Alright, it’s that time when I look back at the year that was, and try to compile what were my favorite images. So without further ado, let’d get right to it! As usual, please click on the images for larger versions:
10. Female Barrow’s Goldeneye.
This is a species that is considered rare for our area, but very year there is at least one or two around during the winter months, usually males, but not usually in this particular spot. A female had been reported at a popular birding area for a few days. On a particularly wet, cold, windy day I went out to that spot, but not necessary to find this bird, as I am generally not a chaser. I always check that area regardless as there are many over-wintering ducks and you just never know what you’ll find. Due to the particularly dreary weather I was alone at this normally bustling hot-spot. I immediately spotted this individual, and not too far away (but still too far for “good” images. I laid down at the edge of the ice and hoped for the best. After about 20 minutes or so, the duck inexplicably swam directly towards me, so close that at times I was unable to focus on it. It then preened, flapped, even slept at point-blank range. My favorite image of that outing was this one of it swimming strongly against the river’s current, with a perfect down-the-barrel stare, and with this one also featuring a very cool bow-wave.
Barrow’s Goldeneye, Canon 7DII + 500mm f/4 II + 1.4TC III, manual exposure, evaluative metering, 1/200s., f/11, ISO 1600.
9. Eastern Cottontail Pulling Sumac Trunk Fibers.
Who doesn’t like a rabbit? They are cute, maybe cuddly, and are fun to watch. For gardeners, however, they can be destructive and love to eat flowers. Here is an example of how they can “ruin” vegetation, but when in the wild it is all part of the cycle, so all’s good! I initially had my tele- converter on as the rabbit repeatedly rose on its’ hind legs to pull off “cheese-strings” off of the of sumac twig, but it was too much reach as I could not back up farther than I already was due to thick bush. I slowly removed it, and recognizing the advantage of a vertical composition, flipped the camera over to portrait orientation, and bingo…perfect!
Eastern Cottontail, Canon 7DII + 500mm f/4, manual exposure, evaluative metering, 1/640s., f/4, ISO 800.
8. Stilt Sandpiper Stretching.
As many of you may already know, shorebirds are my favorite family of birds to photograph. The Stilt Sandpiper, in turn, is my favorite shorebird species. I had not photographed one in almost 10 years, so you can imagine how excited I was when a couple of them were seen during fall migration at my favorite local shorebird photograph area. This year’s migration was especially fruitful for photography, and many people took advantage of it. While doing my traditional army-crawl through muck and shallow waters, this sandpiper, and a few other species, came close enough for good images. It was just a touch small in the frame though and wished it would come closer, but when it offered this spectacular wing stretch it was just perfect to fill the frame comfortably. Had it been closer, those wings would have been clipped! A few people were also photographing this sandpiper, so you can imagine all the shutters going off simultaneously while it offered this pose 🙂
Stilt Sandpiper, Canon 7DII + 500mm f/4 II + 1.4TC III, manual exposure, evaluative metering, 1/1600s., f/5.6, ISO 400.
7. Busy Beaver Gnawing Wood.
Beavers are always a treat to observe, and are a real piece of Canadian wilderness (even when seen from popular trails). This Beaver was so busy downing trees and then gnawing to more manageable sizes to drag back to the lodge it was building that it paid no attention to my presence. I had always wanted to photograph a beaver with it’s teeth visibly doing their work, but had never seen them in action out of water. I was glad it did not mind my presence as when it took on this low horizontal branch I immediately knew that I wanted to circle around it to get this view (I was originally on its other side). I was able to manoeuver through some branches and get in place just in time to see the last few inches eroding away until the branch fell. Here is what it looked like just before!
6. The “Three Muskrateers”.
Unbelievably photographed only a few days after the beaver above, and in the same general area too. That week was meant to be aquatic rodent week! When I first came upon the scene, from the right, I though there was only one Muskrat. I photographed it a bit, then saw movement behind it. There’s two! So I moved into position to better see the second one as well. After a few minutes a third one popped up behind the other two! As if they were on cue, the two lower ones yawned at the same time for a bit more uniqueness to the image. Such a fun opportunity.
Muskrats, Canon 7DII + 500mm f/4 II + 1.4TC III, manual exposre, evaluative metering, 1/100s., f/9, ISO 1600.
