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Learning my latest cameraEmory Eagle Festhear
White Rock Trail North of the Lake
March 27 2012
First time we tried to find it, we couldn't even find the tree. This time, we found the tree, the nest, and even a Red-shouldered Hawk sitting the nest. Eventually, we'll trek out there with a tripod and maybe get some pix of some fledgling hawks. I don't know how long from eggs laid to downy young bouncing around in the nest, but then I don't know when the eggs were laid, either. We learn something every time we visit the area. Evening is probably not the best time to photograph it.
Not sure when the sun breaks over the solid layer of trees on the other side of the trail, but a little after that, while the sun's still coming in on whoever's turn it is to sit the nest would be the best time. But we don't want to draw too much attention, so we'll wait a little while longer again. But 600mm is about the right power. Could use 1,200, but it'd take me another several months to learn to hold that one steady, and I might need a forklift to carry it. So I'll probably settle for what I got.
While we were still wondering what to do next, a sudden flurry of wings and feathers broke from the forest to reveal — ever so briefly — a Great Blue Heron. This first shot of four I got off before it got off over the woods on the other side, was the only one I managed to capture all of it. And this one's a doozy with lots of nice detail; everything but the pimaries of its flapping right wing sharp; and, well, it's a Great Blue Heron, which should be enough, but the only thing blue on it is the sky in which it swims.
Nice to see an old pal.
the Medical School Rookery
March 25 2012
Anna said there was another Great Egret close by who was sneaking looks at this Great Egret, but trying to make it look like it wasn't paying any attention. I think I know people like that, too.
I don't think this was part of the display, but it's a fine-looking wing. But there was a lot of displaying going on in the trees there.
The trick was to catch some in the sunlight. There were already hundreds of egret on nests and flying around and bringing food for the kids and branches for the nests. Very busy place.
Not quite everywhere we looked full of egrets, but it soon will be.
I didn't see any babies, or any eggs. But eggs just sit there and usually don't stick up far enough over the twigs along the edges of nests to be able to see them. When the kids show up later, they move a lot.
Mostly Great Egrets there now, this early in the annual Nest-A-Thon
FOS is First of the Season. My first sighting of a Black Crown this season there. Looks so regal and handsome. Hard to believe this one and others that look a lot like it will go around and eat other birds (Egrets)' eggs and babies. That always gives me the willies, but I still like them.
A lot of that going on around the rookery these days.
I'm just amazed that this one came out so close to being in focus (very sharp) and with all its feathers showing, even those fine ones against the bright sky. I amaze myself sometimes.
Capturing Birds in Flight (BIFs) is not an easy thing to do. Especially with a Shillelagh of a lens somewhat resembling the Hubble Telescope. Just finding the bird in the sky through the lens once I've spotted it with my bare eyes is a challenge. But if there's anyplace around that's almost perfect for practicing shooting BIFs, it's the rookery, because there are hundreds, and may soon be thousands of birds flying around there, looking all so regal and gorgeous, just begging to have their photographs taken.
Actually, probably not out of place. The likelihood is that this Great Egret is doing something with that one feather that may look to mere humans as being out of place. Could be like us sticking our fingers out the window on a fine spring day, feeling the breeze on every exposed surface. Or maybe it forgot.
Maybe not quite in the sharpest focus, but I love that the feathers have their shadows, they are beautifully back-lit, we can see the green lores and orange beak, and those amazing fine feathers are trailing behind it.
Hard to imagine what else I could have asked for. Sharp focus - check. Nearly frame-filling. Whiter whites. Beak open. Eyeball shining and sharp, as it is from the tip of its beak to the talons on its toes.
White Rock Lake
Photographed in the Old Boat House Lagoon.
Or more precisely, over it.
And in it.
Our local contingent of American White Pelicans won't be around much anymore soon. I only saw three in Sunset Bay today. I assumed they were off fishing. Last summer, eight stayed after mid-April, because they had been released by Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation, and seven of them couldn't fly. I saw a couple of them try without succeeding, but they may have been practicing since then. It's difficult to know which ones they are. I'm hoping more of them will be able to return to Southern Idaho with the big flock when they go. I'll miss them, but I suspect those seven need each other to protect themselves against the various predators — humans, big dogs, coyotes, wildcats, etc.
