Long-tailed duck / Ijseend (Clangula-hyemalis)

At the end of June a Long-tailed duck (clangula-hyemalis) was reported in a lake about 5 minutes from my home. From what I have heard this bird has never been seen in this area before, needless to say it attracted a lot of bird watchers and photographers. When I arrived at the lake it wasn’t hard to spot the bird because of all the people it attracted. When watching the birds behaviour it was obvious that she had not been in contact with humans a lot (if not at all). She was very relaxed and occasionally came very close (3-4m) from the waters edge.

I walked to a open area, close to the area where she was swimming, and positioned myself flat on the ground at the waters edge. Hoping that she would come closer to my position. After waiting about 30 minutes the duck came closer and closer, until it eventually was right in front of my eyes. She stayed there for at least 30 minutes where she was foraging, swimming and washing. With time passing the sun had already set below the tree’s in my back and the light became very scarce. I decided to go home and hoped she would stay for another day, eventually I have photographer her for 5 days in a row.

 

 

The long-tailed duck or oldsquaw (Clangula hyemalis) is a medium-sized sea duck, reaching a size of 20-33 cm.

Description:

Adults have white underparts, though the rest of the plumage goes through a complex moulting process. The male has a long pointed tail (10 to 15 cm) and a dark grey bill crossed by a pink band. In winter, the male has a dark cheek patch on a mainly white head and neck, a dark breast and mostly white body. In summer, the male is dark on the head, neck and back with a white cheek patch. The female has a brown back and a relatively short pointed tail. In winter, the female’s head and neck are white with a dark crown. In summer, the head is dark. Juveniles resemble adult females in autumn plumage, though with a lighter, less distinct cheek patch.

Source: Wikipedia

 

Eind Juni werd er een ijseend (Clangula-hyemalis) gemeld in een meer op zijn 5 minuten van mijn huis vandaan. Van wat ik hoorde was dit een bijzondere waarneming in deze regio, dit trok dan ook een hoop vogelaars en fotografen aan. Toen ik bij het meer arriveerde was het niet moeilijk de vogel te ontdekken gezien de grote groep mensen die daar stonden. Na een tijdje naar het gedrag van de vogel te hebben gekeken was het duidelijk dat ze nog niet vaak (misschien wel nooit) in contact was geweest met mensen. Ze was erg rustig en kwam af en toe tot dicht aan de waterkant (3-4m).

Ik besloot naar een nabijgelegen open plek tussen het riet te lopen, daar ging ik aan de waterkant lat op mijn buik liggen in de hoop dat ze deze kant op zou komen. Na ongeveer 30 minuten wachten kwam ze steeds dichter en dichter bij, tot dat ze recht voor me zwom. Ze zwom zeker 30 minuten voor mijn neus, waarbij ze ook regelmatig aan het forageren en wassen was. Met het verstrijken van de tijd was de zon ondertussen achter de bomen verdwenen, waardoor het licht schaars werd. Ik besloot naar huis te gaan, in de hoop dat ze er de volgende dag nog zou zijn. Uiteindelijk heb ik haar 5 dagen achterelkaar kunnen fotograferen.

 

 

De Ijseend is een middel grote zee-eend , hij kan zo’n 20-33 cm lang worden.

Beschrijving:

De eend heeft een witte buik, een licht gezicht en lange donkere vleugels, wat een soort bont uiterlijk oplevert. Het mannetje heeft sterke verlengde middelste staartpennen (10 a 15 cm) en een donker grijze snavel met een roze band. ‘s Winters heeft het mannetje een witte kop en nek, waarbij hij een donkere wangvlek heeft, een donkere borst en een voornamelijk wit lichaam. ‘s Zomers heeft het mannetje een donkere kop, nek en rug, waarbij hij een witte wangvlek heeft. Het vrouwtje heeft een bruine rug met een relatief korte puntige staart. ‘s Winters heeft het vrouwtje een witte kop en nek, met een donkere kroon. ‘s Zomers heeft het vrouwtje een donkere kop. Juveniele exemplaren lijken op volwassen vrouwtjes in hun herfst kleed, waarbij de wangvlek lichter en minder prominent is.

