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The non-Shorebirds that go to Churchill

My previous blog was about the shorebirds in their gorgeous breeding plumage that make their way to Churchill, Manitoba.  But there are plenty of other types of birds and species that travel all the way to Churchill in order to breed.

Many of these birds also “dress up” in order to attract a mate!  Here are some images of these other categories and species of birds I photographed in Churchill.

It was FANTASTIC to see a King Eider because it should not have been there!  When we informed the birding experts at Parks Canada – they sped down to Cape Merry to add it to their Life List.

King Eider (Somateria spectabilis) – Who Should Be Somewhere Else!

The Common Eider looked quite splendid, but not as impressive as the King Eider!

Common Eider (Somateria mollissima) on an Ice floe

There were three species of Loons.  The Common Loon (which is quite rare in Churchill), the Pacific Loon and the Red-throated Loon.

Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica) pair showing

Common Loon (Gavia immer) which isn’t common in Churchill

Of course the Arctic Tern, which has the longest migration of any bird – from Antarctica to the Arctic to breed then back again!

Arctic Tern (Sterna paradise) all the way from Antarctica

The American Bittern also comes up to breed.

American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)

The Horned Grebes looked most impressive in their breeding plumage.

Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus) puffed up a little

There was an abundance of Yellow Warblers, but they just keep jumping around in the grasses, reeds and bushes, making it difficult to shoot one!

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) jumping non-stop in the grasses

The Ptarmigan, an upland game bird, is pure white in the winter (perfect Arctic camouflage) but the male is in his breeding plumage and the female expertly camouflaged for the Tundra.

Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) male in breeding plumage, nice red combs!

Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) female in breeding plumage – perfect camouflage

I managed to photograph the non-shorebirds on the following list:

  1. Gruiformes
    • Sandhill Crane  (Grus canadensis)
  2. Gulls, Terns and Skimmers
    • Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)
    • Bonaparte’s Gull (Chroicocephia)
    • Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)
    • Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)
    • Sabine’s Gull (Xema sabini)
  3. Icterids
    • Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus)
  4. Jaegers & Skuas
    • Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus)
  5. Loons
    • Common Loon (Gavia immer)
    • Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica)
    • Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata)
  6. Raptors
    • Red-tailed Hawk (Bueto jamaicensis)
  7. Sparrows
    • Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)
    • White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leugophrys)
  8. Swallows
    • Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
  9. Swans, Ducks and Geese
    • Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)
    • Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)
    • Canada Goose (Branta canadersis)
    • Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens)
    • Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)
    • Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)
    • Black Scoter (Melanitta americana)
    • White-winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca)
    • Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)
    • Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
    • American Wigeon (Anas americana)
    • Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)
    • Common Eider (Somateria mollissima)
    • King Eider (Somateria spectabilis)
    • Common Goldeneye (Somateria mollissima)
    • Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)
    • Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)
    • Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrated)
    • Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
  10. Upland Game Birds
    • Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus)
  11. Wading Birds
    • American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)
  12. Wood-Warblers
    • Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)

Gear: Nikon D4s; Nikkor 600.0mm f/4 VR II, Nikkor TC-17 EII, RRS Tripod & Gimbal Head, Lexar Digital Film

Why Go to Churchill, Manitoba, to Photograph Birds?

Simply to see the shorebirds in their breeding plumage as they arrive in, or pass through, Churchill.  These birds have a completely different appearance at this time of year in this location compared to the rest of the year in their usual habitats on the East or West coasts of the USA.

The males are bright and vibrant in order to attract a mate. The females are camouflaged in order to blend in with their surroundings as protection while on the nests and caring for their young.  Some breeds, both males and females, have a solid black breast in order to radiate heat while sitting on their eggs which are laid on the cold Tundra.

I first came to Churchill four years ago on a photography workshop with Moose Petersen, fell in love with the birds, the opportunity to shoot, the town and the community.  So for this return I have stayed longer, seen more species of birds and have better images than before.  I am sure that this is not my last visit to Churchill.

Here is a sample of some of the species photographed on this visit and a couple of species with the contrasting images with their non-breeding plumage.

To see more CLICK ON THIS LINK and view my new images for May and June.

To purchase an image please CLICK on the image.