First several times I saw this image, I assumed it had simply hunched its head down. But it's upside-down, using its beak to spread lanolin over its feathers to protect them in the water and in flight. The log they perch on that was only a few dozen feet from the pier is now hundreds away to the west, thanks to yesterday's storms. It's still not far enough from shore for my sense of protection for them, but they still use it.
This is a wild goose bathing on the other side of the pier at Sunset Bay I so much like to sit or stand on to photograph birds. This bird, unlike many of our gooses, could at one time fly, but apparently no longer can. It has chosen to stay for many months, and almost seems to have joined the goose clan there. It does hang out with them, but they still don't trust it.
Turns out, it — referred to as "he" on a short Utube video by Annette, cannot fly. According to the accompanying text, "Blue Goose (morph phase of snow goose). This goose was discovered at White Rock Lake with fishing line wound tightly around his body. Charles was able to catch him and remove the fishing line but damage to a wing keeps him from flying. He wears 2 bands that Charles researched and discovered he was banded in Manitoba, Canada in 2003. He gets along well with the big domestic geese."
It was bathing, then it flapped wildly to dry off, walked to land, and flapped some more. It's called a "blue" goose, because its the dark version of the Snow Goose, very like the one that has more recently joined the Sunset Bay flocks.
This one's closer — or I might have been able to show more of it — and much more domestic. Like a farm animal, only roaming around the lake more or less freely. I like the feather shapes, as it has spread its feathers, probably to work on them, keep them lanolin covered and in good working condition.
I shot a sequence of this boy child becoming more and more amazed at the size of the fish net-caught in the storm ponds rising from the creeks. I followed them, because I'm still intrigued by the size of them and the easy manner it is caught in those temporary ponds. More fishers and caught fish from yesterday below.
March 20 — The First Day of Spring
At least according to my reading of Sibley, Crossley and Peterson, illustrated books by each. RWBBs — Red-winged Blackbirds — confuse me every time about this time every year. First day of spring or whenever they all show up in their muted splendor. Looks like a female to me, but what do I know? Regular readers know, not much about identifying even the easy species. A species with as many variations as Red-wings baffle, confuse and fascinate me.
As Steve N.G. Howell, author of Molt in North American Birds, yet another book in my arsenal of bird I.D books, says, "The formative plumage of the male Red-winged Blackbird varies greatly in appearance. Some birds resemble females, and others…" Well, they all look different. I'm pretty sure that at one time or another during the nearly six year history of this bird journal I thought I knew what to call redwings of these particular pattern, but I cannot find it in any of the usual big books or any others.
I'm pretty sure these last two are Red-winged Blackbirds, and my guess is that they are male. But I'm just guessing.
Back in large numbers I only just today noticed.
A solitary visitor who's been around for awhile now. Some stray gooses stay for only a few minutes. Others longer.
Brought from Europe, maybe, but they came from Asia, and now they live here.
Overlooking Dreyfuss Point from the hill above.
Usually, I don't bother with dubs. They're everywhere always. Ubique. Latin. But they're here, and now that it's spring, they'll still be here.
Officially a Northern Mockingbird. Except this is hardly the north. Hence a Texican Mocker. Our — and about half the other states in this more or less united, United States of America's — State Bird.
It's a leaf. It jumped off its pipe, swooped down those last few inches to the ground, rooted around in the pile of leaves down there, and came up with this one. Turned around and posed with it aiming in several directions. I got this version only. It was obviously proud of it, but I didn't see it attempt in any way to actually eat it.
Black and White and Brown Men — Women on "the shore" watching — wading in the temporary ponds today. I'm not at all sure what that implement this guy has over his shoulder. I wasn't sure what they were up to, till I saw this:
Now that's one big fish. Obviously what all those guys were wading in the water for. This was the only fish I saw, but I didn't spend a lot of time watching these intrepid fisher persons. Everybody seems to celebrate spring in their own fashion. I usually dance around a tree.