Source: Wikipedia

 

More photo’s can be seen in the Long-tailed duck / Ijseend (Clangula-hyemalis) collection

 

The fox and the butterfly

In May I got a heads up about a nest (or 2) of juvenile red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), there were eleven of them in total, that had a certain pattern of showing up at a accessible place. A few days later I had a day off, so I decided to take my chance to “capture” these magnificent animals. Sadly the weather that day was a bit to bright for my likening, leaving the scene contrasty.

Upon arrival the foxes where nowhere to be seen, so the waiting game in the burning sun started. After about 1,5-2 hours I spotted a juvenile fox walking on a stone ruin in the distance, this was the area where they were seen everyday, so I knew I was in the right place. I took a few “evidence” photo’s and then waited for the fox to come closer.

Within 30 minutes the juvenile fox was at about 20 meters range and closely followed by two brothers and/or sisters. The foxes were playing a few minutes with each other in the burning sun, before they searched for a place in the shadows. One of the foxes kept being very active and was chasing a European Peacock (Inachis io). When the fox came close to the butterfly, it would fly up and around the head of the fox, a few times landing on the fox its head, to then land at another place in the sun.

This process kept repeating for nearly an hour, then it happened!!! SNAP, BAM!! In the wink of an eye the juvenile fox had grabbed the butterfly from the air and it was now hanging between its jaws, playtime was over. The butterfly even ended up as a little snack.

After this event the foxes all slowly walked back into the bushes. I waited for another hour, but they were nowhere to be seen again, so I called it a day.

More photo’s can be found in the Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) image collection.

Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo)

Half April I got informed of the location of a Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo) that was nesting on the forest floor. the nest was located about 10-15 meters from the road, so it was easy to photograph the owl, with no chance of disturbance, from the car. I headed early towards the location to give myself a good chance to get a decent spot in case other photographers would go there as well. It seemed a good call, because I arrived there first, but without half an hour four other cars arrived to photograph the owl’s and their nest.

After about an hour and a half one of the parents came to the nesting area and was looking out over the area from the branch of a tree. About 10 minutes later the parent landed on the forest floor near the nesting area and walked slowly towards the chicks. I have spend the entire morning photographing the owlets and went home with about 400-500 photo’s.

Description:

The Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo) is a very large and powerful bird, with a wingspan of 160–188 cm, the total length can range from 56 to 75 cm. Females weigh 1.75–4.2 kg and males weigh 1.5–3 kg. The great size, bulky, barrel-shaped build, ear tufts and orange eyes make this a distinctive species. The ear tufts of males are more upright than those of females. The plumage coloration, across 13 accepted subspecies, however can be somewhat variable. The upper parts may be brown-black to tawny-buff to pale creamy grey, typically showing as dense freckling on the forehead and crown, stripes on the nape, sides and back of the neck, and dark splotches on the pale ground colour of the back, mantle and scapulars. A narrow buff band, freckled with brown or buff, often runs up from the base of the bill, above the inner part of the eye and along the inner edge of the black-brown ear tufts. The rump and upper tail-coverts are delicately patterned with dark vermiculations and fine wavy barring. The facial disc is tawny-buff, speckled with black-brown, so densely on the outer edge of the disc as to form a “frame” around the face. The chin and throat are white continuing down the centre of the upper breast. The whole of the underparts except for chin, throat and centre of upper breast is covered with fine dark wavy barring, on a tawny-buff ground colour. Legs and feet (which are feathered almost to the talons) are likewise marked on a buff ground colour but more faintly. The tail is tawny-buff, mottled dark grey brown with about six black-brown bars. The bill and feet are black, the iris is orange.

