Readers’ wildlife photos

May 11, 2014 • 4:24 am

Stephen Barnard’s getting to be as regular in the mornings as my latte and a Hili Dialogue.  But how can one resist such good photos? Here are three new ones—all, I presume, from Idaho:

First, a gadwall (Anas strepera), with the note:

This is not Photoshopped. I just tweaked some global parameters.

I don’t know what “tweaking global parameters” means, but it’s a nice shot:

Gadwall

A cinnamon teal (Anas cyanoptera) and a tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor). What a lovely duck!

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Has anyone noticed that ducks often have funny names? To wit: bufflehead, scoter, steamer duck,  gadwall, widgeon, Greater Scaup, ruddy duck, fulvous whistling duck, etc.

 

36 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. I take “tweaked some global parameters” to mean something like hitting the, ENHANCE, button in the Mac OS program, PREVIEW, or in the iPhone camera app which amounts to adjusting overall contrast, brightness and color saturation.

    I think he pointed that out because it does look as if he selected just the duck, made some changes, then adjusted water separately.

    1. I’ll typically fool around with things like exposure, contrast, saturation, unsharp masking, etc. — things that have darkroom analogies.

      1. Those are as far as I go with my pictures too – mostly because I don’t know how to do much else and I’m using Lightroom which is more about technical accuracy than artiness (for lack of a better word).

  2. ful·vous [fuhl-vuhs]
    adjective
    tawny; dull yellowish-gray or yellowish-brown.

    No hits for fulvious.

    *sad sigh*

    1. It was clearly a typo, and your “sad sigh” is rude. Let me give you an idea of how to correct a misspelling here:

      ‘”fulvious” is misspelled.’

      No “sad sigh” necessary. Read the Roolz; and there are many good antihistamines on the market to help you with your problem of being snotty.

  3. I enjoy your Reader’s Wildlife posts and especially Barnard’s birds. The photography is beautiful, but also there is such a peaceful quality to them.

  4. Cinnamon Teal are rather drab and monochromatic on the water. It’s only when they take to the air that their full colors are exposed, and it’s too fast to be appreciated by the naked eye.

    1. The cinnamon colour actually looked so cinnamon-y that it seemed tasty! I could almost taste and smell the cinnamon looking at the bird.

  5. I was immediately attracted to the Gadwall photo, Stephen, and it’s nice to know that you experienced this beautiful bit of nature pretty much as we see it here, without much tweaking. Your framing/composition make it an appealing photograph.

    Birds are so amazing, and it’s always great to see your detailed close-ups of birds in flight. I hope seeing them encourages people to value wildlife more (I grew up with Sierra Club weekly appointment calendars in tow.)

    Rare word alert:
    I’d like to suggest that viewers click the Gadwall photo to enlarge it, twice, to see the interesting, fine reticulations on the duck’s side panels. Gadwalls aren’t as drab as one might think.

  6. Wow, great photos, thanks for sharing! That tree swallow probably cannot wait to molt. His primaries look pretty frayed already.

    1. Hmm, they look pristine to me, save for that one little area that seems to reflect some sort of mishap.

  7. Excellent photographs as usual, Stephen! The Tree Swallow’s particularly impressive to me, given how hard they are to track in flight. That Gadwall’s a bit odd; I’d expect a drake in breeding colors to have an all-black bill.

    1. You beat me to it. Unbelievable swallow shot, Stephen! Note to all–they fly at just short of the speed of light.

  8. Most birds got their official names in the 19th century. Many named after friends, or patrons
    Think of all the weird place names around North America; I live near a place called “Devil’s Well”. Not too far from here is “Bumpas Hell”, In “Death Valley” there is “The Devil’s Golf Course”. The list is endless.

    1. Combination of: lack of imagination; and the Christian’s deeply-held belief that the real world is the work of the non-malignant Old Testament deity.

  9. For people who got a significant part of their protein from hunting, ducks mattered. Therefore, they were carefully observed. Therefore, they got English names. Hunting continued, and those names were retained into modern times. Hence teal, gadwall, wigeon, mallard, scaup, etc.

    A lot of smaller birds got names long ago (robin, jay, rook, crow, pigeon, dove) but many were named at the generic level and other didn’t get names that came down to modern usage. English names they have now are descriptive in modern terms. Therefore we have the more “sensible” names like Collared Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Green Woodpecker, Spotted Woodpecker, etc.

    1. I did a little research on the etymology of “gadwall”. It’s obscure and undetermined. There are speculations: gad well = go about well; quedul, of the Latin querquedula, a teal.

    2. Interesting. I had wondered if any of duck common names were derived from French or Native American words. Baldpate (literally, bald head) is another name for the American widgeon.

    1. In keeping with my preference for things avian, I’ll stick with Oleaginous Hemispingus.

        1. oops, I just learned something there about copying links from Amazon! I meant to put in only the link… oh well. We now have an illustrated comment here : )

            1. Oh. Re the illustration (pic of book’s cover) I am guessing you need to go see it on the WEIT website, not in an email reply.
              Actually now I’m sorry I used the Amazon link for my first comment about the book. Better to give you the title and let you do your own researching!
              The Military Warbler and other such birds appears in “A Field Guide to Little Known and Seldom-Seen Birds of North America”, by three people with the last name Sill.
              I received a copy years ago from someone who works with one of the authors, and it’s fun to pull it out and show it to friends with a straight face, and see how far they get before they look up with that twinkle in their eye. Loads of fun inside the book. I highly recommend it, as do lots of other people as evidenced by the star ratings.

  10. Global parameters is not a common term in Photoshop, which he is likely using, but what it probably means is changing the values for the entire image rather than a selection or a single channel (there are 3 channels in an online image, red, green and blue). Typically one adjusts the values for the entire image, increasing contrast and saturation. It’s common practice.

    1. I don’t own Photoshop, nor do I use it. I have Aperture, but I don’t use that, either. You are correct about global parameters.

  11. The teal and swallow shots are simply stunning. That swallow shot is one of the best in-flight hots I’ve seen. Must have some kick-ass AF on that rig!

    Superb! Thanks!

    1. The AF is fast and accurate with this lens and the AI servo mode works great for moving subjects. I notice some degradation in AF performance when I use the lens with the 1.4x extender, so I tend not to use the extender for birds in flight. Reach is good, but sharpness is better.

    2. BTW, it’s nearly impossible to get a photo like that of the swallow in calm conditions. I depend on a strong headwind to slow them down, and the same thing works for Northern Harriers. Both species use the wind to their advantage while hunting.

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