The Fort Worth Solid Wastes Drying Beds
March 19 2012
Most dedicated birders call this place the VCDB for Village Creek Drying Beds, despite the fact that there's a big sign on the front gate that states pretty clearly that it is the Fort Worth Solid Wastes Drying Beds. It's probably those words "solid wastes" that offends people enough to change the name, in their minds, at least. When we were there Sunday morning, there were several pans (ponds, square bodies of water and vegetation and birds) that stunk to high heaven, so there was little doubt exactly which sorts of solid wastes were being dried there.
But once we got free of that area, it did not stink and we could again remember who we were and what we were up to. I doubt the Village Creek area of Arlington wants to be associated with that stench. The birds didn't seem to mind. I'm not sure why these Northern Shovelers shot straight up amidst great splashing and generalized panic, but I suspect it might have been a snake, an eel or something else predetorish nearby and getting closer. Maybe even the long, thin black shape in the bottom right of the photo one up from here. Or it could be a stick, and the guys are just squeamish. I was already focusing on them, and when they splashed straight up, it was easy enough to just click and keep clicking.
Yesterday's eel and today's snake or whatever remind me that there's always lots of predators when fresh meat is so abundantly available in nature. Anna also saw a middle-sized cat on the road far ahead of us at one point. I saw something about big-dog size, not lion or panther. And we raced up to where we'd seen it, but by then it'd found a good hiding place. We have also seen nutria and packs of wild pigs there, though not lately.
I've long been a fan of Black Vultures. Turkey Vultures may fly more gracefully, but I've grown to appreciate Black Vultures more in recent years. Kathy Rogers of Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation, had one at the opening of one of the spate of Audubon center openings last year, and even though it had bit her repeatedly as she carried it around that afternoon, she would not let it bite me.
I'm sure that was for my protection, and I'm not sure I would have liked the fact of it as much as I liked the idea of it. But I've been paying the Blacks a lot more attention since I've got to commune with them (in cages) at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation. They seem, and I'm told they are, intelligent. Although ... The white we see on this bird is scat (excrement) deposited there and on their legs, supposedly to keep them cool. They don't seem to mind being scat upon. Kinda a flock, bonding thing, I'm guessing. But this is the first one we'd seen sitting.
Anna believes therefore, that this one is the female. I keep remembering seeing Great Egrets sitting, or almost lying down in the grass during one of those large Egret Dances that I apparently missed all instances of this year. They usually happen around New Years. But birds sit, and this one is sitting.
It's very nearly spring, and for birds, it has been for some time already. More and more birds are showing their new spring colors.
Most of the grebes — they are few and far between there — at White Rock lately have not shown their breeding facial configuration. But at the beds that day, there were dozens, if not hundreds of the, all in their breeding white with black stripes.
In no way rare, RWBBs were everywhere at the beds this time. If we saw small, dark birds, they were these, though all did not have the style of this wide-standing wing-folded and pleated male proclaiming his territory and need for a female. He was so insistent upon his proclaiming, he let us get within a few dozen feet, and for a change, I could fill my frame with him.
We met Jan at the Drying Beds Sunday. We exchanged info on where what birds were and the usual birder chit-chat. She called what we have come to understand are Buffle-head Ducks "Bubbleheads," and that made enough sense to us that that's what we've been calling them ever since. That big white shape on the side and back of male bubbleheads looks far more like a bubble than a buffalo, the supposed namesake for these birds. Male on left, female on right. Don't know the gender of the Eared Grebe. It was strictly accidental. My far vision cause again for me finding something quite unexpected in my photograph.
I'd seen Eared and other Grebes at White Rock, so wasn't totally wowed by its presence, but since I hadn't noticed it out there among the "bubbleheads," I was a little surprised and wish it had been closer, so I could have captured it in better detail.
