Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Trouble With Bird Names - May 13 2012

I am in awe of the experienced birders.  They can identify and count birds a mile off before I can focus on a single one of them. If they hear a couple of notes, they don't even have to see the bird.  I don't share this ability.  I have four different bird books and still can't positively identify some of the birds that I photograph.

 I'm also not sure what kind of Warbler this is

This little bird is some kind of Flycatcher.

The Common Grackels were beautiful - their iridescence reflected in the sunlight.

This may be a Great-tailed Grackle.

I was able to photograph a pair of Hooded Merganser by shooting through some branches.  When I tried to get a better view, they were gone.

A Red-headed Woodpecker seemed to appreciate all of the extra dead wood this year.

The advantage of being the first to arrive at the wetlands is that you get to see a scene like this.  A pair of Great Blue Herons and a Wood Duck.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Birds are Everywhere Today - May 27 2012

The wetlands are recovering from the flooding much faster than I thought possible.  On change has been in the distribution of vegetation.  I've noticed that there is a bumper crop of wild marijuana this year.  Thistles are more common as well.  This goldfinch is using the thistle as a source of nesting material.

It's been a tough year for the snapping turtles.  The racoons are eating their eggs as soon as they lay them.  This big turtle attempted to hide from my camera.

I was surprised to see how large these Canada Goose goslings are already.

This female Red-breasted Grosbeak found a tasty treat attached to this branch.

I'm not sure what this bird is - some sort of Vireo is my best identification. 

1/200th of a second shutter speed was barely adequate to capture this Great Blue Heron taking off.

I normally avoid taking photos of the rear of birds.  This Catbird is an exception because it shows colorful feathers that are usually not seen.

The male Orchard Oriole was calling for any single female.

The Common Yellowthroat Warbler is an amazing singer.

This female Redstart attempted to hide in a bush.

This Red-winged Blackbird took a break to eat a few mulberries.

Brown-headed Cowbirds - May 28 2012

I spent the majority of my  time this morning photographing a pair of Brown-headed Cowbirds.  The male was desperately attempting to woo the female.  She was doing her best to ignore him.  When he thought he had her eye, he would fluff up his feathers and spread his wings to look as sexy as possible. Then he would strut in her direction.  Her lack of interest each time would be devastating and he would appear to deflate.  His entire body would shrink as his feathers returned to their normal positions.  A minute later and he would be back at it again.

It was an extremely private moment.  Neither realized that I and my long lens were recording the romance.  It wasn't an easy scene to photograph.  Cowbirds are mostly black and the overhead cover was dense.  I had increased my ISO to 800.  Because my lens has a maximum aperture of f8, I was at about a 1/100 of a second shutter speed. 

Most of the time, I only have enough time for a couple of shots.  This couple was oblivious to me and he wasn't having any luck, so I soon had many exposures.  It was tempting to move on but I've learned that a cooperative subject is a rare opportunity that should not be wasted.  The end result is that I have a bumper crop of Cowbird photos and less variety of anything else.

The Great Blue Heron was fishing again today.  He flies away as soon as he spots me or another hiker. It is a good omen to photograph him because the alarm that he sounds when he leaves puts most of the other wildlife on alert as well. 

Perhaps that is why I got a glimpse of Wood Ducks.  The male was high overhead on the branch of a dead tree.

The female had three young ducklings out for a short swim.  If she had spotted me first, they would have been hidden before I spotted them.

I'm not sure what the bird is.  I suspect it is a young male Oriole. Birds are easier for me to identify in the early spring when they are adults in their mating plumage. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Green Heron Drops In May 26 2012

If this Green Heron had landed any closer, I wouldn't have been able to focus my lens.  I seldom see Green Herons here.  When they are around, they usually are hard to spot.

The Double-crested Cormorant is supposed to be common but I seldom see them here.

I spent some time in a grassland meadow.  This Dickcissel sat on the tallest available perch and called for a mate.

This female Red-winged Blackbird is perched on a marijuana plant.

A tiny bird was so annoyed by the Turkey Buzzards that it attacked.  The Turkey Buzzards were startled but returned to their perches.

Proud Canadian Goose parents take their goslings out for a brief swim.

A Rose-breasted Grosbeak adds color to the forest floor.

The Buzzards are Watching - May 19 2012

On May 19th, the Bullfrogs rule the wetlands.

A Great Blue Heron glides through the air looking for a fishing spot far from my lens.

Shoots and Leaves have appeared everywhere.

Yellow spring flowers have opened.

The Red winged Blackbirds are calling potential mates.

Several Turkey Vultures watch me as I stand very still and photograph the wetlands.  I try to look very healthy and alive.   I wish that they would look somewhere else.

The Raccoons are Back . May 10 2012

I've seen evidence of raccoons on my previous visits this year.  Today I photographed the real thing.  This raccoon was up in a Mulberry tree feasting on berries. 

When he noticed me, he hid behind some branches to take a better look.  He didn't like what he saw so he immediately climbed down the back side of the tree and disappeared into the woods.

This Cat bird is enjoying mulberries as well.

A tiny butterfly flies among the tiny white flowers.

A male Orchard Oriole is looking for a lady.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Best Lens for the Job

This afternoon,I borrowed my wife's Mothers Day orchids for a quick available light photo session.  To make things more interesting, I decided to use several different focal lengths and then compare the results.

I started out with a 135mm lens.

 My second lens was a 200mm.

Finally I moved to a 400mm lens. 

While each lens performed well, I found that the 400mm produced results I liked the best.  It wasn't the easiest to use - I had to move to the other side of the room to focus and the angle of my shots was more limited.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New Faces in the Fontenelle Forest Wetlands May 8 2012

I visited the Fontenelle Forest wetlands late this afternoon.  As they recover from the flood and food becomes available, the mammals are slowly returning.  I saw a large racoons and a deer, neither stayed around for a photograph.

This Baltimore Oriole was attracted the the water.  He has been trying to get his feathers back in place but isn't quite there yet.

The birds were attracted to ripe mulberries.  The mulberry trees had plenty of leaves and branches.  This Red-breasted Grosbeak was the best I could do under those conditions.

This Scarlet Tanager will never win any photo contest but it is the first one I've photographed in hundreds of visits.

I finally found a warbler - this Common Yellow-throat.  I heard others. 

This Northern Water-thrush flew into the trees when I approached.

The Lesser Yellow-legs continues to hunt for  bugs.
The Cedar Waxwings flocked in, ate mulberries and flocked out.