Friday, September 17

“I Fell in the Water, But It Was Worth It!”: Guardian Readers on Their Most Extraordinary Bird Photographs | Birds


“ I had almost given up hope when I saw bright orange feathers ”

I took this photo in late January in Balloch, Scotland. I have always wanted to photograph a male mandarin duck. It’s the bird that made me want to start taking pictures. They are beautiful, with so many stunning colors. At the end of January, I heard via Facebook that there were a couple of them on the same street. I got up early and drove to Balloch. I had almost given up hope, when suddenly I saw the duck’s bright orange tail feathers among some bushes on the riverbank. I had to lean against a tree that was in the water to take the pictures. Then I fell into the water and ripped my pants, but it was worth it. Paul Fraser, 36, freshwater biologist, Callander, Scotland

‘Bald eagles are an environmental success story’

A bald eagle is found on a frozen lake in Luck, Wisconsin, in March 2021.
A bald eagle is found on a frozen lake in Luck, Wisconsin, in March 2021. Photography: Gillian Henry

When I retired and moved from Boston to the rural Wisconsin town of Luck, I found a whole new environment and way of life to explore. I was captivated by the abundance and variety of wildlife that I saw on my daily walks. This became a project to photograph as many local birds as possible within walking distance of my house. This photo is of a bald eagle at the local lake, still frozen in March. It was there for the fish that got caught in the ice when the lake froze in November. Bald eagles are an environmental success story – after the ban on the insecticide DDT, their numbers have rebounded dramatically and they are now common around here. Gillian Henry, 63, retired medical researcher, Luck, Wisconsin, USA.

‘This species was only discovered in 1996’

A manakin araripe seen at Arajara Park in Ceará, Brazil in November 2018.
An araripe grasshopper seen in Parque Arajara in Ceará, Brazil, in November 2018. Photography: Phillip Edwards

This photo of an araripe grasshopper was taken in November 2018 at Parque Arajara, a water park in Ceará, Brazil. The species was discovered in 1996 and is only known to live in a small area of ​​wooded valleys below the Araripe plateau in Ceará. There are believed to be around 800 of these birds and the species is seriously threatened by deforestation. This male was preening in a protected forest as a park for aquatic recreation. Phillip Edwards, 64, retired consulting ornithologist and author, Somerset

‘I usually hear tawny owls, but I rarely see one’

A tawny owl photographed in Galloway Forest Park, Scotland, in May 2021.
A tawny owl photographed in Galloway Forest Park, Scotland, in May 2021. Photography: Joshua Copping

This image of a tawny owl was taken near the Galloway Forest Park in Scotland in May 2021. It is a species that I hear regularly, but rarely see. He had only seen them fly over the car at night and perch in a tree in daylight once before. But, during a recent trip to Scotland, this impressive owl appeared. It is not unusual to see them during the day at this time of year when they are busy feeding their chicks, but it is by no means a common sighting. Seeing it perched, flying through the trees, and bringing food to its young was a special experience. Joshua Copping, 30, conservation scientist, Oxfordshire

‘A bizarre orange riot that looks like it’s missing a bill’

An Andean cock-of-the-rock photographed in Peru in August 2019.
An Andean cock-of-the-rock photographed in Peru in August 2019. Photography: Adam Winstanley

This photo was taken in August 2019 while on vacation in Aguas Calientes, the city at the base of Machu Picchu in Peru. The only bird I really wanted to see was the national bird of Peru, the “Tunki” or Andean cock of the rocks. They are a bizarre orange rampage that looks like it’s missing a bill. The problem was that the birds were easier to see on the grounds of a luxury hotel that charged around £ 400 a night. Luckily, I met the resident bird guide who told me I could join a bird walk for only $ 20. At six o’clock the next morning the guide explained that we would have to climb a steep, muddy cliff that few hotel guests were in. willing to do. After 30 minutes, we were rewarded with distant views of two males 100 meters away. The guide and I agreed that seeing some of the best birds always takes effort and patience. As we walked back to the hotel, a third man decided to land right above our heads, poking fun at our conversation. Adam Winstanley, 37, academic, London

‘I saw a flash of bright red in the bush’

