DO NOT USE photos without permissionBird Rescue Advice:D7000 G2
Read the first 2 before you ask me to I.D birds: Herons Egrets Herons v Egrets Feedback Rouses Bald Eagle
a new camera
White Rock Lake
The main reason I prefer grackle baths to pelican baths is that grackles tend to do it a lot closer. And Great Tail Grackles have wonderful, large, beautiful tails.
This one looks like it's tied itself into a knot to get clean. It didn't, of course, that would probably hurt.
I didn't see the pigeon till it was right there.
I keep telling myself I need to come down with a wide zoom to get more trees than four full of cormorants to show what the place really looks like, except I generally think in telephoto. And I keep assuming they'll go away tomorrow or the next day, but they keep being there.
Comparatively new wood bridge with coots.
This was an attempt at a landscape with water. I like those places, but now I see they're not all that photogenic. Oh, well.
Just south of Parrot Bay (See map.), there's a little outlet with a boom sweep or sweeper (I forget the correct term.) er on it. I think it is intended to keep some of the junk people throw into flooding water or dump into their yard, then the flood or rainwater takes into the lake. I pretty much circumnavigated the lake today looking for birds worth photographing in the great sunlight. I didn't find many of those, but I kept traveling and kept shooting. The six birds in this photo are four ducks, one coot and one gull.
I tried all afternoon to avoid visiting Sunset Bay, but since there are always birds there, I went there, and found those birds. They were loud and a little obnoxious, but nothing out of the ordinary.
This is today's last landscape or lakescape. And there'll
be no more bird photos this month.
Windy, windy day — and cold enough for snow flurries tonight, but I went anyway. Not sure which cam would have been better, but I'm on this crusade lately to prove the Panasonic Lumix G5 is a good-enough birding camera, and so far, that's just what it's been. Maybe when I learn it better, it will get even better.
A small group of pelicans were out, standing on their little island about halfway off the pier to the right, then a right angle left across the lagoon to the far side, where they sometimes — in times like these — hide from the cruel north wind. Two or three times more pelicans are off to the right , also on that side.
And these five stayed on the sunken island where they usually hang out. I wondered why some were on the far side of the lagoon and these others here. I'd probably have to be a pelican to know.
Then I saw the temporary Hidden Creek Area pelicans starting to get a little restless, moving out to informally line up as if they were thinking of maybe heading off somewhere. Watch them long enough, and I can sometimes tell what might be about to happen. Maybe. I missed the trajectory of the first one, only saw it float in. After awhile, another one hopped and splashed into the air, and maybe a couple minutes later, another one did. Until they're about this stage, I wouldn't know what they were up to.
I'm pretty sure this is the same bird as in the shot above, but I know I shot two of these short hop situations.
It was a short hop, as I keep repeating, all the way to the sunken inland where the other pelicans stood, as these were, preening constantly.
This one is dropping altitude, determining exactly where it will alight.
Then it does.
Not bad for a camera I've often read is not good enough to capture birds, especially birds in flight. Right? Wrong.
Then, like any traveler, far or near, it needs to talk about it.
Aerodynamically designed, pelicans can hunker down and slip through the steady streams of wind blowing the other way.
I've never needed a name for this place before, but I've photographed a lot of birds there at one time or another over the last six-plus years.
Surely they are mallard hybrids. The grown ducks from I forget how many ducks were left off at the lake a couple years ago.
Swimming against the wind.
Do Birds Have teeth?
Maybe it's landing. I'm not sure. And yeah, I know it's not as sharp as it could be or as I'd like it to be. Etc. etc. But I'm still playing with my new camera, and it doesn't always focus as quickly or as surely as I'd like, and it's not entirely the camera's fault. But I'm learning, and I couldn't pass this shot up, just because it's fuzzy. I make fun of pelican style sometimes, but this is truly pretty strange. I had no idea their feet were that big!
All the same excuses apply here, too. But it doesn't look like a Bufflehead and it is.
Dive! Dive! Dive! I remember from all those submarine movies I watched as a kid and as an adult. Shoulders raised, head pointed down, bill already under. This also does not look like a Buffle, but it, too, is.
I'll look it up later. It's late, and I'm tired, and identifying birds is one of those tasks I like to procrastinate.
I may be going through a dark phase. All these images look a tad too dark.
