RHC Photography: Blog https://rhcphotography.net/blog en-us (C) 2022 Randy and Heide Couch (RHC Photography) Fri, 27 May 2022 16:59:00 GMT Fri, 27 May 2022 16:59:00 GMT https://rhcphotography.net/img/s/v-12/u2928529-o302974496-50.jpg RHC Photography: Blog https://rhcphotography.net/blog 120 75 Language Studies https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2022/5/langyage-studies Most of you might not know this but, besides outdoor photography, my other passion is learning the Japanese language. I have been studying it for years and am just no getting to the point here I can read it somewhat decently and am getting some speaking and listening practice in on iTalki. This is a great resource for any language you may be learning. The other great resource I've found is JapaneseAmmo on YouTube. It is created by Misa, a young Japanese girl ho speaks perfect English and has really great free online lessons. She covers a lot of things you on't find in the textbooks. Japanese has a lot of synonymous words and knowing when to use which one can be confusing. In addition, like English, Japanese has  a lot of words that usually only show up in written language. Misa identifies these words and explains when to use other synonyms. She gives tons of examples and has a unique system for presenting the examples on screen so you can see what part of the Japanese example sentence corresponds with the same part of the translated sentence in English. Her videos are occasionally quite long. Some rune 40 to 50 minutes but be patient and hang in there. They are long because she is very thorough. By the end you will know everything you need to know about whatever subject she is covering. Her videos are thoughtful, well scripted and often funny. She often plays multiple parts in her on videos to illustrate interactions between people. She puts a lot of ork into each video and, as I said, published them for free. Try them out. If you like them I encourage you to help her keep making them my donating to her Patreon or Kofi accounts. JapaneseAmmo on YouTube

(RHC Photography) https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2022/5/langyage-studies Fri, 13 May 2022 07:28:59 GMT
Changes https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2022/5/changes Hi guys. I know it's been a long time since I've posted but paying work has taken priority. I am taking more photos again and trying to get them on the site as quickly as possible. Watch the slideshow for the latest updates. I am also now on Titter and Instagram in addition to the Facebook page we've had for years. I will try to do my best to keep these updates with the latest photos. I've been hiking Lagoon Valley Park quite a lot lately for the exercise. It helps me control my blood sugar. A byproduct of that is that I'm taking more photos along the way. I'm going to try to post something at least once a week so be sure and check out the Instagram and Twitter links on the home page under our contact information. Blue-winged TealBlue-winged TealBlue-winged Teal at Lagoon Valley Park, Solano County, Claifornia

(RHC Photography) https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2022/5/changes Fri, 13 May 2022 06:53:10 GMT
More new photos - working backward... https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2018/1/more-new-photos---working-backward I posted more new photos last night to Facebook. I'm beginning work to refresh the content on the web site and find a better way to highlight recent photos yet still be able to find older photos also. In doing this I am actually working backward from recent photos to those we took earlier last year but never posted.

On this latest post you'll find photos we took just before Christmas at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge just south of Willows in California's Sacramento Valley. This was the third time we have have found the (presumably) same American Bittern in pretty close to the same location. It is a very cooperative bird and pretty much ignores us as long as we keep movement in the car down. We also got some very nice shots of a Snowy Egret that let us get fairly close. The trip wasn't particularly outstanding as far as raptors go. This is a location we often see a wide variety of raptors including both Golden and Bald Eagles. This trip I spotted a Golden Eagle stirring up some ducks and geese but this was at extreme binocular range and nowhere near anywhere we could shoot photos from.

This brings up another subject I've wanted to talk about for a long time... etiquette on auto tour routes in wildlife preserves. Most auto tour routes prohibit you from getting out of your vehicle except at designated areas. This is for a reason. Your vehicle makes a good blind for observing wildlife. Waterfowl will often move away from a vehicle to what they feel is a safe distance but if you leave your vehicle or are flailing your arms around inside the vehicle the wildlife will certainly be scared off to a more remote area of the reserve where they feel safer. They may not return the the are for some time. Wildlife in these preserves get used to seeing vehicles drive by all day and, as long as there is nothing unusual happening, they will maintain a safe distance but stay in the area.