I hope someday soon I will be able to photograph a Bufflehead Duck much closer than I ever have before. They are shy, and they tend to stay some distance from humans. But my newer Shillelagh should be able to render it in much greater detail than I was after sneaking up on several of them last year.
There have been four, five or six — at different times — male Lesser Scaups resident in Sunset Bay most of the last few months. But females only visit a few days a year, then they disappear. The small cadre of male scaups leave in spring. I've often explained who they are to people on the pier at Sunset Bay, but most people don't notice there's a difference between them and the coots. I'm not sure who is behind her here in this shot, and I apologize for her being so soft and a little out of focus, but she's unusual, a little ephemeral, and I don't even remember
We'd seen this GBH hunting in the swamp along the west side of the entry road to the beds, and when we came back after a snack shop stop, we sighted it struggling with its catch. I angled The Slider across the road to block any traffic — I figured it had the right-of-way — and to afford myself a great photo angle on his struggle with the eel. The Black thing writhed like a snake and moved like one, but we were too engrossed in watching the heron slamming it onto the road surface, picking up, dropping and flailing about, then doing it all again.
First time we'd seen this Great Blue Heron (GBH), it was hunting in the swamp, very close to the road, so close I couldn't get more than this much of it with my non-zoom lens. Not really a problem, I've photographed them way too often too far away. I'm happy to get close and sharp. I suspect it was tired of not finding enough to feed its family, probably nesting in one of the tall trees on the far side of the swamp. I got several other shots, but this was by far the most interesting.
Then I remembered I'd shot three quick shots of this particular GBH out standing in their swamp, so I got Photoshop to put them together for me, so it did. I still like the yawn pic better, but it's nice to be able to throw together a full view sometimes. I sure didn't reckon on finding the same bird when we got back, although I drove up the entry road very slowly, just in case.
Note how thin its neck is.
Naturally, I shot a lot more images than just these, but these are the best, and they show a sort of progression here, arranged in chronological order — not that the steps themselves were in any order, although the heron clearly knew what it was doing and exactly how to do it.
Here it looks more like a vacuum cleaner attachment than a snake — or an eel. Sometimes it looked like an eel, sometimes a fish. It seemed too short and too stout to be a normal old snake. So down this journal entry I might call it several things, my favorite name of which was "the black thing," even if I later learned it was an eel.
It sure looks like what a snake would do in this situation. I think it thinks all hope is not yet lost. It is wrong. It, by the way, according to reader Linda Cooke, is almost certainly an American Eel, not a snake.
It's obviously tattered and scraped and scathed, and it's got itself and its slime or whatever all over the heron's beak.
Still the struggle goes on, and on. And the heron's throat widens for its expected intake.
This limp. The fight and everything else gone out of it.
From standing, the heron ...
When it got into this position, I knew it was about to spring into flight. Just there was nothing I could do about that sudden change in placement. I can barely hold that big hunk of lens and camera still most of the time. No way I could follow its action with a 900mm lens (equivalent).
Like this. At 300mm the Shillelagh (pronounced shill lay lee) is wicked fast to focus. At 600, it's much slower than a speeding heron.
But it didn't fly far, and it stayed in plain sight, though it landed a safe distance from most humans. Maybe the eel dangling from this enterprising heron's beak is definitely an eel. I don't know those things, but it reportedly has lots of sharp little teeth, so the heron was being smart to wham it to certain death before ingesting it. Our Great Blue Heron washed it off by repeatedly dipping it in the water, now that it is food (prey no longer) — picking it up, draining it, and doing it all again.
Note the significant enlargement of the heron's throat, getting ready to drop it down its inner workings. Splash, splash, shake, shake Line it up.
I don't know how GBHs temporarily store food for their young, but I suspect it was going to regurge it up for them. I like this image of the eel's tail drooping from the heron's beak.
When we left to go find some more birds, it was busy doing what looks like rinsing its beak out with soap, although I doubt those suds are anything but swamp water. Swamp water cures all ills.
More drying beds pix next time.
