Friday, December 28, 2007

I and the Bird #65

Thanks to Amy Hooper for hosting I and the Bird #65 and including my recent post, pygmy nuthatch.
I and the Bird is a bird lovers' blog carnival.

This is my second time to have a post in an edition of I and the Bird. Thanks to wren at Wrenaissance Reflections for suggesting it to me the first time around.

If you'd like to participate in the 66th edition of I and The Bird, please send the URL of your blog post to the next carnival host, John, at bornagainbirdwatcherDOTcom with the words "I and The Bird" in the subject line. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, Jan. 8.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Battle Scarred Mule Deer

Light snow was falling when I saw this beautiful buck. He was searching under the snow for food and came up with some unidentifiable plant material. The puncture wound by his eye looks like it will heal. Had the tine on his rival's antlers gone in any closer to the eye, he probably would have lost the eye. He has scars on his neck and chest as well, but he looks like he may make it through the year if he stays out of trouble. A couple of does and three young deer were following him, so perhaps he was the victor in one of his battles. I've seen a larger buck in the area and wonder if some of the scars on this one came from fighting the big guy.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

pygmy nuthatch

The little pygmy nuthatches have been trying to empty the feeders around my house this week. In the image above, one rests for a moment on the hook that holds the feeder. 1/1250 second at f/5.6, focal length 320mm, ISO 400

The pygmy nuthatch above is sorting seeds. He tosses the ones he doesn't want over his head as he searches for the black sunflower seeds he loves. I'll have to fill a feeder with only black sunflower seeds! 1/640 second at f/5.6, focal length 400mm, ISO 400

Now here he is below with the prized seed. My, what big feet for such a small bird. The pygmy nuthatch is about 4 inches long from the tip of the tail to the tip of the beak. 1/1000 second at f/5.6, focal length 400mm, ISO 200

With more snow in the forecast, these little birds seem to be stocking up today. I know that some bird species hide a stash of seeds. At the rate the seed is leaving my feeders today, it wouldn't surprise me to find these birds hiding the seed somewhere. They seem too small to be eating it all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

junco in the snow

Yesterday we had light snow all day with low temperatures. The birds came to eat at the feeders and clean up the spilled seed under them. This junco was willing to pose for me, turning his head back and forth and always with a bit of seed in his beak. Six pine grosbeaks also came, but were more shy about being photographed. I think my dog barked at them from inside the house and frightened them. Today, the nuthatches, chickadees, and juncos are at the feeders in the sunshine, but we are stacking a load of firewood, not photographing. I'll go back to work and perhaps get the camera out later in the afternoon.
junco in the snow - 1/60 sec at f/5.6, focal length 400mm, ISO 200

Friday, December 7, 2007

mountain chickadee

This little bird rested for a moment in a small aspen near my deck. I had to photograph between the pickets on the railing. The soft look near the sides is actually the edge of the out-of-focus pickets. 1/320 second, f/5.6, 400mm, ISO 400

Monday, December 3, 2007

Lens Practice: Squirrels and Stellers Jays

The 100-400mm and I are getting along fine, though I’ve not encountered the larger wildlife subjects I would prefer to photograph to test it. The stellers jays and squirrels are willing to pose briefly as they hurry to and fro picking up their payment of seeds and nuts.

The squirrels spend so much time chasing each other away from the food, they eat very little. The jays seem to enjoy the contest of who-can-eat-the-most, so the first to arrive calls out to others. Let the eating begin!

The lens is a bit heavy for me at 3 pounds, so hand held photography is alternated with tripod support. The manual says to switch off the IS (image stabilization) when using a tripod, but I sometimes forget. When I do remember, I then forget to switch it on again for hand held. Wish I could buy more memory for my wee brain.

I like to shoot aperture priority when photographing birds as they move in and out of the shadows so quickly. All the images in this post were shot at f/5.6 with the ISO at 400 or higher. Shutter speeds vary with each image.

I’ve been working around the outside of my home, mostly shooting from the deck into the trees. Since the house is on a steep hillside, shooting from the deck often puts me at eye level with the birds in the trees.

When I photograph birds, I begin to recognize individuals by the variations in their markings or injuries they have. I believe the birds are taking in the sight of me as well. I changed hats this morning as the temperature rose. When I put on the new hat, the birds flew up to higher branches and watched me for some minutes before coming back to feed. I suppose they’ve taken note of the new lens, too.

Monday, November 26, 2007

experimenting with the new lens

To some, this housecat may seem a deviation from my normal nature and wildlife photos, but my friends and family know this cat is a bit wild. This is his look that says, “I’ll give you three seconds to stop pointing that camera at me.” When my new lens arrived, it was too dark outdoors to shoot anything. The other human family members both said, “Not me!” so I took my chances with the wildcat living in our home.

Handheld (!) at 1/15 second, at 275mm, f5.6, no flash, lighting from a single overhead compact fluorescent with the ISO set at 1600, from 10 or 12 feet away and ready to run should my subject forget who feeds him.

Stellers Jay - the back side

As recently promised in comments, the backside of the stellers jay.

I've been playing with a new lens, canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM. We've had frigid temperatures, but I got a few stellers jays to come out and play. The lens is working well so far and I'm hoping for a chance to use it a bit more this week. The zoom is operated push, pull instead of twist. I have to get used to that. I love the full time manual focus; you can use the auto focus first and then fine tune manually without turning off the auto focus. I have one other lens that has full time manual focus and wish they were all FTM.