Also, it never fails to amaze me the number of people who come out to these auto routes and drive through at 30 MPH leaving a long tail of dust and blowing past cars pulled to the side to observe wildlife.They can't be really seeing anything at that speed and they are filling other cars full of dust and scaring away the wildlife. I can't count the number of times we've been pulled to the side with a big lens obviously sticking out the window, waiting for a subject to get into position or show some interesting behavior just to have someone blow past us, flush the subject and get dust all over our equipment. Are these people just out in these areas to high or something? 

First, if you are stopped to photograph or otherwise observe wildlife and there is anyone coming up behind you in the foreseeable future, please pull as far over as possible to one side of the road or the other. These roads are often narrow but we drive an SUV or pickup and have yet to not be able to get over far enough to let another car pas. Also, don't stay on a subject to the detriment of a bunch of people lined up behind you who want to also see it. Yes, get your shots, but if there is a line behind you finish up and let others see also.

On the other side of the coin, if you are driving the route and you see someone stopped with a lens, scope or binoculars sticking out the window please, please don't just blow by, especially between the vehicle and whatever they are observing. For one thing, these roads are usually either dusty or muddy and lenses and scopes are expensive and hard to clean. Second, you'll probably flush the subject so that no one can see it and lastly, you're probably giving up an opportunity to see something interesting if you just wait your turn and then pull up. I see this happen a lot at places that also allow hunting. The hunters are just wanting to get to the hunting area and just blow past vehicles stopped to observe wildlife. Not cool!

OK... enough of the rant. Check out the new photos!

(RHC Photography) etiquette national wildlife reserve nature photography photos wildlife https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2018/1/more-new-photos---working-backward Thu, 11 Jan 2018 06:31:19 GMT
Recent Photos https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2018/1/recent-photos After the summer birding doldrums we finaqlly gor some time around the holidays to get some trips in. We spent a few days at Vandenberg Air Force Base looking for some local rarities in the area.

We caught up with a wayward garganey at a local city park in Santa Maria. It was a male in eclipse plumage which required no searchin whatsoever. When we pulled up in the park there were two other birders right in front of us pointing cameras at something. Tuens out the bird was no more than 50 feet from where I parked. When we saw it Heide remarked "That's it?" Being in eclipse plumage the duck was very drab and sported a muted gray pattern. I was most struck by the small size of the bird. He was virtually dwarfed by the Mallards he was associating with. The duck was about the size of a small teal. This bird was at Waller Park in Santa Maria. This is a very nice park with ponds linked by a stream and a wide variety of birds. There were the usual Mallards as well as a Wood Duck, Canada Geese, at least three Cackling Geese, domestic ducks and geese as well as two interesting duck hybrids. One seemed to be a GadwallXMallard hybrid and the other looked closer to an American WigeonXMallard hybrid. I will have those photos up soon. Also at the park was a reeded marshy area in one of the ponds. Blackbirds, Marsh Wrens and Common Yellowthroat were present. We missed a Swamp Sparrow spotted by another birder earlier in the day. A round of pishing failed to bring it out into the open.

The next day we chased a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron at the State Park marina up the coast a little in Morro Bay. This bird was not as easily found as the Garganey but wasn't too difficult either. Heide finally spotted it in the Eucalyptus trees near the east end of the marina, exactly where others had reported it. Again, this bird was in very drab juvenile plumage and blended in with the tree rather well. We took some photos and then hiked around the boardwalk path next to the marina looking for a Nelson's Sparrow that had recently been seen there. The tide was not on our side, being all the way out so no luck on that Sparrow either. We found several Sooty Fox Sparrows though. Upon reviewing the photos I almost thought one of them was a Thick-billed Fox Sparrow but alas, no. Just a Sooty with a largish bill as confirmed by a couple of biologist friends of mine. Later we visited Ocean Beach Park. This is a county park where the Santa Ynez River meets the sea. It is uniquely situated on a narrow strip of land and riverfront between the north and south sections of Vandenberg AFB. We have found the birds here to be fairly tolerant of people and we got some up close shots of Mew Gulls, Long-billed Dowitcher, Greater Yellowlegs and Least Sandpiper. Heide's eagle eyes spotted a Virginia Rail that made some forays into the open. A bit later we found that it was actually a pair of Virginia Ralis. The river held a variety of Ruddy Duck, Western Grebe, Eared Grebe and a possible Clarke's Grebe but he stayed really far out on the river and I never got a good ID on him.

