Friday, June 16, 2017

Happy Father's Day 2017

Going to the San Diego Botanic Garden this time of the year is a wonderful experience. The plants are all in full foliage and many are in bloom.  Some fruit trees are starting to show their fruits. Birding can be fun but may be a little difficult for photographers. The thick greenery makes it difficult to get birds in the clear unless you go over to the native plants area located on the west side of the parking lot. 

I am posting photos only today and hopefully a fun challenge for the visitors to the garden to spot where the photos were shot yesterday. Have a wonderful Father's Day Weekend everyone!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone. Happy Father's Day to all the dads!


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Peregrine Falcons 2017, Part 2

As I watched the fledgling and the parent Peregrine Falcon disappear below the cliffs towards the waters below, I wondered if they were harmed in any way. I soon found out that they were perfectly fine. Here is my rest of the morning walk shots from the Guy Fleming Trail at Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve in Part 2 of the Peregrine Falcons of 2017.

A youngster flies by skimming the ice plants on the cliff. I believe this is the one that had locked talons with dad Peregrine. He appears fine and no less aggressive in his flying. 

Looking past the cliff's edge I spot the two adults flying by. Good to see that dad Peregrine is ok too. He is the smaller one in front. 

Now all three of the fledglings are active again. 

Practicing flight maneuvers over the water. 

One lands and I walk to the south end of the lookout to get this shot. 

I believe this is the largest of the fledglings. She may have an old injury at the base of her beak. Looks like crusty blood.

I believe she was the one that was so aggressive with dad holding on to his talons. 

Another fledgling makes an appearance. 

Shows off by strafing the bank of photographers. Sometimes they will fly so close that you can feel the air from their wings. This is full frame. 

Close cropping. This is my very favorite shot of the day. 

Another shot of this beautiful fledgling. 
They fly by so fast that this shot barely gets the youngster in the frame.
He heads directly for the other fledgling as I follow his moves with my camera.
The youngster that was resting on the cliffside explodes into a fighting posture. 
The challenger goes into a defensive maneuver veering away for a moment.
I love the way he turns his head to keep an eye on his sister as he flies away from her talons. 
He cruises towards us. All the cameras start clicking away.
Working my camera to keep the focus as he puts on the gas and flies directly at us.
Off he goes to challenge his nestmate again. 
The mock fighting appears to be pure joy to these youngsters. They are honing their flight skills for survival. As I watch these young falcons, I have a good feeling that they will be just fine. 
Another fly by.
Zooming in...
One of the youngsters is resting on the cliff again. Isn't this the most beautiful location for falcons?

A youngster sees something over the water and takes off. I look but no birds are visible... 

LOL, he is going after a butterfly!

Got it!! This is a fine lesson on capturing prey. Even if it is a butterfly to start with. 
 Now another fledgling wants to play. 

He flies overhead and makes a u-turn.

They are fast and already show amazing aerial maneuverability.

Another challenge takes place over my head. I am shooting almost straight up and into the sunlight. 

I finally get a shot of all three of the fledglings in one frame. I know the fourth fledgling is doing well but friend and local photographer Herb said it may be the youngest and it tires easily.
A challenger flies up to open the talons of his nestmate. 

You want some of this?

One flies overhead maneuvering himself to attack.

Looking straight up, I see more mock fighting.

Trying not to fall backwards I click away watching these magnificent fledglings in intense interaction.

Close-up. We have talon contact on the youngster below.

The third fledgling wants to join the fight.

The fledgling on the left shows off his weapons of death. Look at those talons!

I am really enjoying the show overhead.

A few more shots of these wonderful youngsters as they play and enjoy their freedom of flight.

Yes, one appears to be doing a barrel roll. Upside down to maybe confuse his nestmates.

The nestmate reacts with all his talons out and ready.

Look at the full crop on the throat of this youngster. I would say he is eating well!

Their flight is quick and erratic. You never know which way they will go at any moment. It can be challenging to follow with your camera.

Another brief squabble straight over my head. Trying my best to keep my balance, I am sure glad that there is a steel cable between me and the cliff. 

A shot of all three in one frame mock fighting.

The challenger of the one on left of the photo drops away as his nestmate goes in for the fight.

"Show me what you got" !

Kak, Kak, Kak, the fledgling on the left shows who is the boss and the challenger on the right of this photo makes a half- hearted attack.
One of the fledglings flies by calling out sounding more like he is announcing to the world "Here I come, I am not afraid of anything on wings and I'm ready to explore the world"!  Looking at the size of this youngster's crop, he is well fed. Congrats to both of the Peregrine parents that are doing such a magnificent job raising these beautiful youngsters.

I went back two days later to see the fledglings again but it was even more overcast then ever and conditions for photographing the Peregrines were horrible! However, I wanted to show you that the Dad Peregrine has changed his tack on prey delivery. One photographer said this was the first time she had seen prey held by the beak of the adult. I told her about the other day when the adult couldn't get free from the fledgling as it was holding on to his leg during prey exchange. That may be a good reason for him to change the way he carried the prey for the prey exchange today. Here is dad Peregrine with the prey in his beak as he drops it to the fledgling below.

The fledgling catches the prey and dad Peregrine stays in one spot hovering to watch the successful transfer of the prey. These shots were taken from very far away but I thought you would like to see this exchange.

The youngster is screaming at the top of his lungs. Probably telling his nestmates that this prey is his and to stay away.
The youngster grabs the prey and positions it as he gets ready to fly off. Dad is stationary above him and keeps a lookout. 
Got the prey tucked under him, the fledgling picks up speed. Dad still watching.
I zoomed in on the adult to make sure it is the male. Notice that he has leg bands on both legs and still has some feathers clinging to his left talons. The female adult has no banding.
The youngster with prey is excited and calls out to the world to "stay away"!.

He flies over our head . Notice the prey nicely tuck under the fledgling's tail.

Zooming in on the prey to ID it but since it is already plucked and mangled, it is almost impossible. I would guess it may be a dove.

The youngster with prey circles around the photographers as we all keep snapping and he finally settles on a bare Torrey Pine tree to enjoy his lunch. It's lunchtime for me too and I head for home. It is a wonderful experience for anyone to come to this beach to see the fledglings enjoying their newfound freedom of flight. Hope to see some of you out there soon. 
Have a super week everyone!
NOTE:  The Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve charges between $10-20 entrance fee depending on the day of the week and time of year.