Shot from the other side of the lake, specifically in Free Advice Point parking lot.
The platform is what rowers use to get aboard rowing boats. The birds seem to like them, too. This is nearly full-frame, although there is a lot of water above and below this part of the image. To me, it's scrumptious. Delicious, gorgeous with color and density, reasons why I love this new camera and want it to work out well as a birder camera.
I photographed him at leas a dozen times, thinking it was about time I attempted smaller birds again. I later realized that I should have used the G5's pinpoint focus when a bird was holding still, although this woodpecker hardly ever did that for more than a few seconds.
The electric station up the hill from the new, integrated, shiny bright in the sunlight, boathouse has significantly smaller mounds of nest than last time I saw it. The Electric Company's signs are still there, but they've been textually adjusted somewhat, so I won't show the one I photographed today, but I'll quote from it as I often have before.
"Monk Parakeet Habitat Coexisting with [name of electric company here] in consultation with the Dallas Museum of Natural History & the Dallas County Audubon Society." Which I suppose gives them the right to tear down Monk Parakeet nests whenever nobody's looking.
This is the view that way from where I photographed the Big Hum.
But not terrible. I am imagining myself hauling my big heavy, black tripod up hills and down dales so I can hold that lens more stillish.
Photographing small birds started today when I was driving by a place with picnic tables and some woods and trees. I saw the first woodpecker flicker into one of the trees, so I turned The Slider around and hooked a hamburger in the middle of the road, parked, got out, and walked slowly and carefully towards where I saw that first woodpecker and discovered several others, most of whom were a little too nervous about having me in their vicinity. The blue jays didn't mind so much, but they didn't stay around very long either.
I love the tonality I get from this camera. Eventually I hope to follow that expressive stuff with sharpness. We'll see. This was all a bit experiment today. And when I got back I was exhausted.
Those white poles are part of an art installation that's called The White Rock Lake Water Theatre, created some years ago by Dallas sculptor extraordinaire Tom Orr, and the poles were designed to have birds perch on them, and the white poles are painted with night-glowing paint, so we can see them from across the lake past sunset.
Watching over the lake, and especially over the grassland where its prey tries to eye. But these eagle-eyed fleegles don't miss much. It stared at me for awhile, then seemed to decide I wasn't in its way, and it dove from here, disappeared into he tall gras for about a minute, then returned to the wire somewhat farther down the line.
Just guessing, but from the comparative sizes and colorations, I'm guessing the parental unit is on the left and the juvenile on the right.
I think I remember it jumping — or falling forward or flying down — to bounce, more or less, off the water up into flight. Or something like that.
I knew, if I kept at it, sooner or later, I'd catch a Scaup foot in a photograph. Next time, it'll be better.
I tried to catch their movement as the went over and down, but this is as close as I got, except one shot where I got a few feathers but hardly any pattern. This, oddly enough, is a much better photo than that one.
Well, something is just barely visible at about 7 o'clock on the circle splash.
In order to explain this behavior, especially contrasting to the attempt to show the behavior above, yahood "dabbling and diving ducks," so I'd get it straight for once. I found this illustration-free but otherwise very informative site called Dabblers vs. Divers on the Standford's essay pages, which among other things says,
"Once assembled on the prairies in the spring, divers and dabblers appear to divide their habitat in a manner analogous to the way in which some warbler species divide trees in which they forage. This partitioning presumably has evolved to protect access to their preferred food items, which for breeding females consist of protein-rich aquatic insects, other invertebrates, and aquatic vegetation. During the period between their arrival and the laying of their eggs, females are essentially feathered eating machines, foraging from 50 to 70 percent of the day.
Diving ducks, or "divers," are ducks that propel themselves underwater with large feet attached to short legs situated far back on the body. "Dabblers," in contrast, have smaller feet and their legs are situated farther forward. While a few dabblers may occasionally dive to feed or to escape predators, typically they skim food from the surface or feed in the shallows by tipping forward to submerge their heads and necks. The table below lists the North American ducks generally included in the groups dabblers and divers. We have also listed a substantial group of species that dive after their food, but often are not meant when one refers to divers. Note that many of the ducks that dive also dabble. Although the Wood Duck (not listed) dabbles and shares with the dabblers the ability to take-off vertically, it is not ordinarily included in the dabblers."
