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.
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 ;-).
I made a project out of trying to make some better images of Willets this summer.
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 ;-).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
And one of my all time favorite images……..
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?
I know, I know. My blogging has been poor recently. As you read this I am off bringing my middle son to college. Between our 2 week trip to Europe, getting 2 boys ready for college, a job and oh yeah, Irene, it has been a mess around here.
One of our stops while traveling to Europe was Koper, Slovenia. On a drive from Koper to Ljubljana, Slovenia’s Capital, we passed by the Nanos Mountains just after sunrise. What struck me about this image was the back lighting of the mountain with the dark forest in the foreground. It made me think of the mountain rising with the sun.
My only regret is that I was not there an hour earlier to get better light. It would have been killer on those clouds. Alas, the difficulty of traveling around Europe with 16 people!
Image captured with Nikon D700, 24-120 VR I on Lexar digital film.
Well Google+ has already paid some dividends. I started using “Sparks” and selected “birding” and “wildlife” as topics I was interested in. Sure enough the first story that came up was that the State of New Hampshire had just created a new wildlife website (www.wildnh.com).
I’m going to give everyone a tip here, fairly common knowledge photographically but said in a different way than you have been used to hearing it. Photography is an art that sees 360°, make sure you do as well. Don’t always look in front of you, look up, look down and look behind you, you never know what you might see. Had I not looked up, I would have missed the cloud pattern behind St, Marks Clock Tower. To finish this image I used Nik Filters “Monday Morning”.
I used Nik Filters “Glamour Glow” to finish this image. The morning light hits the walls in Venice with a special touch. One of the things I don’t like about vacation photography is that you are never in the right spot at the right time of the day. Put differently, I wish I could have parked my butt in one or two spots at sunrise and sunset and just took advantage of the light…no such luck!
I dont think I executed the above image the way I wanted to. I saw the image differently when I pressed the shutter but the result was not what I wanted. One problem with this image is that I am shooting up from the street. Causes the proportions of the window to look funny.
This image was finished with Nik Filters “Tonal Contrast”
Overall, the colors in Venice are incredible. It is definitely on my list of places to revisit. One day was not enough time.
Images captured with Nikon D700 and 24-120 VR I on Lexar Digital film.