The last day of shooting we visited Wall Beach on Vandenberg AFB and found a particularly cooperative Snowy Plover, Black-bellied Plover and Sanderling. I usually see Sanderlings in groups but this one was completely by himself. He was fairly cooperative also. Later we drove up Honda Ridge Road on the South Vandenberg complex. We took some sunset and low light photos as well as experimented with some star photography. We were having problems with extraneous light from nearby towns, a trio of offshore oil rigs and lioghts around the nearby Space-X and NASA launch pads. The best image we got shows the lights from the oil rogs in the distance and then a streak from Amtak's Coast Starlight train as it passed by. 


We returned home for Christmas then spent a few days over New Year at Fort Bragg. We did the 2.5 mile hike each direction up to the pygmy forest at Jug Handle State Reserve. This was the first time we had tried this. While it was not a very streuous hike I wished we had started earlier so we had more time on the way back down for photos. This Reserve is on both sides of Hwy 1 just south of Fort Bragg and Heide and I have passed it by several times. On our last trip o Fort Bragg we visited the seaward side of the park and got some nice photos of a Pacific Wren and Golden-crowned Kinglet but we didn't have time for y=the hike up the hill on the east side of the highway. This time the hike was my main objective. The trail is 2.5 miles uphill and you return on the same trail. It takes you through different "steps" within the forest... Bishop Pine, Coast Redwood grove and Pygmy Forest. We got a couple of usable shots of a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers after bouncing around the forest a bit. Ever notice how the bird you're trying to photograph is always on the opposite side of the tree from you? Anyway, the forest was filled with several varieties of Mushrooms, mosses and ferns. It's a beautiful hike. The most interesting thing, hoe=wever, is the pygmy forest at the top of the trail. Due to shallow soil that has been leached of all its nutrients and a cement-like hardpan 18 inches under the soil all of the trees and plants here are severely stunted. Cypress trees that normally grow 100 feet tall only grow ten feet or so. The ground ois covered with Reindeer Lichen and the landscape has a very surreal quality. The California Conservation Corps had built a boardwalk through this part of the forest because the groundcover here is very fragile. While this is a beautiful boardwalk it is, sadly, in need of repair. There is the occasionally missing board so watch where you are walking. Whenever we do this again we will start much earlier to allow more time for photo stops and bring water.

Heide's main objective for the trip was to experiment with some long exposure shots on the ocean where you get the water to look very "misty". We scouted locations looking for off shore rocks that would create the wave action we were looking for. Since we didn't have any neutral density filters with us we would have to do this in the evening to get a long enough shutter speed to create the effect. The first day we were foiled by a very low tide and very smooth seas. The second day we found a suitable location and got set up before sundown. There was a very large rock topped with Iceplant just offfrom where we stood and we both noticed something sitting in the iceplant but couldn't make it out so Iwent back to the truck for the binoculars and the BIG lens. It's a good thing I did because the object turned out to be a Peregrin Falcon sitting on the Iceplant scoping things out. Judging by size I believe it was a female and she stayed put a very long time, only taking flight after it was too dark to photograph her anyway. What a bonus! Afterward we started messing around with the slow exposures. There still wasn't much surf and it was sort od a "low" high tide but it was enough to create the effect as you can see in one of the photos I posted today.