 

Two breeds for comparison: American Golden Plover, males and females have the black front and the Short-billed Dowitcher with a magnificent display of Rufus!

American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica) in non-breeding plumage

American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica) in breeding plumage

Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) in non-breeding plumage

Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) in breeding plumage

Other species of Shorebirds in Breeding Plumage:

Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica)

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)

Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) – Good Camouflage

Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus)

Baird’s Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii)

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)

Gear: Nikon D4s, Nikkor 600.0mm f/4 VRII, Nikkor TC-17, RRS Tripod & Gimbal Head, Lexar Digital Film

I’ve Got Lunch Honey – Well Almost!

I am in Churchill, Manitoba, on the Hudson Bay, to shoot the migrating birds (with my Nikons).  Churchill is one of my favourite places to visit.  It is a remote community of about 800 people that was established over 300 years ago to defend the Hudson Bay fur trade.  You can only get here by plane or train (except the train lines have been washed out at the moment and are unlikely to be restored before August!).

It is a very relaxing place to be and I love the Tundra and the Boreal Forest (and at this time of year the long days).

The Arctic Terns (Sterna paradisaca) have the longest migration of all birds.  They fly from Antarctica to the Arctic to have their young. They arrived here in significant numbers two days ago.  I was on the shore at Cape Merry photographing various birds in the water and resting on ice floes when I saw this Arctic Tern on the tip of a small “sculptured” Ice berg.  So I started “clicking” and this sequence happened.

I love this sequence and laugh when I see it.  Hope you enjoy it too.

Hey Honey I’ve brought Lunch

About Time Too, It has been a very long Journey from Antarctica!

You haven’t left me much room to land!

Oops

Sorry !

What Just Happened?

Gear: Nikon D4s; Nikkor 600.0mm f/4; Nikkor TC-17; RRS Tripod & Gimbal Head; Lexar Digital Film

March’s images – a great opportunity for black & white

Yes, I just love black and white.  I started in photography with Kodak black and white 120 film in my Father’s box Brownie camera at the age of 10.  More recently I enjoyed using the same film type in my Hasselblad cameras, now using my Nikons and the digital darkroom I still love the results!

These are from two magnificent places in California that we re-visit as often as we can.  Yosemite National Park and Lone Pine.

Here are a few of those black and white photographs (and some colour images) from my processing last month.  I Hope you enjoy!

Click HERE to visit the complete gallery

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Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View After Sunset

Water Patterns, Bridal Veil Falls

Boulders, Merced River, Yosemite National Park

Alabama Hills, Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, CA

Winter Landscape photographs of Yosemite National Park, CA, USA

Alabama Hills and Sierra Nevada, Lone Pine, CA

Gear: Nikon D800, Nikkor 24.0-70.0mm f/2.8, Nikk0r 80.0-400.0mm f/4.5-5.6 VRIII; Lexar Digital Film

February Images, Back to Landscapes

Most of February was spent visiting Death Valley National Park and then Lone Pine, one of our favourite towns just outside of the Park.

Here are a few images from the month.  Click HERE to visit the whole collection from February’s processing.

Click on an individual image to go to acquire one of these images.

Zabriskie Point, Manly Beacon, Sunrise

Ubehebe Volcanic Craters, Death Valley National Park, CA

Death Valley from Dante’s View at Sunrise

Death Valley from Dante’s View just after Sunrise

“Tee Time” The Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley

Rainclouds and Godbeams, a rare sight, Badwater, Death Valley

Gear: Nikon D800, Nikkor 80.0-400.0mm f/4.5-5.6 VRIII, Nikkor 18.0-35.0mm f/3.5-4.5, Nikkor 24.0-70.0mm f/2.8, RRS Tripod & Ball-head, Lexar Digital Film

January was time to work on some Warbirds

I know that I blogged too little last year.  With our adventure to Alaska and then through the Yokon, Northwest Territory, British Columbia and Alberta back South there really were too few bad weather days (yes a strange sort of complaint) in order to process images, update photography websites and blog!

I also struggled with the separate of my photography blog and our fulltime RVing blog.  I think I have that one resolved now. (If you are interested in our RVing blog you can subscribe at www.fulltimervingwiththekings.com).