Well, about 600mm close. So much more of a challenge than photographing them far away, then enlarging little portions of big pictures. This was nearly a frame-filler, so I had to be quicker, and my camera — the Panasonic G5 — quicker to focus. I didn't succeed this well every time I tried it, but I'm gaining confidence in that camera.
Cormorants rarely fly over the inner portion of Sunset Bay where I stand on the pier. And when they do, I rarely capture them flying over. This time, I did okay.
Very windy. I was afraid I was going to get blown off the pier in Sunset Bay. I wished once again, I'd brought a folding chair and a tripod. Or a small tank. Too much wind. Glad it wasn't terribly cold.
Cormorants flying off toward the middle of the lake where the hunting continued.
Condor Escapes: Not sure why some idiot
hockey pucks need an
endangered species bird on their ice, but this one is just trying to
escape the worst rendition ever of The Star-Spangled Banner.
At first, I thought this must be a muscovy hybrid, but there's really not much indication of it being that. No warts. No ungainly girth. That white on dark chocolate brown pattern looks like white flowers on a brown background. I don't think I've ever seen such a duck, but I'm no expert.
I haven't shot a Nikon camera since February 11.
Male ducks, especially Mallards, have curly tails. Female ducks don't. I'm not sure the brown one's tail feathers are long enough to curl yet. Sorry about that weed partially obscuring the flower brown duck's identity.
I got tipped off on a scenic side trip today. Was nice when I could include birds, since this is a bird journal, but that wasn't always possible.
I was slowly and carefully photographing the cormorant on the right, who had been perched there for a minute or so while I turned The Slide around in the parking lot near the Mockingbird Bridge. When up popped the cormorant behind it, who'd been diving for food.
Then, while I was settling the camera down a little firmer, the pop-up cormorant started hopping across the landscape while I struggled to capture it, and it took off.
I think to really cover the cormorants who are still crowding Cormorant Bay, I'll need a wider-ange lens. They're everywhere. They're everywhere!
Mostly I was testing my new cam. This one is in focus. The closer-ups were not.
There used to always be an egret under the bridge, either on this side or the other, west side. I haven't seen it in a few months. But I'm only there once in awhile. I was hoping for more birds than I found there today.
Sunset Bay and White Rock Lake
As I've mentioned here before, it doesn't take much to over-excite an American Coot. They panic easily, and they usually do in en masse. These particular birds are chasing after white bread thrown by some kids and a woman caretaker. They were thrilled with all the inter-species battles. I just think it's wrong.
I assumed those white lumps were pelicans, because I'd seen them over there before — usually in times of high water. I had no idea this image would turn out so well. I'm dealing with a band new camera that I've read is very definitely not good for photographing birds with. But yeah, I realize, these birds aren't going anywhere.
But this pelican is flying. Someone who knew me at the University of Dallas was engaging me in conversation, so it's a minor miracle that I got anything at all. I am surprised and pleased — as usual — that I got anything in focus.
This might be that same pelican. But there's little and big details here, that we can see. I'm impressed with my new Panasonic Lumix G5. I still have my G2, but my fingers are all fumble-footed when operating the G5, although I'm beginning to catch on to some of its intricacies.
Ya gotta be quick to catch this sort of thing, and it helps if one is paying attention. I was keeping track of at least a half dozen bird occurrences when I saw this one start up the routine, most of which I missed, but I got the upper most of the sequence.
I've seen pelicans stretch their lower mandibles many times, but this is the first time I've seen this contraction while its beak was still pointing straight up.
The big log that got washed nearly ashore is some distance southwest of Sunset Pier. There's usually at least fourteen big, white birds lined up along its top.
Purple's not a part of his species title, just the dominant color in the sun's reflections on his black body.
I mentioned the other day that female scaups don't hang around with the males very much or often around here. At first, it seemed our four resident males didn't even notice her, nor she them. But I picked her out of the coot crowd pretty quickly, startled to see something new. Notice those big lobed feet, which may have something to do with them being so comfortable among coots.
Lesser Scaups are diving ducks who are great divers. My treasured Lone Pine edition of Birds of Texas says this species "dives for seeds, plant fibers and mollusks, crustaceans and other aquatic invertebrates" under their illustration of a pair of Lesser Scaups. I've not seen it mentioned that the males and females don't spend much time together, but I've noticed it at Sunset Bay, where she's a rare beauty.
