Summer Sunsets

August 31, 2009

With all of the fires in Southern California right now we’ve had some amazing light.  The only thing missing has been clouds at sunset.  We finally started getting some and I was hoping that I would have a great sunrise set to show off, however, I messed up and chose the wrong day to get up early!  When clouds do develop here in the summer, they have the nasty habit of not sticking around very long, making sunrises a bit of a gamble.

On Wednesday night there were few clouds, but there was a thick blanket of smoke covering the eastern horizon.  This looked promising and I thought I might get lucky and catch a nice sunrise the following morning.  However, most of the smoke cleared out overnight.  Some interesting clouds appeared Thursday night but the light show never really developed.  Well, I assumed that the clouds would evaporate overnight.  Turns out I was wrong.  I remember waking up Friday morning and the first thing I noticed was my room filled with purple and pink light.  I staggered to the window and saw the peak of an incredible sunrise.  There was too little time to get outside to capture it, so you will have to make do with much more subdued sunset shots, most from later that evening.

Sunset at Lake Los Carneros, Goleta, CA

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Reddish Egret in Goleta

August 30, 2009

I’ve managed to capture photos of the Reddish Egret nearly every day since I first saw it land at the UCSB Lagoon on wednesday afternoon.  I haven’t looked for it today but might head over to Goleta Beach a bit later.  Starting sometime late thursday or early friday, it moved to Goleta Slough and stopped appearing at the lagoon.  Although the viewing distance is greater at Goleta Beach, the background is much nicer.

“In Pursuit”  –  UCSB Lagoon

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Almost Lost

August 30, 2009

Since it’s been ridiculously hot out this weekend, I’ve spent most of my time inside working on my photo catalog.  While organizing my recent influx of Reddish Egret and White-tailed Kite photos, I realized that I had a bunch of older bird photos I had meant to post.  I’m really happy with the portraits, in particular the California Quail and Wrentit.

“California Quail”  –  Lake Los Carneros, Goleta, CA

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Osprey at LLC

August 29, 2009

I’ve been so busy photographing the Reddish Egret, I almost forgot about the Osprey I saw at Lake Los Carneros (LLC) on Tuesday.  The same bird (most likely) was seen at the lake earlier this month while I was in Colorado.  I’m really glad I got a chance to see it and get some pictures.  Osprey are not commonly seen at LLC, but are found in other nearby areas of the county, particularly Lake Cachuma and along the coast.  This particular bird seemed to be investigating new hunting grounds and only stayed for about 20 minutes before flying west.

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Reddish Egret at UCSB

August 26, 2009

I had some amazing luck today.  While on a quick walk to the lagoon, a juvenile Reddish Egret landed within 50 feet of me.  Even more amazing, when I walked closer it didn’t fly away!  Actually, it seemed completely focused on hunting and ignored all the people walking by.  After watching it for a couple minutes I gambled that it would stick around and ran off to find my camera.  Thankfully it was still around when I got back.  Unlike most other herons/egrets, Reddish Egrets have a very animated style of hunting and are particularly fun to watch.  It’s amazing they catch anything with all of their running about.

For non-birders reading this, you may be wondering… “what’s the big deal?”  Well, this is the rarest of the herons, with one of the most restricted ranges in North America.  This species is known to make brief appearances in Santa Barbara County, but it is far from common.  Here’s a small sampling from the huge number of photos I took.

“Elegance”  –  Lagoon at UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA

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Aerial Prey Exchanges

August 25, 2009

As promised, here are a few sequences of aerial prey exchanges from the parent kites to their young.  There is quite a bit of competition between the young White-tailed Kites, which can result in the occasional sibling squabble.

Sequence #1

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White-tailed Kites Galore

August 25, 2009

Over the past week or so I have accumulated hundreds of White-tailed Kite photos, mostly of the juveniles.  In an effort to catch-up all, I’m putting up a lot of my recent favorites.  This post is an assemblage of non-sequential shots.  The next post will show off several aerial prey transfer sequences.  All shots were taken at Lake Los Carneros in Goleta.

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