Category

Birds

The Original Wind Surfers: Pelicans, Waves and Surf

Birds, Pelicans, San Diego

Wikipedia describes the origins of wind surfing in the 1940s and 1950s. It couldn’t be more wrong. For as long as they have existed, sea birds and their ancestors have plied the oceans, riding the updrafts of surf, waves and sea swells to gain efficiency and a free ride. My favorite practitioner of this skill is the pelican, although the wandering albatross is a close second. I have been watching pelicans cruise the coastline of my southern California home with a graceful effortlessness my whole life. This winter I made it a goal to shoot some images of brown pelicans surfing and skimming waves. Here are a few of my favorites, photographed in Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar and La Jolla. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave.
Image ID: 30257
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus

Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf.
Image ID: 30199
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave.
Image ID: 30262
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave.
Image ID: 30275
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus

Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf.
Image ID: 30193
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California Brown Pelican flying over a breaking wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican flying over a breaking wave
Image ID: 30353
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave.
Image ID: 30277
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus

Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf.
Image ID: 30194
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave.
Image ID: 30278
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus

California Brown Pelican flying over a breaking wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican flying over a breaking wave
Image ID: 30364
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California Brown Pelican flying over a breaking wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican flying over a breaking wave
Image ID: 30374
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave.
Image ID: 30273
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave.
Image ID: 30314
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus

California Brown Pelican flying over a breaking wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican flying over a breaking wave
Image ID: 30352
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave.
Image ID: 30264
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus

I photograph brown California brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis). If you like these, please see more California brown pelican photos or a little PDF e-guide about photographing California brown pelicans in La Jolla.

La Jolla Birds

Birds, La Jolla

La Jolla birds as of this morning. I had until 8:45 before catching the end of Sarah’s practice so I went down the coast highway. There were some waves in Encinitas but nothing special. Spectacular clearing mist at Torrey Pines at sunrise. In La Jolla the light changed much and often, wisps of fog passing just to the east in front of the sun. There was no workshop or crowd at the bird spot this morning which meant lots of birds and whisper quiet. Pelicans are at peak plumage, the cormorants have quite a ways to go. All in all a great morning. All photos are handheld with Canon 200-400. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Brown pelican portrait, displaying winter plumage with distinctive yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican portrait, displaying winter plumage with distinctive yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch
Image ID: 30409
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy. Note the winter mating plumage, olive and red throat, yellow head, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy. Note the winter mating plumage, olive and red throat, yellow head.
Image ID: 30413
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brandt's cormorant, La Jolla, California

Brandt’s cormorant
Image ID: 30418
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brandt's cormorant, La Jolla, California

Brandt’s cormorant
Image ID: 30419
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican portrait, displaying winter plumage with distinctive yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican portrait, displaying winter plumage with distinctive yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch
Image ID: 30420
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Ring-Billed Gull, Larus Delawarensis, La Jolla

Birds

Once in a while I will photograph seagulls. I really should spend more time on them, since they can at times be beautiful in the right light and when in good condition. Unfortunately, gulls often they look like crap, and when I see them out on the water I invariably think “sky rat”. I only photograph the ones I see in La Jolla, so along with the Heermann’s Gull I posted about a few days ago, I also like the Ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis). Hopefully in a few months I’ll have more images of this gull to add to my collection. Cheers, and thanks for looking.

Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis, La Jolla, California

Ring-billed gull.
Image ID: 18304
Species: Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis, La Jolla, California

Ring-billed gull
Image ID: 30355
Species: Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Ring-billed gull, adult non-breeding, in flight, Larus delawarensis, La Jolla, California

Ring-billed gull, adult non-breeding, in flight.
Image ID: 28990
Species: Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermann’s Gull, Larus heermanni

