Saturday, 24 January 2015

Morning around Quidi Vidi lake

When I woke up this morning, it looked like a very bright morning so I decided to have a walk around Quidi Vidi lake to check if there was still some waxwings around.
Unfortunately when I arrived there the light had turned out pretty dull. walked around the main trail and found a very cooperative juvenile eagle who was perched on a tree. I always forget how big these birds are!

as I said the light was dull!
a bit closer

very cooperative indeed!

trying to find a different angle, without success!

Since it wasn't planning to move any time soon, I decided to walk back where most of the ducks stick around. Usual suspects there: mallard, northern pintail, greater scaup and tufted ducks.

one of the tufted

Thursday, 1 January 2015

2014 Best-of

 So it's this time of the year. Looking back at the pictures I've taken over the year. I haven't been able to take as much as I want but I got to travel in some places of the province that I hadn't explored yet.

So here is my Top 10:

This picture is not extraordinary and is more about the place where it was taken. This year was the first time I went to Bellevue beach. Where I got to see many of these guys and other shorebirds feeding on the mussel bed. Also saw 5 ospreys flying around and diving. I will definitely go back there if I'm still around in 2015!

Semipalmated Plover, Bellevue beach
 We had quite a brutal winter but every now and then we had a glimpse of light which with the snow and ice would give pretty sparkles allover the place. Looking at this young herring gull you almost forget it was -15C!
Herring Gull, Quidi Vidi lake

A "classic" shot of a gannet coming in to its nest at Cape St. Mary's. This was my 3rd time there and it's always a pleasure to spend the day in the middle of these large birds hoovering just above your head.

Gannet, Cape St. Mary's
This was my first time spotting some cedar waxwings, there was still quite a bit of snow, and I wasn't too well equipped for it. I ended up with freezing and wet feet but some great memories.

Cedar waxwing, Quidi Vidi area
During the last day of my stay in Gros Mourne National Park I decided to do the Gros Morne hike, the weather was very cloudy and not promising regarding photography opportunities. When I arrived at the top it was fog all around, on my way down, I ran into the male rock ptarmigan who was hanging around with 4 females. I played a bit of hide and seek with them before letting them go back to their regular activities.
Rock Ptarmigan, Gros Morne

On the same day, in the forest part of the hike, when I wasn't expecting anything , this grouse just came out of the bushes and we looked each other for about 5-10 minutes it decided it had enough with me and went back to where it came from.

Spruce Grouse, Gros Morne

This summer, we were lucky to see icebergs coming down the Avalon peninsula. a few big ones anchored themselves just outside of the Narrows, after 2 years in St. John's that was the first I saw icebergs, and it was quite an impressive sight. I like this picture because it gives a sense of the size of these big ice-cubes !
Icebergs, Signal Hill
This picture is more about perseverance than anything, during all winter I tried to get some shots of the bald eagles on Quidi Vidi lake, carrying my gear with me most of the time. There was always something missing: eagles no there or too far from the bank, no light, or just me forgetting my camera.  Eventually, one evening of march, after leaving work and spending a hour changing a flat tire, as I drove by Quidi Vidi, I saw this adult and 2 juveniles very close to the bank, I didn't get a chance to take pictures of them fighting but it was amazing to be there nonetheless and get a few pictures.
Bald Eagle, Quidi Vidi Lake
Yet another picture taken in Gros Morne National Park, I left my campsite early in the morning and saw this storm coming in hiding the sun for the rest of the day.

After the storm, Gros Morne National Park
Finally, my favorite picture for this year is a shot of a common tern just at the start of its dive.
I love the elegance of these birds and there are many more shots that I would like to take with this species but this is something I had been trying to do for a little while and being able to get a picture that I had visualized before actually taking it was very satisfactory.
Common tern, Gros Morne National Park

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Snowy owls around Cape Spear

At the end of November/ beginning of December I was pleasantly surprised to spot my first snowy owls ever. And what a sight it is!
Apparently it was a good summer for them and therefore loads of individuals had to migrate south at winter time in hope of finding some food down South.
Most of the photos were taken at the begining of December around Cape Spear.

Gear used: EOS 40D + 100-400mm


Environment shot

Not the most efficient camouflage

Windy day

About to take off

Off we go!

on the 1st of december there was a very cooperative individual that allowed me to get pretty close

Cape Spear's lighthouse in the background

Front view

Enjoying the last ray of sun

 A few days later I went to cape Race where there had been quite a view spotting. there was indeed a lot of snowy owls, I counted about 45. Unfortunately they were much more wary than the one I had seen in Cape Spear. and less photo were taken on that day.

Best pic at cape Race

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Puffins in Elliston

 Still exploring the province, went to see the puffins a couple of weeks ago in Elliston.

After Cape St Mary's I had high hopes regarding the proximity of bird and the opportunity of making great shots unfortunately I was a bit disapointed. Don't get me wrong, it is still an amazing sight and some puffins flew pretty close to me in several occasions but I was just somewhat limited photography wise. This is why most of the photos here are crops of original so forgive the lack of quality/sharpness.

So went to bird island in the morning, arrived around 8:30. limping on my strain ankle. No difficulties whatsoever to reach the site. 5-10 min walk to reach the cliff where there is a 10m gap with a small island where the puffins are nesting. a loof fog in the morning so I mostly sat there watching, managed to get a few shots:


Stretching wings

Around 11:00, drove down back in Elliston seeing some agitation on another small island, I stopped and saw a small colony of terns (arctic or common, you decide!) These birds are just elegance !

