Best of 2018! January! ‘Bird Is the Word’ Blog #75



Best of 2018! January! Hi everybody! I enjoy being a birder, and it does have a tendency to also somewhat make you a photographer. In the early stages of learning, a camera is very handy to capture images that can be studied later. I notice the more veteran birders carry scopes and binoculars, but not always cameras. They are confident in their abilities and can bird in real-time, even when it’s just a flyover bird in the distance.

However, I need to take photo’s! I can compare field marks in the photo’s with my guides, or use the internet to figure out the exact bird I did see. I can ask friends and other birder’s their opinions too. Without the photo’s to reference, I’m afraid I would forget or become fuzzy on the details.

Speaking of fuzzy, many of my pictures are fuzzy and pixelated. Sometimes a fleeting moment is all I’m offered and I know without that reference shot that sighting will always be a mystery. I don’t like that at all! I want to know what species of birds I see. Even a rough reference photo can still be very useful in getting the right identification!

Sometimes instead of fuzzy and pixelated, the images come out quite nice, and I’ve always lovingly described these photo’s as ‘calendar shots’. I use these photo’s to create an annual holiday gift for some friends and family. That gift is a calendar, highlighting….well, the highlights of my birding year!

So without further ado! And through the power of this blog I can now share my best moments of the year with everybody, including you! Hey, that rhymes!




The centerpiece of the first month of 2019 is the Bonaparte’s Gull. I recently blogged about running into several hundred of them, but this was from last winter. A few of these beautiful gulls were loafing on the (very cold) beach and I was afforded much better photo opp’s than my more recent sighting!


Above, is the pic that made it to the calendar. Below are some alternate shots:


Bonaparte’s Gull





I believe it was the same day that I saw those Bonaparte’s Gulls when I photographed this Ruddy Turnstone. It had found an easy meal of the remnants of this Horseshoe Crab. Here’s that photo and an alternate shot as well!


Ruddy Turnstone



Moving on the January page clockwise is a somewhat recent photo of a Lesser-Black-backed Gull. This Eurasian species has been more and more common over the last few years. I’m told maybe just a decade ago a sighting of one would have caused a lot of excitement in the birding community. It is now a bird that most birders can see by checking just a few reliable spots. Here is the photo that made the calendar and an alternate shot of this bird as well! We hung out for a while, an awesome bird that had made it into last years calendar as well!


Lesser Black-backed Gull


Best of 2018! January-February 'Bird Is the Word' Blog #75 is all about the stunners like this one!


There is a honest attempt to try to have birds from appropriate months to make the calendar well rounded. If you look close you can sometimes find a summer photo in a winter month and vice versa. Guilty! I wouldn’t put a spring migration bird in say, February. It’s just a loose translation that gets muddy by the time I cram everything in! The future will hopefully bring a more professional camera and my hope is a future calendar will just be one photo for each month. Using smaller pictures helps the resolution stay intact, and the photo’s will look a bit sharper than being blown up very large to fit the whole page.


Each year I fear I won’t have enough good photo’s to make the grade, but so far I have had surplus and tough omissions. Not every picture is an A+, but I do the best I can with equipment that is quite tangible for anyone interested in starting out. A Nikon P600 camera, which was a little under $300 new, and Diamondback Vortex binoculars which were around $200. I had some cheap Bushnell binoculars until I couldn’t take it anymore!


Next up, is a extra special one for me. If you read this blog you know I loooove all kinds of ducks and this rare visitor was a real treat! Yes, it was freezing out. Yes, I had heard there were steep fines for walking out on the jetties. I didn’t push my luck, especially after “eating” the jetty the year before and clinging on a rock so I didn’t fall in the winter ocean lol! So i didn’t get as close I would have liked. But whatever…it’s a King Eider! The pics are not great, but it’s a special moment for me as a birder and I needed to highlight that sighting!


King Eider



It's cold at the beach in January!



Lastly for the month of January is this Horned Grebe. Most all of these pictures for January where all from the same beach. Not this bird though. This grebe was seen at a nearby bay and we had a bit of staring contest. It showed really well but it would dive frequently and my camera was too slow to get any good shots, but this one was pretty cool:


Horned Grebe


And…an alternate shot:


That does it for January! Some months have quite a few pics and others less. I’ll cover February and March in next weeks edition of ‘Bird Is The Word! Till then please do click the links below for all things

Thank you!