Birds

The Heermann’s Gull (Larus heermanni), photographed when I am out and about in La Jolla and North County. Lately I have been trying to frame seabirds against blue water, or have the ocean horizon in the image to anchor the composition and help tie the animal with the ocean. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Heermanns gull in flight, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermanns gull in flight
Image ID: 30348
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Flock of Heermanns gulls in flight in front of a big wave, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Flock of Heermanns gulls in flight in front of a big wave
Image ID: 30359
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermanns gull, presunrise purple-pink glow in the distant sky, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermanns gull, presunrise purple-pink glow in the distant sky.
Image ID: 23656
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermann's gull, immature, in flight, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermann’s gull, immature, in flight.
Image ID: 28991
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermanns gull, moon setting, sunrise, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermanns gull, moon setting, sunrise.
Image ID: 18272
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermanns gull in flight, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermanns gull in flight.
Image ID: 18273
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermanns gull in flight, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermanns gull in flight
Image ID: 30312
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Ghost Cormorant

Abstract, Birds

A cormorant speeds home to its nest in the La Jolla seacliffs, flying just above the waves. Shot long before sunrise, this image is blurred from the long time the shutter was open.

Sandhill Cranes at Sunset, Bosque Del Apache NWR

Birds, Bosque del Apache

Sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) arrive at the “crane pools” at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge each evening. Having spent the day feeding in nearby corn fields, they will overnight standing on their long legs in the shallow pools, presumably so that they can rest in the dark with minimal threat of attack from coyotes. As the sun rises the next morning, they warm up and eventually depart to the corn fields again. This location is perhaps my favorite spot in all of Bosque del Apache. Skip and I made a point of being here for sunrise and sunset photography most days during our in visits to the Bosque in 2008 and 2010.

Sunset at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, with sandhill cranes silhouetted in reflection in the calm pond.  Spectacular sunsets at Bosque del Apache, rich in reds, oranges, yellows and purples, make for striking reflections of the thousands of cranes and geese found in the refuge each winter, Grus canadensis, Socorro, New Mexico

Sunset at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, with sandhill cranes silhouetted in reflection in the calm pond. Spectacular sunsets at Bosque del Apache, rich in reds, oranges, yellows and purples, make for striking reflections of the thousands of cranes and geese found in the refuge each winter.
Image ID: 21804
Species: Sandhill crane, Grus canadensis
Location: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, New Mexico, USA

Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata

Birds

I photographed this Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) Sunday morning at Santee Lakes. The coast near my home was totally socked in with pea soup fog, but once I got inland to Santee Lakes the skies cleared. Santee Lakes has some great duck photography. I am not a bird-centric photographer, but I’ll be photographing mostly seabirds this January on a month-long trip, so I’ll probably make a few outings to Santee Lakes and La Jolla to practice my bird photography before I leave.

Northern shoveler, adult nonbreeding plumage, Anas clypeata, Santee Lakes

Northern shoveler, adult nonbreeding plumage.
Image ID: 23393
Species: Northern shoveler, Anas clypeata
Location: Santee Lakes, California, USA

Keywords: northern shoveler, duck, anas clypeata, santee lakes, san diego.

Northern Cardinal Photo

Arizona, Birds

Northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis). This was the other small songbird that I hoped to see in Arizona. It is very similar to the Pyrrhuloxia (see yesterday’s post). In fact the female cardinal looks a lot like the male Pyrrhuloxia at first glance, although the shape of the beak (among other things) is diagnostic.

Northern cardinal, male, Cardinalis cardinalis, Amado, Arizona

Northern cardinal, male.
Image ID: 22891
Species: Northern cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis
Location: Amado, Arizona, USA

Northern cardinal, female, Cardinalis cardinalis, Amado, Arizona

Northern cardinal, female.
Image ID: 22929
Species: Northern cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis
Location: Amado, Arizona, USA

Shot at Bill Forbes’ Pond at Elephant Head, which I visited and described recently.

Pyrrhuloxia Photo

Arizona, Birds

Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus). This was one of the two birds I was hoping to see in Arizona. In general, we do not see small colorful birds like this in Southern California (except for escaped exotics like parrots). At first I thought Pyrrhuloxia was the latin (scientific) name for this bird, but then I learned the latin name is Cardinalis sinuatus. So I guess the Pyrrhuloxia is closely related to the Cardinal (see tomorrow’s post). Regardless, it’s a pretty little bird.

Pyrrhuloxia, male, Cardinalis sinuatus, Amado, Arizona

Pyrrhuloxia, male.
Image ID: 22894
Species: Pyrrhuloxia, Cardinalis sinuatus
Location: Amado, Arizona, USA

Shot at Bill Forbes’ Pond at Elephant Head, which I visited and described recently.