The stellers jay image: 1/250 second, f5.6, 340mm, ISO 250

More to come with this lens... I'm hoping for some big furry mammals to wander by, deer, elk, or a bear at a distance.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dramatic Morning Clouds over Lions Head

When I'm up before sunrise and clouds are in the west, I'm rewarded with a view like this to photograph. (click image for larger view) This morning, when I looked out the window, the clouds were already pink over lions head so I ran with the camera and tripod out in my pajamas to capture the color that never lasts long. A few seconds of barefoot on the cold deck was all I could stand and the color was disappearing fast, so I didn't take the time to set mirror lockup, but did use the tripod to steady the camera for the low light shot. 1/8 second at F11 with the ISO set at 400 and a focal length of 10mm. Canon 30d with canon ef-s 10-22mm lens.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Stellar Expressions - Stellers Jays Photos

Their faces are so expressive that I want make cartoon captions for the images. (anthropomorphic, don't scold me, I know!) I photograph this common bird frequently and love sorting through the results of an hour spent with them. The stellers jays' crested heads change continually, sometimes the feathers are fluffed, sometimes spread into a crown, often folded into a sharp peak. They seem always hungry, so if I throw out a bit of seed or peanuts they come to the feast and pose for me. These are crops of the low resolution jpegs. I shoot RAW plus jpeg, but usually only process the raw files for printing. For the blog images, I just crop, if needed, the jpegs and resize them smaller for easy viewing on the web.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Red Fox - Tippy's Beautiful Sister

Here is one of the young foxes from the family I photographed in the spring. The markings on her legs identify her. She's been hanging around on the hill above my house and I took several photos of her scratching the back of her head with her hind leg. After viewing those images, I'm fairly sure this lovely fox is female.

I watch her from the deck in the shadow of the house, but she knows I'm there. I see her staring intently at something, usually I can't tell what. If I make noise, she will glance at me for a second and then stare off at some point to my right or left refusing to make eye contact.

She stole a bread crust I had tossed to the stellers jays and carried it a short distance away and buried it by digging with her claws then dropping the crust and pushing leaves and sticks over it with her nose. She stalked one of the jays, but it flew to a high branch when she came too close.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

October Gold

Yesterday's sunshine lit the last of the golden leaves in the trees as a gentle breeze fluttered them. When walking this week my eye was drawn here and there to the brightness of the season. It will soon be gone. Many of the leaves are already on the ground and trees that were at the peak last week are mostly bare. If the forecasted snow comes tomorrow, it will be our first good snow of the season.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mountain Mahogany's Feathery Seeds

Early morning sunlight highlights the feathery seeds of mountain mahogany, a common wild shrub. The feather tail on the seed curls when dry and straightens when wet. Once on the ground, the seed plants itself by curling and uncurling.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Morning Moon over Lions Head

This early morning Lions Head view with the moon captured my attention on Sept. 27, 07 . With the sun's first light on the face of Lions Head the setting moon called to me to get out of bed and outside to photograph. I'm glad I did. Click the image to see it a bit larger.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Autumn Aspens - Photo from September Hiking

The aspens were beautiful this week. The trails, if I went out early, were quiet.

I love to hike the trails that wind through stands of large old aspens any time of year, but autumn is my favorite.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Butterflies and Hummingbird Photos

The butterflies and hummingbirds were in love with the flowering shrubs around the pool in Castroville, TX. I took my camera to the pool and watched for hummingbirds while I swam. I'd climb out of the pool, dry my hands and the hummingbirds would usually leave, but the butterflies stayed and posed with the yellow and red flowers. The shrub has common names of Pride of Barbados, orRed Bird of Paradise, mimosa-like leaves and seed pods.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Running Rooster and Roadrunner

"Don't take my photo!", he crows as he runs for cover.

I have been away from consworld, photographing life in and around Castroville, Texas. It was hot, hot, hot and I am happy to be back home. The running rooster was one of the first images I made on the trip, but the rooster wasn't the only bird running around on the farm.

This chaparral bird, or roadrunner, was roaming about gathering plant material. I've read the nest is made of sticks, but this bird was gathering softer green plants, perhaps to line a nest(?).

She (or he?) seemed friendly as long as I was still. Once, she ran toward me only turning away at about 10 feet. She took a dust bath within 30 feet of me.

More to come. I took several hundred photos while away and have been happily shooting sunsets and sunsrises here in Colorado since I've returned.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Wildflowers - Bee Happy

Summer is coming to an end, many of the flowers have gone by, but these few still bloom. We may have a frost or a dusting of snow next week at my house, so I have spent the past few days photographing bees, mushrooms, flowers, and the few hummingbirds still about.

red fox (Tippy again)

Friday, September 7, 2007

My Mushroom Madness

Golden sunlight on a big mushroom made me grab the camera for this image. The south side of the hill is usually too dry for mushrooms, but not this year. The almost daily rains have provided enough moisture to support a wonderful wildflower season and, now, big beautiful 'shrooms!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Red Fox Family Update with New 'Tippy' Photos

Tippy, the little runt of the litter with the crooked nose, is still in the area. I saw him (or her?) once in August running across the road. That distinctive face is easy to recognize.

Last week, I thought I saw one of Tippy's siblings running by on the hillside. I haven't seen the mother fox since spring.

Tonight, just after sunset, as we drove up to our house, there sat little Tippy almost grown. I set the ISO to 800 and hoped for the best in the fading light. The young fox moved a bit farther away into the tall grass after I took the first image.

And here's a crop of the face from the 2nd image:

The offset jaw doesn't seem to be a problem for Tippy. He is still small, but looks quite healthy. I hope that means he's been catching lots of mice, especially the ones near my house. I've read that the red foxes' favorite foods are mice and voles. The foxes eat as many as they can and then bury any others they kill for later meals. I like the idea that this little fox may be ridding the area around my house of rodents.