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    • Chris

      The Baylands are just a few miles on a trail from my house so I've run or biked through them a jillion times. I never paid close attention to the wildlife and what they do, but after seeing @Scott Bourne's posts, I decided I wanted to be him. Or at least fake like I am.

      Just a mile past Google's campus, I came across this Egret poking its head in the water:

    • Chris

      I don't know anything about birds but I could clearly see this one was splooshing his head in the water to pick out some tasty morsels. Shrimp?

      When jogging and biking there, I notice the Egrets because they are hauntingly beautiful. But I never paid attention to their splooshing. That's the term, right?

    • Chris

      Speaking of splooshing, this is a fairly small bird that would frenetically hover in place maybe 20 feet above the water, and then suddenly dive-bomb and for a few moments become a submarine. I hope you're enjoying my technical descriptions and vast knowledge of birdlife.

    • Chris

      On any other day, I would have jogged right past this beautiful duck and thought nothing of it, paying more attention to a tech podcast in my AirPods and my todo list. I've been missing out.

    • Chris

      And the rabbits would have run from me. I never would have noticed the details in those amazing ears.

    • Chris

      I would have never noticed this distinguished-looking old gentleman (I'm making very gross assumptions here and you should definitely call me out).

    • Chris

      I would have never noticed how beautiful and black with the red face this one is. It just would have been some black bird flying by.

    • Chris

      I came across this mother Goose and wondered what she was looking at. I do notice as I jog how beautiful the geese are.

    • Chris

      Turns out she was looking at her gosling in the grass. What strange creatures they are.

    • Chris

      I presume this is father goose. This is what I'm used to: they hiss as I jog by, and every now and then seem to want to bite my ankles.

    • Chris

      I even stopped to notice that the thorns I don't like as a runner are actually quite beautiful. 1 hour of walking and taking pics, what a change in my perspective. Shoulda done that walk with a camera years ago.

    • Vilen

      Can’t believe how lucky we are to have a place like this so close. I must have walked, run and biked there hundreds of times but never really got a view like that. I guess having a long lens and a good camera really makes those photos so interesting. I just usually have my iPhone and even with the 2x zoom all I see is a dot for a bird 🤣

      Thank you for sharing those beautiful photos! Next time I should just stop and look around to enjoy the scenery like you did.

    • kevin
      Kevin Harrington

      Wow, great shot! Seems you’re a stealth wildlife photographer. What lens did you shoot that with?

    • Chris

      It's the Canon 200-400 f/4 that I bought a few years ago. It's heavy, but not so heavy you can't hand-hold it, which I always do. It focuses instantly on the target even with crazy action.

      I showed up at a triathlon in Santa Cruz to photograph @VilTri and there were masses of people with smartphones taking pics. How in the world can you get a unique, exciting shot with rows of people in front of you? I simply walked away from the crowd and shot what you can't on a smartphone:

    • kevin
      Kevin Harrington

      Ah, that coveted lens all us photographers drool over. Pretty impressive tool you have there, but quite the workout lugging that through the Baylands.

      A few years back at Mavericks, you, @Michael, Ivan and myself, fought over that lens of yours to get some epic big wave shots.

    • Pa

      I am not an ornithologist, nor am I a bird afficianado, but I have photographed very similar birds in Iceland and in northern Norway ( Hornoya ) that were called arctic terns by our guides. The hovering behaviour you describe is pretty typical for terns as well. Common terns look very similar to me in Sibley's book as to color, shape and size, and the northern California coast is a common area for several variety of terns. Here is an arctic tern I captured in Hornoya - I have more images of arctic terns in Iceland here - https://pathfinder.smugmug.com/Travel/In-Iceland-with-Marc-Andy-et/i-zpwqgHs and Norway here - https://pathfinder.smugmug.com/Travel/Svalbard-and-Northern-Norway/i-mDzs2Q6 It is fun to spend some time photographing terns as they will hover and allow you to use shorter, smaller lenses - I have several frames shot with a 24-105 mm lens on a crop body 70D

    • Vilen

      Wow... I'm impressed with your Bird gallery on SmugMug! As much as I love pictures of terns, your puffin shots are even more eye catching 😉.

      Since you aren't a bird aficionado and by looking at your portfolio there are all kinds of wildlife and landscape photography so what is your favorite subject?

    • Pa

      Wow - thanks for the kind words. I am pretty open to wildlife in general, and a bit of landscapes, and macros, and even some B&W stuff. I have lots of eagles from several trips to Alaska, and Iowa too. But some of my most fun "hunts" over the last 6 months were the short eared owls a friend pointed out to us - so we spent several days over the course of about three months chasing short eared owls locally about 10 miles south of my home in west central Indiana. You may have seen some of them in that Bird gallery. Short eared owls I find pretty challenging as we were shooting shortly before or 30 minutes after sun down. The owls are nocturnal hunters, and they can fly just fine in the dark. But capturing them with long lenses in near dark is interesting - also they don't fly like eagles or other large raptors with long straight smooth lines of flight, but fast, jerky, irregular flight as they hunt 3-10 feet above the terrain. We were typically shooting at 1/1600th ( if we had enough light ) wide open - f 2.8 ->f 5.6 depending on the lens used, usually close to 600mm, at ISOs from 3200 to 12000. It was dark enough that the AF on my camera body was slower than usual as well. But we did find a few keepers. In additon to low light, the ambient temperature varied from 15 degrees to 35-40 degrees, with usually 5-10 knot winds just for grins. So we were dressed in cold weather clothing, shooting lens like Chris's 200-400 IS L, or a Tamron 150-600. But we did have some successes I think, like this one.
      After some reflection, I realize that I have omitted mentioning my affection for sandhill cranes. I first discovered them over a dozen years ago in Bosque, and been back many times, but have since photographed them in Indiana, Nebraska, Missouri, Alaska and Florida. If one hasn't seen the great migration of sandhills along the Platte River, near Kearney Nebraska, in April, one has missed one of the greatest wildlife migrations on the planet - over 500,000 sandhills sleeping, wading, eating and soaring. The sound is awesome. The sky turns dark after sunset due to all the swarming cranes coming to roost in the Platte. A great spot to try to capture the cranes against a full moon also. I will createa thread about this a bit later.

    • Chris

      Oh my God Pathfinder, that's one of the most beautiful photos of an owl I have ever seen. Thanks for uploading a high enough res shot that we could get a good look at it. The AF is spot on the face, the shallow depth of field, the blurred wingtips, the detail, the eyes so wide and staring right at us.

      You oughta enter that in some contests.

    • kevin
      Kevin Harrington

      Incredible. How did you nail the focus? I struggle to get a posed model's eye in focus, and you got those owl eyes perfect as it's unpredictably flying many miles per hour. Mind blow.

    • Pa

      I shoot a lot of wildlife - or birds in flight at least - in Manual Mode so I can lock down the shutter speed and the aperture and let the auto ISO rock as needed for the correct exposure - this frame was 1/800th ( twice as long as I would have preferred ) but it was getting dark as I said, f6.3 and ISO 10,000 at 600mm ( Tamron 150-600mm v2 ). Who would ever think we would be shooting at those ISOs.

      I have several frames of short eared owls flying along less than 8 feet off the ground, flying perpendicular to my visual axis/ or the axis of my lens, and see that the bird has its head 90 degrees from its axis of flight as it is looking directly at me. They are really amazing flyers.

      Here's another frame in a bit better light - ISO 2000, 1/1000th, f2.8 400mm

    You've been invited!