Monday, September 3, 2012

2009 photographic year in review

Another article from the "old" website, that I wanted to get back online, I'll do 2010 eventually as well:


The Year: 2009 - in pictures 

In January and February, I decided it was time to get some Snowy Owl pictures. I had virtually none. Going out on freezing cold mornings was surprisingly fun (-29 C one morning, which cracked the screen on my phone). I didn't take any pictures of crossbills, but I sure did have a great time with the Snowy Owls.

I did some baiting. I know its controversial, but I always try to keep the best interest of the bird in mind when doing my photography, if its any consolation.

Virtually pure white male Snowy Owls are hard to come by, and getting pictures is even harder. I gained the trust of this one white male after several visits (same bird as the top photo) and he made for some great images!

Another memorable event was a morning with the diving ducks at the Burlington Canal. A wicked west wind was blowing across the bay on a freezing cold morning. I arrive early, and many ducks had frozen drops of ice on their bodies (except the Long-tailed Ducks, which seemed to be having a great time). This image of an ice covered Greater Scaup became one of my favourites from the year.

Looking for rare and unusual gulls is one of my favourite things to do. I frequently have my camera with me, just in case I want to document something strange. One day at my favourite compost production facility (horrible smell of rotting materials) turned out to be magic for photography as a beautiful snow began to fall. This 2nd winter Kumlien's Iceland Gull fit the scene incredibly well.

After the days of cold weather photography - note the above images - I packed up my car and drove to Florida, with little plans or directions. These Black Skimmers, taken at Fort DeSoto, show the stark contrast my photography took on that adventure!

I had no target birds, other than Reddish Egrets. I have lots of pictures of these birds but the image above is the first picture I took of my life Reddish Egret. It just landed in front of me, and I swung up my camera and saw this! They were incredible birds.

While Reddish Egret was my target species, the "white morph" was my biggest target. Getting a bird in high breeding condition (bright bill/leg colour) was a dream come true. It took a long time for me to find a bird like this, but it was really worth it!

I took 19000 pictures in Florida. Almost all were of birds. One thing that was incredible about Florida was how tame the birds were. When the birds are tame, you can spend more time thinking about how to be creative with your photography, rather than just focusing on getting close. This back lit Brown Pelican was a favourite from the trip, and for the year.

I saw dozens of Swallow-tailed Kites in the everglades, and had some incredible close encounters. I missed some great pictures, but got a few too. This kite picture reminds me of my time spent at Everglades National Park. Actually it makes me want to go back.

The photography was so great in Florida, its hard to pick favourites. I've always been a sucker for raptors, so seeing Kites up close and personal (like this Snail Kite) was a big highlight of my year. This young male was bringing nesting material to a female, completely unconcerned by our presence (my first airboat ride!).

On the drive to Florida, I convinced myself I should try to spend most of my time photographing species we didn't have at home. Obviously that didn't happen. How can you say no to an Osprey eating a fish, 20 ft away at eye level?

Back to the "creative" theme from my Florida Trip, easily one of my top year-end favourites. Who knew Sandhill Cranes had hearts on the top of their heads? The trip was a massive success.

The next highlight of my year was spending a lot of time from late April to late May at Point Pelee. The photography was horrible this year, but the whole experience was as incredible as ever. With the few images I took, I tried to continue the "creative" theme with my photography - such as this image of a Black-throated Blue Warbler.

Stop the press excitement at Point Pelee came when my Dad called out "Well here's a Big Black Swift right here"! At the visitors centre parking lot. It was great to enjoy this rarity with my Mom, Dad and (now) ex-girlfriend. I've heard this might be the first photographic documentation for this species for Eastern North America!

Point Pelee ended with a huge shorebird migration. This Dunlin on firey water was taken at the Hillman Shorebird Cell - one of my favourite places anywhere!

June was spent making money! My bird-related job gets busiest during the breeding season. Two 80+ hour weeks were great, but I didn't take many pictures. This adult male Lawrence's Warbler (hybrid) picture had several things going for it. A rare bird, beautiful morning light and some great habitat.

My year of photography was spells of great photography, followed by spells of virtually nothing. I had a problem with my lens, which needed weeks to get fixed. I continued to shoot with it until the fall, which is typically slow. That allowed me to get pictures like this! Of the Red-necked Grebe family at Bronte Harbour.

My yearly favourite location of Niagara Falls was rather slow this year. They nested in a less than ideal location, but I did manage one "Rainbow" shot I was quite happy with - late in the season. Peregrine's are always a favourite with me!

The next crazy idea of the year was for my Dad and I to get a small zodiac and travel way out into Lake Ontario. We spent lots of time seeing nothing, but the when something happened, it was incredible! This Pomarine Jaeger put on an incredible show for us chasing gulls around our boat.

Now one of my favourite shorebird pictures ever, Red-necked Phalaropes were seen on several trips into the lake. This juv was in stunning plumage on a stunning setting. I couldn't ask for more!

Late September turned up this beautiful bird, a Black-tailed Gull at Port Burwell! Usually occurring no closer than eastern Asia, this bird was a huge surprise for me. Being the first provincial record, it accomplished a goal of mine to add a new species to the Ontario checklist!

With late fall coming, I finally took my lens in for repair, which resulted in several weeks of no photography. After an ordeal, I finally got it back in time to enjoy an influx of Barred Owls from the north. This was the first of five owls my girlfriend (now ex) Jenn and I got to see during this short visit.

Another Barred Owl to end the year. 2010 will start with a two month trip to St. Johns, Newfoundland for photography! I can hardly wait to leave.

I hope everyone has an amazing 2010!

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