Saturday, 21 December 2013

Diving Duck Mission

One of the big advantages here on the island in the winter is that we have a large numbers of diving ducks that make their way to our local ponds. Upon first arrival they spend most of their time in the middle of the ponds/lakes way out of reach for any photos. As winter creeps in the ponds begin to freeze pushing them closer to shore. Once this happens their behaviour is much different. They quickly become more confident at the presence of humans and look for any hand outs of food.
At the beginning of this year we had hoped for a few days of very cold weather and no wind which would freeze up the ponds before the snow came. This would allow us to get some shots of the divers in calm water with beautiful reflections of the foliage around. Once the snow comes the reflects will change and you will end up with alot of white in your images. Below are some shots we've gotten so far this year

 Female Greater Scaup
 Female Greater Scaup
 Male Tuffed Duck
 Male Tuffed Duck
Male Greater Scaup,  this was taken recently after we had snow. See how the colors have changed in these two photos compared to the rest
 Male Tuffed duck

Common Mergansers have been eluding us for some time. This winter we are going to try and use decoys and all white clothes to hopefully blend in more with the snow. We will be sure to include some photos of when we do that!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Winter Time In Newfoundland

 Winter time in Newfoundland is a long cold season filled with storms and constant bitter winds.
December more specifically is a hard month for photography, as I look back through my photos I have very few during this month. Friday I get out of school for Christmas break and I can not wait to have some time to go photographing local birds and try some winter landscape photos.

The cold temperatures this past moth have most bodies of water frozen solid, concentrating any birds to the remaining patches of water. This gives great opportunities for diving duck photography.
In past years Brad and I have photographed mostly tufted ducks in the month of December. This will be my first season using my new Canon 300mm F2.8 is usm ii so I am excited to see what the difference in quality my images will be on this species. All shots in this post were taken with my old 300mm F4 during December.

A few species me and brad are hoping to get the chance to photograph this winter include:

Ivory Gull
Bald Eagles
Common & Red breasted Mergansers
Common Golden Eye
Peregrine Falcon
Northern Shrike (Seen one in my yard in 2012!)

All species listed were seen more then once last year giving us a false hope we will see them this winter. But each season is a new one and for all we know we may never photograph all of these species but that doesn't mean we wont try! Another thing we are planning on having a few outings to photograph are the seals that congregate in Holyrood and the Caribou on the southern shore.

In just a few days the annual St. Johns Christmas bird count will be happening which is always exciting because almost every year there are good birds found. Winter is here and the Holidays are apon us. Keep your feeders filled and enjoy the birds of the winter!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Eruption of snowy owls = Eruption of Excitement!

Over the last month or so there has been a major influx of snowy owls to the southeast coast of Newfoundland. The latest observations were numbering well over 100 and for birders and photographers alike there is a lot of excitement!

Snowy owls being the large raptors they are consume mostly rodents but in situations like this one they are likely to eat just about anything. One reason people think they may have come down from their high arctic habitats to Newfoundland is because the lemming population may be low this winter. Hopefully they find enough food. If they are willing to eat seagulls they will be fine for a LONG time around st.Johns. 

The sheer size and power of these big birds is amazing, when they lift off their massive feet hang bellow them like the landing gear on an air plane! This morning Brad and I were back at the cape. It was a great morning the sun was shining the air was cold and the snowy owl population at the cape had grown to a total of 13. When I crested one of the ridges along the east coast trail leading away from the cape all I could see were white dots along the barrens and each one was a snowy owl. I took my time and worked my way along the boardwalk watching for any owls that might be nestled down close to the trail sometimes one or even two would glide past me only a couple or feet off the ground and perch on a near by rock or hump. It really was a morning I will never forget.


The picture above I captured as I crested one of the hills and happened to notice three owls drinking from a small pond. By the time I was near enough to get a half decent shot two of them had left but this one stayed and I watched it for four or five minutes as it drank and called to other near by owls.

With Christmas fast approaching you can expect to see a post about what the best gifts are for your photography enthusiast! And brad will share with you his Diving Duck Mission.

Winter has arrived 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Local Waterfowl

Fall in Newfoundland is a beautiful time of the year with the leaves changing and the crisp mornings. However the birds seem to be few and far between and so we shoot what we can, like local waterfowl! Some of the species we commonly see are:

American Black Duck
Green Wing Teal
Both Eurasian and American Wigeon
Tufted Duck
Greater & Lesser Scaup
A Wood Duck every now and then
Hooded Mergansers are not that unusual and I've herd from local hunters they are much more common then in years past
Common & Red breasted Mergansers
Common & King Eider
Long tailed Duck

(Not all species are seen in fall, winter is the better time to see the sea ducks)


Over the next few weeks we are planning on doing some set ups at our feeders and also going and trying to photograph some moose!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Cape Spear

At The Edge Of The Western World There Is A Place Where Day Dawns FirstCape Spear is a location both me and Brad go to quite often. The rugged coastline and big waves never seem to get old. Cape spear being the most easterly point in Canada is also a great spot for birds. Between Brad and I we have seen numerous species at cape spear. From Purple sandpipers to Northern wheatear, cape spear always has something to offer. Right now we are anticipating photographing some purple sandpipers with in the next couple of months. Until then we constantly await rare bird sightings from that area during the fall.

