Swallows

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor);
American River Parkway, Folsom, CA; MAR 2019

Swallows are those little birds we see with their distinctive back swept, pointed wings and their forked “swallow tail”. They maneuver through the sky at high speed, in a seemingly erratic pattern, catching and eating insects in flight. They will also eat mollusks, spiders and sometimes fruit.

In the spring, along the American River, in the Sacramento area, I commonly see two types of swallows: Tree Swallows and Cliff Swallows. When I am lucky, I’ll see a Bank Swallow. I have been told we also have Violet-green Swallows but I haven’t seen any.

The most common swallow that I see is the Tree Swallow. They are called Tree Swallows because the nest in cavities in trees. It is a beautiful iridescent blue on its head and back, white on its breast and underside and blackish color on wings and tail. These birds live along the gulf coast, southern Mexico and Central America in the winter and move north throughout the US in summer.

The Cliff Swallow is a multi-colored bird with off-white underside, gray-brown wings, blue-gray back and head cap and a brown-red neck. They are quire beautiful. They make nests of mud that appear precariously perched on a cliff face. They also build nest in man-made structures like bridges and buildings. They are very social; many birds build nests near one another and hunt together. They also live along the gulf coast, southern Mexico and Central America in the winter and move north throughout the US in summer.

The bank swallow is a bird with different names in different parts of the world. In Europe, it is the Sand Martin while on the Indian subcontinent it is called the collard sand martin. They make a nest, lined with straw or feathers, in a hole they burrow into sand or gravel. They have mostly white underparts but have a gray back, wings and head. They will sometimes have a prominent grey collar at the base of their neck. They winter across they southern 1/3 of the US in winter then migrate north in the summer.

Here are some images of these beautiful swallows.

Please click on caption to see these images in higher resolution.

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) , American River Parkway,
Orangevale, CA; APR 2019
Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia). (AKA Sand Martin);
Lake Natomas, Orangevale, CA; APR 2019;
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor);
American River Parkway, Folsom, CA; MAR 2019

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota);
American River Parkway, Orangevale, CA; APR 2019

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota);
American River Parkway, Orangevale, CA; APR 2019


These and other images are available for purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

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A Predator and Some Prey

Coyote (Canis latrans);
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; FEB 2019

Here are images of a some animals that I’ve taken over the last few weeks; the Coyote, the Black-tailed Jackrabbit and the California Ground Squirrel.

Take notice of the coyote. His eyes face front. That is a trait of predators. The ground squirrel and the jackrabbit need to keep their eyes open for predators while they forage, so their eyes are on the side. Remember the adage:  “Eyes in the front, the animal hunts. Eyes on the side, the animal hides.”

Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.


Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus);
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; FEB 2019
California Ground Squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi);
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; APR 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

An Early Morning at Folsom Lake

Early Morning at Folsom Lake; Doton’s Point,
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, Folsom, CA; MAR 2019

This past week, we had a morning where the rain clouds were breaking up in the early morning. I chose that day to explore Doton’s Point trail at Folsom Lake Recreation Area; a trail that was new to me. The grasses and other plants were displaying their spring green. The early morning sun helped saturate the colors. Spring was at its finest. I went with the expectation that I might see some different birds. Instead, I discovered that it was time for some landscapes.

The beautiful rocks in this image are granite. The area around this portion of Folsom Lake is called Granite Bay because of the abundance of granite in the area. Like the Sierra Nevada mountains, this area sets on a pluton, a large blob of magma that cooled slowly underground to form granite then was uplifted and exposed.

Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

Early Morning at Folsom Lake – P2;
Doton’s Point, Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, Folsom, CA; MAR 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website, www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

Accipiters

Sharp-shinned Hawk, Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Carmichael, CA; MAR 2019

There are 2 major classifications of hawks. Buteos and Accipiters. Buteos are the familiar Red-tailed, Red-shouldered Hawks along with numerous others.The Accipiters are generally smaller, with shorter wings. This makes them more maneuverable; a skill needed because they live in more wooded areas and prefer to eat other birds. I’ve included images of 2 accipiters; the Coopers Hawk and the Sharp-shinned hawk.

