Yahoo! Whoop-ti-doo! I mean it took me a whole year to learn this? Yes it did! But it was a great morning – lots of neat shore birds and a new warbler or two – plus, as usual, something of a mystery.
Now here’s the story. I loved my Canon Rebel when I first got it back in the winter of ’04. But there were some irritating issues and I tired of lugging it around, so last year I bought a neat little light weight – tiny – Casio Exilim – and I have used it exclusively for the past year and it has been pretty impressive. But while there’s a 10X optical zoom, the focus in telephoto mode leaves a lot to be desired and it’s darned hard to frame your shot while in full sunlight and using the screen – and the screen is your only choice, there’s no viewfinder.
I’ve put up with it, but yesterday when I got home from an excellent birding expedition on gooseberry with my friend Don Douglas, I was really ripped. I had seen my first American Oyster Catcher, a very handsome bird, and the shots of it were downright embarrassing they were focused so poorly. An example:
Same with several pictures of a Black-bellied Plover. So last night I dusted off the Rebel, charged the batteries, checked the cards, found my telephoto and refreshed my memory on how to get the most out of it – well, how to use it 😉 Then I headed out to Gooseberry at 6 am. The tide was high and there wasn’t the great variety of shorebirds, but oh my -was I pleased. Not only was I able to get some nice, in focus telephoto shots, but I actually grabbed several in flight ones. The shot above of a screaming seagul wasn’t all luck. It was planned. I tracked him as he moved towards the Sun with the hope of catching a dramtic backlit shot – and then I got real lucky because my finger pressing was in sync with his screaming.
Some of the Semipalmated plovers – there were droves – were so far up the beach that some flew inland as I got near.
Most were very cooperative, posing for portraits. But the subtle marking around the head were hard to pick up on the East beach. When I rounded the point, I was heading more southwesterly and the Sun showed them to better advantage.
First, some shots with the Sun pretty much straight on.
OK – here we are on the southeastern beach – better lighting.
his one is new – for me – I believe.
Let’s wrap things up with a little mystery. I need some help here, Gull-darn it!
But before that I caught several shots of something else in the air and I wasn’t sure what it was. It crossed the causeway in front of me and I was just sure it wasn’t the usual gull (Herring or Blackback), though it was the size of a small gull. Here are the shots. Know what it is? It is quite small – the two Blackbacks you see are well behind it.
Here are a couple more shots – the last really showing the white rump.
Have you identified it yet? I’m still not sure, but my best guess is it’s a Laughing Gull in some sort of between stage from juvenile to adult. I base that on the dark head, the white rump, black tail, size and duskiness. I guess it could be a second winter Herring Gull, but it seemed too small.