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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nerdy Birdy: Over the River and Threw the Wind Energy Mills…

My parents are staying near Palm Springs, about a two hour drive to from my house in Los Angeles, and I left early late this morning to spend two days with them birding. I have made this drive many times and still cannot believe the beauty of California right outside the city. The drive toward Palm Springs takes me past the Wind Energy Mills, this particular valley gets fierce winds (it’s a two hand driving zone because it rocks your car around so much) so I can understand why there are so many concentrated in this one place.

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To me the mills are beautiful. Not only do they represent efficient natural energy they also make my artist heart sing with how large they are and they way they are symmetrically arranged.

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LOVE THE SYMMETRY

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BREATHTAKING BACKGROUND

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THAT IS A BULLDOZER AT THE BASE OF THE WIND MILL

Within 10 minutes of getting to my parents RV my mother and I jumped in the car again to head toward the Salton Sea. Daddy stayed behind to handle some man business about a shock so it was just me and my mom.

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MY MOM TAKING PHOTOS OF A BIRD

Our main objective was to find the Burrowing Owl. I have been to the Salton Sea four times, this was my fifth, and I had great luck every seeing the owl. My mother sadly had been twice and still hadn’t seen the cute little guy. While driving we saw a ton of other birds and of course we were not opposed to snapping some shots while on the way to where the Burrowing Owls nest. One particular bird we got excited about, a large dark bird that we thought could possibly be a new one for us both but sadly when we got home and looked him up he ended up being a very common juvenile Red Tailed Hawk.

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127. JUVENILE RED TAILED HAWK

The hawks loved to sit on the telephone posts surveying the low grasslands. We were taking photos of this particular hawk when he took off flying.

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127. JUVENILE RED TAILED HAWK FLYING

I was surprised when he was joined by a small white bird. Now generally seagulls harass the larger hawks so I was just assuming it was a seagull but since I wasn’t sure what he was I snapped some shots of it anyways. Imagine my surprise when I got home and found out that it was a White Tailed Kite.

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114. WHITE TAILED KITE

I didn’t see any new birds this trip but I was able to get a ton of great shots using my big 500mm lens and the new 7D Canon camera Mr. Rogue and I got for Christmas.

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569. WESTERN MEADOWLARK

This combination makes lethal bird photos with more detail and depth than I have ever been able to achieve.

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450. NORHTERN MOCKINGBIRD

There are three parts to getting great photos. One part is the equipment that you use. The second is the knowledge that you have of the equipment, what you do with it, how you setup the controls for the particular shot such as light, speed, focus, depth. The last part is the subject that you are taking a photo of, the environment the bird is in, the background, the lighting, and the photographers ability to capture what is available in a pleasing way.

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279. GREATER ROADRUNNER

Believe me add these all together, it takes a ton of work and effort to get that perfect shot, I still learn something new all the time, but getting it is so rewarding.

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21. NORTHERN SHOVELER

Near the end of the day we finally made it over to where the Burrowing Owls are. We drove slowly down the roads scanning the banks when I finally spotted one. They are hard to see and if you don’t know what you are looking for you can miss them easily. They like to barely peek their head out of their burrow and from a distance their little heads look like a rock.

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288. BURROWING OWL

Burrowing Owls are different from any other owl. They take over old rabbit burrows and live in the ground. They hunt at night just like other owls and are deadly hunters of small insects and rodents. They remind me of that gopher game I used to play as a child with the way they pop their heads up to peek out and then back in when there is danger.

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PEEK A BOO I SEE YOU

The first set we found would not come out of their burrow so we drove further down the street and found a small group of three that were out in the open.

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LOOK AT THOSE LONG FUNNY LEGS

Then to my surprise this group instead of diving for their burrow when we got a little too close for their comfort they flew. Four times seeing the burrowing owl and I hadn’t seen them in flight. I was lucky to get a good shot.

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Once the sun started sinking low and our light went away we headed back to the RV. The only negative thing about this day was the constant driving; two hours to get to my parents, two hours to the Salton Sea, three hours around the Salton Sea, and then two hours back to the RV – nine hours is just TOO LONG!

We were driving and had to stop one more time as a whole flock of Great White Egrets approached. There were over 100 in the flock, I had never seen them together in that large of a group before. I was able to take a shot of three as they passed by.

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Then my mother and I saved the Salton Sea. We saw a fire starting in the scrub on the drive home and called it in to the fire department. Seems they didn’t have this fire on their list; twenty minutes later fire trucks whizzed past us on their way to put this out. Since I cannot find any noteworthy news about the fire I assume that it was put out before it got too out of control.

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So in recap I took the scenic drive out past the wind mills to my parents, spent all day frolicking at the Salton Sea with my momma and my new camera equipment and then saved the world by reporting the fire. No wonder why I passed out at 9:30.

2 comments:

paul peggy zeus said...

I'm glad we got to spend the whole afternoon together. i really had a great time.

lilmansworld said...

owls are awesome! Seriously!

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