Stellar Steller

Steller’s jay sightings are pretty much guaranteed at Fawn Lake. We sat and watched this one pick up leftover popcorn from previous hikers to feed its recently fledged chick. While these birds are pretty good at begging for handouts, I haven’t yet encountered any as bold or aggressive as their grey cousins.

Although I’ve spent some time lately cursing the camera for not focussing properly, I have to admit that eventually I was able to get quite a few nice photos of this jay as it hopped around. (I think I have a dozen that I’m happy with – most of which won’t go on Instagram because, well, there’s not much point in posting a dozen almost-identical photos!) Of course birds are rarely still, so getting a good shot becomes an exercise in predicting where it might go next. I’d watched it hop up onto this rock a few times, so I let it do its rounds, saw that it was approaching the rock, and set up my composition and focus. Oh and I made sure that the sun was behind me to avoid just getting a silhouette. As soon as it appeared in my viewfinder I took as many shots as I could (I forgot to put the camera on continuous shoot though). Bingo!

They’re such photogenic birds with brilliant blue feathers taking on shades of azure, cobalt, and sapphire among others. We’ve seen them at this same spot almost every time we’ve visited, and I’ve been wanting to get a good photo of one for some time. I think this’ll do just fine.

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On a wing…

I have a soft spot for flickers (well, pretty much any woodpecker really), so I was pretty chuffed to get this shot of one spreading out its wing, beautifully backlit by the afternoon sun, in a nearby tree-top.

OK so this is one of those photos that I was really happy with at the time but I find painful to look at these days. The image quality is just awful, and it’s just so obviously taken with a small-sensor compact camera. The chromatic aberration, the sharpening haloes, the highlight/colour response – yuck!

Having said that, I was so delighted to get this shot, to see a flicker close enough to photograph and especially to capture that moment where it spread out its wing, catching the afternoon sun to show off the lovely red feathers. It’s the memory of this shot and what it evokes that I’ve come to appreciate, more than the photo itself. I’m sure that’s a feeling many photographers have experienced!

Grouse chick

Cute little ruffed grouse chick, the only one left in the brood by the looks of it

We were hiking up to a viewpoint above the basalt columns at Easter Bluffs when we came across a mother grouse and her lone chick. Grouse usually have a brood of half-a-dozen or more, so something clearly didn’t go right for this little bird. The basalt columns were impressive, if very hard to photograph, though our enjoyment was tempered by the incessant mosquitoes. I couldn’t wait to be done hiking that day!