Photography Interlude – Beach Birds

It’s been a while since I have posted a “photography interlude,” but I haven’t stopped taking photos.  I just got busy on the blog with closing out 2015 and getting 2016 under way with a lot of posts for each of these topics.   But now that we’re into March, I thought it was high time to share some more of my photographs with you.

Some Background on These Posts…

For those who are new to the blog, let me give a bit of background on these “photography interlude” posts.  For years, shopping was my default hobby.  Whenever I had any free time, I couldn’t wait to hit the mall or local shops.   That not only led to a depleted bank account and an overly stuffed closet, but I also became somewhat one-dimensional as a person.  I didn’t have a whole lot going on in my life beyond clothes, shoes, and accessories.   Since the tagline for this blog is “trade your full closet for a full life,” I knew that had to change.   I fell into photography fairly effortlessly, as I endeavored to share Southern California with a sick friend who had always wanted to visit but may never be able to do so.

Debbie Roes, photographer

  Taking photos at sunset along the San Diego Bay. 

Last April, I solicited feedback from readers on things to do besides shopping and shortly thereafter shared about my first alternate hobby, photography.   Since I received such great feedback on my photos, I decided to periodically share them, both in my “useful links” round-ups and in dedicated posts devoted to particular themes.   If you’d like to see my earlier “photography interludes,” click here.  You can also follow me on Instagram, where I publish some of my photos from time to time.

Most of my photos are taken along the water in the beach community in which I live.  I live close to San Diego Bay and enjoy taking walks by the water there, as well as over by the ocean.   If I’m lucky, I usually spy a few beach birds while I’m walking.   I still haven’t mastered the knack of capturing these beautiful creatures with my camera, but I have snapped some shots that I like over the past year since I started taking photos.  In today’s post, I’m going to share some of my favorites with you.

Snowy Egret and Great Blue Heron

A Snowy Egret and  a Great Blue Heron perched on a boat at a local harbor. 

Great Blue Heron

My favorite bird to see and photograph is the Great Blue Heron, which I call “Mr. Blue” for short.  Mr. Blue is a very elusive bird and he’s (I know there are female herons, too, but since I can’t tell the difference, they’re all “hims” to me) also quite skittish.   One of my Facebook friends who lives in the Vancouver area posts the most amazing photos of herons in her locale, but they seem to always fly away when I get even slightly close to them here.  I call her the “bird whisperer,” but she hasn’t told me her secrets just yet.  Maybe all I need is a long lens so I can zoom in on these lovely loners from afar.

Here are a few of the best blue heron photos that I’ve taken thus far:

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron with a Mallard

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Until recently, I wasn’t aware that there was more than one type of heron. I thought the Great Blue Heron was the only type of heron in existence.  Well, I learned I was wrong and that the bird I had jokingly referred to as “old man bird” (because of its stooped over appearance) is actually another member of the heron family, the Black-Crowned Night Heron.  This bird got its name because it’s most active at night.

Night herons are much tamer than blue herons and I have been able to get close enough to them so I could take some pretty decent photos.   I often see these birds at a boat launching ramp not far from where I live, as well as at a local harbor.   Occasionally, I also see both night herons and blue herons in a tree along one of the bayside paths where I like to walk.  I was able to snap a photo of a night heron in a tree, as shown below.

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Black-Crowned Night Heron in a tree

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Brown Pelican

Another bird that is prevalent in my community is the Brown Pelican.  I often see them perched on boats in the local harbors or on top of roofs on wharves and piers.   I haven’t taken too many photos of pelicans as of yet, but here are a couple that I like:

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelicans

California Seagulls

Of course, a beach area is not complete without the ever-present California Gulls.   I see these birds both by the bay and at the ocean.  There are a couple of them that hang out by the boat launching ramp that have injured wings and cannot fly.  One has an injured left wing and one has an injured right wing and they tend to stick together.  I call them “Lefty” and “Righty” and I always look for them on my walks. They appear to be quite healthy and well-fed and seem to be happy even though they are bound to the earth much like you and I are.  I think that many of the fisherman thrown them their leftover bait and fish remnants when they come in to shore at the end of their fishing trips.