Cape spear offers some great viewing of sea birds depending on what direction the wind is blowing and it can be easy to see species there such as:

WW Scoter
Surf Scoter
Common & King eider
Long-tailed duck

During the winter months it is very common to see huge rafts of eiders out feeding on muscles and other sea life. During the fall, vagrant warblers and other songbirds can easily be seen in the small community of blackhead and along the road to the cape. It takes a very skilled birder to find these vagrants amidst the tangled alders and other common species. Me and brad have seen a few different species of birds on cape spear road but every time we go its a learning experience and we always see something new and interesting.

Along the road to cape spear you can see signal hill off in the distance at a very different point of view. We have tried some landscape photography in the area but only brad has had any real success in that. We hope to try again sometime in the future as cape spear has so much potential.

              Brad trying to capture the freshly fallen snow last winter on the way to the cape

The best thing about Cape Spear is that you never know what to expect any time of the year. Many tourists visit the cape to go whale watching in summer and also people just like to be able to say that they went as far east as one can go on land. I believe that some people consider it one of the corners of the world.

Cape spear also offers some cool backgrounds and perches for birds. The rocks from what is left over from a part of the  African plate many millions of years ago has a different color then most rocks in Newfoundland and make for some interesting images.

Cape Spear also makes for some amazing sunrise images. Open seas, lighthouses and the warm tones of the rising sun what more could you ask for.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Shorebird Season Is Here!

Over the last few weeks Brad and I have tried more then once to get out and photograph some of Newfoundland's Pelagic seabirds but with bad weather and our horrible luck we have had no success. We will continue to try and get out on the water !

In the mean time shorebird season has begun and the birds are starting to show up everywhere. No rare or uncommon shorebirds yet but I am sure they will pop up ! A small harbour near where we both live has become our little hunny hole for shorebird photography. The tidal mud flats are what draws the birds to this cove, we have seen ruddy turnstones, greater yellowlegs, semi plovers, semi sandpipers, black bellied plovers and the list is always growing with other types of birds like king fishers, terns and gulls!

School has just started so I (Brendan) am going to be quite busy. But we have lots of ideas for different images we would like to try and create. So far as you can see shorebird photography has been a great success for us. Also we have a few ideas we are going to try in order to capture some raptors in flight.

Its that time of years again where southern vagrant warblers and other birds appear on the southern Avalon peninsula so we will be trying to get down there and capture some images of them. That is easier said then done but well will try!

The hardest thing about shorebird photography is being patient and still. For what ever reasons when you arrive before the birds or take your extreme time approaching shorebirds then they seem almost tame at times. All the photos in this post were taken by either me or brad lying down in deep stinky mud and slowly crawling towards the birds. If your not dirty by the end of a day shooting shorebirds then your doing it wrong!

I just received a phone call from brad who is looking at a flock or 50+ phalaropes!!!!! Lets just say im a tad bit jealous. He says he has video footage of them so when he arrives home im sure he will post it for everyone to see. Summer is quickly wrapping up and fall is starting to work its was to Newfoundland. Stay tuned for something different!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Photographing the Common Loon - An uncommon expericence

 About two weeks ago a friend of mine named Justin had told me about a "tame" loon he had found not far out on the highway. I knew there had to be something up as loons here on the island are not usually approached. When we arrived at the lake around 6am I found a pair of common loons nesting on and island not far from shore. The lighting was perfect and the flies where not too bad...
I slowly crawled on my chest with tripod and camera somehow attached to my back towards the low lying edge of the pond. To my surprise the birds didn't even notice me and began to feed near by and bathe. Both me and brad had a chance to get some shots of the loons. The two eggs in the nest hatched exactly one week later. It was an experience I think both of us will never forget.

Monday, 8 July 2013

St.Johns morning show interview

The st.Johns morning show did a little interview with me at one of mine and brads first conservation aeras. Just follow the link below

Cbc also had an online peice about our work:

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

A little update

The blog has been a bit slow lately as Brad is away on vacation and I have just finished up school for the year! Summer has arrived across the island of Newfoundland. Birds for the most part are now waiting on eggs to hatch or feeding newly hatched young. Bird song has filled the woods and the sea birds and whales are starting to become common around the shores.

In the upcoming weeks you can expect lots of photos of things like puffins, swallows (our favourite) some landscapes and if we are lucky we may be able to get out on a boat and photograph some sea birds that you can not photograph commonly from shore like Northern Fulmar, Shearwaters, and who knows maybe a storm petrel or two!

Like I mentioned in a previous post we have some exiting news ! The town of Paradise has agreed to erect a sign in the community on our behalf. The sign is to draw more people to our natural areas and make them more aware of animals and birds alike who live in wetlands! The sign will feature some of mine and brads photos of birds etc. Keep your eyes open as you drive on topsail road by Neville's pond in paradise in the near feature. Also Newfoundland Power and the town of Paradise are working with me and brad to place some osprey nesting platforms in Paradise. With so much construction and development happening we have to try our best to keep some areas pure and natural.