Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fine Feathered Friends

I'm very lucky to have an interesting variety of feathered friends in the area. Some are year-round residents and others stop by for a short visit while on their migration elsewhere. All are intriguing and very enjoyable to watch and photograph. I have a number of bird images to share, all of which were taken over the last month.

We have Mallards on our local pond which hang around all year. This handsome fellow was finding something to eat beneath the water's surface. Isn't he beautiful with all those sparkling water droplets adorning his radiant green head?

This guy drops by for at least a few weeks every year. He's the Double-crested Cormorant, and he works hard at depleting the pond's fish population.

He seemed a bit suspicious of me and my camera. I took one step closer to him after I snapped this image and he decided that was close enough. He was in the water before I could snap another shot.

Our Canada Geese tend to stay for the cold weather too, despite several bloggers considerably south of us who also welcome them for the winter.

This handsome dude is the Belted Kingfisher. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason to his visits. He's been seen in any season that doesn't see the pond frozen over but like the Cormorant, he rarely stays for more than a few weeks at a time. I also find that he's very difficult to photograph. Always on high alert, he seems to take off in flight the instant I look at him, unless it's from across the pond as was the case with this image.

belted kingfisher in flight
On a different day, he was being far less cooperative in the posing department and he kept teasing me by flying across the pond just out of my shooting range. Therefore, this isn't much of a clear image but I appreciate that he flew into a small patch of sunlight just in front of the dock across the pond.

Who says that Robins are the first sign of spring? Ours don't quite stick around all year but they are often seen well into December and seem to return again by early March. They appear quite at home surrounded by the colours of autumn, offering in return, their matching red breast.

autumn chickadee
Is there any bird cuter than a Black-capped Chickadee? There might be but I think these sweeties are adorable with their "dee dee dee" and their hopping and bopping and flitting all over the place.

dee dee dee2
They're curious and friendly, and can be encouraged to land on your shoulder or hand while feeding them. I've not had the thrill of that experience but my friend, Daniel has a brief video on his blog which shows how the Chickadees have come to trust him in the short time that he's lived in his new home. Go on over and have a look. I don't mind waiting.

dee dee dee3
One more Chickadee image - because I just find them hard to resist.

This beauty was spotted by Frank as it flew into his maple tree. The lighting was not its best and it was eying me as I took small steps forward to try to get him into sharper focus. I'm not sure what he is, exactly. A Merlin, perhaps?

That's it for this post. I hope you enjoyed my feathered friends.


Kerry said...

Oh my, these are splendid. I am amazed by the mallard with his beautiful colors, bejeweled with water drops. wow.

I think the last one is a kestrel, but maybe that's the same as a merlin? Not sure.

photoioannina said...

Your models are very beautiful!!!

Unknown said...

Hilary: The Mallard shot was the most dramatic I have every seen. The lake I used to walk around daily in North Texas had many Mallards and we would toss them bread slices!

Cloudia said...


I said 'wow' a dozen times looking at this post!

You have outdone yourself.

You make me understand what REAL photography looks like.

The mallard will live in my imagination for a long time, Hilary-

Aloha from Honolulu

Comfort Spiral

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Anyes said...

I am truly in awe of your talent at photographing our feathered friends, Hilary. The only one I can manage to get close to are the mallards in our pond. The birds here seem to be posing for you. A pleasure to the eyes, Thank you :-)

ADRIAN said...

Another wonderful look at the birds. The Kingfisher is a real catch. Awfully shy they are.

Pierre BOYER said...

Gorgeous little birds...
I particulary love the first one duck with the water drops.
Greetings from France,


Dan said...

Those are fantastic looking friends! You're composition is top notch and the birds... well they deserve a little credit too. ;-)

Well done, Hilary!!

Dave said...

Birds are one of my favourite creatures Hilary, and I enjoyed your photos here of them. That chickadee sure seems to be a winner! - Dave

Bob Bushell said...

The adorable bird haven in your part of the world. The Mallard Duck is an unforgetable first. But, they all are beautiful.

Jeff said...

Great Photos... Although I live in the states, I don't think I'm south of you, yet we get so many Canadian Geese (at times I wish we could fix our immigration policy as they're so many they are a nuisance)

Anonymous said...