Both Lesser and Greater Scaups are sometimes called "Bluebills." I often photograph the four males who often inhabit inner Sunset Bay. The next image down has two males, but there's lots more detail in the one a little ways below.
While both sexes were in the inner bay, around the pier at Sunset Bay, the males seemed not to even see the female, and versa visa. I photographed them all leaving, however separated they were, together, although I could only get two males and the female in a big enough long-zoom shot so we could recognize them.
By the time I snapped to their broad, fast and splashy goose action, they were nearly finished with the noisy portion of their program, although I later saw them along the pier attempting either to have sex or fight each other some more. Hard to say which. Neither obtained for very long, but bird sex often doesn't.
Some coots stay year-around, but sometime after winter and before spring, the gulls all disappear. Hooray. I like coots. I don't trust gulls. I'm not sure its their fault.
Ring-bills and coots seem to get along fine unless humans are interfering by feeding the coots, whom most white-bread-throwers call "ducks," which they decidedly are not. Once coots get food gulls believe should rightfully all belong to them, gulls chase them down and are sometimes rather vicious about taking it away. Other than gulls' murderous intent, they get along fine.
Usually, cormorants gather on the logs far out from the pier in Sunset Bay. Today, they were much closer in, and so were more easily photographed and observed.
Like pelicans, cormorants get up air speed by hopping two-footedly across the water.
Not sure why they chose Valentine's Day to make a major showing. I assume the fleetingly flying ones behind this log bunch are off on their way to go fishing, maybe with some pelicans, very probably with some gulls.
Now let's back off from Sunset Bay to follow along my usual path down past the ... shudder ... arboretum, up to Winfrey Point, then back down into Sunset Bay. I understand many people do not know how to get to Sunset Bay, and I like that. If you really want to go to Sunset Bay, I have this Annotated Map of White Rock Lake, showing where various bird species have been seen and photographed over the last six years plus I've been watching the birds at White Rock Lake extra especially.
I have seen his whole family and probably then some on my usual daily drive down past the arboretum, but today, he was alone. Close enough to photograph but far enough to be well off shore. This is a mostly Mallard-like duck with an especially big beak.
Ruddy Ducks are easily distinguished by their stiff tails jutting out at about 45 degrees while they float and sleep. Sometimes there are dozens of them on Arboretum Way toward the hill up to Winfrey, sometimes hundreds, sometimes even a thousand or more.
This and subsequent shots were taken from Winfrey Top. Assuming Winfrey Point is out near the water, and knowing it's a hill with a building on top, I was poking my new cam out The Slider's window looking down from Winfrey Top.
The area in the background is officially called Hidden Creek, but there's at least three of them, so I usually make that plural. Here we see stripes of little white gulls, a couple big white pelicans, and a lot of medium-sized black cormorants and little black coots.
And we get a little closer to Sunset Bay..
Pelican and coots — and even four male and one female Least Scaup out there somewhere, and on the far shore, some pelican lumps lazing in the sun.
Best bird photo on the web lately.
I chose a brilliant sunshiny day to test out the bright (They used to call lenses with large maximum apertures "fast." Now they call them "bright.") Then I chose this nasty wet, cold, gray day, when there was no sun and lots of hazy splatters of rain, to test the doubled, 600mm version that fully halves the light coming into it — so it's both "dark" and "slow." And I seriously underexposed this series using an ISO of 200 (left over from the last time) and the usual 1/1000th second shutter speed. So I know it ain't perfect.
Same everything, just as slow-motion, at least as grainy but a fraction of a second later. I'm testing focus and I'm not doing spectacularly.
Adjusting the iSO to the more appropriate — for low, gray light — 1600 helped. But so did both it and I holding very still. Still a little grainy (actually, now they call that, digital noise, but it amounts to the same thing.
Or fast: I figured I could capture some of the birds flying down past me on the pier, so I tried. After two blurs, I got this...
And this. Focus is good, but they're moving faster than my mere 1/1000th shutter speed could stop them.
The pelican with its wings up behind the one in the center has decided it needs to be where this pelican was, so it uprooted it. Dis - Mount!
My conclusion: Not bad. I think it works, but next time I'll use the lens unextended in lousy weather and extended in sunlight. Maybe that'll improve my chances.
