Monday, February 6, 2017

Post #91 - Upset of the century - Northern Shoveler beats out Emperor Goose!?!?!?

A few administrative notes before we get rolling!

First, I am super stoked to announce that I have partnered with Zeiss as part of their Prostaff program! I've been using their amazing Victory SF binoculars for just over a year now (I love them), and I am very happy to promote all of their optics moving forward. Interestingly, I have a connection to Zeiss that goes far beyond birding as I've been using Zeiss microscopes in a scientific research capacity for the better part of 2 decades. My current CRISPR protocols have been greatly aided by the Zeiss scope on which I create my transgenic (genetically engineered) animals. It's great to be working with an optics company with which I have so much personal history!

Second, I have finally started an Instragram account and would love to have you follow along. This is going to be strictly for birding and travel purposes and won't be diluted with any irrelevant content. I've loads to share, so please get on-board, stat. Here's the sort of stuff that's already waiting for you!

Great Gray Owl - Strix nebulosa
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (-10F!)
Canon 500mm f/4 IS on EOS 1D Mark IV
1/320 at f/5.6, ISO 800, handheld
***click all images for higher resolution views***

I am also trying to drive traffic toward my flickr account, so - if you're on that platform - I'd really appreciate it if you follow me there as well. It's actually quite important that I build a presence on both of these photography platforms, so thank you for helping me do that.

OK, when we think about the greatest upsets of all time, we'll undoubtedly visit the USA ice hockey team beating the Russians in the 1980 Olympic semifinal. But what about when the Duke Blue Devils beat the then-undefeated UNLV Runnin' Rebels in the 1991 NCAA basketball championship? or Maybe James "Buster" Douglas knocking out a then-37-0 "Iron" Mike Tyson in Tokyo in 1990? Maybe it was Leicester City winning the Premier League title last year? But Northern Shoveler over Emperor Goose? I'll explain.

 "Miracle on Ice"

 On Tuesday, January 10th, an Emperor Goose appeared in Pacifica, just south of San Francisco. This species, which usually generally resides in the Bering Sea and nearby Aleutians, only rarely makes it to the lower 48 states. When it does, usually along the Washington, Oregon, and Northern California Coasts, it causes a predictable commotion in the birding community as folks mobilize to chase the wayward bird. However, this individual caused no such initial buzz. Why? Because it took 2 full weeks for the photographs of the "strange goose" on a local golf course to reach someone who could recognize it for what it was! When that finally happened, on January 24th, the expected all-hell broke loose, and birders rushed towards Pacifica with hopes of seeing the rare goose. That day was a Tuesday, and as such I was glued to the Zeiss microscope as above described. The bird stuck around through the week, and on Friday I prepared for a 6-hr chase that I hoped would at least partially redeem the derailed Ross's Gull chase of two weeks prior. As a final preparation, I checked the weather. It was going to be crystal clear up and down the California Coast. Seeing that, I quickly cancelled my chase.

What the heck, what gives? Why would perfect weather make me abandon my chase? Well, we've had an unusually wet winter here in Southern California, and, as a result, many recent weekends have been either rainy or cloudy. This has prevented the sort of naturally lit, color-saturated photography that I generally prefer. Looking at the forecast, I saw that my goose chase would cost me my best photographic opportunity in months, and I decided that I wanted to use the light to shoot rather than to drive. I had the previous week visited a spot with loads of active Northern Shovelers, and I thought that I could do some real photographic damage on them if I just had the right light. It was in favor of this plan that I abandoned my goose pursuit, and that's how the common duck beat out the rare goose. I think I made the right decision. I saved a ton of gas (and $) and had a really relaxing 2 morning's worth of shooting. I just hope I can get Emperor Goose in its normal range if I ever make it to Alaska. Incidently, the bird is still present. Maybe it will stay until the first week of March when Sonia and I go to SF to find an apartment.

Northern Shoveler - Anas clypeata
Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO II + 1.4x III on EOS 1D Mark IV
1/5000 at f/5.6, ISO 640, handheld

Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO II + 1.4x III on EOS 1D Mark IV
1/5000 at f/5.6, ISO 640, handheld

Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO II + 1.4x III on EOS 1D Mark IV
1/5000 at f/5.6, ISO 640, handheld

1 comment:

  1. So funny to see CRISPR in a birding blog. I used to be in a lab (neuropharmacology) and am now in research administration and science policy at a research institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Oh and our head scientist used to be at USC and was their cancer center director for many years.