We returned ome again and went out to Yolo County to our favorite hawk watching spot to see what was there. We usually see a lot of Red-tailed Hawks aa well as Feruginous Hawks and the occasional Rough-legged Hawk. This winter, as it was last winter, there are sheep grazing in part of the field. We did spot four or five Feruginous Hawks and a great many Red-tailed Hawks. I thought I had spotted a Rough-legged but when it took off it was evident that it was a Feruginous with an interesting head pattern... very light like a lot of Rough-legged Hawks. Anyway, everything was very far out in the fields and we didn't get much in the way of photos. Heide got a male Northern Harrier in flight andf I got a Red-tailed Hawk perched in a tree. This is also a pretty good place to consistently find Yellow-billed Magpies as well and I picked up a 'just OK' shot of one.

Anyway, back to making a living this week. Sorry about the long post but it's been a while since I posted and I wanted to catch up. My New Year's resolution is to try to upload to this site and Facebook more regularly and post on this blog a lot more frequently. Keep a watch on the opening slideshow as this is where I post new pics and I will have more over the coming days as I wade through all of the photos we took on these trips. Happy New Year everyone!   -Randy

(RHC Photography) https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2018/1/recent-photos Tue, 09 Jan 2018 08:42:11 GMT
Photo Highlights From Southeast Arizona https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2015/3/photo-highlights-from-southeast-arizona Heide and I just returned from a week in southeast Arizona. It's never enough time. I had every day scheduled out to cover the most territory in the time we had. I had carefully researched e-Bird to find likely target species and map out where they were being seen. We even left early to try to get much of the long drive out of the way the first night so as to spend as much time as possible shooting. Yep. That's what I did. Of course, all that lasted a day or two at the most. It's the nature of wildlife and nature photography... animals are unpredictable. Well, not completely unpredictable. It's just that when you are on your way to see a particular species and run run into another unexpected species that you have not covered prior or that is incredibly rare, you change plans and cover what you have in front of you. So we didn't cover a lot of new ground from the last trip although we did get into some new areas for us. We did, however, see three rarities and managed photos of two of them. Here's how it went...

We left on Friday and drove to Riverside so as to get all that driving out of the way and better set us up to cover the eastern shore of the Salton Sea the following day. We had first been to the Salton Sea in October of 2013. It was incredibly hot then and was pretty warm this time, well into the upper 90's in March. We drove through the Wister Waterfowl Management Area. A great place for the usual waterfowl and picked up some nice photos of Neotropic Cormorants. After that we stopped at the Visitor Center for the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge. There is a nice little visitor center here but the real draw for us is the surrounding grounds and trails. Within 200 feet of the visitor center we have seen Abert's Towhee, Gambel's Quail, Common Ground Dove, Barn Owl, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Turkey Vulture, Mourning Dove, Great-tailed Grackle, several different sparrows, Desert Cottontail and several types of lizards to name a few. After that, just down the road a mile at the most is a mostly obsidian promontory that sort of sticks out into the lake. It was on a rock outcrop here in 2013 that a group of Blue-footed Boobies decided to hang out for a while. We saw them through a scope back then but were foiled from getting any good photos by the intense heat which prevented us from hiking out that far. Next we looked for the Roseate Spoonbill that had recently been spotted in the area but failed to find it. Lastly we went to the "seawall" for shorebirds. Although there seems to be a new gas powerplant being constructed in this area all the noise doen not seen to have effected the birds. There were hundreds of Cormorants, both Double-crested and Neotropic, Great Blue Herons, Egrets, Brown Pelicans, White Pelicans, Willets, Least Sandpipers and an Osprey perched on a snag over a nasty looking pond. This is what I was referring to earlier. If you happen across an Osprey in fairly close proximity that doesn't seem inclined to flush, you take photos of it. The only real big issue was the lighting. At the Salton Sea unless it is early morning or very late afternoon the lighting is what Heide refers to as "Nuclear Noon". But, you just have to work with what you get. We left the "Sea" about 4pm and headed to Tucson arriving late that night.

