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Western Tanager

December 01, 2021

I only had seconds to photograph the Western Tanager. I was hand holding 840mm in a gloomy day at ISO 6400 as I tried to steady myself on a vineyard wire. The tanager would not come out in the open and I had no time to switch to manual focus so the bird is out of focus behind the vines.

I tried LAB and High Pass sharpening but I couldn't save the images so consider this as a record shot of a rare bird. The adult male in breeding plumage is stunning

Western Tanager

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Rainbow at Albro Lake

November 30, 2021

I photographed this spectacular rainbow at  Albro Lake in the rain. The first three shots were salvageable but then the rain splotches became too numerous to clean especially when they covered the bow itself. These moments are fleeting, lasting a few seconds to minutes. I had to change lenses in the rain and to make matters worse I was still shooting at ISO 6400 after removing my telephoto lens.

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Mandarin Duck

November 29, 2021

The Mandarin Duck is not native to North America although feral colonies have popped up in places resulting from ill conceived population introductions or escapees from collections. This is no different than the European Starling and Ring-necked Pheasant populations which were also introduced. Here's a list of ten introduced species.

Some species like the House Sparrow, European Starling and Rock Pigeon would likely have made it here in any case by hitching rides on grain ships or the like.

This male Mandarin Duck was and probably still is at Albro Lake, Dartmouth. I do not believe it can survive our winter unless recaptured or constantly fed.

Mandarin duck

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Mandarin duck
Two small ducks stood on some concrete. The duck on the left is highly colourful, with a white belly, pink beak, tawny brown tail feathers, and a dark green head stripe above two white eye areas. The duck on the right is less colourful, with feathers ranging from tawny brown to grey, a small white eye stripe and just a few dark green feathers under the wing.
Male and female mandarin ducks at Martin Mere, UK
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Aix
A. galericulata
Binomial name
Aix galericulata
Aix galericulata dis.PNG
The native range of the mandarin duck, and parts of its introduced range where it is established breeding
  Native resident
  Winter visitor
  Introduced resident

Anas galericulata Linnaeus, 1758

The mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) is a perching duck species native to the East Palearctic. It is medium-sized, at 41–49 cm (16–19 in) long with a 65–75 cm (26–30 in) wingspan. It is closely related to the North American wood duck, the only other member of the genus Aix. 'Aix' is an Ancient Greek word which was used by Aristotle to refer to an unknown diving bird, and 'galericulata' is the Latin for a wig, derived from galerum, a cap or bonnet.[2]


The adult male has a red bill, large white crescent above the eye and reddish face and "whiskers". The male's breast is purple with two vertical white bars, and the flanks ruddy, and he has two orange "sails" at the back (large feathers that stick up like boat sails). The female is similar to the female wood duck, with a white eye-ring and stripe running back from the eye, but is paler below, has a small white flank stripe, and a pale tip to its bill.[3]

Both the males and females have crests, but the purple crest is more pronounced on the male.

Like many other species of ducks, the male undergoes a moult after the mating season into eclipse plumage. When in eclipse plumage, the male looks similar to the female, but can be told apart by its bright yellow-orange or red beak, lack of any crest, and a less-pronounced eye-stripe.

Mandarin ducklings are almost identical in appearance to wood ducklings, and very similar to mallard ducklings. The ducklings can be distinguished from mallard ducklings because the eye-stripe of mandarin ducklings (and wood ducklings) stops at the eye, while in mallard ducklings it reaches all the way to the bill.[citation needed]

Mandarin Duck

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Great Egret

November 21, 2021

I seldom visit Cape Sable Island or Brier Island these days. The time and expense involved is seldom worth the results. It is also environmentally irresponsible to be blowing hydro carbons into our air for a bird photo or two. Birders in general do not share this ethic.

I found the Snowy and Great Egrets on Cape Sable Island almost immediately but they were perched in a tree and useful photographs were not to be had. I was compelled to hand hold my camera at 1200mm just to get these photos of the Great Egret, photographs that pale in comparison to ones I have already. So my ethical concern was justified.

Great Egret

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November 17, 2021

I encountered a small cluster of Buffleheads in St. Margaret's Bay this morning. It is very challenging to get good photos of black and white ducks in a dark background.

These Buffleheads were fishing and frolicking with what seemed like courtship or bonding behaviour with the males raising and bobbing their bills and the females doing their best to ignore same.


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Bald Eagle

November 16, 2021

A Bald Eagle at Grand Pre was not crouching behind a tangle of branches. Usually they are high, back lit and behind branches but this one posed albeit at a distance.

Bald Eagle

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Blustery Day at Peggy's Cove

November 16, 2021

A blustery day at Peggy's Cove is always worth a visit. Winter scenes are even more spectacular but watch your step and stay away from the shoreline rocks since they can ice up quite a ways from the surf line due to spray.

A Blustery Day at Peggy's Cove

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Cattle Egret

November 13, 2021

This Cattle Egret at Horton Landing spent a great deal of time in the cattle feeding trough probably due to the abundance of insects and maggots. I just missed photographing it as it stood atop a cow. My battery died so I had to return to my car to get a spare.

Cattle Egret

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Indigo Bunting

November 13, 2021

This Indigo Bunting is a young male hopefully on its way south. There were several examples along the beach end of Sandy Cove Road, Halifax.

Indigo Bunting

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Steller's Sea Eagle

November 06, 2021

There is no record of the Steller's Sea Eagle for Nova Scotia that I can find. The late Dr. Ian McLaren's, "All the Birds of Nova Scotia", which is our best record and resource for Nova Scotia birds makes no mention of this bird.

I arrived early as usual but alas there was no Steller's Sea Eagle to be seen. It arrived about an hour later but was too far away except for record shots. Later it posed in another location and about a dozen cameras captured the record including mine.

Steller's sea eagle

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Steller's sea eagle
Haliaeetus pelagicus (Rausu, Japan).jpg
A Steller's sea eagle near Rausu, Hokkaido, Japan
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Haliaeetus
H. pelagicus
Binomial name
Haliaeetus pelagicus
(Pallas, 1811)
Haliaeetus pelagicus distr.png
  breeding only
  resident all year
  winter only
  vagrant range

Aquila pelagica (Pallas, 1811)
Falco leucopterus Temminck, 1824
Falco imperator Kittlitz, 1832
Thalassaetus pelagicus (Pallas)

Steller's sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) is a large diurnal bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. It was originally described by Peter Simon Pallas in 1811. No subspecies are recognised. A sturdy eagle, it has dark brown plumage with white wings and tail, and yellow beak and talons. On average, it is the heaviest eagle in the world, at about 5 to 9 kg (11 to 20 lb), but may be below the harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) and Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) in some standard measurements.[3]

The Steller's sea eagle lives in coastal northeastern Asia and mainly preys on fish and water birds. The Kamchatka Peninsula in Far Eastern Russia is known for its relatively large population of these birds. Around 4,000 of these eagles live there.[4] Steller's sea eagle is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s Red List of threatened species.




Steller's Sea Eagle

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This is a lesson to be learned  by vacillation,...missed opportunities. I said to myself the eagle will soon depart and a photo of it in flight would be a coup. So all I had to do was lock my lens on the bird and widen my field of view and wait for it to depart. I didn't do it so this photograph is the result. I should listen to my own best judgment.

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