What personality the Kingfisher has! But with that hairdo anyone would look splendid!

Brian Miller said...

thanks for the look in on your birds hilary...really like the depth of color in the mallard...and the kingfisher has my haircut so...smiles.

Denise at Autumn Sky said...

Beautiful photos! I am on Google+ and there are so many photographers showing their bird photos. It would be so nice to have a pond closeby, like you do, to capture some of the beauties. Your photo of the duck is very special. Such gorgeous color.

Country Girl said...

Is that last one a hawk? A little difficult to see from here, but was wondering.
The mallard shot is gorgeous! And kudos on the kingfisher capture. Nicely done.

Steve Gravano said...

Beautiful, I can't believe how close the Mallard allowed you to get. And the Kingfisher photo is awesome.

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Bird posts are probably my favorites! I can't believe how well you've captured them, both close up and flying. Not only that but you know so much about them! One of these days I'm going to become an expert bird watcher!

TexWisGirl said...

gorgeous shots, hilary! LOVE that mallard! but you captured the quirkiness of the cormorant perfectly! and the robin with the fall bokeh behind.... sigh...

just gorgeous! I'm going to look to see if you divulge what kind of camera and lens you use...

messymimi said...

So i'm beginning to understand why birders do what they do.

Ruby said...

The Mallards is stunning photograph. Beautiful and silky with a wonderful mix of colors!

Anvilcloud said...

Super duper collection. Love the background colours in the robin photo and the following chickadee.

ellen abbott said...

love the bird shots. the kingfisher is a funny looking little bird. I've saw them occasionally when I was on the river a lot. and I love the chickadees too. they are much more fearless than the bigger birds. they'll come to the little bird bath even when I am in the little back yard.

Bossy Betty said...

Lord, Hilary! You make me want to take my camera out in the woods and bury it! If I sent it to you, would you teach it to take such fantastic shots? Please?

beth said...

isn't it amazing how our feathered friends keep us amused....

do you think that they think we're as fascinating ??

Geraldine said...

These are indeed splendid photos! I love the Mallard Duck most of all, what a gorgeous green.

Thanks for sharing Hilary. We see so few birds or butterflies here in Interior BC. I miss that...

Betty Manousos said...

oh my, what breathtaking shots!!
amazing tones and colours and macros!

i'm impressed!

my hat's off to you, dear hilary!


Meri said...

Hilary - I'm wondering if you'd allow me to republish this post as a "Mind-Body-Spirit" article on It's obvious that you find renewal in nature and that it's an important part of your sacredness. Please feel free to see what we're doing at FinallyMe before you decide. You can email me at and let me know.

Leah J. Utas said...

Excellent. I love the intensity of the cormorant.

Frank Baron said...

Well, you know what a bird fan I am, so I enjoyed all of these. The mallard pic is striking. Nice shot of that handsome hammer-headed king, and the luck gods were smiling when you got the airborne one. Good stuff, dear. :)

yaya said...

Those are beautiful shots! I love them all and the bird caught in flight was amazing. The one bird looked like a hawk to me, but I'm no expert! Have a great day!

Tabor said...

Tremendous photos. I am jealous and happy for you at the same time!

Lynne with an e said...

Such a treat to see birds at close range like this. The mallard is truly handsome. I was amused by one lone duck quacking to himself on a small pond I passed on my walk today; then delighted to watch a half dozen startle from the ditch a little further along. The chicka-dee-dee-dee adorable. It's the "official" bird of New Brunswick and they're plentiful around here. Their call sounds so happy.

Red said...

Hilary, I would bet money that you have a few robins all year. I have seen robins in every month of the year here at Red Deer.
Did you notice that your merlin has a feather in her beak? She's probably just finished lunch.
Chickadees have landed on my peanut butter sandwich when I wasn't expecting them. Quite a surprise!

Pauline said...

Such marvelous shots! I have not seen cormorants on our pond but all the rest grace the waters where I live. Through your lens I get to see them close up - thanks!

Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

These are all wonderful, Hilary. That mallard shot is really gorgeous. And the cormorant...I'm not sure I've ever seen one of those. That was a treat. But my favorite was the kingfisher. They're just such neat birds, and so difficult to photograph. That makes any decent shot of them something to treasure.