Breeding:

This species usually nests on cliff ledges, crevices and caves. Occasionally, they may also take over a bird nest made by a large bird. Laying generally begins in late winter, sometimes later. One clutch per year of 1-6 white eggs are laid. They are normally laid at 3 days intervals and are incubated by the female alone, starting from the first egg, for 31–36 days. During this time, she is fed at the nest by her mate. Once hatched, the young open their eyes at around 2 days old and are brooded for about 2 weeks. The female stays with her offspring at the nest for 4–5 weeks. For the first 2–3 weeks the male brings food to the nest or deposits it nearby, and the female feeds small pieces to the young, or the male feeds the young directly. At 3 weeks the chicks start to feed themselves and begin to swallow smaller items whole. At 5 weeks the young walk around the nesting area, and at 52 days are able to fly a few metres. They may leave ground nests as early as 22–25 days old, while elevated nests are left at an age of 5–7 weeks. Fledged young are cared for by both parents for around 20–24 weeks. They become independent between September and November in Europe, and leave the parents’ territory (or are driven out by them). At this time the male begins to sing again and inspect potential future nesting sites. The young technically reach sexual maturity by the following year, but do not normally breed until they can establish a territory at around 2–3 years old.

Source: Wikipedia

More photo’s can be viewed in the Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo) collection.

My next blog will feature the Red fox (Vulpes vulpes), so keep an eye out on my website if U want to know more.

 

Photo exhibition

A few months ago I was asked if I would like to hold a photo exhibition in the Rijnland hospital (Leiderdorp, The Netherlands). I gave the proposal a thought and I few days later I confirmed that I was willing to do so. The agreed period was from August until December and I could chose the subject and images with no restrictions.

I started with thinking of a theme for my exhibit and chose images to go with it. The first decision I had to make was if I would like to display animals or landscapes, I decided to settle with landscapes. In lightroom I did a keyword search for landscapes and went through all the images rating them with a star to include them to my first selection. After the first selection I repeated the process, but this time giving two stars to the best images of this selection. I repeated this process until I had twelve images left for my exhibition.

Now I had to decide how large and on what material I would like to display the images. Personally I’m not so fond of canvas, so that one was already left out, so it was either paper or aluminium. In the end I chose paper to keep the costs manageable. Now it was time to decide on the size of the images, so I went to the hospital to view the corridors and walls where the works would be hanged. It all looked very spacious, so the area would benefit from big prints. I decided to make A2 prints and put them in a 70 x 50 frame.

Half May I was contacted again with the question if I could display my work a few weeks / months earlier, due to the cancellation of the person that would exhibit from May until August, until the agreed period. Since I still had a lot of work to do before I was ready I couldn’t hang my works directly.

 

I re-processed my images for printing using Lightroom, Photoshop CC and Perfect onone Suite, then I printed the images with my Epson stylus pro 3880 on Innova Baryta fine art paper (A2), the print ended up being 36,4 x 54,6 for easy matting and framing. The photo was positioned in a 70×50 matte with a 36 x 54 cut-out and then placed in a frame.

Framed photo

 

Since I could not place any information on the wall beneath the photo’s I made cards with the title, my website and purchase costs and placed them in a corner of the frame. I also made sure I had plenty of business cards and a bunch of flyers.

 

Today I finally had everything completed. I loaded all photo’s into my car and drove towards the hospital. Hanging the photo’s, and a final clean, costed me a few hours but it gave a very rewarding feeling. Whilst hanging the photo’s the patients were walking through the corridors, and they all seemed pleased with the new wall decorations. Below are a few photo’s of the corridors with my photo’s on the wall.

Exhibit -3 Exhibit -2 Exhibit -1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since my photo’s hang in a section that has a lot of patients we won’t have a opening, but U are free to go check my exhibition out at Rijnland Ziekenhuis Leiderdorp, department radiology (first floor).

It was a busy time with loads of things to manage and do, but all in all it has been a great experience and honour to do. I hope my people will be able to view and enjoy my photo’s. I will be very grateful if people, who have been to my exhibition, respond to my post or leave me a message with their thoughts about my photo’s.

Some of the photo’s in my Fine Art Landscape collection have been used for this exhibition.

Next up will be a blog about the Eurasion eagle-owl / Oehoe (Bubo bubo)

Image collection update

My bird’s image collections have been updated with two new specimens. These new photo’s can be viewed by going through my image collection or by clicking the name of the species for a redirect towards that specimens collection.

