A Morning Spent at Neary Lagoon…

…is a morning well-spent.

Especially during breeding season.

Where to start?

With the Wood Ducks, of course! Every time Katherine and I go to Neary Lagoon, we hope to see those colorful ducks that remind me of harlequins.

(This outing was a test of Katherine’s sprained ankle. Since the injury on Tuesday, she’d been a diligent and patient patient (😂). She had rested, iced, compressed and elevated her ankle religiously. Now, she was anxious to put this ankle to a test.)

I would like to say that we hurried to where we usually see Wood Ducks, but, in fact, we stopped to talk to a nice young man named Justin about his beautiful dog, Echo. Eventually though, we found our way to the part of the lagoon where Wood Ducks can be found.

Here is a selection of Wood Ducks, many of them juveniles, that we saw today.

And, because this one cracked me up so much, here is a final Wood Duck who deserves a spot by himself. Was it something I said?

Wood Duck. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with TAMRON SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 A022, handheld, 1/4000 sec., f/6.3, ISO 12800. Neary Lagoon, Santa Cruz, California.

Next up, the Pied-billed Grebe. I love them. Maybe because I think they look kind of snarky. This one looks as if it has scoooooooored! I know I am not anthropomorphizing when I say that this Grebe is smiling about its breakfast!

Pied-Bill Grebe with Prey. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with TAMRON SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 A022, handheld, 1/4000 sec., f/7.1, ISO 8000. Neary Lagoon, Santa Cruz, California.

Normally, I don’t find Double-crested Cormorants particularly hard to photograph. But this one was so busy fishing that it would dive under the water before I could get it in focus. (I think I read somewhere that, pound for pound, Cormorants are the best of the birds when it comes to fishing.)

However, I did get this shot, which shows off the Cormorant’s beautiful aquamarine eyes.

Double-crested Cormorant and reflection. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with TAMRON SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 A022, handheld, 1/2500 sec., f/7.1, ISO 3200. Neary Lagoon, Santa Cruz, California.

Okay, let’s pause for a little game. Can you find the head of this California Towhee who has flown into this tree? (Okay, not “into” like “crashed”, but “into” like to perch on an inner branch.)

California Towhee flying into a tree. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with TAMRON SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 A022, handheld, 1/4000 sec., f/6.3, ISO 3200. Neary Lagoon, Santa Cruz, California.

Yeah, me, neither. But I liked the fan of tail feathers.

Next, I saw the ubiquitous Song Sparrow, hopping along a fence with food for its young. Yes, it’s that time of year. So many birds heading back to their nests with food for their babies. They are known to sometimes build their cup-type nests in reeds and that was where this one was heading.

Song Sparrow hopping along the fence post. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with TAMRON SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 A022, handheld, 1/4000 sec., f/6.3, ISO 10000. Neary Lagoon, Santa Cruz, California.

And, also yes, the California Towhees do it better.

We saw a couple of Anna’s Hummingbird.

Who is Anna, you ask?

This hummingbird was named after Anna MassĂ©na, Duchess of Rivoli, by RenĂ© PrimevĂ©re Lesson, a naturalist, ornithologist, herpetologist (the study of amphibians and reptiles, in case you, like me, didn’t know), and a surgeon.

Yes, quite accomplished.

However, I’m not sure how his wife, the artist and scientific illustrator ClĂ©mence Dumont de Saint-Croix, felt about her husband naming a hummingbird after another woman.

But, I digress.

Back to the hummingbird.

Anna’s Hummingbird. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with TAMRON SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 A022, handheld, 1/4000 sec., f/6.3, ISO 1600. Neary Lagoon, Santa Cruz, California.

Around this time, Katherine called me on the phone. She had walked, with her bad ankle, ahead of me. She told me there was a Great Blue Heron near where she was. “But, that guy walking behind you will probably scare it off.”

“That guy” did, in fact, scare off the Heron.

Great Blue Heron scared off by “that guy.” Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with TAMRON SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 A022, handheld, 1/4000 sec., f/6.3, ISO 8000. Neary Lagoon, Santa Cruz, California.

And finally, one of my favorite birds, the Bushtit. These are social and cheerful birds who chat and forage together in groups of twenty to forty — especially in our Bottlebrush at home.

This guy (or gal) was using one of its claws to bring the leaf closer to it so it could snag an insect or two. Who needs hands when you have opposable claws?

Bushtit. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with TAMRON SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 A022, handheld, 1/4000 sec., f/7.1, ISO 6400. Neary Lagoon, Santa Cruz, California.

Ι could have stayed all day but breakfast was calling at our favorite downtown cafe.

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[…] mentioned in a previous post how much I like Pied-billed Grebes. So, when I saw a Grebe swimming toward the walkway with […]

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