Welcome to my annual report for 2015.
Here is a celebration of photos that made this a memorable year.
Note: I marked items with an asterisk (*) to signify that details and links appear at the end of this post.
Once a Bewick’s Wren tried to land on a leg of my tripod.
When taking photos of birds, I try to become so immersed in nature that the critters forget I’m there. It seems I succeeded on that day.
Anna’s Hummingbird, Adult Female Feeding a Juvenile
I owe thanks to the woman who pointed out this juvenile Anna’s Hummingbird at the Fullerton Arboretum*.
Now I only needed to wait for the female to arrive with food.
This shows that most achievements result from cooperative partnerships.
These small birds hide in dips in the sand along a beach. Since their feathers look like sand, they’re almost impossible to find – unless you catch one running toward the surf. This photo was taken in Montaña de Oro State Park*.
Sanderling (Left) and Marbled Godwit (Right) on the Pacific Coast
This photo of a Sanderling with a Marbled Godwit led to an entertaining segment in my talk about birds.
It’s odd that the best ideas in my talks were inspired by photos I had taken. So you could conclude that birds helped write my talk. All I did was show up and pay attention.
Broad-billed Hummingbird, Male
I went on a 3-week trip to Arizona to take photos of hummingbirds. I did this as part of preparing a talk on How to Take Photos of Hummingbirds for the 2015 Sedona Hummingbird Festival*.
Here is a photo of a male Broad-billed Hummingbird, taken after sunset at the Santa Rita Lodge* in Madera Canyon. In shade, the feathers on this bird take on different hues than in bright light. (There’s a photo of a Broad-billed Hummingbird in bright light on the home page for this web site.)
Broad-billed Hummingbird, Female
The Female Broad-billed Hummingbird has soft colors, even in bright sun.
This photo was also taken at the Santa Rita Lodge*.
Magnificent Hummingbird, Male
It’s difficult to take a photo of the Magnificent Hummingbird.
They spend most of their time in the forest. If they visit a bird feeder, it’s for a second – unless they’re in a hurry.
Fortunately, this bird perched on a branch in back of the Chuparosa Bed & Breakfast* in Madera Canyon.
Anna’s Hummingbird, Male
This tiny Anna’s Hummingbird is doing everything it can – flapping its wings, flashing its gorget, fanning its tail – to appear as large and fierce as possible.
I found this bird on the south loop of the trail at the Morro Bay Marina. Over the next month, I went there on every cloudy day, for a total of ten visits and over 5,000 photos.
During that time, I was able to photograph this display twice.
Elegant Trogon, Male
I hiked up the Carrie Nation Trail in Madera Canyon four times hoping to take a photo of this bird. But I was only able to catch a single brief glimpse.
Then one afternoon at the Chuparosa Bed & Breakfast, I looked up and there it was.
But the bird was too close to fit in the frame. And before I could rotate my lens for a portrait view, it flew away.
This bird helped, sort of.
I could hear its calls before it arrived. That served as an alert, telling me to wake up my camera.
Then, once it arrived, it behaved like a small bird – moving randomly and leaving quickly.
Great Blue Heron
This Great Blue Heron has two legs. I saw them. (The other leg is tucked under its wing.)
Here it is looking uncommonly slender while standing on one leg on a log in the middle of a pond.
I think this Yellow-rumped Warbler looks cute.
So I added it to this article.
On the previous day I had a lot of trouble taking photos of Sandhill Cranes taking off at sunrise*. The birds were flying against bright hills, dark canyons, and bright sky with the sun slightly behind them. As a result, most of my photos suffered from: 1) Improper exposure, and 2) Large, black shadows on the bird.
So the next day I decided to try a different approach. I took photos of them landing.
Here is a Sandhill Crane, just about to touch the ground.
We can find beauty even in the most ordinary places.
Here is a Mallard resting by tucking her bill under her back feathers.
I took 154,074 photos during 2015. So the photos shown above are a small sample of what made the year memorable.
I’m especially grateful that Ross Hawkins (founder of The Hummingbird Society) asked me to speak at the 2015 Sedona Hummingbird Festival. This put me on a 14-month long quest to build a talk that would appeal to the diverse audience at a conference. As a result, I visited extraordinary birding hot spots, met wonderful people, and took tens of thousands of photos. And yes, my talk was a success.
My main presentation about birds evolves as new photos lead to new stories. Thus I can tune this presentation to meet the interests of different audiences.
I revised my photo class, replacing about a fourth of the text slides with photos. So this program has more visual impact. I’m pleased that an 11-year old gave me an outstanding testimonial, which you’ll find on the testimonials page.
Every annual report leads to intentions for the next year.
1) I want to speak at events that hire professional speakers.
2) I want to take photos that lead to fascinating stories.
3) I want to continue learning about birds, nature, and photography.
4) I want to expand the scope of making a difference.
You Can Help
If you know about an organization that hires professional speakers for their conferences, please ask the event planner to call me.
If you want to be part of this conversation, please subscribe to my blog.
If you want others to know about my work, please share the information on this web site.
Places to see and photograph birds
Fullerton Arboretum (Fullerton, CA)- 26 acres of different habitats that attract a variety of birds.
Montaña de Oro State Park (Los Osos, CA) – The California Coast untouched by development.
Bosque del Apache (New Mexico) – Thousands of Sandhill Cranes and Geese migrate here for the winter.
Places to Stay and See Birds in Arizona
Ash Canyon Bed & Breakfast (Hereford, AZ)
Casa de San Pedro B&B (Hereford, AZ)
Chuparosa Bed & Breakfast (Madera Canyon, AZ)
Santa Rita Lodge (Madera Canyon, AZ)
Places to Stay in New Mexico
Casa Blanca Bed & Breakfast (San Antonio, NM)
Dos Casitas en Socorro (Socorro, NM)
Note: I’ve stayed at each of these places and strongly recommend them.