Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Goldeneye

I think I inherited an interest in bird watching from my mom.  And it is encouraged by my older brother.  Mom is 86 now, and still fills numerous feeders to encourage birds to her window.  (I think Mom gets as much entertainment from the cat watching these birds too.)

While on our Snake River trip over a year ago now, we were wishing for a bird / wildlife / plant  identification book.  So on a final trip to Powell's Books in Portland, we picked up National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest.  We thought it would offer a good overview and be what we were looking for.

However, over the past year, we found we were mainly using it for bird identifications, and it just wasn't very complete.  So last fall, on recommendation from fellow cruisers we met in Friday Harbor, we purchased The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America.  I am appreciating this book more with use.  Though the Audubon book had beautiful photos, often it was only one view of a bird.  The Sibley book has numerous color drawings of both male and female, juvenile, and often different postures, or birds in flight.

Still, many of the birds we have seen have been camera shy.  I like to photograph the birds, zoomed in as much as possible, and compare to what I see in the books.

Today in Seattle, there is a small flock of diving ducks.  They know exactly where I am, and continually move away from me. If you look through ALL of the photos I have taken since 2001 when we began using Picasa, you will see LOTS of pictures of bird butts. The secret of photography, especially since digital came along, is take LOTS of pictures and hope for a good one.

The best of six shots
Mainly because I knew scaup were black and white, this was my first guess as to what these ducks were.  But definitely not after consulting the book.  Scaup have no cheek patches.  Seeing that their eyes are a bright yellow, and knowing there is a breed called Goldeneye, I turn to that page.  Bingo!  But there's a Common Goldeneye and a Barrow's Goldeneye listed.  By comparing my photo to the drawings in the book, I determine these are Barrow's Goldeneye, due to the cheek patch of the male being a crescent rather than round, and the bill of the female on the left being mostly yellow.

Yay!  I feel like I am getting better at this.  Key for me is getting a photo, so I don't have to rely on memory.  I am still wishing I could have gotten closer and better shots of the ducks I saw on Oct. 31.   http://mvvikingstar.blogspot.com/2011/10/more-bird-watching.html
But I am still convinced they were Canvasbacks.

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