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Scissor-tailed flycatcher and a breathtaking moment

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A scissor-tailed flycatcher photographed at Lake Woodlands, Texas. Emotions are tied to memories.  I have understood that academically for a long time, but it was when I witnessed a scissor-tailed flycatcher in flight that it was affirmed.   I rented a kayak while visiting Lake Woodlands in Texas.  It wasn't much; basically a sit-on-top bit of plastic that I could paddle.  However, it allowed me to explore a sheltered coastline without disturbing wildlife along its shores.  And so, camera equipment stowed in water-tight bags, I leisurely was on my way. It was memorable in that I encountered numerous bird species, some that I had never before encountered.  A variety of herons, egrets, and ducks, not to mention Egyptian geese.  But the one that really caught my attention was my first-ever scissor-tailed flycatcher. It was sitting on a pole with rampant construction machines busily terraforming the land behind it.  The long bifurcated tail told me what it was in an instant; I had seen

Capturing a moment - a cabin in Idaho

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This is one of my favourite photos.  I took it in 2007 outside of a cabin in Idaho. The setting sun had an appealing warmth about it and the rustic cabin I found was a perfect subject.  I loved the way that the sun reflected off the cabin's window and wanted to capture the rich tones, lines, and knots before me.   While taking a photograph employs the simplest of movements - the pressing of a single button - correct placement and the internal settings of the camera are much more complex.  One of the key elements is getting out.  As a certified couch-rider and television surfer, tearing myself away from indoor comforts takes more effort than I would care to admit.  My camera helps to motivate me.  Not only do I get outside, I manage to explore and do one of my favourite things; take pictures. Throughout my many blogs (662 and counting - most are accessible through this website: blogsbyericsvendsen.blogspot.com ) I have demonstrated methods of composition and using existing light to

A funny thing happened on my way to the ziggurat.

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Kathryn at Tulum, Mexico. It's funny how a memory can be sparked.  Something, long buried, that exists without a conscious presence, can suddenly come to life in the blink of an eye.  Such recollections are often lit by some sense; a word, a person, a smell, or even a touch is all that is needed to rekindle an experience.  This is one of the reasons I love to look at photographs; so many memories are elicited by the merest of glimpses.   Kathryn had won an all-expenses cruise through a fundraiser she participated in.  It was our first cruise, now some 24 years ago.  We stopped at Tulum, Mexico, where we had our first taste of the country.  The ruins were spectacular; just her and I amongst a throng of tourists.  Me, trying to be where people weren't, and her, trying to be where people were, and my cameras, lenses, flashes, and other paraphernalia that now have passed long into history.  I am so thankful that we both had the opportunity to explore and that my wife didn't att

Bullock's Oriole, Kelowna.

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Male Bullock's Oriole.  Photographed May 31, 2022 I discovered a wonderful hiking spot a few kilometers from my home which has a fair amount of wildlife in it.  Munson Pond Park is located just at the edge of the city of Kelowna and has farmland adjacent to it.  The 9.8 ha park (about 25 acres) sports a pond approximately 4 ha (10 acres) in size.  A trail surrounds the lake and provides modest shoreline access.  The trail itself is approximately 1 kilometer in length. Bullock's oriole feeds on both insects and fruit, which is why they are only summer visitors.  They prefer deciduous trees, especially if they are of the fruit-bearing variety, although they may occasionally be found about conifers.  Some have been found feeding on nectar.  The birds may eat bees, being sure to remove the stinger before ingesting them, and have been seen skinning caterpillars as a means to facilitate ingestion.   The birds visit the ground frequently in the search for food.  They both look after t

Making a memory - the art of illusion.

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1.  Two Jack Lake  2.  Charles in kayak  3.  The illusion of Charles at Two Jack Lake. The fact is that we were both at Two Jack Lake in Banff, but my friend, Charles, wanted a picture of himself in frame-1 as opposed to the image I had of him in frame-2 .  And so, I was given the challenge of making it work.  In order to do this a number of steps were required (below).  The result was frame-3; it was made into an 11x14 inch print which he now has hanging on a wall at his house. take the raw image of frame-1 and create an 11x14 @300dpi file of it in Photoshop. take the raw image of frame-2 and select the image of Charles in his kayak.  I used the polygon lasso tool to do this with 0 feathering.  Copy it paste the copied image from frame-2 into frame-1.  Flip the image horizontally using the Edit/Transform menu command and rotate it a few degrees clockwise using the Free-rotate function.   use the eraser tool with a soft edge to remove any part Charles and the kayak that did not belong

The pied hoverfly, flower fly, or syrphid fly?

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A pied hoverfly taking nectar from flowers. It turns out that hoverfly, flower fly, and syrphid fly are all interchangeable terms.  They all refer to the same group of dipterans (true flies).  North America uses the term flower fly while the rest of the world seems to identify them as hoverflies.  Syrphid comes from the family Syrphidea , a specialized group of flies whose adults eat nectar; the larvae feed on different foods depending on the species. I photographed this particular adult in September of last year while we were camping in the Okanagan.  It may very well be  Scaeva pyrastri , a species of flower fly found around much of the world.  The larvae are beneficial insects feeding on aphids.  I read one account that suggested a single larva may consume as many as 500 aphids before reaching maturity.  If you want to see the larva of this species, click here . Female flower flies have a space between the compound eyes while in males they are connected.  The above fly is a male as

Telling Downy and Hairy woodpeckers apart.

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Hairy woodpecker (left) and downy woodpecker (right) compaired. I had the pleasure of hiking at Telford Lake near Leduc, Alberta yesterday.  I spotted a small black and white bird with a conspicuous red mark on the back of its head flitting from branch to branch, examining each one carefully before moving off to the next one.  I recognized it as a male downy woodpecker.  The small size, mottled black and white back, and relatively small beak made the identification easy. I had lost sight of it temporarily and thought I had found it again when I discovered this one was a female (below).  Females do not have the conspicuous red patch on the back of their heads.  I followed it for a short time when I lost track of it too.  It was then that the oddest thing happened.  A much larger version appeared at the base of a tree; it was, however, a male Hairy woodpecker.  They are about twice the size of the downys and sport a much longer beak.  The two species often get confused as they look simil