Rufous-collared Sparrow / Roodkraaggors (Zonotrichia capensis):

The Rufous-collared Sparrow is 13.5–15 cm long and weighs 20–25 g. The adult has a stubby grey bill and a grey head with broad black stripes on the crown sides and thinner stripes through the eye and below the cheeks. The nape and breast sides are rufous and the upperpart are black-streaked buff-brown. There are two white wing bars. The throat is white, and the underparts are off-white, becoming brown on the flanks and with a black breast patch.

Young birds have a duller, indistinct head pattern, with brown stripes and a buff ground colour. They lack the rufous collar, and have streaked underparts.

There are between 25 and 29 subspecies. In general, the smaller forms occur in coastal mountains, intermediate birds in the Andes, and large, darker, forms breed on the tepuis. The largest of the tepui subspecies, Z. c. perezchincillae, has grey underparts, and the rufous collar extends as a black band of freckles across the breast. This form might be separable as a distinct species, or it might just be a particularly distinct population due to genetic bottleneck effects.

Source: Wikipedia

Water Rail / Waterral (Rallus aquaticus):

The Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) is a bird of the rail family which breeds in well-vegetated wetlands across Europe, Asia and North Africa. Northern and eastern populations are migratory, but this species is a permanent resident in the warmer parts of its breeding range. The adult is 23–28 cm long and weighs 92–164 g, females are slightly lighter then males. Rails have a body that is flattened laterally, allowing it easier passage through the reed beds it inhabits. It has mainly brown upperparts and blue-grey underparts, black barring on the flanks, long toes, a short tail and a long reddish bill. Immature birds are generally similar in appearance to the adults, but the blue-grey in the plumage is replaced by buff.

Source: Wikipedia

I’ve also added two new landscape photo’s to my Fine art landscapes collection so please check them out.

At this moment I’m laying the final touches on a photo exposit, more details will be announced in my next blog. If U want to know how, what, where and when, then keep an eye out on my website and / or facebook.

Gear upgrade

During the past few weeks / months of photographing I noticed some shortcomings of my Nikon 300mm F4. I have been photographing in woods where the light was scarce, on other occasions I wanted more reach and  what the lens really was missing was VR for easier handheld shooting when the light was scarce. When I stumbled upon a opportunity to upgrade I grabbed my chance. So from now on my trustworthy Nikon 300mm F4 has been “shelved” for a Nikon 300mm F2.8 VR II.

This lens doesn’t only “solve” some of the issues I had with my previous lens, but is also adds more compared to my previous lens:

  • F2.8 vs F4 (extra light, smoother out of focus backgrounds, the opportunity to add a TC 1.4, TC1.7 or even TC 2.0 for extra reach)
  • VR II (for handheld shooting up to 4 stops)
  • Nano coating (prevents flare)
  • Extra contrast
  • Extra sharpness
  • Lighting fast AF speed
  • Muscles (Its quit a bit heavier)

Currently I’m trying and learning how to use the lens to its potential.

The photo’s below of a Black-tailed Godwit / Grutto (Limosa limosa) and the Black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) are taken with this new lens. make sure to check out the new collections by clicking the species name above the photo.

and

My next blog will feature a project I have spend almost two months on, so stay tuned if U want to know what it was.

Fine Art Landscapes

As of today I have added a Fine Art Landscapes collection to my website. This collection will hold any type of landscape photography from anywhere in the world.

 

If U are looking for a photo of a specific location, U can use the search form or tags to find the specific area. If I have that area in my collection.

When I have made enough photo’s about specific subjects (Sea, grassland, lakes, Mountains etc) I will make sub-folders for each subject for easier browsing for specific items.

U can find my Fine Art landscapes collection by clicking here or the image collection in the menu.

The Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

The past few weeks I have been trying to photograph the Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) whilst displaying its mating ritual, this is the second year I have been trying to photograph the ritual.

The Great Crested Grebe is the biggest (on average 46 to 51 cm) species of grebes found in Europe, its a typical water bird that can be found in ponds and lakes. Grebes are excellent swimmers and divers, they use these abilities to catch fish or flee from danger.

