They’re not all gems! – a birding quiz.

text & images (sorry) by Jeff Bouton, Manager Birding/Nature Markets, North America

Leica dealer Out of This World, Mendocino, CA

Leica dealer Out of This World, Mendocino, CA

On a recent trip to Leica Dealer “Out of This World” in Mendocino, CA, I took many beautiful wildlife images on the spectacularly, scenic headlands that lay right in front of the store, and nearby sites. Many birds were active on the rocky shore & in the seaside scrub here.

The amazing view of the Mendocino headlands from Out of This World

The amazing view of the Mendocino headlands from Out of This World

As anyone who photographs wildlife knows, not all images are real gems! So many variables effect image quality: insufficient lighting, the subject is distant & the atmosphere challenging (fog/dust), your subject my jump or fly out of frame, the exposure can be off, or shutter speed too slow. For whatever the reasons, I invariably get as many images destined for deletion as I do “keepers” sometimes more. Normally, I don’t flaunt these flubbed images, but in this case I thought it might be fun to challenge our readers with another photo quiz from these recent photo fails! ;)

See if you can identify these birds despite the poor quality of the images (which will be deleted immediately after posting here). Given the overall quality and ultimate destination of these images, I did not take any time to improve the quality with post processing. Once again these images were all taken this past weekend in Mendocino, CA  (northcoast) in July 26-28.

#1 starting easy - a "look-away bird"

#1 starting easy – a “look-away bird”

Easy start with a familiar backyard bird many should recognize #1 above!

#2 the famed headless bird shot

#2 the famed headless bird shot

#2 – Even with no head visible, the adult gull above is wholly identifiable!

#3 is another look away bird at challenging angle

#3 is another look away bird at challenging angle

#3 is again being furtive and looking away, wholly dissing the photographer. Challenging side lighting adds more challenge.

#4 - here I am... psych!

#4 – here I am… psych!

Contestant #4 (above) threatened to offer an mind-numbingly good photo and then at the last possible second leapt out of the frame! The bane of the wildlife photographer. :)

#5 - How do you like my backside?

#5 – How do you like my backside?

#5 – Another bird photo classic, the “I’m out of here” image showing a bird flapping straight away or in this case flapping and paddling.

#6 - "peek-a-boo" birdy

#6 – “peek-a-boo” birdy

#6 – At other times the “perfect image” is thwarted when the perfectly posing bird decides it has an itch or wants to preen it’s breast feathers, always as you capture the image. (Happily cameras have shutter burst modes to combat this).

#7 up the back once again

#7 up the back once again

#7 – taken more to capture the color band combination then for artistic composition, this bird again shows just enough to allow you to make the ID.

#8 - just a piece

#8 – just a piece

At other times you are only able to catch but a piece of a bird in this case a single feather. Despite the lack of overall bird though, #8 shouldn’t be too difficult given the unique color and patterning shown!

#9 - the classic vent shot

#9 – the classic vent shot

#9 – what could it be?… combine the few hints of color, pattern and habitat to come up with your ID!

#10 - birds from above

#10 – birds from above

Odd perspectives whether straight above or straight below (as shown by #10) always make birds look much different from our preferred full profile shot.

#11 - another take on the headless bird

#11 – another take on the headless bird

#11 – ever notice how a bird without it’s head can look just like a football?!?…

#12 - bogey bird

#12 – bogey bird

#12 offers another “out of here” view. Birding really can be challenging!

#13 - too far, too much noise, and not enough bird

#13 – too far, too much noise, and not enough bird

Lucky #13 combines a bunch of our favorite image-ruining variables. The bird is too distant and the atmosphere too unforgiving, it was taken with a cell phone rather than a camera with larger (and more forgiving) sensor, it’s fully shadowed, the bird preened and is largely hidden behind a rock. In this case, the photographer should have just shown better judgement and passed on this image, but because I’m a glutton you now have another photo challenge! ;)

Good luck all and have fun with the photo flub bird ID challenge. Offer your guesses below!