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Manky Merganser?

24 Apr


I walked out on my deck this afternoon, enjoying the sunshine and the cool air being stirred up by the creek. There was a pair of ducks in our creek. While that isn’t unusual, they were (oh boy, I’m going to say it) odd ducks.

Just look at them.


One is a Merganser and one is … Well, I’d have to say there is some Merganser in there along with some Mallard, I guess and probably some plain old white domestic duck.

Ah well, Spring is for lovers and I’m not one to judge!


Give us this day, our daily Coot.

24 Feb


Such a cute coot.  Just keep those fugly toes in the grass, please.


24 Feb

Lacy light shivers
Soft whispers flutter through space
Winter doves at home

© 2012, Liza Lee Miller
All rights reserved.

Far and away the coolest bird of the weekend

22 Feb

So, I just want to set the stage one more time.  We’re in LA.  You know, crazy big city.  Lights as far as you can see.  Now, we’re right on the edge of a mountain with a manmade lake in front of us.  It’s a nice little lake.  I wasn’t surprised to see an Osprey.  There were several hawks flying around too.  But, I didn’t expect to see this . . .

I mean, HELLO!!!

Wow, right?

Saturday afternoon, we went to take a walk and got buzzed by this bad boy (bad girl?). I can honestly say I’ve never seen a wild eagle that close to me. It was amazing. Of course, I didn’t have my camera with me. It came back later and I got the shots above.

Sunday morning, there were some birders walking around looking. I walked over to them and told them about the Bald Eagle. They were most unhappy — they had heard about it and come to see it. They told me to look out for Harrier (was that my hawk from yesterday?) and the Cactus Wrens (never saw any, darn it). About an hour later, I saw the Eagle fly overhead again. About 10 minutes later, I ran into the birders who were gleeful. They had not only seen the eagle but they’d seen it steal a fish from the Osprey. Wow.

I was jealous but happy for them. Wheeee.

Monday, I took a walk to see if I could spot any Cactus Wrens. I couldn’t find any Cactus Wrens — drat it. As I walked back, I saw a big bird and as I was getting the camera set, I saw the big bird get hit by a smaller bird. Boom! The Osprey was getting it’s own back from the Bald Eagle. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. I’ll apologize for the photo quality. I zoomed in as much as I could and cropped as closely as I could. I think it was worth it to tell the story.

Eventually, the Bald Eagle decided to leave the Osprey to hunt in peace. And, I wasn’t jealous anymore!

Almost the coolest and most cooperative bird . . .

21 Feb

This gorgeous bird was so cooperative, hanging out near our campsite, posing in the trees for me, not caring that I walked right up to it.

Ooooo, did something catch your eye?

Off to investigate . . .


20 Feb

After such a long absence from my blog, I’m surprised to find myself compelled to write.  I’m not surprised that what compelled me was birds and photos.  For Christmas this year, my loving husband got me a telephoto lens for my Canon camera.  He was probably tired of hearing me whine about not having a telephoto lens.

This weekend, he didn’t hear any whining, in fact, he got a big, fat kiss on the lips and a great big “thank you for my telephoto lens, honey!” I’m nothing if not grateful!

We went camping in the heart of LA.  Well, it’s the heart of LA if, like me, you feel that LA starts right around the southern edge of Santa Barbara and ends at the northern edge of San Diego!  We camped in San Dimas at a little, bitty lake called Puddingstone Reservoir.  You might think I’m making that up but, I assure you, I’m not.  Puddingstone.

Anyway, despite the location in a county park with a small reservoir, I wasn’t exactly thinking about birding here.  Oh, dopey me!

We hadn’t even gotten breakfast dishes done when Greg came running to the motorhome and said, “Grab your camera . . . it’s a roadrunner!”



We didn’t see any wiley coyotes in hot pursuit but I kept looking . . .

Soaring in unison

1 Aug

Ravens over Bryce

Soaring over dry
Heated, barren desert air
Learning how to fly


ps.  this is my most favorite raven picture I’ve ever taken.  A pair of Ravens was teaching their 3 offspring to fly over Bryce Canyon’s wild hoodoos . . . love it.

Raving about my most viewed photo

30 Jul

Raven Silhouette I

This (not very good) photo of a raven is the most viewed photo in my Flickr photostream.  I thought maybe it’s been seen so much because it was on my 2nd most popular post, The Difference Between Ravens and Crows.  But it’s not.  It’s not my best picture of a raven or my most interesting picture of a raven.  I cannot figure out why it’s been view more than 4,500 times.  Weird.

Taking flight . . .

28 Jul

 . . . photos.

Going through my blog reader this morning, I came across this great article on taking photographs of birds in flight at the American Birding Association blog.  It has some great tips in it about how to get good at this tricky and very satisfying skill.

I have taken more than my fair share of bad flight photos but I’ve been lucky some too.  (As with most photos, Lady Luck is your best advisor!)  My one piece of advice would be that taking flight photos from below the birds usually results in silhouettes – that can be dramatic but isn’t always what you are after.

From Avia

My best advice to add to the article’s tips is to try to be level with the birds — that’s often difficult but you usually get some great shots that way. This pelican was flying along a jetty last summer where the Rogue River comes out to the Pacific in Oregon.  I used the advice (as I usually do) to take the shots in burst mode.  This was my best of the lot.

From Fauna

The advice about wind in the article made me laugh.  This summer when we were at Chaco Culture National Monument in New Mexico, I was birding near the bathrooms — hey, the birds like shade as much as the rest of us and in the desert sometimes buildings provide the best shade.  The birds didn’t want to leave the area but didn’t want me getting too close.  I am handicapped by my lack of a telephoto lens so I was trying to get as close as I could without scaring the birds away.  This one kept jumping down to fly away right into a head wind.  He flew and flew away from me without going anywhere.  The light wasn’t ideal but I got some fun flight shots in a way I never expected.

From Flight Study

To see a series of the bird in flight, click through to my Picasa album, Flight Study. You can then click on the button for the slideshow. It turned out pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

Coolest Birds in Utah (well, sort of)

17 Jul

Ravens over Bryce

(Continuing in my series of photos of bird silhouettes with clouds and sky)

When we went to Bryce Canyon, I was not up for hiking.  We’d hiked the Virgin Narrows the day before and my body was done!  It’s an amazing hike that should be on everyone’s bucket list!  I’ve done it twice now and I’d do it again in a heartbeat but it’s tough and I had a fall that wrenched my shoulder so I wasn’t hiking at Bryce.

So, I stayed topside while Greg, Gage, and Ruth descended into the hoodoo-filled landscape.  Never fear . . . there was a family of ravens to keep me entertained.  There were two parents and four offspring.  They were working on flying successfully above the canyon.  I must have shot a hundred pictures of them.  Don’t worry, I won’t share them all!

Raven at Bryce

Ravens over Bryce

Ravens at Bryce

Oh, and the real coolest bird in Utah?  Well, there are California Condors at Zion.  Greg saw one but I didn’t.  Disappointment.