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