Next day we took it a little easy in the driving department and visited the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum west of Tucson. This was our second time here as well. What I like about this "museum" is not the captive animals they display in very progressive, natural looking landscapes but the wildlife that hangs around there from the surrounding desert. We found a male Phainopepla feeding young in a nest just off one of the museum's terraced patios, Cactus Wren feeding young in nest in Cholla cactii, Curve-billed Thrashers and Black-tailed Gnatcatchers not to mention the Hummingbirds ever present in a spring blooming desert. The only thing I would have done differently here was to go on a weekday to avoid so  many people. It wasn't too bad however.

The next day we were off to Florida Canyon and Madera Canyon but first stopped at the hawk watch park in Tubac where Black-hawks and Zone-tailed hawks are being spotted. There were a lot of people there and we did see a Common Black-hawk but it was very high... too high for photos. We resolved to return the following day. Black-capped Gnatcatchers had been spotted fairly often recently in Florida Canyon so that was the target. For a change our luck held and they were there thanks to the directions of a nice lady who told us of a "tree down the road by a gate" that had gnatcatchers in it" but she didn't know which kind they were. Well, telling a Black-tailed Gnatcatcher from a Black-capped Gnatcatcher can be complicated by the fact that neither one of them seem to sit still ever. However, there were actuall b oth in the area and we got a couple of photos of a male Black-capped and of a female that I haven't had time to look closely at yet to determine species. The Black-capped has a longer bill than the Black-tailed and its under tail feathers are mostly white and very graduated in length as opposed to the Black-tailed's mostly black under tail feathers which are not nearly so graduated in length. These are not easy traits to see on a very small bird, very high in a tree and in constant movement. Close examination of the photos later proved what I thought I saw in the binocs. On the way back out of Florida Canyon we got some photos of a Broad-billed Hummingbird and saw several Cardinals flying through the woods. On to Madera Canyon where we saw the usual Hummingbird show at Santa Rita Lodge. This time of year seemed to be dominated with Broad-billed and Anna's Hummingbirds with the occasional Rufous or Black-chinned thrown in. Also on hand were Gray-headed and Pink-sided Juncos, Bridled Titmouse, Mexican Jays, the ever present turkey flock, Chipping Sparrows, Gila Woodpecker, Arizona Woodpecker, White-breasted  Nuthatch, Hepatic Tanager and a quick cameo appearance by a Painted Redstart. Up the road at the Madera Kubo B&B were more hummingbirds, another Bridled Titmouse and a Yellow-eyed Junco. Ended the day out in the desert on a small dirt road where we winessed a beautiful desert sunset. The highlight of this day was stopping at a pottery shop in Tubac that was near the creek. We were walking around outside the shop and Heide heard strange calls and saw birds in a small tree behind the shop. It turned out to be two wrens, at least one of which was definitely the Sinaloa Wren that has been seen in the nearby creek area. Unfortunately we didn't have a camera with us but I looked up the strange two-note calls we heard on xeno-canto and this seemed to confirm our ID. It was about the size of a Bewick's wren with the white supercilium but with black and white markings below and behind the eye. The call was something I've nevewr heard from another wren.

Tuesday was Patagonia Lake. Since we were a little early for Elegant Trogon in Madera Canyon we thought maybe our luck would change since they had recently been spotted at the lake. To make a long story short, people saw it the day before but no one had seen it the day we were there. This is becoming the story of my life. We did see White-winged Dove, Vermillion Flycatcher, and Blue-winged, Green-winged and Cinnamon Teal. After that we visited Paton's Hummingbird Haven for the first time since it has been purchased. I have to say I was a little disappointed but that may have been due more to the time of year as anything else. The benches were all facing the side of the yard opposite the pond instead of facing the house eves. ll of the hummingbird feeders had been removed from the eves also. There were some Gamble's Quail around and a few other birds but nothing unusual. A drive through the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve yielded  nothing notable. I should add that the highway on the way to Patagonia did produce nice photos of a southwestern "Fuerte" Red-tailed Hawk and the famous Patagonia roadside rest area yielded White-throated Swifts, Lucy's Warbler, Canyon Wren and some possible VERY high up Zone-tailed Hawks mixed in with vultures.  

