Sunday, June 23, 2013

Magical Supermoon

What makes a "supermoon" different than other full moons is that it appears to be much larger and brighter. In western Washington state, however, the weather can be "iffy" in June. Last night was no different. Moonrise was 8:25 p.m. PDT but it took a good half hour or so for the moon to rise above the clouds that were at the horizon.

Catching the moon sans clouds took more than an hour. It doesn't get fully dark here on the summer solstice until after 10 p.m., so I was lucky to get definition in both the moon and the foreground. The cloud effect on the surrounding mountains made waiting for the moon to appear a magical experience. Mauve puffs drift and shape-shift across the face of The Mountain (as folks here like to call the 14,000-plus feet high peak) to the east.

To the west are the Olympic Mountains. Sunsets are often breathtaking with Mt. Olympus taking center stage.

It was a super evening for viewing a supermoon. For more views of these beautiful mountains, visit my Mountains Gallery. I will be posting a moon gallery in the near future. For now, though, you can see the 2013 calendar Something About the Moon for some of the many images I've captured.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Flashy blackbird

Red-winged blackbirds are one of the most abundant birds in the United States, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Watching their territorial strutting, singing, and chasing intruders is fascinating this time of year.

The males, like many in the animal world, are the colorful ones. The females look a little like a large sparrow. This guy has claimed the storm water pond near my home as his own. He takes on all comers - even crows and the occasional great blue heron that wings in. His buddies seem to show up from nowhere to help chase off an intruder. I haven't seen a female or nest but I think I know where it is. In another week or so, there should be a baby or two around.

When Padme the wonderdog and I skirt the fence surrounding the pond, he hops from fence post to fence post about 10 feet from us. Occasionally flying to the tallest part of a street tree, then soaring across the pond to strut and sing for the ladies from the far side of the golden pond. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mama eagle's mini me

It's not easy to see what's going on in the nest from 100 yards away. I can see mama clearly but baby blends in with the nest. My camera exposes for baby and the nest, so many of these images appear rough. In film terms, we'd call it "grainy." Not really pixelated but these images look better smaller. In the next image, my camera exposed just for mama, and the result is less grainy.

I'm usually shooting about 7 p.m., which is when I can usually catch more before-bedtime feeding and flying. And maybe a little snuggling with mama, as much as we can say the eagles snuggle. It's hard to imagine that the little guy will be as big as mama in about six weeks. The last two broods have fledged (flown from the next for the first time) in mid-to-late July. I'm not seeing evidence of a second eaglet but I didn't last year until a couple of weeks before first flight.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Mama and baby eagle

I still think there's more than one baby in my favorite eagle's nest. If you look right below mama, there's a grayish-black blob that could be a head. This first image was taken just about a minute before the second.

This is when I wish I had just a little longer telephoto. These eagles are the main reason I bought a 100-400 mm lens last year. That's really the largest lens that you can hand-hold without a tripod, although I try to use a tripod most of the time when I'm photographing wildlife. The nest is at least 100 yards from where I'm photographing. And it's almost always very dark. Even with sunshine bathing the nest, like it is here, the image isn't quite sharp.
I really love this one, sharp or not-so-sharp.

 You can see that baby has just about lost all of his fluff. By this time next month, he'll be getting ready to take his first flight - and become a fledgling.

As baby sauntered off for a nap, mama had a chat with papa who was on watch at the top of the tall tree next to the nest tree. Another day in the life of an extraordinary eagle clan. Be sure to check out my Talons Gallery for new work I'm adding. Let me know if there are others you'd like to see in print. I'll be exhibiting in Gig Harbor, Tumwater, and Olympia this summer and fall. For the Birds & the Trees exhibit schedule.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Eagle baby

Eaglet - 6-2-2013

I'm not sure yet whether there's more than one youngster in our favorite eagle's nest. I looked at photos from the same time last year and we didn't see a second eaglet until a a couple of weeks before both fledged. A bald eagle's nest is massive and this one is so well hidden that one baby could be on the far side of the nest or just out of view.

Mama and papa take turns watching over the nest. This year the pair seems to be contending with a steady stream of unwanted visiting clan. A couple of days ago, Papa made it very clear to a soaring pair of bald eagles that they needed to move their fun elsewhere.

Eaglet 6-4-2013