Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fountain Creek Regional Park

Last Sunday I headed down to the Fountain Creek Regional Park. FCRP is a short distance south of Colorado Springs near the town of Fountain. It contains a series of small to medium size ponds and a river (Fountain Creek). FCRP attracts a lot of ducks in the winter and is know to attract warblers during migration. Due to its close proximity I have been many times. So far I have only seen Yellow-rumped, Yellow and Orange-crowned warblers, but this is Colorado so that is about all I have seen anywhere. Maybe I just can't see warblers. I have been trying out the Bogen 3421 gimbal tripod head. I was very impressed how easy it was to lock-on to small birds flying around in the canopy. I'll post another entry about the Bogen 3421 in a few days.

Here is a Audobon's Yellow-rumped Warbler. The trick is getting them to pose at eye level with a clean background.

And a female. This photo would have been improved with the use of some fill flash. This is somthing that I hope to explore this year.

A Northern Rough-winged Swallow. The Sibley book says that they are uncommon. Fountain Creek Regional Park is a good place to see these swallows.

There were still a few ducks around including this Hooded Merganser. It is difficult to photograph birds that have bright white and black markings on a sunny day. This duck allowed me to get closer than any other Hooded Merganser that I have encountered. Unfortunately most of the photos that I took had loss of detail in the whites and the blacks. This is the best photo and it also suffers from exposure problems.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ramah SWA - Part 2

On Saturday April 26th I returned to Ramah. This turned out to be a good decision because I added 2-4 new birds to my life and photo list. Two were easily identified Plovers and 2 were Sandpipers that i'm still working on. This turned out to be the best shorebird photography experience of my life (probably because I live in Colorado and haven't taken a trip out of state since I started doing wildlife photography).

After a slow start I found myself laying in the mud surounded by plovers, sandpipers and phalaropes.

After a few minutes of photographing sandpipers I noticed this Semipalmated Plover.

Then this white plover came running by. I knew that it was either a Snowy Plover or a Piping Plover but wasn't sure which. Either way I was extremly happy because both are rare and I have never seen either reported at Ramah. It turned out to be a Snowy Plover.

Photography Note: The white around the eye in this photo is slightly over exposed. When photographing small white birds against a dark background it is important to make adjustments so that the subject is not over exposed. In this photograph I used -1 exposure compensation to compensate for this but it wasn't quite enouugh. With Canon DSLRs there are two ways to check if you have over exposed areas. The first is to enable highlight alert. The second is to check the histogram. The problem that I have is that the flashing area of the over exposed spots, when highlight alert is enabled, can be very difficult to see outside on a sunny day. This is especially true when the overexposed area is very small.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ramah SWA

In search of Marbled Godwit

Last weekend I headed over to Ramah State Wildlife Area to search for the Marbled Godwit that had been reported.

Ramah is located about 37 miles northeast of Colorado Springs. It may be the best shorebird location in El Paso county. It's only average for photograhy. The angle of the sun is just a little less than ideal and the shore always has a lot of algae.

I was not able to locate the Godwit but I did find several Wilson's Phalarope working the shore line. Without too much difficulty I was able to get fairly close and snapped a few pictures before a hawk flew over and scared the Phalaropes back into the middle of the water. I decided to wait where I was and within about a minute one of the Phalaropes swam back to where I was and did some posing.

After a little while Lesser Yellow-legs flew in and chased off the Phalarope.

Before I left a couple of White-faced Ibis flew in for a short stay.