Wednesday we did a little shopping around Tucson then returned to Tubac in the afternoon. This is a great place during March as the Common Black-hawks (nothing common about them) are migrating north up the Santa Cruz River. Along with them are migrating and resident Zone-tailed Hawks, resident Gray Hawks, Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures. This day we saw a few Zone-tailed Hawks and the vultures but no Black-hawks or Gray Hawks. A Short-tailed Hawk had been present in the area for a while but we missed it also. A lot of this was due to the windy and sometimes rainy weather we experienced that day. I would also like to thank Peter Cross who pretty much single handedly stands hawk watch in Tubac for the entire month of March to count the Black-hawk migration. He is a wealth of knowledge on all types of hawks doesn't mind answering incessant and probably stupid questions. After the hawk watch ended for the day we spent the last hour of daylight on some back roads finding Phainopepla and Vermillion Flycatcher.

Thursday we left Tucson to give us time for opportunistic stops on the way home. Northwest of Tucson we stopped at the Sweetwater Wetlands Park. This is a waste water treatment facility where natural filtering ponds act as an oasis for nearby wildlife. Herons, egrets, duck including another Blue-winged Teal, Lucy's Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Gila Woodpecker, several lizards and Round-talied Ground Squirrels were all in attendance along with at least three very visible Sora's. Spent way too long at Sweetwater so had a very long drive to Lancaster that night.

Our final day found us stopping at Kern National Wildlife Refuge where the north auto loop, now dry, presented two Greater Roadrunners and a Coyote. The south auto loop, some of it flooded yielded the biggest suprise of our trip. At Parking lot 1 on the southeast corner of Pond 2 we were scanning the pond for ducks when a male Long-tailed duck paddled by. Wow! This was the last thing we expected as we have been actively looking for this duck for years and have just never run into one. Long-tailed DuckMale Long-tailed Duck at Kern National Wildlife Reserve

So... a very productive trip in all. We saw eleven new birds with the Gray-headed and Pink-sided Juncos being two sub-species of Dark-eyed Junco. Other life birds for us were the Vermillion Flycatcher, Painted Redstart, Yellow-eyed Junco, Bridled Titmouse, Canyon Wren, Sinaloa Wren, Common Black-hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk and, the biggest suprise, the Long-tailed Duck. We got photos of most of these as well as better photos of some birds we already had.

Visit us on Facebook for more photos taken during this trip at www.facebook.com/pages/RHC-Photography/168980963218609

Desert SunsetDesert Sunset



(RHC Photography) https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2015/3/photo-highlights-from-southeast-arizona Thu, 26 Mar 2015 05:00:32 GMT
The mission for Great Gray Owls https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2014/10/the-mission-for-great-gray-owls Just got back from a two day mission to find and photograph Great Gray Owls. While these large impressive birds are fairly well known in many states along our northern border, they are rare and very localized in California. Even knowing where to look is no guarantee of success. The only Great Grays I've ever seen were in captivity or in a zoo... until now. For the sake of the owls I will leave their location secret except to say somewhere in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Heide and I hiked around our possible location the first evening with no signs of owls at all until we had looped almost all the way around to where we parked. Then, out of tree-line it appeared, gliding low into the meadow then swooping up steeply to perch on a snag. We stopped in our tracks. It was already too dark for any passable photos but we snapped off a couple anyway. You can see the results in the Great Gray Owl gallery. The owl then flew out of the snag and dropped onto something in the grass in the middle of the meadow. It remained in the grass for about 30 seconds then flew back up to a different nearby perch. It didn't look like it was successful as it did  not appear to eat back on the perch. We approached a little closer but the owl then left the meadow.

The next day we rose early and returned to the same spot in the hope that the owl would make an appearance in light more favorable to photography. No such luck. We stayed several hours until the sun was well up in the sky but no owl. Mountain Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, White-breasted Nuthatches, White-headed Woodpeckers, Ravens, Golden-crowned Kinglets, but no owl.

