What Is It?

Name this fishing bird (BELOW):

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Many species of birds visit the river behind our apartment building. The one pictured can dive completely under water from a swimming position to catch fish. He swims low in the water and uses his tail feathers as a fanned rudder while he trys to locate his dinner.

His fan tail, hooked beak, and black-webbed feet (not visible in this photo) identify him as a juvenile Cormorant.

 

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Take-Off Flight Sequence of Heron

The Great Blue Heron has an amazing take-off sequence. A wingspan of 77 to 82 inches flaps him into flight.

Involuntarily hitting the shutter on my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS with 40X Optical Zoom in different times — quickly, normally slowly, and abnormally slowly — I captured pictures of a Great Blue Heron in a patterned sequence of take-off and resulting flight.

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(ABOVE): This is an incredibly lucky shot! The heron has used his skinny, long stick feet to push himself slightly forward and out of the water. (See the water dripping heavily down below him.) His wings are in the first take-off motion, with most of the wings in a flapped down position from which he is about to swing them upward to gain more lift.

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(ABOVE): In the second flight sequence, the heron shoots his wings fully upward and folds his eight stick feet (four on each leg) closely together in preparation for lifting himself into full flight. His head and neck remain high, here, and his legs are dangling while his feet shake off water.

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(ABOVE): Low over the river and pulling in his rudders (legs and feet) straight behind him, the heron has fully launched himself out of the water (third sequence) in a forward push. To give himself momentum and speed, he has lowered and leveled his wings.

At every take-off from the water, the Great Blue Heron uses the same basic three-part sequence to become airborne.

Aerial Act

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A week, or so, ago, I finally had a Skimmer so close above me that I could set my camera to Portrait to snap his photograph with my SX410 IS Canon. I was pretty happy with the detail I was able to capture at this setting.

Skimmers are so delightful to watch. They literally dive-bomb to the water and skim the surface to catch small fish on the fly, snatching them up and away and swallowing them before their legs are barely out of the water.

Geese Gathering

Last evening, my geese gaggle decided to invade the low-lying yards along the Maumee River’s shoreline just SouthWest of the bridge. They climbed up the rocky embankment, using their wings as balancing tools, then gathered in the delicacies offered within the groomed and grassy, golden yards.

Getting ready for the embankment climb

Getting ready for the embankment climb

King of the yard!

King of the yard!

Just an embankment between him and Kingship!

Just an embankment between him and Kingship!

Then there was this fellow (series of seven pictures above) who kept approaching the embankment but was unable to find his climbing courage. Finally, cleverly, he found a much less steep slope to negotiate.

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All in all, a good time was had by all!

On the Pond

Last night on the Pond (Maumee River) there drifted a gaggle of 85-plus Canada Geese. Huddled at the Eastern side of the bridge, they were supposedly taking advantage of a large tree/log jam underneath the structure that resulted in a pond-like area near the shoreline. However, it was too dark for one to snap any photos of the paddling birds.

In the morning, I returned to the area to see how many were left. The geese gaggle had just flown the coop and landed a ways off on the Western side of the bridge.

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On the bridge’s Eastern side, a little group of Mallards were hanging together.

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In the meantime, some straggling geese made a bee-line for the main hive:

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Ah, the Pond, where mates are made and tag-along friends are welcome, too!