The Ravens of Ocean Beach

//The Ravens of Ocean Beach

The Ravens of Ocean Beach

With onshore winds, Ocean Beach is my favorite place to photograph ravens. Along the Great Highway, these feathered balls of onyx launch into the wind like superheroes, hovering over the beach below with tails trailing like capes.

I had some time to kill after an appointment in the Sunset. I grabbed my camera and headed to a drizzly beach — uncommonly drizzly and cold in May, even for San Francisco.

Boat in the Pacific Surf - ©ingridtaylar

I saw just smattering of ravens. A small group1 was landlubbing that day, poking around the beach for snacks, and gazing into the surf shrouded with mist.

Raven's Silhouetted Against Over Exposed Sky - ©ingridtaylar

Common Ravens (Corvus corax) are birds of complex intellect and — to my eye — glorious color and sheen. I came upon this blog post — Just How Smart Are Ravens? — which discusses, in depth, a published study on the raven’s capacity to learn and use logic to solve problems. Additional studies designed by Dr. Louis Lefebvre used an avian IQ test to measure the avian intellectual hierarchy. Corvids (crows, ravens, jays) scored at the top of the intelligence scale, followed by falcons, then hawks.

In my experience, Ravens not inured to a telephoto lens are quick to suspect something’s amiss and flee. Unless they’re foraging regularly among humans, I keep my distance from ravens to get the photograph.

The conditions on this day were gray, bleak, and wet, and requiring ISO800 on my Olympus E-520. The E-520 isn’t weather-sealed like my E-3 but I sometimes push it a bit if the rain isn’t torrential. Otherwise, I’ll mock up a plastic bag workaround. I did a bit of processing on these shots with Photoshop — some NR (noise reduction), leveling, and sharpening.

1A flock of ravens is also known as an “Unkindness of Ravens.” Isn’t that just wrong?

Pensive Raven - ©ingridtaylar


Dog Alert - ©ingridtaylar


Raven & Dog Decision Time - ©ingridtaylar

By | 2010-05-22T02:35:17+00:00 May 22nd, 2010|Blog, California, Crows, Jays & Corvids, Urban Wildlife & Nature|2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Bay Nature Magazine May 26, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I LOVE your blog! Bay Nature has a facebook page, and I linked to your damselfy/dragonfly article. You should enter our photo contest!

    Ingrid

  2. ingrid May 26, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Thank you, Ingrid, for the generous comment and link. I’m a long-time fan of Bay Nature, and I appreciate the mention!

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