Category Archives: Birds

BwBTC Outing in Wilton, Connecticut

I had a chance to meet up with a Facebook birding group I have been learning from the last year or so. The group is Birders who Blog, Tweet and Chirp (BwBTC). I was a little intimidated as I am a novice birder. The group was led by Luke Tiller who did a great job of identifying birds for the group, although everyone in the group was very helpful. The birding day stopped at 3 locations, Allen’s Meadow, Schenck’s Island and Sherwood Island State Park. Unfortunately I was only able to attend the first leg at Allen’s Meadow. 🙁

One of the first photo ops I had was of this Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler at Sunrise

This is a beautiful bird and one that was new to my species list.

Next on the hit parade was the Savannah Sparrow. There were several of them around and they were very photogenic!

Savannah Sparrow Profile
Savannah Sparrow with Raised Crown
Savannah Sparrow in Tall Grass

This last image stood out to me as more of an environmental, made very interesting by the fall foliage I was able to blur in the background.

Upside Down Black Capped Chickadee

Lastly, a group of Black Capped Chickadees entertained us with their antics trying to pull seed from dead, hanging sunflower seed heads. All in all I made some new friends and I can’t wait for the opportunity to learn more from this group in the future.

Images captured with Nikon D700, 600mm f/4 w/1.4 Tce-II on Lexar Digital Film.

Mourning Dove Profile

Mourning Dove Profile

Our yard was over-run with Mourning Doves this year. I was told by a bird expert that if I wanted to reduce the number of Doves in the yard that I should try putting Safflower seed in all the feeders. Guess what? My Doves love Safflower seed, go figure.

To make this image I needed to get down low and wait for one of the birds to drop off the feeder onto the grass which they do on a regular basis. Thats what happens when you do the work and learn their behaviors and biology.

Images captured with Nikon D700, 600mm f/4 on Lexar Digital Film

Black Capped Chickadee Bonanza

A group of Black Capped Chickadees has moved into the neighborhood. I was entertained by watching these birds at my feeders for several hours late Saturday afternoon. I had some opportunities to make clicks that I think truly show off this birds beauty. I hope you agree ;-).

Black Capped Chickadee with Fall Foliage in Background

I think the above image would be a great image except for one thing. Its too centered in the frame. You can probably tell I was having trouble keeping the branch lined up in a way that the fall colors made for a nice background. But alas, it caused me to leave my subject centered in the frame and made what could have been a great shot, based on the light, into just a good image.

Black Capped Chickadee Back

I always try to avoid “butt” shots. No one likes those. But I had to photograph the back of this bird. Look at how intricate and delicate the feather patterns are.

Black Capped Chickadee Before Call

I really like the gesture in this bird, right before it was about to call.

Images captured with Nikon D700 w/600mm f/4 and Tce 1.4-II on Lexar Digital Film

Some Birds Return

Well, it has been slow, but none the less some of the birds have been returning to the feeders in the yard. One of the first back was the Black Capped Chickadee. There was also a pair of White Breasted Nuthatches.

Tufted Titmouse Eyeing Spot at Feeder

A few Tufted Titmouse’ also were around. Its interesting to see the subdued colors of the birds as they approach winter.

Tufted Titmouse in the V

Yeah, the flat yucky light doesn’t help either. Just the same, I was happy to see some activity again. Im looking forward to see how my new feeding setups work during the winter months!

Monday Musings – Where Have all the Birds Gone?

Herring Gull Calling

My backyard has been bare. Occasionally I see a House Finch, Cardinal or Downy Woodpecker. But my yard used to be full of them including about 6 American Goldfinches. I have not seen one of the Gold Finches since Irene came through.
American Goldfinch

The only birds I have are Crows and Mourning Doves. One theory I have as to why the feeders have been empty of the more preferred birds is that the Crows and Mourning Doves might be crowding the smaller birds out. To take care of this problem, I switched to Safflower seed this weekend. Safflower seed is high in protein and great for song birds getting fat for winter….but the black birds and Mourning Doves don’t like it. So far, it has made a difference with the Crows and Doves, but still no song birds.