That evening we staked out the same location again getting into place about 4:30 pm. Same local birds but no owl. It finally got so dark that photos were out of the question so I started taking the equipment down. As if on cue, there it came, soaring down the side of the meadow toward us. It was about 10 or 15 minutes later than the previous evening's appearance and that much darker, but, there it was. It flew to a perch for less than 30 seconds then flew out of the meadow... just as quickly as it had flown in, it was gone.

So, a mission with mixed success. A failure in the aspect that we did not come home with any usable photos but a success in the aspect that we did find and see the owl, a first for both of us.

Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa)Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa)A great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa) perches next to a meadow at dusk. Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa)Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa)A great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa) perches next to a meadow at dusk.

(RHC Photography) https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2014/10/the-mission-for-great-gray-owls Sun, 12 Oct 2014 05:30:41 GMT
New birds for spring... https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2013/5/new-birds-for-spring Blue-gray GnatcatcherBlue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) I've added four new birds to my life list over the past two weeks. So far I only have photos of one of them. It is the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea). I took an early morning drive up Gates Canyon Road then north along Blue Ridge Road across Mount Vaca.  After stopping at several likely spots with no luck, I pulled off near the end of the road and wallked around a little in a sage and manzanita clearing. I heard a buzzing sound that I didn't think sounded like the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher call on iBird Pro but I wasn't sure what it could be. I played the call once to refresh my memory and in about a minute I had four or five Gnatcatchers around me. I ran to the car to get my camera and got a few good photos. They didn't sound exactly like the call on iBird but it was very close. A little different pitch I suppose. Once the Gnatcatchers had satisfied their curiosity and left I continued to the end of the road where I found a Sage Sparrow (Amphispiza belli) singing from the top of a burned out manzanita snag. Unfortunately I didn't have a long lens with me and the sparrow was quite a ways off and severely backlit so... no photos of him.


Two days ago I followed a lead for Lark Buntings in south Yolo County. I got to the location and found several other birders there looking for the Buntings. I didn't find them and I don't believe the other birders did either. What I did find was a Grasshopper Sparrow and a Brown-headed Cowbird. Both of these were also life list birds for me. These were both really scouting trips so we'll be returning to both of these locations with some bigger glass.


Memorial Day weekend we plan to visit family in Washoe Valley between Reno and Carson City, Nevada. Hopefully we can improve our collection of Western Tanagers, Bullock's Orioles and maybe get some Pinyon Jays. Shortly after that it's up to LaPine, Oregon for a week at Crane Prairie Reservoir for Bald Eagles, Ospreys and who knows what else!


We had an open house event at the California Raptor Center at U.C. Davis this past weekend. The turn out was great! My son, Tim, is now also volunteering on the Thursday morning shift with me but, unfortunately he had to work during the open house. All the glove trained birds that were available came out. Sullivan, our Golden Eagle we've been glove training for the past year did great. He was transferred from person to person several times without missing a beat and he seemed very comfortable in front of the crowd. Please visit the Raptor Center when you can. We rehabilitate and release every bird we can. I think the last figure I heard was about 65% of the birds that come in are released back into the wild. Of the remainder, alas, some birds are in very bad shape when we get them and, despite the Center's and the U.C. Davis Veterinary Clinic's best efforts, they can't be saved. Some are saved but sustain injuries that don't allow them to be released back into the wild. These birds find a home with us or another rehabilitation center for the rest of their life. There they serve as animal ambassadors and education birds to the public.


Until next time...


(RHC Photography) nature photography wildlife https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2013/5/new-birds-for-spring Fri, 10 May 2013 23:09:48 GMT
Many New Photos https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2012/5/many-new-photos Just got back from a long weekend with relatives in Nevada. We weren't planning for much of a birding weekend but it turned out to be a fantastic trip. We added four new species to our life list and got some great photos of birds we didn't have previously. The place we stayed is rather rural with some very nice riparian habitat. California Quail were rampant in the area. We also got some shots of Western Tanager and Bullock's Oriole. The shots of these two are not the greatest and I only keep them now because we have no other shots of these birds. The Tanagers were especially difficult as they stayed very high up in the cottonwood trees and rarely showed themselves. They also refused to acknowledge calls.

