Last week was a treat as far as my birding “career” goes, as I saw my first spoonbill and osprey at the Preserve. But I’ve already posted about them, so when I saw today’s theme/challenge, I was disappointed. However, I quickly realized I had more treats to share.

We’ll start again at the Riparian Preserve, my soul food walking spot here in Gilbert. While three birders with enormous lenses sat on their portable stools on the opposite side of the lake, I realized that if I followed the direction of their lenses, I could likely see whatever they were seeing but from a different and much closer angle. What I saw was this snowy egret primping. Try doing that on one foot at home!

While snowy egrets are a dime a dozen (yet still full of surprises and always worth photos), this was the first spotting for me of a Northern Shoveler trying to keep a low profile among a bunch of coots. Joni Mitchell may think you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, but I didn’t know what I’d got until I zoomed in on my photos. Pretty snazzy gent, I’d say.

Final treat for that day, another sighting of the roseate spoonbill perched high atop a pole. Must be more difficult to preen when your bill’s spoon-shaped than for the snowy egret with its thin, pointed bill.

Last Saturday we drove down to Tucson and up Mt. Lemmon, which rises to over 9,000′, traveling from low desert surroundings to alpine. For me, that was going in the right direction! While the views definitely qualified as a treat, I’m sticking with the bird theme for this week. As we walked along at the top, luxuriating in the cooler mountain air, my eye was captured by a bird I’d never even heard of, a Steller’s Jay. This is an unusual jay, even a bit wicked looking with that dark head and lighter eyes and markings, but a handsome fellow nonetheless. I’m giving you two views, both of which show of his gorgeous colors but the second highlights his funky headdress. But honestly, if you were a female Steller’s Jay, wouldn’t you be all over this guy?

I’ve become something of a birder just because there are so many of them around and these, with two new-to-me birds, certainly qualified as a treat.

for Lens-Artists Challenge #120 – What A Treat!

  1. billgncs says:

    That Stellar’s Jay is so vividly blue !

  2. lolaWi says:

    they’re awesome, Janet! what a treat! 🙂 🙂

  3. de Wets Wild says:

    Always exciting when one finds a new kind of bird for the first time, and to then get images as beautiful as these really is a treat (FOR YOU AND US!)

    • I’m happy I can respond in kind to your great posts about Africa. 🙂 I’ve become a bit of a birder because that’s what’s around it seems. But I’m still quite amateur as far as identifying them, especially by sound, although I can usually come up with a decent photo.

  4. peggyjoan42 says:

    Great photos Janet. The jay in Arizona is so different then our jay in Arkansas, but both are beautiful. The first photo is fantastic – I can’t do much at all standing on one foot. Ha

    • There might be other jays here for all I know, but this one is quite something, I think. I can stand on one foot (I practice balance things like that while brushing my teeth), but not bend around that way while doing so!! 🙂 The photographers on the other side I don’t think would have been able to get this shot because of the angle, so I was happy. Where I stood was one of the out-of-the-way spots I’ve found where I can often see birds.

      • peggyjoan42 says:

        A one footed photographer – wow. You must be standing in a lot of the right spots, because your photos are fantastic. I have seen the jay you shot in Flagstaff a few times in my life time.

      • I’m not standing on one foot while taking the shots. I practice one-foot balance when brushing my teeth. 🙂 I don’t know where else the jay is, but I’d be happy to go up the mountain lots more times just to see if it’s around again. 🙂

      • peggyjoan42 says:

        I know you aren’t standing on one foot shooting photos. I was just being silly. It is beautiful in Flagstaff. I have seen the jays in the woods up there a lot.

  5. Dan Antion says:

    Great discoveries, Janet. You’re bringing us so many birds I’ve never even heard of. Your pictures are wonderful. I like the walkabout method of getting a closer image than the longer lens version. Keep walking as long as you can. As for preening on one foot, does removing a sock count?

    • Well, it doesn’t count as preening, but it certainly counts for balance. I was just telling Peggy in a previous comment that I practice standing on one foot while brushing my teeth each night. It’s easy to remember to do it and it’s a regular practice time. Balance gets more important as we get older, but I don’t think many people practice it.

      In the spirit of full disclosure, all these photos were cropped to get a closer view. I have only a normal telephoto, so I have to resort to cropping, but it seems to work.

      • Dan Antion says:

        Cropping is fine. I do that all the time for the bunnies and squirrels – except for the crazy squirrels that come right up to our feet.

        I don’t practice being on one foot, but I don’t avoid it either.

  6. Good looking feathered friends you have there. When I look outside, I see crows. 🙂

    • Judy, I don’t see these when I look outside, just mostly mourning doves, grackles, and things like that. I imagine if you went somewhere else, you’d see other sorts of birds, but I admit Arizona and the Tucson area in particular are supposed to be good birding sites, probably because of weather and migration patterns.

  7. Tina Schell says:

    A perfect set of choices for the challenge Janet – happy we proved to be right up your alley this week! I’d never heard of the shoveler (who looks a bit like the spoonbill in a dark version!) or the jay, both of which are beautiful indeed. And how clever of you to zero in on the long-lensed birders to spot their prey from a closer viewpoint! We’ve begun to see more and more spoonbills in our area, I suspect as a result of climate change. They seem to be moving north from their normal Floridian homes. They’re so pretty in their pink feathers! So happy you were able to join in this week!

    • The Preserve has an enormous list of birds that have been seen there, but of course many of them aren’t regulars and some are regulars only during migration times. The shoveler appears to be seen often but until I zoomed in, I didn’t realize it was a different sort of duck from the plethora of “regular” ducks there. The jay is probably only found in the higher altitudes. I was pretty excited about him and his colors are just great. Every day is a voyage of discovery (or possible discovery) since this is a new area.

      I have a few sort of out-of-the-way spots at the Preserve where people don’t seem to usually go that have netted me some really good shots such as this one of the preening egret. A group of birders is similar to a line of stopped cars in Yellowstone…a indication there’s probably something worth seeing ahead. 🙂

  8. Sue says:

    Some marvellous treats!

    • They certainly were for me, Sue, since I haven’t been around the area long enough to become jaded. I must admit that now when I see a hummingbird, it’s not quite the same thrill as before because there are just so many of them. I still enjoy them, but in a different way.

  9. That was a wonderful treat, Janet! Glad you are found all of these birds there!

  10. marianallen says:

    Oh, those colors! That Roseate Spoonbill really is rosy! And I agree that that Jay is a very handsome fellow. I can imagine the ladies nudging each other and saying, “Look at the crest on THAT guy!”

  11. Amy says:

    Wow… what a treat to see these fabulous bird images. Great captures!
    Thank you, Janet!

    • My pleasure, Amy. I’ve had quite a good run of treats in the last couple of weeks, but really every time I’m at the Preserve it’s a treat, if only in getting outside and being in nature. The same goes for Mt. Lemmon, a place we’ll certainly be visiting again and I’ll be posting about again, although with views rather than birds.

  12. aekshots says:

    Nice treats Janet…well captured 🙂

  13. JohnRH says:

    Superb photos. Definitely a treat!

  14. Loved seeing all the birds, Janet. That stellar’s jay is quite stellar alright. I’ve never seen one in person before, but have seen artwork depicting them. Love that blue.