Gail Dixon said...

Awesome photos!!! Love how you got the Kingfisher in flight. Today I went out to capture fall colors with my 18-55 (the worst lens I own) and wouldn't you know I saw a Hawk posing perfectly and several blue jays? I was pretty mad at myself for not lugging along the 400mm. Oh, well. Lesson learned. You really captured some great bird shots!!

Kerri Farley said... heart skips a beat! Fantastic!

Hilary said...

• Thanks very much, Kerry. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. I don't think that last one is a Kestrel.. unless it's a juvenile or something. It seems to be lacking the facial markings that are evident on Kestrels. Thanks so much for the suggestion though and for your always kind words. :)

• Photoioannina, thank you kindly. :)

• Michael, thank you. We used to feed the ducks bread here, too.. until we learned that it's really not good for them for several reasons despite how well-intentioned. Thanks always for your visits. :)

• Cloudia, thank you so much, my friend. I'm thrilled that my photos wowed you. Thank you for your email, also. You made my day. :)

• Thank, Anyes. I'm fortunate that we have so many birds which are used to people being around them all of the time, so they're less timid for the most part. That and a long lens helps a lot. Thanks always for your kind words. :)

• Adrian, thank you. They're shy and tricksters, I think. This one watches us watch him from across the pond and as soon as I point the camera or even a finger his way.. he's off, complaining vocally all the way. They a lovely tease. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Merci, Pierre. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

• Daniel, thank you very kindly, and our feathered friends thank you, also. They do indeed deserve credit and much appreciation. Thanks, my friend. :)

• Thank you so much, Dave. Chickadees are winners in so many ways. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. :)

• Bob, thanks very much. I know that there are few who appreciate the birds as much as you. Thank you always for your kind words. And thanks also for your Mummer's Dance. That was so appreciated. :)

• Jeff, I know what you mean. We've had many problems over the years caused by an overpopulation of geese. There have been many debates over the years about whether or not to cull them and the animal activists always win. I can't say I'm unhappy about that but I do agree that the population is just too high. Thanks for taking some of them for us. ;)

• Diane, you're right. And I think he knows it too. ;)

• Ha, Brian. You and the Kingfisher do have that hair thing in common. Thanks for the smile. :) I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. :)

• Denise, thank you so much. I feel very lucky to have that pond and all of the creatures it attracts. And the camera with which to capture them. Thanks for your always kind words. :)

• Kate, I'm really not sure. It was quite a small bird and I never got a better shot than that. I was hoping that someone here would know for sure. Thanks so much for the kind compliments. They mean a lot to me coming from you. :)

• Steve, the ducks in this pond are very used to people feeding them and assume that everyone is going to toss food out to them, so they approach readily. That, combined with a 400mm lens makes for a very accommodating shot. Thanks for the kind words. :)

• Thank you kindly, Elizabeth. I'm so enjoying watching and photographing these beauties. It's amazing how quickly time passes. Much like when blogging. ;)

• Tex, thank you so much. I really do need to add my equipment somewhere on my blog page. I have a Canon 50D and I use a variety of lenses. The close-ups were probably a borrowed (from Frank) 100 - 400 lens. Thanks always for stopping by. :)

• MessyMimi, it took me a while to get that too. :)

Hilary said...

• Ruby, thank you. He's a beauty of a bird, eh? :)

• Thank you, AC. I was quite pleased with how those turned out. Now back the grays of November. :)

• Ellen, thank you. The chickadees are cool little birds that way. Trusting and fearless. Always the first to test a new feeder. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Betty, than you so much. I'll readily agree to that as long as you come along with it. I think I'd need something out of this deal, and your fine company would be a great trade. ;)

• Beth, indeed it is. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thank you kindly, Geraldine. I would have thought that most of B.C. would have a plethora of birds. It never occurred to me to be otherwise. I'm glad I could share a few of my own with you. :)

• Betty, thank you so much. You're always so kind and I appreciate your sweet comments very much. :)

• Meri, thank you so much for the offer. By now, you have my email granting grateful permission. I'm looking forward to seeing it on your site. :)

• Thank you, Leah. He has quite the severe look, doesn't he? :)

