More Red-tailed Hawks and that brave Mockingbird. A lone Turkey Vulture and those gorgeous Mimosa trees. Shea is on her way back to her Popi for a treat. Kitty is already at my side waiting on her lagging sister.
Lot's of hawk shots. One brave Mockingbird completely dominated two full-sized hawks. Not sure if they were actually intimidated or if they were just sick of the constant yammering. Lordy, that little bird was noisy! It buzzed by them close enough to brush them with its tail feathers. Amazing! These include some of my best in-flight images to date.
In a previous shoot, I caught Momma hawk pooping when I thought she was getting ready to fly off. This time, I was prepared for another poop shot but, she was flying off. This crazy kamikaze Mockingbird was buzzing her relentlessly. She finally relocated to a pole further down the line away from the Mockingbird. There are two ways I can tell when I'm looking at momma hawk. The first is when she's with her juvenile or her hubby. The males are smaller, as is the juvenile. The second is from experience. I've been shooting momma hawk for several years now, and I've identified a beat-up beak and a semi deformed talon. She's been to war, no doubt, protecting her food, her territory, and her young. I wonder how old she is and how much longer she'll be around. The girls are such clowns. The Mockingbird came along with me to the other side of the park.
I only caught Red Tails (including a poop shot) this day and a genuinely gnarly Oak limb. I didn't plan the poopy one and in fact, only saw it when I got home.
Another short set. Mom and Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawks. The Hawks were being harassed by a couple of what I think are Warblers. A Mockingbird on a fence.
This was a fun shoot. The girls were at their gymnastic best, so were two acrobatic crows. A dove, a Mockingbird, a jay on a park lamp, and a huge piece of construction equipment rounded out the shoot. I tried every which way to capture this thing in one frame, but I had the wrong glass. I was too close, so I stood in one place and made 5 images as it passed me, then stitched them together in Photoshop. Not bad, really.
This was another short set. The pickings were pretty slim this day. The girls met their very first cat. Of course, it had to be a feral cat who wanted no part of them and wasn't giving an inch of ground. Once the cat's back went up and the hissing started, Kitty and Shea beat a quick retreat to Popi with a look that said "What the heck is that thing and why is it so upset?" I then took the lead and the cat moved on. Momma Hawk was hunting and a Vulture was waiting to share momma's catch...as if. I'd seen them take a catch away from the male and some juveniles, but Momma shared with no one. The girls settled down to be their usual goofy selves.
A jay chased me around the whole park. I caught momma Red Tail a few times. A mallard and a Red-Winged Blackbird filled out this set.
This was a short set. The dogs were driving me nuts, chasing dogs, people, and squirrels, so I gave up shooting. It's not that they are aggressive; they're not, but man, they look scary charging at you, and you never know what other dogs might do. A beautiful look a the hills in the distance. A gorgeous Kestrel. I caught it just taking off to catch a dragonfly. After that, it was moving way too fast for me to capture. A Woodpecker, a Jay, a Crow, a park lamp complete the set.
This day of shooting and hiking started at Tesla park. As we were walking, I noticed a host of shadows on the ground ahead. I looked up to see a flock of seagulls circling. As I was snapping away, it suddenly dawned on me what seagulls often do to the unsuspecting fool on the ground looking up. SPLAT! We quickly moved on with no foul droppings from the sky. The girls were their usual running and playful selves. A scrub jay was juggling several acorns at once. A Brown Thrasher (my first) was in a tree. A Kestrel on a wire. We continued the day rolling along Collier Canyon Road to Highland road and finally out Marciel Rd for some landscape views. At 1:30 pm, it was bright, sunny, and a balmy sixty degrees with a few puffy clouds. At 5:30 pm, it was just above freezing. We had hail and a fair amount of it too. You've got to love California in February.
There was a lone White Tail Kite sitting in my favorite oak tree. Then a Vulture perched near it. Then another, and another until there were 5 and then the Whitetail Kite said "enough is enough" and flew across the ditch to a tree on the other side. A Red Tail Hawk and Kestrel were also nearby. The girls are always with me. The park's lamps are picturesque too.
On this trip, I first encountered a couple of wild animals chasing each other around the park. The girls do this every time we come here. They chase each other for about 5 minutes until the initial energy bloom wears off. Then they come to me on their own for their first cookies. Good Girls! This was a really good study of the White-Tailed Kite. He (or she) waited until we got close, then flew across the ditch to a tree on the other side, then repeated the procedure when we caught up to him on that side. I looked up at one point and noticed some contrails very clearly but couldn't make out the jet until I looked at it through the viewfinder with my super-telephoto lens. Even then it barely showed. A small bird that I think is either a flycatcher, gnatcatcher, or maybe even a type of swallow. Then some pampas grass and a gnarly oak.
On my previous visit here (Tesla #1) I captured my first ever Kite. This time I captured my first ever Kestrel and had no idea that I had until I got home. I was interested to see which local songbird might have such an orange color. As soon as I got home and saw the hooked beak I knew I had a raptor and thought Merlin or some such. I had never seen a Merlin or a Kestrel so I really didn't know. I broke out the bird book and was so surprised and pleased to see it was an American Kestrel. I believe this one is a male with blue wing coverts. There were numerous Songbirds this day and a lonely Vulture. I also captured my very favorite Oak Tree and a decorative park lamp.
After so many hikes here, I knew this would be a great place to photograph many different birds. Then in 2018, I got serious about image-making. I took photography classes at Las Positas College in early 2017 but was shooting with a Nikon F5 film camera. I purchased my first DSLR, A Nikon D5300 with several kit lenses, halfway through the year. I liked it a lot but felt cheated with a cropped sensor-meaning a smaller field of view- and so, I purchased my Nikon D850. I have been so pleased with this camera I think I'll never need a new one, though, at some point, it may just be too heavy for my ever older arms to support.
Of the three prime local areas for Bird Photography, I think I've never taken better ones than here at Tesla. The hawks, kites, kestrels, falcons, and Eagles were a great blessing and completely cooperative on most occasions as long as I kept my distance. Of course, vultures were waiting for the leavings.
Red-Tailed Hawk, White-Tailed Kite & Turkey Vulture.