My other theory is that a family of Red Tailed Hawks has still been chasing squirrels and Crows in the yard and I am wondering if the smaller birds have kept away while we have this much hawk activity. It has been very interesting watching the hawks attack the bigger Crows.

I will let you know what happens over the next few weeks. I even traveled this weekend to some of the places where I am usually lucky finding shorebirds, but not much luck. I’m sure I will get some emails about the bounty of hawks and other birds around Connecticut. The birding blogs I read are heavy with sightings. But you have to remember, I am a photographer and birder. Seeing a bird and being close enough to photograph a bird are two very different things ;-).

Willets On A Rainy Morning

I made a project out of trying to make some better images of Willets this summer.

Willet on Rocks

I know trying to find and photograph one species of wildlife does not carry a high degree of success, however there is something about a Willet that just says majesty, especially when they fly. The patterns made by the feathers in their wings are amazing! The problem is that they fly in patterns and at speeds that make them wildlife’s equivalent to flubber ;-).

Willet in the Grass

I need to make some images of Willets in flight!

Images captured with Nikon D700 w/600mm f/4 and Tce1.4-II on Lexar Digital Film.

Sunset with Sanderlings

After my disappointment in finding my favorite Osprey nest was destroyed by Hurricane Irene, I decided I just needed to grab my camera and go shoot.

Sanderling with a Clam

A closeup shows just how much this bird had to eat. It took him about 5 minutes of flipping and dropping the clam to figure out how to get it in his bill in order to swallow it!

Sanderling with a Clam, Closeup

Given how far I had to walk to find these 3 birds, I decided not to bring my big glass with me. The gear I used here was a 70-200 VR II and Tce 2 III, a new birding rig for me. It gave me a zoom range of 140-400. Normally I would select my 200-400 for that focal range in order to have one extra stop of light. But that lens was not with me. The results are not half bad.

Sanderling Shiver
Sanderling Digging Deep

If you are wondering how I was able to get this close to a usually very skittish bird, here is the trick. I sat myself down on the beach with my back to the sun (over my right shoulder) and people swimming to my left. The birds, after a short time, didn’t even know I was there. I knew that if I stayed still, they would gradually make their way away from the noisy swimmers and right towards me…..and the beautiful sunset light :-).

Images captured on Nikon D3x w/70-200 2.8 VR II and Tce 2 III on Lexar Digital film.

Monday Musings – Oh Irene, Say It Isn’t So

Well, Irene has come and gone. The damage in this area was great. In fact, 8 days later and still not everyone has power. I had hoped to do some bird photography this weekend. Long holiday weekend at one of my favorite spots, the east end of Long Island. I was curious how well the Osprey nest that I frequent held up. My wife picked me up at the train station and after greeting each other I told her to drive past the nest. Unfortunately, this is what I found.

Osprey Nest Destroyed by Hurricane Irene

All nesting material was piled up under the platform. I used my long glass to make sure none of the Osprey were in the rubble but I couldn’t see well as this pole is protected in a tidal marsh. One can only hope.

I have spent a lot of time over the last 2 years at this nest, I hope the breeding pair will return in the spring. I did spend about an hour watching and listening to see if I could locate any of the nests 5 previous inhabitants but they were no where to be found. In fact, there were 3 breeding pairs and chicks in 3 different nests along Dune Rd this year and none of them had any sign of Osprey :-(.

Here are some of the pictures I have taken from this nest.

Osprey Chicks Waiting for Mother to Return

And one of my all time favorite images……..

Feeding Time

One positive thing came out of my disappointment in not getting to see the Osprey one last time this summer. I decided I need to keep better research notes. When I returned home and looked through the notes I had kept on the nest, I realized I did a poor job and needed to better document my birding experiences in the future. So now I am on the lookout for a good birding journal app for the iPad. Anyone know of a good one?