A southern terrestrial hornbill photographed in South Africa's Kruger National Park in February 2015.
A southern terrestrial hornbill photographed in South Africa’s Kruger National Park in February 2015. Photography: Debra Maxwell

This photograph of a southern terrestrial hornbill was taken in South Africa’s Kruger National Park in February 2015. My partner and I were driving down a quiet dirt road. It was early spring, so the bush was green and it was difficult to detect anything. I saw a flash of bright red in the bush and we stopped. A large family of southern terrestrial hornbills went out for a walk. They are one of the easiest to identify and most appreciated bird species associated with trips to the game reserve. They are the largest members of the hornbill family and are an endangered species that is rarely seen. I managed to snap this photo of an adult male with an incredible variety of insects in his beak. We sat for about 20 minutes to watch the birds before they melted back into the bush. Debra Maxwell, 53, Company Director, Cheltenham

‘It’s like a rainbow turns into a bird’

A rare hummingbird photographed on the Monserrate hill in Bogotá, Colombia, in December 2020.
A rare hummingbird photographed on the Monserrate hill in Bogotá, Colombia, in December 2020. Photography: Diego Morales

This photo was taken on the Monserrate hill in Bogotá in December 2020, when I was visiting my family in Colombia. This hummingbird has attracted much attention among bird watchers in the Sabana de Bogotá region. When I saw it, I was overwhelmed with joy. The dazzling iridescent colors are amazing; it is as if a rainbow were transformed into a bird. Bird watchers and biologists are working together to identify this gem: a possible, and very rare, hybrid between a golden-bellied starfrontlet (Coeligena bonapartei) and a blue-throated stellar front (Coeligena helianthea). Diego Morales, 43, pathologist, Ardmore, Pennsylvania, USA

‘There was only going to be one winner’

A gray heron battles a rat at Forest Farm Country Park, Cardiff, in April 2021.
A gray heron battles a rat at Forest Farm Country Park, Cardiff, in April 2021. Photography: Paul Travers

This photo was taken in April 2021 at Forest Farm Country Park, Cardiff. I was watching the gray heron staring at the tall grass and managed to capture a sequence of photos of her catching and swallowing a rat. The rat gave a strong fight that lasted several minutes, but there was only going to be one winner. Paul Travers, 56, civil servant, Cardiff

‘It is a very shy bird’

A swamp francolin photographed in November 2020 in eastern Nepal.
A swamp francolin photographed in November 2020 in eastern Nepal. Photograph: SUGAM_TAMRAKAR_PHOTOGRAPHY / Sugam Tamrakar

I took this picture of a swamp francolinFrancolinus gularis) in November 2020 in the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve in eastern Nepal. After three days of waiting, this bird finally came to light. This species of partridge, which is native to the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal, is elusive and difficult to photograph because it is very shy in nature. It is considered extinct in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta in Bangladesh and is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list. The wait was worth it. Sugam Tamrakar, Professor of Hotel Management, Kathmandu, Nepal

‘He tried to take a bite out of my shoe’

A kea, photographed in New Zealand in January 2019.
A kea, photographed in New Zealand in January 2019. Photography: Daniel Ward

This photo of a kea was taken in January 2019 in Milford Sound, New Zealand. The kea is native to New Zealand and is the only alpine parrot in the world. This bird, like all the Keas I’ve ever met, was incredibly curious and came up to me and tried to take a big bite out of my shoe. Thankfully he didn’t make it and I’m happy to say that I still have all 10 toes. Daniel Ward, 26, PhD student, Leeds

‘They got very close when we stood still’

A pair of Adelie penguins, Antarctica, 2015.
A pair of Adelie penguins, Antarctica, 2015. Photography: Mathieu Casado

I am a paleoclimatologist working at the Alfred Wegener Institute. In my spare time, I will drill ice cores in Antarctica and the Himalayas. This photo was taken in 2015 on my first trip to Antarctica, where every animal sighting felt extraordinary. The photo shows a pair of Adélie penguins, which hatch during the summer on the island where my station was. While they were terrified of us when we were standing on the island rocks, they were having fun with us on the sea ice and getting very close when we were sitting. Mathieu Casado, 32 years old, paleoclimatologist, Berlin


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