White on white

Frozen in the air


Around lunchtime when to Bonavista to see the cape which wassurrounded in fog. there was a couple of puffins and other seabirds but no pictures were taken, went back to the closest town/village and had a great crepes lunch. perfect to charge up the batteries and get ready for the afternoon. The fog had disapeared but the light was a bit too bright and I realised in Elliston that I was a bit to far to get close up shots.

Angry guillemot

Still angry!

Savannah sparrow

likely a herring gull chick left wandering around

that was at 400mm... far !

environment shot
On the way back I stopped in Clarenville to get a coffee and I discovered that a McLobster was a thing !!!

Only in Newfoundland!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Trip to cape St Mary's

I haven't been taking much pictures this year but planning to get better with this. The weather is getting better and therefore opportunities to go outside are increasing. So last sunday I decided to go to Cape St. Mary's to see the seabirds colony.Wanted to take the Irish loop so I had to leave fairly early to be able to spend most of the day in Cape St Mary's.

Depart from St John’s around 4:30am following the Irish loop (in red, about 350km) and returning by the highway around 7:00 pm (in blue, about 180 km).

The days are quite long and as I was leaving St John's the sun was already getting up offering some nice light. Unfortunately I was a bit disapointed by the Irish loop, I was expecting much more scenic view of the ocean and the cliffs from the road, but there is only 2 or 3 spots which offer a nice view. However, it gave me the opportunity to encounter my first moose which proved to be quite an excitement!
I was able to spot the first two from far ahead which is good because I wasn't thinking about them at all while I was driving, was a bit more aware afterwards.

What are you doing on our road ?

Taking is time to get back to the woods
After that, the road became quite foggy and later on I barely spotted another moose on the side of the road. That one staid close to me for a while before slowly vanishing in the mist.

Quite the apparition

Ok, enough with moose, this is not the topic of this post ! As i get close to the cape, I stop and start worrying about the weather conditions!

Cape St. Mary's is just behind, all fogged up

I eventually make it safe to the interpretation centre at cape St. Mary's around 8:30 am but there is even more fog there! As I stepped out of my car I could hear the kittiwakes but hardly see the cliffs and no sign of the cliffs and sky! I walk down the 1.4Km trail to reach the platform from which one can see the gannets nesting and flying around. They are so close that even with the thick fog you can easily spot them. However in terms of photography opportunities it's not as good, the light is pale, dull and flat. I take a few shot for the sake of it but it is really not great conditions! (the following pics are really grainy due to higher ISO and also the compression algorithm of google photos, there are not that bad on my screen  from now on I'll upload through photobucket since google has ans auto-editing thing going on as you upload photos on web picasa and I'm not too impressed with it ! After checking, you need to upload through the picasa software to keep the color profile, way to go to force people to DL your stuff Google...)

Bringing some nest material

An example of the taking off sequence. One of the adults always stay on the nest, when one of them wants to leave, it is indicated by raising their bill and neck towards the sky before taking off.

pooping over board !

Around 9:30 am the light comes through as the fog slowly disappears. Just for the view it's worth coming.

Many, many birds!

After that, the fog will not appear before later in the evening. It's already lunch time, and the sun is now high in the sky, beautiful views of the cape appear.

The white on the cliffs are gannets, quite a few hey!

The place is really overwhelming, there is so many birds that it's hard to focus on one specific bird/couple and it takes a while to not get distracted by all the surroundings.
There is a lot of interactions going on. Even tho most of the pairs don't have chicks yet, there is a bit of fighting going on.

I saw a couple of mating sequences but only captured one and not from the greatest angle but at least it gives an idea.

Having a bit of afternoon delight.
 As I said above, most of the pairs are still hatching their eggs but you can see a few chicks every now and then.

This one is early
 The sun is still high so the light is quite harsh so not so many photos taken between 2:00 and 4:30 pm. Also this is the time of the day where there was the most visitors so not as comfortable to be switching around the different points of view.


Around 6:00 pm a lot of agitation: loads of birds suddenly all come back together. I guess from feeding at sea. And during the next hour it is non stop landing and taking off. Birds passing by almost close enough to be touch. Quite an impressive feel to see such massive birds from so close.

And the madness begins !
As close as you can get

Most of the birds pass over the main rock a first time to check where is their nest before actually landing.

There is also an interesting scene that can be seen, the birds make a quick stop on the cliff above the nesting rock to collect some grass and fly down to bring it to the nest.

Taking off

Queuing to collect the grass

Flying back to the nest
Prepare for landing!
and spreading it !
Team work

The light gets a bit softer by then but my memory cards are full so I try to take a few extra shot with whatever space I have left (note for self, get some spare memory cards!).

It's about 7:30 pm and I have a serious headache, almost bald without a hat under this sun is no good so I decide to call it a day! I wish I could stay a bit longer to get sunset light but I'm not feeling too well!


This is NOT a cheesy picture !
So overall an amazing day. This is gannet heaven, so many birds with such proximity is pretty cool. Also there was surprisingly not that many people around. At the most there was about 15 people but for most of the time I was alone with another fellow photographer. Hope to get back this year later on during breeding season!