Readers’ wildlife photos

October 13, 2023 • 8:15 am

Today we have the second installment of photos from Jamie Blilie, sent in by his father James, all taken in Southern California (part 1 is here). You can enlarge the photos by clicking on them. James’s captions are indented.

A spectacular crested bird with red eyes, the Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens), photographed in Murray Canyon.

The final desert bird, the Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), was photographed right in town on the Sunnylands Estate. This formal garden was alive with birds; but they were tricky to photograph because they mostly perched in the thick Mesquite trees (Prosopis spp) planted in the garden, which played havoc with the cameras’ autofocus.

Next, we move the southern California coast in the region of Seal Beach, California. These are taken at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), a familiar friend from all over North America.

And, our final bird:  The American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana).  These were very common in the Bolsa Chica Reserve. None of us had ever seen one before.

Also one that may be of interest:  Sea Level marked on a structure in the Imperial Valley, near to the Salton Sea.  The whole area is below Sea Level.

Finally, the photographer, Jamie, showing him doing what he does:  Shooting bird photos along the shores of the Salton Sea.


Nikon D5600 (crop factor = 1.5)
Sigma 150-600mm f/5.0-6.3 DG OS HSM600 lens (225-900mm equivalent). This is a very good lens, especially for the cost.  Good VR.

6 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Beautiful. The Great Blue Heron head shot is amazing. The first time I recall seeing one is as a boy in upstate New York. We were fishing in the early evening on the Tioughnioga River when these giant birds joined us in their own fishing expedition. They reminded us of pterodactyls. Great Blue Herons, like all birds, are in fact dinosaurs, not pterodactyls.

  2. Beautiful shots.

    I have the Canon version of that Sigma lens and it is indeed a great lens, perfect for birding and other wildlife shots, with very good image stabilization allowing for handheld shooting.

  3. Central California coast, early afternoon, low tide. I saw a great blue heron way out on the outer edge of the intertidal rocks with a fairly large snake (perhaps about 2 feet) in its bill, repeatedly dipping the snake into the ocean. The snake was obviously alive as it thrashed and struggled to escape. I could not ID the snake even with binoculars but a garter snake (Thamnophis sp.) seems most likely since they are the most common snakes in the area. I wondered if the heron was trying to drown it before consuming it. Birds are certainly used to swallowing live wriggling prey, but this was going to be an especially large and squirmy meal perhaps even still capable of biting. After about 4 minutes of dipping, the heron did swallow the still writhing snake. A friend suggested that the heron may have been trying to get all the foul smelling musk and poop off of and out of the snake before consuming it.

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