There will be birds. Fear not. But today was a test. Of an old camera and my still-new lens. No extender this time. Just straight lens. And me usually struggling with exposure. I didn't trust this one. Looks different in that old LCD on that old camera. I was testing focus. Which passed with flying colors, although this one's mostly monochrome.
Just to the right is that pier I love to stand on. There will be closer up birds. These are American White Pelicans and Gooses. What's so delicious for me is that everything is in sharp focus. The D7000 camera I bought to tide me over till Nikon delivered their long-rumored D400 can't hold my 300mm lens, because it's so heavy. Shots with it have been out of focus, because the weight distorted the flimsy bayonet mount. Very disappointing.
Not all of today's shots were this sharp. But enough were that I know when it wasn't, it was my fault.
The plants between me and them are out of focus, but the birds are pretty sharp.
We can't see the coot's eyes, but we can see its beak with that red diamond at the top of it, and all those delicious feathers. I'm thinking I should go to the lake with ulterior motives more often. Just going 'for birds' rarely nets me this interesting shots lately. It's as if I became somebody else with my old D300 and the 300mm lens I've been shooting almost exclusively for months and months and months.
Coots are so dark and most of their beaks so bright, it's usually difficult to capture both. Love that red-eyed stare.
I didn't know there'd be a gull here, I was focusing on the pelican. Nice contrast.
The caption about covers it. Both birds are mostly dark, because the sun is behind them. And yeah, I tend to tilt the camera.
I shot three intervening shots of this one pelican as it got closer to me and to the surface of Sunset Bay. This is the most interesting of those.
I don't know if that's the same pelican landing. I didn't see all that many today. Incoming pelicans and outgoing flying pelicans is why I usually think I am there. Luckily, most often a lot of more interesting bird occurrences occur. Until this shot, I was convinced that landing pelicans always planned out their landing path down to the tiniest detail. Guess not. I don't think I've ever captured a panicked coot with its wings up like that before.
Maybe I can stop taking them every time I see them now that this shot captured all the tones without compressing them. Love the texture and shapes in the water, too. And everything is so blessedly sharp. Love it. Can you tell I'm a big fan of scaups? Someday I'll render a definitive photograph of a scaup pair, but the females visit only occasionally, and they only stay a couple days.
This is the moment when a gull that has seen that a coot has a morsel of food and has already decided to take it away, gets about as close as it's going to to this defiant coot. I always pull for the coots, and tend to think of the gulls as mean. Of course, every bird's main goal every day is to get enough to eat. I have not ever seen a coot get the better of a gull except by getting away. This gull was a fraction of a second too late, and this coot got away with whatever the people on the pier were throwing at what they call "the ducks" today.
Getting a bird flying against a plain sky is comparatively easy. Getting one sharp against a blur of trees is a booger, so this focus mode on this old camera is working remarkably well, even if my "Whatever's Out There First" mode that I loved about this camera, did not work at all today, as usual. I guess I can learn to do without it.
It rained enough last night that the logs all out into Sunset Bay were slightly under water today. They won't move when the water goes over the dam in the next couple days, but we'll be able to see more of it. Whenever I'm in range for a wing-flapping I'll probably take a shot at it. I shot this one about a half dozen times, and this is the most interesting and best-exposed shot of the bunch.
I have a whole page of pelican mandible stretches and others of the various weird things pelicans do with those stretchy-skinned things. But they do it often, and if you watch a bunch of them gathered on the ground or in the water, sooner or later you'll get to see the whole sequence, of which this is the peak, although it often keeps stretching at both beginning and end of the sequences. They use those bags of skin to dredge along the bottom and scoop up fish, tilt back and swallow, then do it again, so keeping them in tip-top stretching shape is important.
Of course, gulls don't have noses. They have beaks. But I tend to remember this variety of greedy-gut gulls by their non-present noses and the ring around them. The trick here, is that the gull is flying over fairly close and fast, and just getting the camera to focus on that moving target quickly is of great benefit to a photographer who does not always think fast enough to follow them all the way in, is very handy. Sharp and quick. Yes!
More fast-focusing tests. Got her before she flew away. I think they can sense that someone's paying particular attention to them, and when they can't think of anything better to do about it, they fly away.
