the color in the sky to get reasonable detail on the bird. Here is my Little Owl:



That was my basic overview of the trip. To see more, go to my British Birds folder.


Thank you for looking!




Photos and text by Davey Walters. Copyright 2014.

Yard Bird!

Posted on April 30, 2014 at 8:25 PM Comments comments (0)

The defenition of a yard bird is: a bird that you see in your yard for the first time [ever]. Once you have seen a certain species in your yard, it is never again a yard bird. Just like a life bird, or a year bird.

This week, I got a yard bird. This doesn't happen often, because all avid birders get eventually to a 'yard stalemate'. In other words, soon enough you've seen all the birds that it's possible to see in your area!

To put it simply, I found a Brown Thrasher. Brown Thrashers are mockingbird-sized skulking brown birds with striking yellow eyes and breast streaks, as well as long, curved bills. They forage under deep cover in old-growth forests, searching for insect morsels. I thought finding that bird was very cool, but two days later I found a pair! Eventually the male flew to a high perch and began singing.

If you're normal, you'd expect the Northern Mockingbird to be the most refined mimic.

If you're a bit smarter than normal, you might think it was the Gray Catbird.

But if you've got your birds down, you'll know it's the the thrasher. These birds can make at least 1100 different vocal sequences, making them by far the most accomplished North American soloist.

It is truly amazing to watch these fabulously talented mimids at their best.

 




Photos and text by Davey Walters. Copyright 2014.

Mystery Bird of the Week #4

Posted on April 30, 2014 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (5)

This week's Mystery Bird is here! Please guess in the comments below.





Photo by Davey Walters. Copyright 2014.

Bird of the Week #4

Posted on April 29, 2014 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (2)

Today's Bird of the Week (and last week's mystery bird) is the Song Sparrow.

The Song Sparrow is generally a bird of the dense thickets, though it also frequents lawns and open bird feeders. It can be distinguished from other small sparrows by its dense underside streaking and dark spot on the central breast feathers. Although not a colorful bird, it has a beautiful song. The sound is sometimes described to jazzy, warbly, and bubbling. If nothing else, identify it by its vocal talent!



Song Sparrow

Melospiza melodia


Shape: small and compact; looks like a ball of brown fluff when puffed up.

Color pattern: nearly the same tone of brown over all the body; streaked underneath; streaked mantle; striped crown and face.

Habitat: marshland, wet woods, field edges, and suburban areas.

Voice: alarm call is a high, sharp stii, and contact note is a raspy schirp. Song is a 3-5 second rapid-fire jumble of buzzes, short notes, and trills.





Photos and text by Davey Walters. Copyright 2014.






Mystery Bird of the Week #3

Posted on April 11, 2014 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (4)

Here's the mystery bird! Have a guess in the comments below.



Photo by Davey Walters. Copyright 2014.

Bird of the Week #3

Posted on April 10, 2014 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (2)

Last week's mystery bird was the Least Sandpiper.

This tiny sandpiper, called a peep, is a common bird throughout North America. Although techinally a 'beach bird', it often rests on small lake shores during migration, when it may fly thousands of miles from the Arctic breeding grounds to Brazil and even Chile. Like the Willet, it appears a rather drab brown mottled bird at first, but reveals a thin, pale wing stripe in flight. It can fit in the palm of your hand.

In the photos below, compare the bird to the size of the grains of sand.




Least Sandpiper

Calidris minutilla


Shape: very small and rather dumpy; crouches and runs as if scared of breakers.

Color pattern: scalloped brown wing and back feathers which are fringed with rufous and white. Black decurved bill, yellow-green legs, and off-white underparts. Mottled breast and crown.

Habitat: mudflats, lakes, and shorelines.

Voice: in breeding season, males give a melodious trill of high notes. In nonbreeding season, they give a ttroy ttroy ttroy call and a high-pitched trill alarm call.





Photos and text by Davey Walters. Copyright 2014.


Bird of the Week #2

Posted on March 20, 2014 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

This week's Bird of the Week is the Willet.

This sandpiper is mottled boring gray/brown at first glance, but upon further inspection reveals a striking wing pattern. When stretched out, the wings sport a bold white-on-black stripe that zig-zags along the base of the wing feathers. This shorebird is in the family Scolopacidae along with a few other sandpipers, and is big when compared to most in its order.



Willet

Tringa semipalmata


Shape: Slim, with a long, bicolored bill and long legs.

Color pattern: In summer, mottled gray/brown. They are grayer in the eastern U.S.  In fall and winter, they are solid gray. They have a distinctive black-and-white wing pattern in flight.

Habitat: Coastal areas, and in summer fields and large lakes.

Voice: In spring, Willets emit a high-pitched pill-willeet call that characterizes them, even giving them their name. Other calls include a short keep call and a kik kik kik kileep alarm call.




Photos and text by Davey Walters. Copyright 2014.


Mystery Bird of the Week #2

Posted on March 20, 2014 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (2)

This week's mystery bird is here:


Please enter your guess in the comment section below.




Photo by Davey Walters. Copyright 2014.

Birding Yesterday - Plum Island

Posted on March 9, 2014 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (1)

Yesterday my family went to Plum Island for some birding. Before we even crossed the bridge into the island, we had already seen a Snowy Owl and a Bald Eagle! Here they are:



Photos and text by Davey Walters. Copyright 2014.

Mystery Bird of the Week #1

Posted on February 27, 2014 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (3)

Alright. Here is the first mystery bird. You may try to identify it yourself; please give your guess in the comment section below.



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