So in January, in Southern California I worked on some of the warbird images from 2016.  Here are a few, to acquire any just click on the picture and it will take yo to the sales page.  To see all of the January images click HERE.

It is always very special to see a heritage flight and here we were treated to a two ship formation of the F-35A Lightning II and P-51D Mustang one at fairly full throttle ad one a tad above stall speed!

Heritage Formation P-51D Mustang and F-35A Lightning II

This was the first (and sadly last as the flight was being retired after the show) time of seeing the two ship Dassault Mirage 2000N display team.  They were fantastic to watch and flew a great show with just two aircraft.  Here is one in airshow uniform.

Final appearance of a two ship display team of the Dasault Mirage 200N

Always a special treat to watch the Red Arrows.  Precision flying at its best.  Here a moody image in black and white (reflecting the moody weather!)

Red Arrows Display Team

Aviation photography from RIAT RAF Fairford, England

Always a photographer’s delight to get an image of a modern jet fighter being put through its paces and creating a lot of condensation over the wings.

F-22 Raptor with full after burners on and condensation over the wings

F-22 Raptor climbing with condensation over the wings

Gear: Nikon D4S, Nikkor 80.0 – 400.0 mm f/4.5-5.6 VRIII, Nikkor TC-14 EII, Lexar Digital Film

Kenai Fjords National Park – what a dream

We took the Wildlife  excursion with Kenai Fjords Tours from Seward.  it was 8.5 hours of pure delight.  Captain Mark Lundstrom did an excellent job of getting us to the locations and providing insight on the birds, marine mammals, glaciation and volcanic activity.  We had the good fortune to meet Mark when we went to the Cordova Shorebird Festival earlier in the month, so we were hoping that we could get on one of his cruises – weren’t we just so lucky?

Click on an image to add it to your collection.

Reflections of clouds and Snow Capped Mountains.

Reflections of clouds and Snow Capped Mountains.

Across Resurrection Bay to the Aialik Peninsula

Across Resurrection Bay to the Aialik Peninsula

Part of the tour was to get up close to the Aialik Glacier. We watched for about half an hour and we did see one large section of the glacier “calve” with an extremely loud crash.

Approaching the Aialik Glacier and reflection.

Approaching the Aialik Glacier and reflection.

Aialik Glacier snout showing the bedrock beneath.

Aialik Glacier snout showing the bedrock beneath.

Aialik Glacier close up.

Aialik Glacier close up.

As Captain Mark said, the mistake was to wait until you heard the calving because by then it is too late to see the ice fall.

Unfortunately as the glacier has receded and now end on the shore, we do not get large, house sized, icebergs calving as that happens when the bottom of the glacier is below the water.

We also got to see some wonderful wildlife – but more about that in later post.

#Nationalpark, #Alaska, #blackandwhitephotograph

Gear: Nikon D800, Nikkor 24.0-70.0mm f/2.8, Lexar Digital film; Adobe ACR; NIK Silver Efex Pro 2

Witnessing a Natural Phenomenon

As the blog from our full-time RVing in North Americas says – serendipity strikes again.  We visited Haines in Alaska for images of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) but instead discovered all three species of Scoters (Surf Scoter, Black Scoter and White-winged Scoter) in this feeding frenzy.

Oh how I love wildlife photography! Mother Nature is simply amazing!

To see the complete blog click HERE to follow the link

Surf Scoters, Black Scoters and White-winged Scoters feeding frenzy

Surf Scoters, Black Scoters and White-winged Scoters feeding frenzy

Why do they call Haliaeetus leucocephalus “Snow Pigeons” ?

This is a recent blog from our full-time RVing travels about Wildlife Photography of Bald Eagles in Alaska.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephlus) having lunch.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephlus) having lunch.

Click on the image to go to the blog entry.

Ell Fishing on the Klamath River

This is a recent post from our travel blog www.fulltimervingwiththekings.com  It is yet another amazing thing that we literally just stumbled upon, witnessed and then learnt more about.

 

Eel Fishing at Klamath River Estuary

 

Hope you enjoy

 

Gear: Nikon D800, Nikkor 80.0-400.0mm f/4.5-5.6 VRIII; Nikkor TC-17 EII; Lexar Digital Film