White Rock Lake
March 16 2012
I still go to sit on the pier at Sunset Bay almost every day, but to vary my coverage here, I trudged up the hill by the spillway today, to see what I could see.
I saw one egret and maybe a hundred Ring-billed Gulls.
And a dozen or more Gadwalls. These guys were lined up and sometimes sliding back with the force of the water from over the dam, sluicing down toward the lower steps. I don't know what they were eating, but to do it, they usually had their heads underwater, splashing it in plumes over their bodies.
Two Gadwalls and many more than these four Ring-billed Gulls lined along the top of the dam.
Then one gadwall jumped into flight.
and flew right past me.
Several shots today of the Forster's Terns that hang out in Sunset Bay. Probably the same birds that would not focus in my way-too-overrated Nikon D300 a few weeks ago, snapped into focus today — because I used my Nikon D7000 and kept changing my focus settings until they worked just right, despite what photo "experts" Ken Rockwell and Thom Hogan have instructed me to do.
I just kept fiddling with it, till it worked. The button for that is on the left side of the camera under the lens, so if you — like I do — have a big fat lens mounted, the easiest way to access its dumb focus mode button that needs to be pressed sideways to the left, is to hang the cam with lens down, balance it on my knee, and push that button while adjusting one of the top right dials to the right position. Truly an annoying procedure, and one that keeps me from seeing any bird activity going on around me for about a half minute.
According to Wikipedia, "A stall is a condition in aerodynamics and aviation wherein the angle of attack increases beyond a certain point such that the lift begins to decrease. The angle at which this occurs is called the critical angle of attack. This critical angle is dependent upon the profile of the wing, its form, its aspect ratio, and other factors, but is typically in the range of 8 to 20 degrees relative to the incoming wind for most subsonic airfoils. The critical angle of attack is the angle of attack on the lift coefficient versus angle-of-attack curve at which the maximum lift coefficient occurs."
Essentially, it's when forward motion all but stops, the bird or plane tilts back, and then it leans far enough forward to begin a dive. The actual control portion of a controlled stall is what happens next. If it can be recovered from, it was controlled. If it can't be recovered from, splat!
With eye almost visible.
Perhaps contemplating a controlled stall but not yet willing to.
Soaring birds with nothing in the background are considerably easier for modern cameras to deal with.
Whereas birds with trees behind them are sometimes only focusable if the camera and lens were already focused, and the follow focus was engaged enough to hold near sharp focus. If this bird had been flying closer to the photographer, the focus would seem much sharper, because I would not have had to enlarge the image as much.
I didn't see the fish, I was wrangling the Shillelagh to try to get the bird in focus, and lo and behold, I got 'em both.
March 14 2012
I haven't shot one of these series fall the way through or a long time. I keep wondering why. I guess it's because I haven't been paying enough attention. I keep hoping for pelicans flying into the bay, instead of watching the ones who are already there, because sooner or later, probably several times a day, every American White Pelican participates in this behavior. We stretch our arms, legs, necks, etc. American White Pelicans stretch theirs, too. They also stretch their fairly elastic lower mandible.
First, above, was the lower mandible inversion over the upper chest. There's really no prescribed order. I guess it depends on how that particular pelican feels at the moment. This one appears to feel like wobbling its lower mandible.
Then it begins to raise its head and give that old lower lip a really good stretch.
Then tilt back a little faster than I expected. There were a few intervening shots that were out of focus. Clickity-split.
Then tilt back so far the lower jaw is flat, and the upper mandible tilted back impossibly, the face like a pair of pliers. Full stretch boogie.
Then a few seconds later, a little more lip wiggling, to keep it all limber. More pliers action, too. They have to have ratchet beak parts to do what they do when the need to swallow something bigger than their beaks normally look.
Now Mercury Retrograde won't let me add more
pix tonight, so I'll settle for this series. Remember last week when I couldn't
get some Forster's Terns in focus sharp. Soon, probably tomorrow or the next
day, I'll load you up with my extender series of those same terns doing all kinds
of Jonathan Livingston Tern flying. Yee-haw!