On the other hand, you'll find numerous photos uploaded of Western Wood-Pewees. We saw and photographed several but one in particular was very cooperative. He stayed on his perch or in the general area for a long time allowing us to get photos of his in many different poses.

We also got many good shots of Yellow-headed Blackbirds at the wildlife area at the south end of Washoe Lake. There were also Red-winged Blackbird as well as Tri-Colored Blackbird. A Wilson's Snipe displayed magnificent winnowing behavior but, despite many tries, defied all my efforts to get a single usable photograph of him.

Female Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) Heide got some photos of an unidentified sparrow. Upon arriving home and studying them closely it looks like it's a Brewer's Sparrow. She also got a photo of an unknown bird in a rather odd pose (see photo above). When I saw the photo my initial reaction was "What the hell is that?" Further investigation has revealed that it is merely a female Red-winged Blackbird. It was a case of the unusual position of the bird in the photo made it look like something it wasn't! If someone thinks it is something else please let me know.

Well, June is a busy month for us so we probably won't get much new shooting done. I hope to find time to continue going through old stock and getting the photos moved over to the Zenfolio site. I think I'll concentrate on species that are not yet represented. All for now.


(RHC Photography) https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2012/5/many-new-photos Wed, 30 May 2012 22:00:34 GMT
Working on some more content. https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2012/4/working-on-some-more-content  I got some more photos up today. They are some shots we got out at Grizzly Island. Red-Winged Blackbird, Red-Tailed Hawk and ring-Necked Pheasant. Haven't been able to get out in the field much lately. The weather's been bad or we've had more mundane domestic tasks that have to be accomplished. In the mean time I'll keep on uploading photos as fast as I can process them.

(RHC Photography) https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2012/4/working-on-some-more-content Tue, 10 Apr 2012 04:53:45 GMT
The RHC Photography Blog Spot https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2012/3/the-rhc-photography-blog-spot Hi everyone! Welcome to my first RHC Photography blog post. To be honest, it's my first blog post of any kind. I suppose I should begin by explaining who we are and what we do. RHC Photography consists of myself, Randy Couch and my wife Heide. We both have a life-long interest in the outdoors, nature and wildlife. We met in Japan while we were both in the U. S. Air Force. We traveled as much as possible, visiting China, South Korea, The Philippines and much of Europe. We now live in northern California where we take advantage of the abundance of photo opportunities along the Pacific Flyway. Join us as, over the next month or two, we bring samples of our photography over to this site.

Randy Couch with Sophie, the Northern Saw-Whet OwlNorthern Saw-Whet Owl "Sophie"

I would also like to encourage anyone with a love of wildlife to support your local wildlife rehabilitation center. Development continues to encroach on our natural world. This results in encounters between wildlife and humans that often in in harm to the wildlife through no fault of their own. These centers treat these animals to the best of their ability and release them back into the wild whenever possible. Unreleasable animals are often used for educational programs to teach our children and others about the frigility of our natural habitats. If you are a birder, naturalist or just a fan of wildlife, volunteering your time at these centers reaps great rewards. As an avid birder I have had the opportunity to see many species of birds (and mammals) much more closely than I could ever get, or should ever get, in the wild. In many of these centers you will get hands-on experience treating injured animals and birds. If your schedule does not alow you to volunteer personally, please consider these organizations for your charitable contributions. Most of them operate on donations only and they truly make a difference even with miniscule operating budgets. Okay, I'm off my soapbox for now but I will occasionally mention these organizations in the future. I have been personally involved with a few of them and the experience has left me humbled.

(RHC Photography) nature photography wildlife https://rhcphotography.net/blog/2012/3/the-rhc-photography-blog-spot Fri, 16 Mar 2012 22:05:36 GMT