Birds of the Eastern Sierra
Last week at this time I was enjoying the Eastern Sierras of California on my way to a Photoshop Class in Mammoth. Along the way, I got to visit such majestic places as Bodie, Mono Lake, June Lake, Mammoth Lakes, and Yosemite. There will be numerous blogs that share the images from this trip. My original intent was to share them chronologically, but a magic moment in Yosemite has caused me to rethink that and share nature’s magic first!
One of my most memorable highlights was in Yosemite, just inside the Tioga Pass entrance. I pulled over to photograph the amazing snow-capped mountains and still lake along side a meadow.
Another view framed by trees as I approached the edge of the lake.
This actually was my second trip to Yosemite in less than 24 hours. The previous day, one of my classmates from our Photoshop for Photographers Class headed up Tioga Pass and down to Tuolumne Meadow. I reviewed my images that night and they stank. I had been so caught up the beauty and wonders everywhere I looked, I got lazy and didn’t use a tripod…this trip, I was a “Tripod Queen” and vowed to only really take pictures that were well thought out.
It could have been the tripod that scared this female Mallard out of her spot in the bushes. I am still not sure which one of us was startled more. (Probably me!) Once my heart rate got closer to normal, I began to shoot her photo. She never got far from the shore and I soon realized there was a reason for this! I had unknowingly flushed her off her nest…
Once I knew what had happened, I moved out of the area and changed to my 70-200mm lens. The nest image was at 200mm from a safe distance.
Think Mama had been on her nest for quite some time. Not a single other duck visible to me the entire trek through upper Yosemite. She soon began to stretch on top of a rock along the shore.
When she was done, she still stood guard.
I waited for quite some time for her to return to her nest. I kept my distance as I certainly did not want to flush her off her nest again! I did not crop this image–as I wanted to share how well hidden she and her eggs really are.
This was such a magical moment and think even more so–because it was just me and Mama Mallard. Will revisit this area again next time I can visit the park. Really found I preferred the outskirts of the popular areas–where it was really isolated and no one else around!
Mono Lake is also located in the Eastern Sierras, about 1 hour north of Mammoth Lakes–look for a future posting dedicated to the history with numerous views of the Tufas (formations) in this grand salt lake. For now, a few bird images.
The lake is known for the vast Gull habitat it is. Here is one on top of a rock–to view other gulls and the tourists!
One thing I so appreciate about birders (and photographers too)–is the willingness to share knowledge. I was sitting on the shore trying hard to photograph little birds that kept swimming in circles and going into the shadows from the Tufas on the lake.
A young man and a group of three friends joined me in watching…I noticed his binoculars hanging from his neck and asked if he was a birder? Yes, and he identified the birds and explained their antics. Wonderful! They are Wilson’s Phalaropes and a (Lifer for me)–they swim in circles to stir up the food in the water and then snack away. Took numerous pictures and with the fading light didn’t have much luck–but still loved every minute!
A little better view–backside, but at least in the light!
More trip highlights to come!
Hope your day is wonderful:)
Laura, these are absolutely awesome!! I love the babes and their shells/nest
July 22, 2011 at 9:17 pm
Nice blog Laura Nice depth to the photos
July 23, 2011 at 4:01 pm
A lovely post and photos! I love Wilson’s Phalarope. I have a video of them on one of my blog posts. Love your photos of Mama Mallard. It looks as if you had a wonderful time on your trip. 🙂
July 23, 2011 at 4:10 pm
Beautiful photographs Laura, it take me back to our trip…..will have to visit again someday 🙂
July 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm
A most beautiful post, Laura! Oh my goodness, the scenery is breathtaking! Precious moments with the mama mallard. I love her downy nest. I’m with you about visiting less populated areas. It allows one to drink in all the beauty there is to see on a different level. Awesome gull image! Congratulations on the lifer! A pleasure to view your lovely photographs, as always.
July 28, 2011 at 4:21 pm