I don’t have any photos of “Lefty” and “Righty” (it’s usually after dark when I see them), but here are two photos of other seagulls by the bay and ocean:

California Gull

California Gulls

Egrets and Ducks

Until recently, I was mostly ignorant about bird species such that I didn’t know that egrets are also a type of heron.  The egrets which I see around here are called Snowy Egrets and they are much smaller than the Great Egret, which basically looks like a white version of the Great Blue Heron.  Snowy Egrets are significantly smaller but equally as beautiful.  A Snowy Egret is pictured in the introductory photograph above (along with a heron), as well as below.   One difference between the Great Egret and the Snowy Egret other than the size differential is that the latter has bright yellow feet.

Snowy Egret

I see a lot of ducks around here, too.   I think that most of them are Mallards, but I see other varieties on occasion as well.   As with many bird species, the male Mallards are more colorful and are marked by their bright green heads.  By contrast, the females look plainer and are mostly brown other than a single dark blue wing feather. I liked this photo of two female Mallards set off by green foliage:

Mallard females

In Conclusion

I hope you liked this look at some of the beach birds of San Diego County.  I hope to continue to hone my bird photography skills and look forward to sharing some more close-up bird photos with you soon.  Who knows?  I may even cultivate bird-watching as a new hobby!  I don’t know if I have the patience for that, but I do really like birds, so you never know…

I’ll be back later this week with my February accountability update (see earlier ones here).   Other upcoming posts include a guest post on shopping wisely for children’s clothing, another installment in my series on alterations (see the first two posts in that series here and here) and some more thoughts on shopping psychology and life balance.


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Comments

  1. Super cool! I will have to look for the blue heron when I’m in SD

    • Debbie Roes says:

      When are you coming to San Diego, Jane? There are a lot of them here, but they sure don’t seem to like people!

  2. Great pictures! I loved Lefty and Righty.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks, Tonya! I looked for them on my walk yesterday, but I didn’t see them. I always worry about them if I don’t see them for a while. I feel like they are my friends.

  3. How beautiful! And interesting. It occurs to me – have you considered the San Diego Audubon Society or the Natural History Museum? Have you considered getting involved with a photography clubs or taking more photography classes? Interesting that you are living in an environment that is particularly rich in birds.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for the suggestions, Susan. I have taken a few photography classes and would like to take more. A club could be interesting, too. I would like to learn more about birds, as I really like to see and photograph them.

  4. Ooh, amazing birds! I’m a “casual birdwatcher” and highly encourage you to try it out if you like birds.
    What does casual birding entail? I have the basic equipment- binoculars, camera and a few good bird books. A good field guide is indispensable, for the second book I’d recommend something that gives a deeper view into lives of common birds.
    I am a member -though rather inactive- in BirdLife because I feel that in these days it’s good to be involved in protecting these beautiful creatures by some small way. 95% of my birdwatching happens in my kitchen where our feeder can be seen. I keep track of our visitors- it really varies from year to year. Most of our species are small and not very colorful, but I have learned to appreciate and care about them as they survive our harsh winters.
    What does casual birdwatching not entail? Stress, counting points, treks to remote locations (though these days, when I and DH book a trip, we usually learn a bit about local birds and where they can be spotted). No spending a fortune in super expensive gear either. Just doing what I like, when I like, and learning more at leisurely speed so that I can appreciate more what I’m seeing. My next goal is to learn to recognize at least some more species’ sounds.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I appreciate your tips on birdwatching, Sara! I consider myself a casual birdwatcher, too, but I could definitely use some of the items you recommend. I want to keep it fun and stay away from the stress and the expense. I like the goal of recognizing some of the sounds. I have been paying more attention to that myself and have spied more than a few herons by their squawks.

  5. Such beautiful photographs, and such amazing birds! If I lived somewhere that had something more than Canada geese, seagulls, and the occasional starling, I’d become an avid birdwatcher. Thanks so much for sharing your photographs – I think you’ve got a great new hobby started.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you like my photos, Janice. I don’t see Canada geese much here, but I used to see them often when I lived in the SF Bay Area. Those birds can be mean! One of them went after my friend at an ATM once and it really freaked him out! They hiss, too. Most of the birds around here are quite passive by comparison.

