I was a little surprised when asked to be the next BCFO Featured Photographer. I generally don’t think of myself as a photographer, rather a keen birder who sometimes carries a camera. My equipment must be light enough to hang off my shoulder while I’m birding. My current camera is a Nikon D7000, although most of these pictures were taken with my older D80. I use a Nikon 80-400mm lens. Since I cannot get those stunningly sharp images obtained by those with higher end equipment, I usually try to find some other way to make the photo a bit more pleasing; perhaps a nice reflection, an unusual pose, or a tuft of grass in just the right place. But that lure of getting the ultimate portrait still pulls sometimes! Most of the photos here have been “shots of opportunity”, and all are hand held. Compared to some, I got my start in birding a little bit later in life, while at university in Vancouver. My first job took me to Fort Nelson where very little was known about the avifauna at the time. This was the stimulus that got me out there as often as possible – even in winter when the temperature sometimes reached -40C . Being able to ‘chart some new territory’ was quite motivating. My time in Fort Nelson was short – just 2 years. In 1975 I moved with my family to Nakusp, in the West Kootenay region, and am still there today. Since retirement in 2005, my wife and I have done as much travelling as we can. We have visited, and birded, in Australia, Peru, Costa Rica, Kenya, and Uganda. I have also done a little guiding; in 2009 I led a tour of 12 Australians through southern BC and Alberta. In 2013 I led a tour for Chris Charlesworth (Avocet Tours) of northeast Australia. I also spent one summer serving as a volunteer naturalist at a birding lodge in Queensland, Australia.
(Ed’s note: Remember to click on images to get larger views).
Mallard: I have lots of photos of striking males with glistening green heads, but this female, standing on a log at the Reifel Waterfowl Refuge, was a shot I couldn’t resist.
Hooded Merganser: I saw this female on a small pond at the Nakusp Centennial Golf Course several times while I was golfing. One day I took my camera with me and the rest of my group just had to wait while I sought the right angle to get the best light, a good reflection, and the ripples in the water.
Spruce Grouse: This chick was “too cute” to pass up! I was atlassing on a logging road above Summit Lake near Nakusp when I encountered the hen with several chicks. They all scurried off except this one who got left behind.
Killdeer: I’m sure every photographer has a shot just like this one, and I’m just as sure that everyone will continue to take this shot when the opportunity arises! This adult did its best to lure me away from its nest and four eggs on the exposed lakeshore at Nakusp.
Barred Owl: The poor quality of this image, and the stick through the face, suggest that maybe I should have left it out, but I think the peek-a-boo pose makes up for the short-comings. The photo was taken on the road to Venner Meadows in the South Okanagan.
Warbling Vireo: Passerines are always a bit of a challenge for photographers. I had been standing quietly, watching this bird at Summit Lake Provincial Park near Nakusp, when it flew down to a perch just a few metres in front of me. It remained long enough for just one shot, but this time, that was enough.
Pacific Wren: This songster was giving me his best effort near the Nakusp Hot Springs. I was fairly sure he had a nest somewhere in the large root ball of this upturned tree, but I was unable to find it.
Bohemian Waxwing: My car is about the only blind I have ever used. This waxwing, perched on a post near Monte Lake, was quite content for me to slowly drive up beside him and take a series of shots.
Western Tanager: This mountain ash in my back yard is quite popular in the fall when the berries are ripe, but this tanager was finding something to eat in early June.
Pine Grosbeak: This handsome male was messily eating berries near Kaslo, in late December. The unusual pose seems to appeal to me!
They’re all great shots Gary, but if I have to pick one it will be the little Spruce Grouse. Perfect!
Wonderful photos, especially the ones which show the natural setting (no clipping away of brush!).
Excellent photos and great commentary, I especially like the Pacific Wren. Good on ya Gary.
Good shots all, Gary. I especially like shots of birds in their habitats and settings. The closeup portraits favoured by some can be achieved with long lenses, lots of $$ and major cropping with software, but this removes any context for the animal and its life. Often, they lack artistic merit. You have achieved quality and context so that many of your shots tell a story. Well done.