Every year I spend an inordinate amount of time, energy and silicon, attempting to capture a definitive Red-winged Blackbird territorial announcement, with which screaming noise he will attract a female, and they well settle down in that territory.
More focus games today, but with a different camera and a different lens. I hadn't shot with a zoom lens this year and much of last year, so I did that today, and I liked it. Much lighter lens than I've been dealing with, also.
I love these guys. No telling why. But I saw them skittering (running on the surface of the water) last week, and have been watching them carefully ever since, just in case they get up speed and run on the water again.
By the time I left the bay today, there was not a pelican in sight in the inner bay.
Well, maybe in one way it was a duck race, but in several other ways, it was ducks having sex. But first comes the race. This usually involves several other ducks.
Other than the fact there's one duck on top of another one, and his wing is loose and just hanging there as if it really had nothing for it to do for the moment, this would be an innocuous scene.
Duck sex almost always looks a lot like rape, but these are consenting adults who know what's going on. Some females try — and usually succeed — getting away, but that's just choice.
Sometimes I slip and call Ring-billed Gulls ring-noses. Today, I was happy enough photographing them. Usually there's something more interesting to do with my camera. Today, I took all comers.
It looks like dough. Could be fried chicken or a Cheeto, I suppose. When the gulls — barely visible at the top of the frame — chased after this coot with a beak-full of yellowish substance, it did what coots usually do, run, skittering across the surface as if its life depended upon it. Not so much its life, as its food, really.
I'd been looking at something else when this quick action happened. I was happy to just watch, but my camera was pointed over there, so I started shooting as quickly as I could. My eye was not on the viewfinder, so I was pointing the camera where I thought I should to capture the coot. And remarkably, it worked out pretty well.
It looks like a piece of sliced carrot that'd got dipped in the water. Off and on as I was on the pier today, digging the cool, cool breeze, other humans would come by and briefly throw human food items at the gulls, who seemed to enjoy the attention.
When whole swoops full of them arrive to fight with coots and each other over every morsel, I often take off. So I did that today, too.
Owls Turn their Heads 270 degrees
without cutting off blood supply to their brains.
Yeah, me, too. I'd love to be photographing somebody different for a change, but I drive nearly all around the lake most days, and I always end up in Sunset Bay. Of course, I like it there. I like it enough to want my ashes scattered there some blustery day. It's my favorite place in the world.
Almost even when people who don't think things through want to go pet the gooses, while carrying a dog in their arms, and slogging through the mud and eventually do manage to scare all the coots — they are nervous enough to always be the first to escape, and the gulls, and the pelicans (That's when I get nervous and angry. I want to protect them, so they always come back here every year.)
And it was grande fun to watch two gooses go a little rogue, put their heads out and down in bona fide goose aggression mode, make a bunch of noise, so even the mud-slogging dog-carriers backed off a little, thinking about getting goose-bit. (It can be a surprise, but it does not hurt; I've gone out of my way to let birds bite me, just so I know what that's like. Gooses have no teeth, and their jaws are weak, unlike vultures or hawks.)
(Of course, everybody who wants to get close to birds, should bring a dog, what other creature could be more fearsome to birds? A cat? Another stupid human? Yes. Yes.
But even then, I love the pier at Sunset Bay. Enough to usually know better than to come on a Sunday when all the amateur bird-lovers bring their puppies. Even then.
But lately I've been having my focus troubles again, so I keep testing my lens on whatever I can find. And what I can almost always find is pelicans doing pelicano things in Sunset Bay.
These are just the ones that were in adequate focus. But even when my lens won't focus, I love Sunset Bay.
Some days are glorious, and everything works perfectly. Some days are normal, and they don't work out perfectly right off, but with a little adjustment, things turn out well in the end. Then there are days like today, when I was so full of confidence that I did not remember or bother to check my camera/lens settings before I started or anywhere along the way, even though it was abundantly clear that everything I was shooting was way overexposed.
In photography, that's something that can often be adjusted back to a semblance of reality. I didn't fight it — or learn from it — I just adjusted for it. It's nice to be able to make certain adjustments along the way sometimes.
I did not see it take this mid-flight whiz. I just photographed a bunch of American White Pelicans flying into camp today, hoping a couple would be in focus, I think it's a little amusing, but mostly entirely natural. If you're a bird, you can go pretty much anywhere.