I only once a long time ago ever saw a Great Blue Heron (That's it on the right.) confront a Great Egret who was standing where the Blue wanted to. Like cormorants do, the GBH simply supplanted the Great, who flew off complaining. This confrontation seemed to have been brewing awhile. The GBH looks like it's just standing there. But pay attention to the top of its head.
I've enlarged this one to exclude that other cormorant, who doesn't really matter much in all this, but mostly to show the Great Blue's sudden uplifting of the feathers on the top of its head. I'd never seen one do that before. That I rendered it with any clarity is entirely due to my new 300mm lens that's so incredibly sharp, because this took place more than halfway across Sunset Bay, yet we managed to capture some real detail. I'd guess the Blue is angry, and as we can all see, the cormorant is already exiting the scene ...
... albeit, not gracefully.
Here's the detail, closer-up shot of the Great Blue Heron's crown.
Well today, using the same lens but on the Nikon D7000 instead of my trusty old, recently repaired D300, I got a bunch of shots today. And more tomorrow.
And what appears to be a blue sky. Obviously something we haven't seen much around here lately. I'm ill, so I'm bringing out recent old shots. Sorry. Will go back to the lake when I feel better.
Or almost up.
Last time I was in Sunset Bay, I didn't see any pelicans. I waited for some to swoop in, but they didn't come. A reader emailed to ask when they usually left, and I told them mid-April. I'm too ill to go there to see if I see any big white bumps on the water, but I hope they're still there.
I've seen Brown Pelicans, but I never saw one stretch their lower mandible, like this. Anybody out there know if they do, too?
I was going to add this shot to the Wood Ducks somewhere down this page, but I never got around to it, till now.
Kinda missed the bird, but I got the splash.
It's a male Great-tailed Grackle bathing. That big tail is why they're called that. I watched it splash and soak.
Then I watched it dry off, which — just like the Hoochie Coochie — involved a lot os shaking all about.
Since birds can move every single feather they've got — like most of us can move our fingers — that out-stretching was a major portion of the process.
Although it looks like I was playing Photoshop games with this one and the image just below, they're real. I just checked the images in the camera to be sure. Some odd combination of low-contrast sun obscured by clouds, and high ISO, which softens the contrast, made it so. Note that his eyes and head are perfectly exposed.
This ideal shot of a Great-tailed Grackles Great Tail tones is just the sort I was hoping for. When it happened, I shot quickly.
Normally, a Great-tailed Grackle (our usual sort around here) doesn't pose for long. They're pretty smart and don't like humans much more than most humans like them. But this guy was very busy getting the water out of all over it gets to when one does an extreme-splash splash bath. He was normally too busy to bother with the photographer, who today chose to use the lens without the telextender, so these were all shot at 300, not 600 mm.
I was hoping to stop all motion, but I had the cam set to too small an aperture, which gave me enough depth-of-field but not a fast-enough shutter.
The amazing malleable grackle wings and tail swishing in the wind.
Say that fast.
Grackles are beautiful.
I went to the Old Boat House Lagoon today hoping to see Wood Ducks, and I did. Not right off. Took awhile to sift the coots out of my vision to reveal the half dozen or fewer Wood Ducks, and a while longer to get decent shots of them, but how nice to get what I wanted.
Sure, the males are cocka-doodle-doo bright and colorful and even pretty, but it's the females who are are gorgeous. And as I learned today from these images, they don't necessarily look alike. The guys mostly do. The ladies are significantly individualistic.
Of course, it could be said that even the males look different, but surely not this different.
I've often wondered at what point in the seasons are wood ducks at their most vivid, and now I think the answer is Right Now!
There wasn't really much action with wood ducks today. A brief skirmish between coots escaping from some imaginary boogeyman ruffled feathers with a couple wood ducks, but by the time I caught up with it, it was over.
This was as exciting as I managed to capture. Not much, at all.
