Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bulletin #149 - 2011 the year in review

At years end, I have always provided a top 10 of my favorite photos of the year. 2011 was a lot different as I was unable to travel and only made a single trip to Tucson AZ in November. Consequently, I added only 6 species to my photo list. I did get a number of rare species in the local area.

So my favorite photo has to be this Costa's Hummingbird. It is the same photo that I cropped and showed in an earler bulletin, but this one is very artistic to me. It looks like a watercolor. It was amazing to me that the whole flower stem was in focus as the depth of focus of my 500mm lens is only about 3 inches.

Costa's Hummingbird
Several Mexican strays appeared in the Houston area this year. The first was this Fork-tailed Flycatcher in January.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher
In March, a Yellow-faced Grassquit showed up at Goose Island State Park.

Yellow-faced Grassquit

At the end of the year, a couple of northern migrants showed up that were unexpected. This Harris's Sparrow on Galveston Island gave me my best photos of this species.

Harris's Sparrow
Yesterday, I ended the year with a lifer, a Smith's Longspur. This was a target bird on the 2010 Alaska trip, but we missed it. A small flock was found just before Christmas, about 20 miles from home. Normally they don't appear this far south and they are not even on the Upper Texas Coast bird checklist.

Smith's Longspur
Among the most difficult birds to photograph are the nocturnal birds - owls, nightjars etc. One has to be lucky to find them in daylight. Thus I consider this photo of a Chuck-will's-widow a very lucky capture. I happened to have my camersa ready when the bird flew into view and perched for a few moments before seeing me and flying off.

I got a number of good photos of hawks and falcons this year that made my cut into the top 10. This beautiful Peregrine Falcon was having breakfast on a pole in Tucson.

Peregrine Falcon
The Prairie Falcon was a target bird for the Tucson trip and this was one of about 10 birds seen.

Prairie Falcon
Another falcon, a Merlin was finally seen and photographed in 2011. This dark taiga morph bird was also seen on the Tucson trip.

Lastly, this adult and juvenile pair of Red-shouldered Hawks were photographed in my yard. Each has a foot in the air and the juvenile is looking over at the adult. I called this photo 'Learning to Dance' as it appears the juvenile is following the lead steps of his parent.

Learning to Dance
Red-shouldered Hawks
I am looking forward to 2012 and being able to travel more frequently. Thank you to all of you for all your comments last year. It makes worthwhile the time and effort to put these newsletters together.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2011 David McDonald

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