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.