“What if I fall?” Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?
Birds, it all started with my fascination with the hundreds of hummingbirds that passed in migration at the ranch in Baja, many stayed all year, in the snow and cold ( yes, it snows in Baja, our ranch was at an elevation of 5000′) it was fascinating to watch them, both the visitors and the residents. From that grew a love to just sit and watch these beautiful creatures and also a study of their everyday life, some are comical, some are quite serious, all have something to offer, be it a song, a dance, or as a clean up crew.
The Reddish Egret is the king of the dancers here at Estero Estuary. Watching it leap and prance, twist and twirl after a fish is remarkable, the agility is astounding and the comic relief, well, priceless:) Sometimes I can watch from the stone seawall, other times I don the reef shoes and venture out into the mud and sand flats where the Egrets are fishing. As the tide goes out schools of fish caught in the pools are easy prey.
I have a soft spot for the Egrets and Herons, they are so large some of them, perhaps easier to photograph than the tiny lbb’s, or lgb’s…little brown birds, or little grey birds;) They tend not to be too flighty, if you walk slowly and stop and just sit and watch they seem to stick about. Sometimes I bring my tripod along but mostly I just shoot handheld, could explain why my shoulder hurts here;) at over 5.5 lbs for the lens and Canon 6D it is heavy…I should use perhaps a monopod, I need to get into the practice of that. I have discovered I need to back away from the 400, it is soft, at 350, I get a sharper image with my older 100-400 L IS, one day I’ll spring for the newest lens, a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens…sigh…pricey or an alternative are the Sigma or Tamron 150-600MM…you can lighten your pocket-book very quickly with all these amazing lens and cameras! Anyone want to buy me a new one? Just checking:) In the mean time, I make do with what I have, I’m still learning daily things I can change!
I’ve learned I can speed up, or decelerate the autofocus, the tracking sensitivity, will probably drive myself mad doing this as every time I change it I’m not sure if it really helps or not;) Especially useful when trying to focus on the hummingbirds:) They still are my favourites. I have only seen the Anna’s here at the estuary but I’m sure Allen’s and Rufous come through in the late Fall and early Spring.
Photographing birds and walking cats does not always go together but can produce some interesting results;) They are usually on the leash but here we can let them go to run in the sand and play, supervised. Gamora stalked the Great Blue Heron a few days ago but as she got closer realized just HOW big it was and sat and just watched. They are very quick to see what is flying overhead as well. The Long Billed Curlew puts up quite the squawk at a 100 feet away and the cats just watch. I do worry about the Northern Harrier female, she took a look at them the other day as she flew over…
Most people point out the Vermilion Flycatcher as they walk by. Such a colourful bird. They always want to know what it is:) There are several pairs about here and they are constantly landing very close on signs and the seawall. There are the regular cast of House Finches and White Crowned Finches as well as a few Warblers and Phoebes catching flies by the edge of the sand. I should spend more time walking inland, I’m sure I would see some new residents, it is just there is so much to see in the water!
Every year the estuary changes, last year it was full of deeper tide pools with anemones, more storms, more turbulence, this year all the deeper pools are gone, flatter shallow ones have taken over. The residents are still here, Long Billed Curlews and Whimbrels, I can finally tell the difference, that eye stripe! The flocks of Willets and Dowitchers and Sandpipers, Plovers and Killdeers. I still have trouble with all the yellow legged guys, keeping them separate;)
So, as you can see, there are a few birds here:) The question I get asked the most..is it safe. Over and over again. I have to tell you, I feel safer here in Ensenada than in San Diego so birders…be brave…drive South a few hours and experience this amazing place, not only is there a great restaurant here at Estero Beach, beautiful rooms, and many things for SOB’s (Spouses of birders) to do:) including a museum!
Did I mention the flocks? not of sunburned tourists but these;)
There is such an amazing variety of life here. Yes, over a few seasons, mostly we are here in December and January, but have spent parts of March here as well as a few weeks over the summer. Migration is always interesting as well as breeding season.
and…did I mention tacos? Mariscos? wonderful wine country, am I sounding like I work for the Ensenada tourism board? I should:) Are there dangerous creatures…why of course, if you are a fish for example;) or a small to medium-sized plump bird…
You might be in trouble if, lets say if you are mixed up with the drug trade…then these guys are here to clean up;)
Vulture humour;) It’s not 85 degrees here I might add. The Pacific keeps the temperatures moderate, if you want heat you can go inland to wine country…salud…or stay out at the somewhat cooler coast. Either way you are in for a treat, friendly people, bring your phrase book, it never hurts to try, amazing food and wine and birds…lots and lots of birds, so you birders try something new…if you’re still apprehensive and want information on insurance, roads, hotels etc, send me an email…firstname.lastname@example.org and I can help you with questions you might have…Happy New Year 2018 friends, let’s make it an adventurous one! Viva Baja!
FYI, all these bird and landscape shots were taken here at Estero Beach Hotel and RV Park-Ensenada-Baja California Norte:)