November, 2011

Bufflehead Ducks

This time I ventured down to the waterfront by Woodbine Beach in order to try to get some shots of some Bufflehead ducks. They’re very shy and invariably swim away from you if they feel they are too close to you. Managed to sneak up on a couple of them who promptly swam away from me when they caught a glimpse of me. Here are a couple of pics of that male and female pair who felt I was getting too close for their comfort:

Male Bufflehead Duck

Male Bufflehead Duck

Female Bufflehead Duck

Female Bufflehead Duck

At what was presumably a more safe distance from people, this pair of Buffleheads swam together along with a small flock of other Buffleheads and assorted other ducks and geese in the harbour by Woodine Beach.

Male and Female Bufflehead Duck

Male and Female Bufflehead Duck

According to the Bufflehead Wikipedia article, they are among the smallest ducks in North America. For a size comparison, here are a couple of male Mallards adjacent to a much smaller male Bufflehead:

A Couple of Male Mallards and a Male Bufflehead for Size Comparison

A Couple of Male Mallards and a Male Bufflehead for Size Comparison

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Female Red-breasted Merganser at Woodbine Beach

It was a windy morning down by the Woodbine Beach, and the waves were very choppy, which was why I was surprised to see what turned out to be a lone female Red-breasted Merganser in an unsheltered bay, ocassionally diving for food under the surface.

Another shy bird, I had to use my telephoto to get these shots of her:

Female Red-breasted Merganser 1

Female Red-breasted Merganser 1

Female Red-breasted Merganser 2

Female Red-breasted Merganser 2

Female Red-breasted Merganser 3

Female Red-breasted Merganser 3

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More Long-tailed Ducks

A flock of Long-tailed ducks have clearly started to over-winter down at Woodbine Beach. I always find the males comical, like Harlequin Ducks done in monochrome, and then there’s the ridiculously long double-tail.

Their call is not the usual throaty “quack” you would get from a Mallard, but the sound you might get out of a chicken if it was laughing (and maybe somewhat annoyed too). (A good example of what they sound like can be found here).

Here are a series of photos I managed to snag of the flock this morning down by Woodbine Beach:

I like this one because it shows the slight variations in plumage and even head-shape that exists in these ducks:

Trio of Male Long-tailed Ducks

Trio of Male Long-tailed Ducks

Then there was this fellow, who unlike the rest of his shy brothers, ventured closer to me rather than keeping his distance, allowing me to take a couple of nice shots of him and his reflection in the still waters.

Male Long-tailed Duck and His Reflection in the Water 1

Male Long-tailed Duck and His Reflection in the Water 1

Male Long-tailed Duck and His Reflection in the Water 2

Male Long-tailed Duck and His Reflection in the Water 2

Then there’s this one of a male and female pair about to land. I managed to get both of them nice and sharp by moving the camera, but as a result the other ducks they are landing among are blurred. Still, a fun shot.

Pair of Long-tailed Ducks Coming in for a Landing

Pair of Long-tailed Ducks Coming in for a Landing

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Toronto Santa Claus Parade 2011

Went down to the Royal Ontario Museum today with the girls, mainly to see the David Hockney Fresh Flowers show on there, but of course there was the little matter of a Santa Claus Parade that happened to be going by the museum…

Both of my girls are old enough that they don’t find the idea of the Santa Claus Parade much of a thrill, but we did manage to see some of it. Most of the pictures I ended up taking were from the second floor of the ROM, by one of the windows in the dinosaur gallery. None of the pics are as nice as sharp as I would like as a result, since I was shooting through glass, but there’s enough here to give you a sense of the parade from our vantage point.

My favourite shots involved the crowd’s reaction to what was going by, like this close-up of a group of kids with their parents on top of the Gardiner Ceramic Museum across the street from the ROM:

Toronto Santa Claus Parade 03a - Close-up of Crowd on Top of the Gardiner Ceramic Museum

Toronto Santa Claus Parade 03a - Close-up of Crowd on Top of the Gardiner Ceramic Museum

Here are all of the rest of the better shots that came out:

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LBB on a Rock

I think this is a vireo, but am not entirely sure. It is an LBB though (“Little Brown Bird”). ;-)

(Postscript: I’ve since been corrected in my identification; this is more likely a Yellow-rumped Warbler instead, and the pics at the Cornell Ornithology Lab site would seem to confirm this).

Vireo on Rock Looking at Camera

Vireo on Rock Looking at Camera

Vireo on Rock Looking Out at the Lake

Vireo on Rock Looking Out at the Lake

Shot while walking the dog down by Woodbine Beach.

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Male Long-tailed Duck by Woodbine Beach

There was a flock of long-tailed ducks by Woodbine Beach this morning, and this lone male came close enough for me to take a few good shots. They are normally very shy and tend to swim directly away from any human (and their dog), so was surprised to see this one coming my way. Unlike Mallards, have never seen a long-tailed duck looking for a handout of bread, so am guessing that the underwater weeds close to where I was are plentiful.

Here is a selection of the better shots:

Male Long-tailed Duck 1

Male Long-tailed Duck 1

Male Long-tailed Duck 2

Male Long-tailed Duck 2

Male Long-tailed Duck Diving

Male Long-tailed Duck Diving

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Remembrance Day by Old City Hall Cenotaph, Toronto

Was downtown late this morning, and managed to catch part of the Remembrance Day ceremony by the Old City Hall cenotaph. Here are a selection of shots that I took while there.

Veteran and Family

Veteran and Family

Remembrance Day Ceremony by Cenotaph

Remembrance Day Ceremony by Cenotaph

Trio of Veterans

Trio of Veterans

1914 to Wreath

1914 to Wreath

Wreaths by Cenotaph

Wreaths by Cenotaph

Older Woman Inspecting Wreaths by Cenotaph

Older Woman Inspecting Wreaths by Cenotaph

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Moon and Jupiter in a Cloudy Night Sky

Was stuck for taking a picture of the day until I looked outside from my back deck and saw the moon and Jupiter high in the sky. So I dug out the tripod, tried various settings and this is the one I am happiest with:

Moon and Jupiter in a Cloudy Night Sky

Moon and Jupiter in a Cloudy Night Sky

I wouldn’t normally take an astronomical shot on a cloudy night, but I liked the colours that appeared in the cloud just by the bright moon, which I think comes out well in this shot. The bright dot of Jupiter appears lower-left in the shot.

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Downy Woodpecker and a Goldfinch

Lucked out and managed to get a couple of good shots of some local birds while walking the dog down by Woodbine Beach this morning: a male Downy Woodpecker and a male Goldfinch in winter plumage. Here are the two best shots:

Male Downy Woodpecker

Male Downy Woodpecker

Male Goldfinch in Winter Plumage

Male Goldfinch in Winter Plumage

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Toronto’s Old City Hall Clock Face

Was downtown in the afternoon, and I since I had my telephoto with me I shot this pic of Toronto’s Old City Hall clock face.

Gargoyle and Clock Faces on Old Toronto City Hall

Gargoyle and Clock Faces on Old Toronto City Hall

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