Please click on caption to see images at higher resolution.

Cooper’s Hawk, William Pond Park, Sacramento, CA; FEB 2016

These and other images are available for purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us

Ravens

Pair of Common Ravens (Corvus corax); Yosemite National Park; MAR 2019

On our trip to Yosemite last week, a pair of ravens were foraging among the trees outside our hotel room.  They were totally unfazed by me as I followed them around.

It was an interesting day to shoot ravens. Everyone knows ravens are black. But black just means that its feathers absorb all frequencies of color and reflect none back. Like some other birds, the raven’s feathers can refract or bend light, allowing their feathers to appear other colors. When the birds were in bright light, they were their bright, familiar, black. But, when they were in lower light, depending upon how they positioned themselves, their wing and tail feathers appeared blue. In one other instance, the light hit the raven’s ruff under his chin and made it look brown.

Is it a raven or is it a crow. If its big and bulky and it makes a croaking sound, its probably a raven. If its smaller and makes the familiar caw, its probably a crow. But, sometimes its not so simple. I am collecting images to put together a simple but more complete illustrated guide.

Please click on caption to image at a larger size.

Common Raven (Corvus corax); Yosemite National Park; MAR 2019
Common Raven (Corvus corax); Yosemite National Park; MAR 2019

These and other images are available for purchase at my website, www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

A Golden Waterfall

Upper Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park; MAR 2019

Last week, we took a trip to Yosemite National Park. We were a bit late in the season. We were looking for snow, but almost all of the snow was gone from the valley floor. There was some clinging to the nooks on the cliff side. It was sunny when we arrived but, as the golden hour approached, the skies became cloud covered and we got rain. Just being in Yosemite when there are few people is a real treat, so walking around in the rain was enjoyable even though photography opportunities were few. Little did we know the treat that would await us in the morning.

We dutifully got up and out ½ hour before sunrise – about an hour before the sun would start to light up the valley walls. While planning the trip, I learned we would have clear skies in the morning and that the sun would be in a good position to light Yosemite Falls. Yosemite falls is often shaded during the golden hours for photography. We found the position from which I wanted to shoot and set up. It was then we got our first surprise – snow had fallen on the cliffsides on either side of the waterfall. There was even a dead tree that was partially snow covered that I could get into the frame.

I set up my composition and waited in the cold. After a period of time that seemed interminable, golden sunlight began to penetrate the valley. Watching the sun light the mountain tops and valley walls is one of my favorite experiences; I never grow tired of it. We watched and enjoyed. I would shoot from time to time. But, I really wanted more light on the water fall. When the light broke, I got a treat I hadn’t expected. The sun began giving the water and the mist a golden glow. I watched and I shot as the different sections would glow. We stayed through the entire show.

I’ve included 2 of the images I got that morning. I hope you enjoy them.

Please click on caption to see these images at higher resolution.

Upper Yosemite Falls at Sunrise; Yosemite National Park; MAR 2019

These and other images are available for purchase at my website, www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

A Winter Morning in the Gettysburg National Military Park

Confederate Rifles in Winter;
Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, PA; FEB 2019

A few weeks ago, we visited family in the Gettysburg, PA area.  While there, we were treated to some snow and very cold weather. On one early, sunny, morning we drove along Confederate Ave. The street. On Seminary Ridge, overlooks open meadows ringed with farms. The ridge top is where Confederate troops set up their artillery and was the starting point for many Confederate troop assaults. On July 3rd, 1863, it was the site of Pickett’s charge against the troops of Union General George C. Meade.

On this early morning, the guns laid quiet. Sunlight glistened on the icy snow while frost gave trees, weeds and other objects a silvery glow. Though snow adds a burden to our efforts to maintain a normal life and we grow tired of it after a time, a morning like this makes you slow down and appreciate the beauty that nature bestows in winter.

Please click on caption to see images at higher resolution.

Frosty Winter Morning;
Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, PA; FEB 2019
Parot Rifle in Winter;
Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, PA; FEB 2019

Note: These and other images are available for purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

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