  6. Sharon W says:

    Hi Debbie. Lovely photos. I felt very tranquil looking at these pics over my morning coffee. I’m an avid bird watcher (in my own garden). I’m lucky to have an owl in my garden & I love listening to him at night & watching the bats circle. During the day it’s mainly blackbirds, robins, collared doves & a group of starlings & sparrows that hang out together. I love watching them splashing about in the bird bath. I also once received a visit from a peacock! I’m convinced my avid bird watching is the reason I subsequently rescued 2 stray cats. They came in for the kitchen scraps I put out for the birds & never left! (I did have them scanned to ensure they weren’t simply lost)

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Sounds like you have some great birds in your area, Sharon! I would love to see a peacock, but I know we don’t have them around here (except at the zoo). It’s sounds like the stray cats found the right place! I’m a lover of both cats and birds, but I know they usually don’t like each other (although you should check out the cat and owl videos on YouTube if you haven’t seen them – they’re adorable!).

  7. Love this!!! I would def. consider myself an “amateur birdwatcher/enthusiast”, have loved them all my life and even had a related nickname when i was younger. Two parakeets i had as a teen were the dearest pets i ever owned outside of my beloved departed dog. The neighborhood we moved into is naturalized and considered a bird sanctuary. Hubby and I love to walk down to the lake marina and see all the animals along the way- including water birds like herons, ducks, geese, gulls, coots. It’s amazing. They are amazing and so cute, and doing fascinating things all the time!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Wow, your area sounds wonderful, Claire! How great that you are able to see so many birds there. I have never had a bird as a pet, but I do love to see them out in the wild. Herons are my favorite birds to watch. I just wish I could get closer to them. They are so elegant and graceful, but they don’t much like people!

      • Our area really is wonderful, Debbie! We had to get an older, somewhat neglected house to get into the neighborhood and would have preferred newer in better shape. But every time we go out and take a walk, we remember why we made the trade-off. It’s so lovely, and the homes and facilities were built to be harmonious and seamless with the landscape. The birdlife is truly amazing – I think I might have seen a pair of ospreys the other day. That is interesting about your herons not liking people. I guess depends on exposure? – we see one regularly at the marina, I think he lives there, and can get very close. I also tend to think of the birds and other animals I see on a regular basis as friends, like you do with Lefty and Righty. 🙂

        • Debbie Roes says:

          We live in an apartment, but the location is amazing and we would be sad to leave here. The real estate in San Diego is among the most expensive in the country, which is a big reason why we never bought a house here. We are happy where we are, though. There are ospreys here, too. There’s a nest for one out on one of our walks. I wish our herons were friendly, but they are definitely skittish and fly away if you get too close. In contrast, we can get very close to the night herons and other birds. I’m envious that you can get so close to the one at the marina near you. I still think of “Mr. Blue” as a friend (there are probably 5 or more Mr. Blues here), even if the feeling isn’t reciprocated 🙂

  8. Spectacular. Love the emotion in your photos. I too am a sea bird watcher. And today I am enjoying watching from your pages.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks, Terra. I like what you wrote about the emotion in my photos. We are both lucky to live near the water and all of the beautiful birds.

  9. You have a great and also healthy hobby. Thank you sharing your amazing photos. Do you know the film The Big Year (2011)?

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I just looked up The Big Year, Dory, and it seems like a good movie for me to watch. Thanks for the recommendation – and for your kind words!

  10. Inspiring photographs, thanks for posting them. It would be great if your photography hobby had some spin offs, such as bird watching, as others have suggested. I remember your camera was stolen, I assume you replaced it?
    Alice

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, I replaced my camera, Alice, about a month after it was stolen. I bought the exact same one, so it’s almost like it didn’t happen. I do think I could get into birdwatching. I already do it to a degree, but I’d love to learn about more types of birds and learn to better photograph them.

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