5. Black-and-white Warbler On Gnarly Tree Knot.
Spring, especially May, means songbirds arriving to their breeding territories. Warblers are among the most sought-after birds at this time. Some of the common ones however, such as the Black-and-white Warbler, command less attention than the others…but not from me! These guys climb up and down tree trunks, nuthatch-like, and are rather fun to watch. I was more than thrilled when this once paused right at the edge of this beautifully weathered tree knot. I was also happy with myself to have the presence of mind to carefully compose the scene to fully include said knot and avoid clipping it at the bottom 🙂
Black-and-white Warbler, Canon 7DII + 500mm f/4 II + 1.4TC III, manual exposure, evaluative metering, 1/1000s., f/5.6, ISO 800.
4. Barred Owl With Star-nosed Mole.
I knew of an area that had a Barred Owl’s nest for a number years, but did not know exactly where, although i had seen the adults a few times. On one morning I decided to go explore that part of the forest. Turning a corner I saw one Barred Owl get up form the ground and perch low, it’s back towards me. I slowly approached, and once in prime position the owl turned facing me, and low and behold it had a Star-nosed Mole in its’ bill. How cool! The owl then took off, so I went looking for it in the hopes of finding the nest. I saw it perched high up, so I watched it from afar. In the meantime a photography friend arrived and asked I had seen the nest, to which I replied no. He knew exactly where it was, pointing it out not 30 feet from where I was standing…
Barred Owl with Star-nosed Mole, Canon 7DII + 500mm f/4 II, manual exposure, evaluative metering, 1/250s., f/5.6, ISO 1600.
3. Intimate View of Eastern Kingbird’s Nest.
Some Eastern Kingbirds nested low enough, and exposed enough, for good nest photography without negative disturbance. I spent a couple of weeks watching them, and was rewarded with some neat opportunities of the parents feeding the brood with a variety of juicy insects. Bees, wasps, beetles, dragonflies, damselflies, all on the menu. They were so unperturbed by my presence that I decided to move in for a few minutes to try to get some feeding closeups. I had the intention to back away if that detracted from the offerings, but no sooner had I setup that one of the parents showed up and fed the young a large wasp as you see here. The parents came again and again without hesitation, and I got some really neat images in only a few minutes. Although it was tempting to stay in this position for longer, it was still time to back away and let them be without my leering-in from so close! The young fledged a couple of days later…
Eastern Kingbirds at nest, Canon 7DII + 500mm f/4 II + 1.4TC III, manual exposure, evaluative metering, 1/400s., f/13, ISO 1600.
2. Damselflies Jockeying For A Perch.
At a local pond close to home I could see dozens upon dozens of damselflies (Common Bluets) all seemingly trying to grab hold of a stick partly poking up from the water. I investigated further, and that is precisely what was happening. One, two, three of them would grab a grip, with many others hovering close-by for their turn, and then the choppy wavelets would wash over them completely, with the cycle and competition starting over. I spent more than an hour flat on my belly photographing this unique opportunity with the large lens, with lots of very cool images obtained of the behaviour! Here is my favorite from the bunch:
Common Blue Damselflies (Common Bluets), Canon 7DII + 500mm f/4 II + 1.4TC III, manual exposure, evaluative metering, 1/1600s., f/10, ISO 1600.
1. Ocean Waves, Panning with Slow Shutter Speed.
In January 2019, we headed out for our first-ever family trip south, in the Dominican Republic. Of course I brought my camera gear (minus the 500mm f/4 II) to take advantage of the bird photography ops that may have become available. There were, and lots too, but my favorite image of the trip, and of the year it turns out, was of the breaking waves of the Atlantic Ocean just before sunrise. With the low light I experimented with slow shutter sped panning. The beauty of working with waves is that there is lots of time to fiddle with settings, focal lengths, panning, etc…so if one sequence does not work out, well, just try again! When I saw this frame on the back of the camera I knew I had one that I would love. Seeing it on the computer monitor once back home I was not disappointed either. Some TLC during post to bring out the colours and contrast made it shine even more. I liked it so much that it now hangs on the living room wall as a canvas print for me and my family to enjoy and remind ourselves of a great trip together.
Crashing Waves of the Atlantic Ocean, Dominican Republic, Canon 7DII + Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 @ 75mms, manual exposure, evaluative metering, 1/5s., f/13, ISO 100.
I hope you enjoyed this year’s “Top 10”. Please do leave a comment on which is your favorite! Looking forward to next year’s, and until then, I hope to update my blog more often that I did in 2019! Also, for just for the fun of it, here are a few other finalists that just missed the cut, but could just as easily been on!: