Monday, February 23, 2009

El Dorado Bird Safari - Part Three

After making my way through hundreds of photos, I have finished editing the ones I like the best. I know that my fellow birders out there will appreciate these. My dad will love them and I love them! Please, enjoy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

El Dorado Bird Safari - Part Two

I got to sit down for an hour tonight and edit a few more of the photos from when my dad was out here. I am amazed at how I can go a mile down the road and see so many wonderful birds, observe them and photograph them. Makes me want to get that 500mm Sigma. It also gets me excited to head back to Mammoth with Kymberli and Riley this year.

I hope you all enjoy these as much as I do. Ok, I am a bit nutty when it comes to birds. I wish I could explain it, but I am truly fascinated by God's creations and they make me feel happy.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The El Dorado Bird Safari

Here it is the middle of February and I am finally getting around to this lengthy post. Life, as you may have guessed, has been VERY busy. I love it, but having a child does take much restructuring. My wife has been awesome at home. She's taking care of Riley during the day and much of the night. I help out, but I certainly don't feel like I do nearly as much as my wife. Happy Valentine's Day, babe!

Near the end of January, my dad flew out here to California to see his first grandchild and spend some time with us. It was great to have him get to meet Riley and see Kymberli and I. While we spent much time with the two ladies, my dad and I took some time to head down the street to El Dorado Park East. My dad has been really studying up and practicing with his camera and we wanted to get some bird shots. We both love birds and are fascinated with the shape, color and their natural beauty.

On and off for three days we ventured to the park and encountered some wonderful birds. Red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks, great blue herons fighting for dominance, great egrets, snowy egrets, and many others. We focused on the big birds because we love birds-of-prey.

We had our own little safari. We would spot and stalk the birds. We drove around the park multiple times to find a bird we wanted to shoot. My dad even spotted two nesting red-shouldered hawks and they were fascinating! They were so territorial that one of the times we were observing them, a red-tailed hawk swooped in and they attacked. They defended their territory and they are fast! That red-tail took off as fast as it could.

The birds were very skittish at times. We'd walk right up on some and others would see us coming and get just out of range. We pulled up on an Sharp-Shinned Hawk and Dad had to get it's photo from inside the car. It was such a cool looking bird.

Needless to say, we had a wonderful time. I got to spend some time with my dad just enjoying nature. I was brought up on adventures in the woods and this was a nice treat for me. The park and nature center are my 'home away from home' as I like to call it. Being a country boy, the city life can make me crazy sometimes. This is where I can unwind and see the beauty of nature and photograph it.

Dad, thank you for making the trip out here. I had a great time shooting with you. I cannot wait to do it again after we've both had time to try new camera settings and scope out our back yards.

Oh, on a side note. I think this is cool and funny at the same time. My dad bought the National Wildlife Federation book "The Field Guide to Birds of North America" by Edward S. Brinkley when he got back to NY. What's the funny part? I ordered mine and it came yesterday!! Now we can compare our photos from across the country and can flip to a specific page at any time. That gets me even more excited!

Here are some of my favorite bird shots (and a squirrel) from the time my dad was here. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Beautiful, Squirrely, Bundle of Joy

My wife will be the first to say that I am always calling Riley a squirrely little girl. She is always squirming and I have to laugh at how fussy she is sometimes. Alas, the laughter last a mere breath as it soon turns to frustration.

As you can see by the date of my last blog I have been very busy. Not only me, but my wonderful wife. She has been taking care of Riley all day while I am at work. I'll be the first to admit, I have it easier than she does. I am so thankful for her and what she is doing. Unlike my wife who can be very soft spoken with others, I tell it like it is and speak my mind. I know things are tough as a new parent and blah, blah, blah... I am not asking for your sympathy. I am just sharing my thoughts. I really don't mind kind words from everyone, but it's the people who have never had kids who keep telling me "it's ok, Al, things are always hard at the beginning" or the "I know what you are going through" or the best yet, "are you getting any sleep?" I am a patient man, but those who don't have kids - you have no idea. So please keep your brilliant epiphany to yourself. It's not the hard work that makes it tough. It's the frustration, the unknowing, the incessant crying and for what reason you do not know. Those are what make you crazy. Yet, it is all worth it. I would never trade anything for being a dad. I love it.

Riley is the blessing of all blessings. I know that every parent has gone through tough times and that it's hard. This is my blog and I can write what I want. *smile* So with that, I want you to know that I love my wife and I love my daughter and no matter what frustration lies ahead, I am open to it. The unknown has always frightened me, but I have God on my side and that matters.

I have been snapping photos when I can - in between feedings, diaper changes, sleeping - so there are only a few I am about to post. I have been video taping a lot, too. I want to catch as many of these small memories that I can. She's already 3 weeks old today. Crazy.

Here are some of my little Riley over the past week. I love her with all of my heart.