I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season, surrounded by family and friends. This has been one of the best holiday seasons I can remember. I have spent some significant quality time with my family and this feels like the first time in I don’t know how long that I have been able to enjoy the season.
Now to some photography! We had about 5 inches of snow yesterday making everything look very festive. Given I was itching to make some clicks the snow was the perfect excuse to get out and ring in the New Year. With everything covered in snow and the bird feeders full, I had my pick of subjects.
There are 2 new species I have seen in mass numbers over the last few days/week, White Throated Sparrows and Dark Eyed Juncos.
There seems to be around 10-20 White Throated Sparrows and 20-30 Dark Eyed Juncos. They are both beautiful birds and very fun to watch.
And one of my all time favorites:
The Downy Woodpeckers and Woodpeckers in general are difficult to photograph. They are very skittish as are the Cardinals. There could be 10 outside when I look out the window but they take off permanently when I go outside. I guess I need to work on my technique!
I thought I would spend some time checking out the fall foliage in northwestern Connecticut. After all, the CT DEP Fall Foliage report (link) showed moderate leaf color in this region. I decided my destination would be Kent, a small town nestled in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. My first stop was Macedonia Brook State Park, listed as one of the best places to view the changing foliage in CT. This was my first time to the park. As I drove along RTE 7, I realized that I was too early for good leaf color. I suspect that if I return next week, I might have some better luck.
After trudging around for a few hours I just wasn’t feeling it. I know I can’t find inspiration every time I go out but I try. I decided to head down the road to Bull’s Bridge. There is a dam that runs under the bridge and I thought I might be able to find some great water views given the heavy rain we have had as of late. Unfortunately I was stumped again, I just didn’t feel it.
As I was walking around I did find a flock of Black Vultures circling a fresh kill. I was unable to find the carcass but I did get this shot of one of the vultures.
The good thing about not finding an image I think is a keeper means I try harder next time I go out. It also means I will attempt fall foliage photography soon because I don’t like being stumped!
I have heard a lot of things about the Connecticut Audubon Society
Coastal Center at Milford Point and decided to check it out. I decided to visit the center on the day it was closed, Monday, so that I could make my way around without a lot of traffic. I found the center to be a great place, one I plan to visit many times this fall. It is equipped with a three level viewing turret that brings the observer up to roof height of the center.
I’ve been told that the salt water marsh area is a major migratory stop for over 300 species of birds and that fall and spring are the best bird viewing times from this location.
I had planned on practicing my panning while at the center. I had one problem, I don’t have a 600mm lens! As you can see from the image below, the best angle to photograph flying birds is from the top of the observation deck. This picture was taken from the ground and as you can see, the houses on the other side of the salt marsh create a bit of distraction.
The center even had a nice array of bugs to photograph. All in all I will be back to this location soon.
So this is my first fall with a full set of bird feeders on the property. I started this winter with just one all purpose Squirrel Buster Plus which was pretty good at discouraging the squirrels. I added a thistle feeder for small song birds this summer as well as a hummingbird feeder which was a must have according to my daughter! We have been busy getting the kids off to school so sitting in the yard taking pictures was not high on the priority list the last few weeks. I had some time this weekend to relax and enjoy the perfect “10” weather and take some bird pictures. Away from the Downy Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse’s and White Breasted Nuthatches, I think my flock has flown! It has been very quiet the last few days so I assume that the migration has started.
I will be watching closely the next few weeks to try and learn more about the migration patterns in the area and I look forward to seeing what species the cold weather brings to our feeders.
I have spent some considerable time the last week and a half returning to several Osprey nests that are atop telephone polls all along the Hamptons on Long Island. The biggest challenge for me is to bring the image close enough to the viewer to grab their attention. One difficulty, trying to capture birds with a 200-400 mm lens. Clearly this is a job for a 600 mm but alas I haven’t made that investment yet! So I tried to use my 200-400 with the 1.7 TC and use DX crop mode for extra reach. The captures were better but still not what I would like them to be.
I also used my time at the beach to do some more work on the Egret population that inhabits the mud flats and marshes of Dune Rd. I thought this was a very interesting effect created by getting down low to the ground and shooting through the grass, using it as a diffuser.
We had a great Mistretta family weekend out at the beach for the 4th of July. In addition to saying thanks for all that we have and in particular our freedom, it was great to have all 16 of us back together again. The weather and the food were spectacular. I even had time to do some shooting! First I was able to take some pictures of an Osprey nest, one of many supported by the Town of Westhampton Beach. Unfortunately I did not come away with the shot, the distance was just too far. However I did have a chance to work a few marshes where Great Egrets were foraging for food all weekend.
I will take one more crack at the Osprey nest on my way home, I have a few ideas on how I might be able to get the shot this time. I might even take another crack at the Great Egrets. I will post the results tomorrow.