 

Description: The adults are unmistakable with there characteristic head and neck decorations, they have a white face with a red-brown and black collar, the collar is displayed during there mating display. Between it’s eyes and pink beak runs a small black line. The Great Crested Grebe has a white bottom, a orange/brownish middle section and is dark on the upper side. There legs have no flippers and are positioned relatively far at the backside of there body, making it hard to move over land. This is why grebes have a preference for building there nests along the water’s edge.

 

Juveniles have a characteristic black and white striped pattern, which the parents can recognize. Male and female grebes will each identify their ‘favourites’, which they alone will care for and teach. A few days after hatching the chicks can already swim and dive, the adults teach these skills to their young by carrying them on their back and diving, leaving the chicks to float on the surface; they then re-emerge a few feet away so that the chicks may swim back onto them.  Whilst on the back of the adults, the juveniles are better protected from predatory fish and herons. After approximately ten weeks the chicks are independent.

 

Behaviour: Grebes are known for there mating display. The male dives in the water to get some aquatic plants. Then they swim at each other, with a stretched neck, when there chests make contact they rise out of the water. During spring the grebe couple builds a “play” nest on the water for mating. Soon after a bigger and stronger nest will be made at the water’s edge, this nest will be used for laying and hatching the eggs. They will usually lay three to four blue-green eggs, which will colour yellow and brown later on. The eggs will be hatched by both parents taking turns, but sometimes the nest is left unoccupied for a small amount of time. When the nest is unoccupied, the eggs are camouflaged by plant parts. The eggs will be hatched in about 23 to 25 days.

 

I still have not photographed the mating display of the Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus). I have witnessed parts of there mating display but not the full “show”, I have seen them mating and hatching there eggs. Whilst the few couples I was following are already on there nests, I have found another couple that has not been nesting yet. Hopefully they will display there mating ritual when I’m with them, If not….  Well U always have to have wishes and that gives me another goal for the next year(‘s).

More photo’s can be found by following the link to my Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) collection

Four-spotted chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)

The Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata), a.k.a. Four-spotted Skimmer, is a dragonfly from the Libellulidae family and can be found throughout Europe, Asia, and Northern America. Four-spotted Chaser’s have two stadia, Larvae and adult. The Larvae live on the bottom of ponds and pools, where they feed on other aquatic insects. It takes two years to develop from the larvae stage to adult. When the development of the larvae stage comes to an end, the larvae crawl out of the water, using the available vegetation, to find a spot to “clamp” themselves on to go into there final stage of the metamorphosis. During metamorphosis the adult form of the dragonfly bursts out of the larvae skin, when its out of the skin it needs to pump up its wings and lets them dry. Once his wings are fully dried up the dragonflies metamorphosis is completed. The adult stage can be found approximately between April to early September. Adults feed predominantly on mosquitoes, gnats and other small insects. This active Dragonfly mainly lives by ponds, pools and ditches.

Identification: The Four-spotted chaser is a medium sized dragonfly, with a length of approximately 45 mm. The Four-spotted chaser is the only specie of dragonfly that has a black spot in the middle of the wings, there are four spots in total. The rear wings have a dark spot, with above the dark spot a brown orange spot which can also be found on the front wings. The body has a yellowish / brown colour with a black colour at the end of the abdomen, on the flanks are yellow spots. Males can be distinguished from females through there abdominal appendages. For males these two appendages are spread, with females they form a point.

Behaviour: The male is highly aggressive and will defend his territory from incursions from other males. The male has a preference for prominent perches and will often return to the same perch around the ponds, pools and ditches whilst patroling for intruders. Mating takes place in the air, rather than on perches or amongst the vegetation. The female lays her eggs on floating vegetation.

Predators: The Emperor dragonfly (Anax imperator) and the the Green Tiger Beetle (Cicindela campestris) are known to be hunting the four-spotted chaser.

More photo’s can be viewed by following the link to my Four-spotted chaser (Libellula Quadrimaculata) collection.