For readers wondering how long we get to keep our pelican population, all but seven of the eight pelicans Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation left in White Rock late last spring (one can fly, might just have needed a memory jog about where to go in spring; the others couldn't fly then, no telling about now) will probably leave by April 15. They usually do. Then we can expect them back by mid October, though once they came in mid-September. Luckily, we have other pretty white birds with long beaks:
Southwestern Medical School Rookery in Dallas
March 4 2012
We visited The Rookery the first time this year today. First time since way last summer. Didn't see or photograph anybody but the Great Egrets, but even just that was like old home week. First time I've done the Rook with my new lens.
Before I get going with the rest of today's shots, I should probably mention that these two egrets' green lores were not unusual in a rookery. The green shows that they are ready to breed, and if they are in the rookery, that's probably what they expect to do.
It's one thing to get a bird — any bird — to fly me by, instead of over — but quite another to get a Great Egret — it's the name of the species, not me exalting my photograph of it flying by — to look this sharp, in smart focus. On one hand, The Shillelagh helps with the detail and and on the other hand, it fights me every inch of the way with even catching up with a bird flying, let along a bird in flight close enough to fill my frame. Yum!
The trick for today was finding an egret or more doing something interesting. I love these two faces of egret. I suspect they are mates, but there's some differences between them in there, too.
They look regal and magnificent, but their wingspans are up to seven but usually five or six feet. An American White Pelican wings span nine feet, and an albatross has a wingspan of eleven feet. Still, all in white, with black legs and feet and orange beaks, egrets look elegant and photographing them flying is always a treat.
Not really thrilled with this shot, except that it shows lots of that fine feathery plumes that set these guys off in this early part of mating season, before spring is even sure it's here.
Most of those thick, dark, blurs of branches are between me and the bird. Another of today's tricks was to line sometimes hundreds of feet of them to frame the bird in question instead of allowing the camera to focus on them instead of the bird. It's especially nice, when, once I've done all that, backed up, moved laterally a couple times, then honed in on the bird, it does something interesting. Even something as simple as stretching its neck in this odd contortion and/or opening its beak as if to say something.
Then, thankfully, I either moved my aim down a little or the bird brought its neck down enough to duck back into the frame.
Actually, the building is not so much flying as just floating there. I remember earlier urging one or two far-flying egrets to fly by a building, so I could get a shot like this that I used to shoot from time to time with far shorter lenses. But I was just thinking photography stuff when I shot this one. I didn't even see the building.
With more practice and maybe a few other
species to attempt to follow, I might get a lot better with the Shillelagh. Which
is pretty much why I got it.
White Rock Lake
Dint really have anything in mind. I swam, then I sat on the pier at Sunset Bay till children and dogs and bird-feeding individuals took over. I thought I had plans, but apparently that went away. Except for the Friday afternooners, I could sit on the pier for days. Weekdays, now weekend days. I'm glad all those other people like it, and especially like that most of them stay away during the week, when it feels like all mine. We even drive around it on weekends when there's more people than birds.
I was hoping for pelicans coming in from wherever, but all the while I sat out there today, none did. But there's always plenty of birds, and with my new lens that gives me the opportunity to re-see all my old pals and even the birds I usually don't give the time of day to, I didn't mind. Balmy. Very nice in the sun there today. I shot what I could plainly see. Close. This, like many today, filled my frame, and I went click.
Eventually, after I'd shot for awhile, I figured I was shooting heads and shoulders of whomever wandered by and held still long enough.
Really doesn't need to be much more complicated than that.
My usual instinct is to fill the frame with a bird, but that close, it's hard to do with that long a lens, so I took what I could get, and was happy just fine with it.
Usually, pelican beaks show orange, but some other times, they're pink.
There were a bunch of grackles on the pier for awhile, and they looked like they wanted to fight, it being spring, and them having their noses in the air, meaning they needed a little fighting, but I wasn't paying enough attention to catch up with all that, I was just happy being where I was.
Lots of detail in this black bird that sometimes in bright sunshine looks gray.
text and photographs copyright 2011 by J
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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 three years,
although I've been photographing professionally since 1964.
Thanks always to Anna.