This morning I spent some time photographing a few Short-eared Owls ( Asio flammeus ). I watched one skillfully catch a rodent and then a female Northern Harrier ( Circus hudsonius ) immediately swooped in and stole its prey. This male Short-eared Owl perched briefly, allowing me to take a photo, before taking flight. There is something so beautiful, mysterious, magical and elegant about owls. I’ll never tire of taking images of them.
On the weekend it was nice to be outside during stormy weather and I enjoyed watching birds of prey hovering in the wind. A female Northern Harrier ( Circus hudsonius ) was gliding low in search of prey.
The female Northern Harrier was flying close to the ground. As you can see in the photo, she was looking down for rodents and would dive quickly to capture prey. This bird of prey has a buoyant, gliding flight and flaps intermittently.
When taking this picture of a female Northern Harrier perched on a log, the autofocus was having difficulty focusing due to the windy conditions, branches, twigs and long grass. What I did in this situation was use the Live View feature on my camera and focused manually on the eye of the Northern Harrier, which created a photo with a unique perspective.
This is a Mandarin Duck ( Aix galericulata ) and it’s not a native species in British Columbia. It’s closely related to the North American Wood Duck, the only other member of the genus Aix. Exotic species frequently escape zoos and private collections. Virtually any of the world’s waterfowl species can be occasionally seen free-flying in North America.
The lower mainland received an unusual dump of snow which brought most of the city to a standstill. Buses, trucks and cars had difficulty negotiating slippery streets, and many people decided to stay at home.
Taking images of this bird was a new experience for me. The Varied Thrush ( Ixoreus naevius ) is similar in habits to the American Robin, but more secretive. It has a sweet, echoing and simple song. They live in this area year round.
This is a photo of a female and male Hooded Merganser ( Lophodytes cucullatus ). When I was taking the image, I used a shallow depth of field, which made the female Hooded Merganser in the foreground, nice and sharp. The male Hooded Merganser, in the background, with its crest lowered, is slightly out of focus or soft. When viewing the photo, the emphasis is on the sharper female Hooded Merganser in the foreground. In my bird book, I read that Hooded Mergansers, in the winter, prefer smaller wooded ponds and that’s exactly where I found these two birds.
The Double-crested Cormorant ( Phalacrocorax auritus ) can be found near lakes, rivers, swamps, and in the coastal areas seen relaxing on islands and islets. They have an amazing ability to achieve extreme depths beneath the water’s surface when foraging for food. Some records indicate they can dive to depths of 70 metres. After a dive, the Double-crested Cormorant must dry off. I took this image of a Double-crested Cormorant standing on a log with its wings spread.
Usually found near water (in large numbers where prey is abundant), Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) feed mainly on fish and waterfowl which are captured in pursuit. They are powerful fliers and I enjoy watching them soaring and gliding. They like to perch on tall coniferous trees, like the one in the photo, where they get a wide view of the surroundings.
It wasn’t the best light and the background is kind of dull and uninteresting, but I was really excited to take images of a Peregrine Falcon ( Falco peregrinus ). This falcon is part of the Pacific ( Peale’s ) population. They eat mostly birds, some 450 North American species have been documented as prey. When dropping on their prey with their wings closed they can achieve speeds over 300 km/hr. They will grab a bird or strike it with their feet hard enough to stun or kill it. I felt very fortunate to spend some time with this elite predator.