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Old Sep 26, 2010, 10:15 PM   #1
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Default What kind of bird?

We spent a wonderful, quiet weekend at the beach this past weekend, but I didn't have internet service and have lots to get caught up on.

I took a ton of pictures and came to a couple of conclusions:

1. I would need a longer lens to really photograph surfers (I took a ton of surfing pictures, mostly because I was using continuous shooting). Since I rarely get to the beach, I'm not going to go out of my way to buy one for this reason. But I really enjoy watching surfing, even though I have no idea what anyone is doing.

2. Either the problem I was having with the K7 is "operator head-space and timing" or else it throws a fit if I don't use it every day. I can't explain why one day I had such a discrepancy shooting with the K7 and the K20, why the pictures with the K20 were so much better (maybe I was taking more care because it's been months since I used it last?). In any case, I used only the K7 over the weekend and the only shots that were messed up were obvious errors on my part (I can't hand-hold a 300 mm lens at 1/60 shutter speed - though I did get one at 1/125 which shocked me). I used the DA*300 most of the time.

In any case, I spotted this bird and have no idea what it is. It was hanging around near a flock of sea gulls, who tolerated it up to a point (though one gull did chase it off but it just circled around and then came back to stand near where it had been). I'd really like to know what it is:

I assume its common to our coast, but it's not one that I've ever noticed before (not surprising because I'm not much of a birder).

I also saw the usual collection of sea gulls and a couple of snowy egrets (I think they are year-round residents at the harbor, the food supply is steady). I also spotted a stilt. I see these every so often, but usually at too great a distance to get a good picture. I was very pleased with this shot - hardly cropped at all (it was swimming in the marina, practically at my feet).

I'll post some other pictures as I get through them all.
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Old Sep 26, 2010, 10:29 PM   #2
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I have no idea what the unknown bird is, but I really like the pictures. I'm sure other regular visitors to this forum will be able to help. I really like your stilt photo, with the feet visible, and the lovely reflection of the very graceful neck.
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Old Sep 26, 2010, 10:54 PM   #3
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It is some kind of large Tern Harriet, although I don't know which one it is. It seems too dark to be a Royal Tern.

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Old Sep 26, 2010, 11:11 PM   #4
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My Audubon guide is the East coast edition, so there may be another possibility, but it looks to me like a Black Skimmer. The guide reckons it as unique due to the lower mandible being a third longer than the upper.


PS: your picture is much nicer than the on in the book.
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Old Sep 26, 2010, 11:20 PM   #5
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Odd looking bird but great shot.
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Old Sep 26, 2010, 11:34 PM   #6
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VTPhotog I think has the ID right. I looked in my Peterson Field Guide...Western Birds....looks like a Black Skimmer. The adult has a solid dark upper section....your pix shows a bird that is mottled.

I think this is the juvenile stage.
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Old Sep 26, 2010, 11:57 PM   #7
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great shot harriet, love the symmetry. perfect angle. good info o the species
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Old Sep 27, 2010, 1:22 AM   #8
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The first 2 definitely look like a juvenile Caspian Tern. The plumage is right but his beak looks a bit off, maybe he is slightly deformed. The 3rd one is a Western Grebe.

Beautiful shots!
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Old Sep 27, 2010, 4:22 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by mtngal View Post

The beak is weird. The only thing I know is nice shot. Thanks for sharing

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Old Sep 27, 2010, 12:03 PM   #10
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Harriet, these are good pictures. The first bird is a juvenile Black Skimmer. The second is probably a Clark's Grebe, although the bill color is not orange enough. Western Grebes are very similar, but with yellow-green bills. Facial patterns are different in the breeding plumage, but otherwise can be hard to distinguish in some individuals. There may even be intermediate individuals, as the breeding ranges overlap and hybridization is possible. I am going with Clark's because of the white in front of the eyes, which in more typical plumages extends well over the eyes, and typical Westerns have more black around and below the eyes.
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