It took till when I was working up the nearly one gigabyte of shots from this afternoon's visit to White Rock Lake that I noticed I'd set my lens to f4. F4 offers very little in the way of focus leeway, a photographic aspect usually called "depth of field." The field the depth is in is "out there." The depth out there is from where focus starts to where focus ends. Here it gets most of the bird, for which I'm thankful.
This lens is 'brighter' than f4, but I was not. I'd set the camera, as usual, at aperture priority. A mode. Which means everything sets itself according to the aperture I chose, except I didn't chose it, I just left it there from shooting something else sometime else. And since I often do, I also set the ISO (film speed) to set itself however it needed, which is how I ended up with 1/8,000th of a second shutter speeds (which more than adequately stopped the action, but often didn't help the depth of field enough), but since I wasn't paying attention, I didn't notice. I.e., I was confident without checking.
Still, several shots, like this one, the one before it and a few others today, worked out pretty well despite slight to about medium overexposure. Can't do much about that.
Modern cameras can correct for a lot of owner stupidity, as my Nikon D7000, which I sometimes call an "amateur camera," because it it made for amateurs, but today, it was made for me, and it helped me get out of it, and this and others of today's shots look good enough. Usually, if I manage — by some inadvertent minor miracle — to get the eyes in focus, we see that first and decide everything else is fine, too. Here it almost is.
I think it's female Red-winged Blackbird of intermediate coloration. Crossley shows one on his Red-winged Blackbird page. One just like this one. But he doesn't bother to identify it, even though his book is called The Crossley ID Guide, and I couldn't find her in Sibley or Peterson. She's just let go of the branch I focused her on, and is hurtling through space, where, within a few seconds, she'll bring out her wings, and fly off to wherever she's going off to. Right now she's just hurtling through space. I think I know that feeling.
This starling is not a Red-striped Starling. It's just a starling. The red-stripe over its neck and right shoulder is probably a reddish branch between me and the bird that shows in this photograph as a red stripe. One of those errors I did not see coming. I felt inordinately proud of myself for getting it in focus and thereby identifiable. I sure hope it's a starling. At least I hope it's a starling. I'm not at all sure what it is is if it's not a starling. But considering the day it was was, I wouldn't be too surprised if if were actually a swan or a condor.
If you know different, email me at the address on the page linked at the top of every bird page, called Contact Us.
The place — the tall reeds along the shore at Sunset Bay — was rife with Red-winged Blackbirds, so it sure could be one of those. I don't know. I know I thought starling when I was focusing in on it. But as we have already noted, my mind was on vacation this afternoon.
What male Red-winged Blackbirds are usually announcing — and will continue announcing till probably spring or so — is their territory. And they're hoping a female Red-winged Blackbird will deign to join him there. It could happen. If it couldn't, I don't know how long they'd continue anyway, but I suspect it'd be a long, long time. That's their job in life right now. And they're good at it. If sometimes a little screamy-loud.
This one is giving its all. Throwing all of its energy into that pleading scream. Throwing its head forward and opening its wings so all that red shows to its maximum. I wish it luck. I know things don't always turn out as we expect them to, but they usually turn out.
And at other times, the bird was almost totally out of focus, and I really didn't care about that. Here the water off the coot's back is close enough to fully focused to tell the story of a coot coming clean. I rarely get water this good.
I wanted to catch this guy so he'd fill the frame with his almost glowing colors. Nice that his eye and all of him back to his tail section appears to be sharp.
Not sure how these got left in such good focus. Or why most of the rest of my ongoing photographic attentions to terns went so awry. It probably helps that these white birds sometimes carry dark shadows along with them, so at least some parts are rendered with some detail. We can barely see this one's top, and we're all the better for that.
Forster's Terns spend an inordinate amount of time hovering over where they thought they might have seen something worth falling out of the sky in a full stall to go down and get, then they just fly off somewhere else to do that again. When they did this closer to me (this is still an enlargement) I have been able to capture the inactivity about half the time I try for it.
So there's several more attempts at these hovers that were
badly out of focus, but that happens all the time in photography. It's rare,
too, to get everything I shoot in good-enough focus. So, all in all, myeh; it
could be worse.
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My favorite answer is, "I don't
am, after all, an amateur.
I'm not kidding. I've only been birding for six years,
although I've been photographing professionally since 1964.
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