Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tending the nest

Papa eagle joins mama (obscured to right)
The nest routine appears to be leaving the youngsters to the nest on their own with frequent feedings and check-ins from mama, papa, and sometimes both parents.

These are from earlier this week. For the past couple of days, I haven't seen mama eagle or youngsters. I think they may have fledged and are out practicing eagle ways. Tonight I saw papa eagle return to one of his favorite trees but no sign of the rest of the family.

Mama appears to do most of the hunting now, while papa keeps watch from favorite lookouts near the nest. He often practices treetop yoga, preens, and fluffs out feathers.

Mama eagle lifts off and heads for the delta.

I would love to know where she goes. This time she flew off in the direction of Sequalitchew Creek to the north and joined another adult eagle. Maybe a grown child, a sibling? These two eagles are part of what seems to be a large extended family. We often seen several eagles soaring on the thermals together near our house. Earlier in the day before I photographed these images, I saw two adults and two juveniles about a block from my house. They might well have been my favorite eagle pair helping their fledgling kids learn the eagle ways. They were here for a few moments -  long enough for me to notice - then south and down to the delta.

Visit my Talons Gallery for the growing collection of fine art prints I have available.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Active eagle's nest

 I managed to screw up my new monopod by pulling a section completely out, in my haste to catch mama eagle leaving the nest and her youngster. The light was low and flat, so shots would have been cleaner with support from the monopod.

Ah well. Some fun views to catch nevertheless.

Mama eagle was tending the nest and talking to her mate, who was on lookout duty in the snag to the left of the nest.

I would love to know what she was saying. "The kid's hungry! Is it my turn AGAIN to get him some grub? Would it be too much to ask for you to pick something up on your way home once in awhile? Junior is as big as I am and has an appetite to match!"

I photographed these on Saturday. Tonight, there were four bald eagles - two adults and two juveniles - practicing on the thermals about a block from my house. By the time I got my camera, they had moved to the far side of the ridge over the Nisqually delta.

I'm convinced that they are all extended family of this prolific pair. A few weeks ago, I photographed papa eagle with two juveniles about a block from the nest.

I recently joined an artists cooperative in Tacoma - 253 Collective - and will be exhibiting prints of some of these images. Please let me know your favorites. I will have a special showing "For the Birds...and the Trees" in August.  I will have prints from my Talons, Hummers, and Nisqually galleries.

Mama left the nest, glided past papa eagle, made a large circle around the woodlands behind the nest, and then was gone from view. I waited a few minutes but she apparently was off hunting. Meanwhile Junior tried out his wings. I think it won't be long until he fledges.  I am still only seeing one youngster, unless they are only showing themselves one at a time.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Eagle nursery monitor

Mama eagle was taking a break in the tree right above the nest. Taking breaks is easy to understand when you see how big her youngster already has grown. We heard a baby or babies in the nest. 
I only saw one chick and that was while I was editing these photographs. He blended in with the nest so well, I didn't see him while I was shooting. Mama talked to them, then flew over to check on them.

Youngster is circled.

She was there for a short time, then flew back to her perch within view of the nest. She scanned the sky for intruders and probably wondered where her mate was with tonight's dinner.

For more favorites, visit my Talons Gallery.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pájaros y aves-Small & large Puerto Rican birds

Puerto Rican Emerald © Kate Lynch
I am still amazed at the variety of birds I saw in Puerto Rico in what was really a long weekend. The hummingbirds were very high in the tree. The light was bright but flat, so my shots were not great. I was excited to see many birds that are endemic to Puerto Rico and not generally seen outside the Caribbean islands. This one is a Puerto Rican Emerald. The other is the Puerto Rican Woodpecker.

I will post more on my blog and then create a new gallery of these very cool birds. In the meantime, you can check out other favorite winged creatures in my Fauna Gallery.

We were coming back from Mosquito Pier on the Atlantic side of the island when we spotted a very large bird circling above the bay. I thought it might be a great blue heron. I found out later that it was a magnificent frigatebird. Those are the birds that puff out a red throat sack during courting. This one is a female (no red throat).

Magnificent Frigatebird © Kate Lynch

Puerto Rican Woodpecker
Black-necked stilt © Kate Lynch

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Puerto Rico - old fort and lighthouse

Fortín Cande de Mirasol was the last fort the Spanish built in the Americas. It was begun in the 1840s and never completed. Now it is an art and history museum on a hill above Isabel Segunda (Isabella II) on isla de Vieques, Puerto Rico. While we were there, a music teacher was giving guitar lessons. 

Isabella II was the only female monarch of Spain and deposed during the 1868 Spanish revolution. There is a wonderful view of the Atlantic and El Faro de Punta Mulas (Point Mulas Lighthouse).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Glowing water-bioluminescent bay

Bahía Mosquito - better known to visitors as Bio Bay - is one of several bays in Puerto Rico that glow on dark nights because of tiny creatures called bioluminescent dinoflagellates. These half-plant half-animal organisms have a similar makeup to fireflies. The bay looks like any other except when you move a paddle or swim through it. We were in an electric boat that glowed blue when the engines were on. When fish or rays dart through the water, they appear to be glowing. 

Lights here are from shore where the next tour was waiting.

The glow in the upper left corner is from the bus headlights on shore. The blue glow in the center is a fish. The streaks on either side are from the boat's propellers.

The companies that run tours claim that the Vieques bay has the brightest concentration of these creatures, probably because there is less light pollution and the bay has a narrower entrance. The Spanish are actually responsible for the narrow channel. They attempted to close off the bay, believing the bioluminescence to be the work of el diablo. Instead the glowing creatures became more concentrated.

By the time I figured out the right exposure to get anything but black on the image, it was time to go. If you are curious, I shot at 3200 ISO, f4.5 at 6 seconds with the camera mounted on a monopod.  

The bay pretty much looks like next-door Sun Bay during daylight hours. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Isla de Vieques - Puerto Rico

I just returned from la boda de mi sobrina (my niece's wedding) and a whirlwind (and very sweaty) tour of Vieques. The temps were 85 and close to 100-percent humidity (hence the sweaty part). Like other parts of the world, Puerto Rico is experiencing climate changes. There was more rain than normal in late May, creating very muggy conditions.

Vieques, also known as Isla Nena - Little Girl Island - is one of the Spanish Virgin Islands that includes the "main island" of Puerto Rico. Just a few miles from the main island, more than half of Vieques is a wildlife reserve. Up until 2003, the Navy used the island for military exercises (read: bombing range). More about that in future posts.

Vieques is home to about 10,000 people and probably another 10,000 Paso Fino horses that roam free throughout the island. There are also many cattle egrets that hang out with cattle and horses which don't seem to mind the birds snapping up flies and other insects.

Vieques has an abundance of birds, lizards, frogs, chickens, dogs, cats, and mongoose. Driving around the island is challenging because all of those creatures cross the roads quite frequently or just hang out on them.

Remember the Rudyard Kipling story about the mongoose Rikki-tikki-tavi? Mongooses were brought to Vieques and other Caribbean islands in the 1800s to manage pests in the sugarcane fields. Now there are an abundance of these animals which look a little like a cross between a ferret and an otter. Not a great shot of one but it was the only one I managed to get.

¡Necesito más cáfe - pronto!