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Old Dec 15, 2013, 10:03 PM   #1
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Default More Salton Birds

Some more birds from my recent trip down to Indio, Palm Springs and the Salton Sea. We ran out of time to visit one of the places I wanted to stop at (missed the right turn-off when we were going down), so had to content myself with just what I found at Sonny Bono Wildlife Preserve area. Some of you might remember who he was but not know that he was the mayor of Palm Springs and then a congressman for the area.

These were all taken with the K3, DA300 and 1.7 AFA

Some type of sparrow?



A different sparrow?



I thought it looked like the bird had eyes on the back of its head:



Gambel's Quail (not the same type of quail that's common in my area):



We stopped for a while at the visitor center and the volunteer who was working the desk showed us one of their residents. I could have walked past him millions of times without seeing him. My first attempt at photographing him (her?) wasn't very successful:



I was using multi-exposure rather than center-weighted but I don't think it would have made much difference. I adjusted the exposure values a bit and got this one (cropped) on the third try:



The barn owl was hiding in a palm tree, behind some palm fronds. It was really hard to see him unless you knew where to look. He sure didn't look terribly interested in us, but he looked so cuddly in this picture.

I thought this bird was a very odd looking duck. I think he's a Northern Shoveler, but since I've never seen one before and this one was not interested in being friends, I'm not entirely sure. He's unique enough that I'll never get him (whatever he is) confused with anything else.



There was a huge flock of white birds in the field near the visitor's center, which turned out to be snow geese:



Further on, along the lake's shoreline, there were even more Sea Gulls:



Walking back I spotted the Northern Harriers that I posted in the other thread, took a poor picture of a Northern Flicker (the funny thing is that I was thinking it was a dove or something else until it turned its head and I could see a rather long beak. I took a picture even though the bird was more or less a black spot, when I lightened the picture it was obviously a Northern Flicker).

I had never noticed the white feathers on the coots, always thought they were an all-black bird.



We were running a bit late when we were driving back on the eastern shore. The air had some type of haze/dust in it, giving it a rather strange color, and the sea's water reflected it to the point you couldn't tell where the water ended and the sky began. These last two shots were taken through the car window (my sister was driving, not me) traveling at about 60 mph and not exactly along the shore. I sort-of vaguely aimed at a dark spot on the water and got this:



When I saw that the shot was usable, I tried again. This time the spots were smaller (think they may be grebes, they are common in winter) and I didn't even notice the heron (I assume it's a Great Blue Herron, it looks pretty big):



While there wasn't a lot of variety where we went, I enjoyed myself and want to return again, maybe this spring, to see if I can find more birds. Maybe by that time I will have sorted out how to use the Acratech head as sort-of a Gimbal and will remember to use continuous shooting as well as a smaller aperture (I missed focus a couple of times, the AFA is harder/limited when it comes to AF). But I was quite happy with what I got, since this isn't exactly my normal "thing."
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Old Dec 15, 2013, 11:57 PM   #2
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Some really nice photo's. I've always been a Owl fan....and I think that Barn Owl pic is great. We don't get them up here, except for the rare wanderer and I've always felt they are a beautiful looking bird.

I remember Sonny Bono quite well...of the Sonny and Cher duo...singing, TV show...good entertainers.
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Old Dec 16, 2013, 8:48 AM   #3
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I have yet to capture any owl. So, thanks for sharing this one. A friend of mine did mention he has a pair that has staked out his yard and it sounds like they may be Screech owls from how he describes them. I may have to make a night excursion once the weather warms up.
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Old Dec 16, 2013, 8:52 AM   #4
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I love the owl,also.Way to catch him,hiding behind those fronds..he does look cuddly.Those sparrows are hard to figure out..I'm thinking the first may be a field sparrow but could be a female or juvenile of another kind..The other guy in the tree may be a white crowned..but those eyes in the back are weird..lol..Your duck definitely is a shoveler,I live in pothole country and we get them all the time.And I love coots..in the spring their babies are little red balls of fluff bobbing all over in the sloughs here.
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Old Dec 16, 2013, 4:08 PM   #5
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Thanks, kashka, for confirming the northern shoveler, thought that's what he must be. I couldn't figure out the sparrows - thought the first one might be a song sparrow, but it didn't quite look like the pictures. Not sure whether the second one is even a sparrow at all, could be something else I suppose.

There's a barn owl(s?) that is a full-time resident in our area. I hear him (her?) often, but have only seen it once, and then in the early morning when there wasn't enough light to take a picture. But then there's also at least one redtailed hawk that I hear all the time, and have yet to see it anywhere but as a spec in the sky, soaring over the nearby pastures.

I don't think I've ever seen a Coot baby, they sound like fun. Instead I only see the wintering adults or the ones passing through to somewhere else. They are all over the ponds and lakes in my area, as well as the rest of Calfornia.

Gary - hope you get some shots of your friend's pair.

Les - It's the same Sonny Bono. I remember his long hair and Cher's wild costumes from years past. It seems funny to think of him as a city mayor and Congressman, doesn't it? Who would have thought that was his future, when they were watching the Sonny and Cher show?!
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Old Dec 16, 2013, 5:03 PM   #6
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Terrific series, yes I agree with the others that Owl shot is the stand out.

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Old Dec 16, 2013, 7:44 PM   #7
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Very nice..
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Old Dec 16, 2013, 7:51 PM   #8
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The barn owl is really special!
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Old Dec 16, 2013, 7:54 PM   #9
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I do think it is a white crowned sparrow..check the link..there are some group shots and one with the back of its head facing the camera..Might be your bird!..
http://www.craftygardener.ca/white-crowned-sparrows/

And how lucky you are to have a barn owl in your area...I remember last year following a webcam online of a barn owl nesting box...loved it!
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Old Dec 16, 2013, 11:13 PM   #10
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I'm still not sure about the second sparrow - the white crowned sparrows seem to have definite white on the head, while this one didn't seem to have any. But otherwise it seems likely and they are common to the area.

I remember about 10 years ago, visiting someone in Wyoming. They had at one time tried putting a plastic statue of a great grey owl on their roof to discourage other birds etc. It didn't seem to help and they decided to toss it out when I was visiting. My husband loaded it up with a bunch of other things to take to the dump. Later in the day I looked out the window and wondered why Dan had put the statue on the lawn faucet (looked like an old-fashioned pump handle) in the yard. Then the "statue" turned its head - it was a REAL great grey owl!
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