• Frank, thanks so much. You know your appreciation of my photos means the world to me. I'm glad you like these. :)

• Yaya, it could well be a kind of hawk. I'm just not sure which kind. He was pretty small. Thanks so much for your always kind words. :)

• Tabor, thank you. I'm appreciative and pleased. :)

• Louciao, thank you. I had no idea that the chickadee is your official bird. Lucky you. He's quite the little sweetie. :)

• Red, you're probably quite right about the robins but I can't say I've seen any through January and February. Then again, I'm probably out less during those months than any other. I did indeed notice the feather. I was hesitant to point it out lest it be disturbing to bird lovers.. the little bird lovers. I'll throw out the possibility that he might have been preening. ;) That would be quite the treat to find a chickadee on your sandwich. I'll bet you were quite willing to share. Thanks always for stopping by. :)

• Pauline, thank you kindly. I'm most pleased to share my creatures with you. :)

• Linda, I thank you, my friend. Cormorants are quite interesting. You'll know them from a distance when they're in the water because they sit lower than other ducks.. somewhat submerged. Their wings don't repel water the same way so they'll also spend a great deal of time standing with their wings open, allowing them to dry. I also love the kingfisher. They're a challenge, for sure. Tricky birds. They seem to be teasing quite intentionally most days. Thanks always for stopping by with such kind words. They're very much appreciated. :)

• Gail that's a pity about having the "wrong" lens for that hawk and those jays. I sometimes go out with more than one lens for just that reason. I'll carry the less likely lens in a shoulder bag and keep the favoured one on the camera. I usually find myself making a hurried switch and often lose the shot anyway. We just can't get them all but the mental snapshots are always the best. Thanks for your always kind words. :)

• Thank you kindly, Kerri. Much appreciated. :)

Zuzana said...

Hilary, I have never seen anyone capture such detailed images and such close ups of animals. How do you ever get so close, or do you just have a great zoom.;)
Love that first image, you can see how well the feathers repel the water.;))

Sandi McBride said...

Your camera must be tired! It' worked overtime to bring the best of nature right here to my computer...the Kingfisher has always a been a favorite of mine. Such a beauty...if you notice I have a different picture here, it's for the second blog I've opened...I must be out of my tiny mind, but I want to try this...we'll see how it goes...

Linda said...

I love your pictures of the different birds. If we have kingfishers around here I've never seen one - only pictures in bird books. I guess my favorite would be the close up of the mallard. Those colors and details are fantastic.

Slamdunk said...

Wonderful photos Hilary. The kingfisher is one of my favorites.

There is an educational center with a great glass viewing area and the kids and I are regulars enjoying the variety in what flies by.

Daryl said...

Looks to be in the hawk family .. and the mallard looks like he was carved and painted!

Sharon Wagner said...

Wow! The water droplets on the mallard and all the other feathered beauties. So nice.

Unknown said...

So lucky to have all that nature in your back yard ... love the Kingfisher but can never get good shots of them. Love that mallard shot!

L. D. said...

This is a wonderful collection of photos. Your mallard's reflective green color is wonderful. I saw a large floating flock of cormorants in the Atlantic Ocean with all their babies.

Friko said...

splendid photos of birds we don't have over here, apart from the ducks, of course. Is there anywhere on earth where duck don't go?

Barbara said...

You do have a great variety! That capture of the mallard was just amazing!

LadyFi said...

Such amazing pictures... that first one is a jewel!

Scott Law said...

You really do have a fine selection of feathered friends. That second one looks like he's mad a somebody. I enjoyed looking at your great shots.

Redbush said...

You're so lucky to have such gorgeous birds to photograph! I love the mallard shot! We have chickadees all winter, too. Their hardiness and cuteness never cease to amaze me.

Helma said...

Hi Hilary,

What a nice sharp pictures of the duck, goose and cormorants. The Belted Kingfisher I do not know and this is our first (Netherlands) not expected to. Your photo below of the bird in flight is very special.

Greetings from Holland by Helma

Anonymous said...

I must send someone your way to see these photos (she loves birds of all kinds). You never fail to take spectacular photos!

Mental P Mama said...

That mallard is unbelievable!!! And I am going to wager a young red-tailed hawk. But whatever it is, it is just another superb shot from you!

