This past spring I traveled to Arcata California for some birdwatching in the Pacific Northwest. In Arcata, they have a bird festival in April called Godwit Days that I could not attend. Nonetheless, I thought it might be an interesting time and place for birding. The local Audubon Society says birding is at its best from winter through early May. You’ll find songbirds in spring through fall, shorebirds, wading birds and waterfowl in the cooler months of October through April, and raptors year round. As predicted, April was not a particularly good time for water birds, although there were songbirds and plenty of spring flowers. Nearly 500 species of birds have been found in Humboldt County; many of these species are unique to Humboldt County. Fortunately I was able to secure Rob Fowler as a guide to the birding areas around Arcata. He knew when and where to look and made most of the following pictures possible. I suspect I will return in a different season to see a different set of birds and of course to see the beautiful scenery in a different light.
Since I visited Denver recently to visit my mother, I decided to indulge in a bit of winter birding to get her out of the house. Although many people like to look for birds in the summer, when the weather is nice, winter allows you a unique opportunity to actually see the birds without the cover of leaves. As winter snows fall many mountain dwelling species of birds will come down into the valleys and even into cities in the winter. Moreover, species from north of the US/Canada border fly down into the areas where winter is milder, even to Denver as it turns out. The purpose of this post is not to be inclusive, just the the birds I found in a few favorite places. I grew up in Colorado and learned about nature from my late father who was an avid outdoorsman. He would have enjoyed getting out and viewing the birds on display in the nearby parks.
Over the years, I have used Panasonic cameras almost exclusively, due to their small size, reasonable cast and good image quality. Since I travel often, lightweight and small gear is a big positive for me. Last year, I decided to venture into wildlife photography, I visited Botswana and Madagascar on a safari and all the other travelers had full frame cameras, the Canon 5D Mark IV. While my Africa photos turned out well, I found myself wondering if I could get better quality with a full sensor camera and I chose the Sony A7RIII probably mostly due to the intense advertising by Sony and the fact that I love my Sony RX100MV. I expected the camera to be expensive but the real sticker shock came when I bought lenses and accessories. I used it for one birding trip to Arizona and returned everything as soon as I returned. The lenses were too big and heavy and surprisingly, with the Sony 100–400mm lens and a 1.4x teleconvertor, the photo quality just was not there. I bought the new Lumix G9 and I have been happy ever since. Consider this post a journal of my foray into the world of Sony full frame cameras, specifically the Sony A7RIII.
I got a new Sony camera about a month ago and decided to visit Sierra Vista Arizona to try it out on the beautiful birds that I have heard about. Southeastern Arizona is an eco-crossroad with five life zones within five miles. Habitats and species from the Sierra Madres of Mexico, the Rocky Mountains, and the Sonora and Chihuahuan deserts can all be found in these “Sky Islands.” The bird watching and wildlife viewing areas are world-renowned. The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area has nearly 40 miles of riparian/riverbank vegetation and this 56,000-acre area is teeming with plant and animal life. The San Pedro River’s cottonwood-shaded corridor provides critical stopover habitat for millions of migrating birds each year. It is one of only two major rivers that flow north out of Mexico into the United States and is one of the last large undammed rivers in the Southwest. The San Pedro River basin is home to 84 species of mammals, 14 species of fish and 41 species of reptiles and amphibians. It has been said that over half of all the breeding species of birds can be seen in this area.