Gillian Olson said...

Very fine images of your feathered friends!

Hilary said...

• Zuzana, thanks so much. It's a bit of both. Some allow me to get close.. like the seed-eating chickadees and the mallards. Both are quite used to people around them. And in most cases, possibly all, I had either a 75-300mm or 100-400mm zoom lens. Mostly though.. it's luck. Thanks always for your sweet comments. They're very much appreciated. :)

• Thanks very kindly, Sandi. I'm so glad you're enjoying my bird shots. I did indeed stop by your cat blog and got quite a kick out of your feline voice. Thanks for letting me know about it. I look forward to reading more. :)

• Linda, thank you so much. Too bad you've not got Kingfishers by you. They're a fun bird to watch. Thanks always for your kind words. :)

• Thanks, Slamdunk. He's a cheeky and interesting bird, isn't he? That sounds like a fine place to bring the kids. I'll bet the time spent there flies by as well. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Daryl, it's a raptor of some sort.. of the small persuasion. Thanks for the kind words about the mallard. That's what late day sunshine will do. :)

• Sharon, thanks very kindly. Much appreciated. :)

• Thank you kindly, Reena. I know what you mean about the Kingfisher. They're tricky birds. :)

• Thanks, Larry. That flock of cormorants must have been a sight to behold. I've never seen their young.. just up to three grown (or near-grown) birds. From what I understand, fishermen are not terribly fond of this pond-feeding breed. :)

• Friko, thank you so much. I think you're right about the ducks. They are ubiquitous. :)

• Barbara, thank you so kindly. Much appreciated. :)

• Thank you, Lady Fi. I'm so glad to know that you think so. :)

• Scott, thank you kindly. Cormorants always looks a tad fierce. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Redbush. You're so right about the chickadees. And their friendliness, too. :

• Helma, thank you very much. Your kind words are very much appreciated. :)

• Karen, thank you, my friend. I hope your friend will drop by and enjoy. Thanks for that. :)

• MPM, I thank you. It could well be a red-tailed hawk.. if they're small. This guy wasn't very big. Thanks so much for looking into it, and for your very kind words. :)

• Gillian, thank you very kindly. :)

Prime Aque said...

I love these birds, and I love the person who took the picture! This is awesome! How I wish I can take beautiful pictures like this! Wonderful creation of heaven, thousand words are not enough to describe these beauties!

Unknown said...

All the pictures are beautiful; but I loved the mallard photo and the kingfisher picture.

Pearl said...

Oh, I just love the birdies.

That Kingfisher? Fabulous.


DWei said...

I only get magpies and pigeons in my area. :P

Crabby McSlacker said...

Amazing shots! So crisp and colorful and graceful. Still don't know how you get the birds to sit still like that while you locate them, focus, and compose the shot. Though perhaps it doesn't take you 20 minutes like it does me. My bird photos tend to be of empty branches.

Hilary said...

• Welcome, Prime Aque and thanks very much for the kind words. They're most appreciated. :)

• Tim, thank you kindly. I'm glad you enjoyed them. :)

• Pearl, thanks so much. They're cool birds, eh? :)

• DWei, thanks for stopping by. :)

• Crabby, thank you so much. Trust me, I have more photos of empty branches than I do of birds. And blurry birds. And underexposed creatures. And so on. I just shoot a LOT and I have to get lucky every now and then. Thanks for your visit. :)

Ruth Hiebert said...

That Mallard picture is a winner. I love the water droplets on his head. Of course the rest o f the pictures are fabulous as well.

Hilary said...

Thanks very kindly, Ruth. Much appreciated. :)

Prime Aque said...

Hello my friend, I am back here again, I would also add, the picture was too alive, as if they are in real life! I really love watching the birds, I can even imagine when I was still a little boy in our little ricefield.... anyway, thank you so much to see you at SB, it's an honor ! :)

lime said...

your bird photography always amazes me and the bird in flight took my breath away! but that mallard is just so handsome with all those colors your captured so beautifully.

Hilary said...

• Thanks very much, Prime. I'm so glad that you enjoyed my photos and that they brought back fond memories for you. :)

• Thanks so kindly, Michelle. Much appreciated. :)