Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blogging is for the Birds!

Yeah, I know, it's been forever since I put anything up. So, to make it up to you, there is a LOT of stuff in this one. I have been collecting this particular group of pictures for awhile - it's not any one occasion. One of the most entertaining way for me to test out my skills on the BIG lens is birdwatching. Now, if any of you have tried to catch birds on an 800mm or equivelant lens with no tripod, you know that it is tough to get good shots until you have practiced a lot.

Lucky for me, I have had many many opportunities to practice including several lovely visitors that share my deck with me. Several years in a row now, I have had a pair of Mourning Doves (and likely a pair of progeny) nesting in hanging planters on my deck. This is a fun little series that I got once this pair got used to me.

This is the pair:

This is mommy on the nest - took me awhile to figure out how to tell the difference between males and females:

This is daddy showing the eggs - turns out Doves share the job of sitting and he's got a distinctive scar so he's easy to spot:

Finally, here's a pic of the babies!

In another incident of sheer luck, I had my lens ready while hiking the coast in Oregon and caught this Bald Eagle just playing around. He wasn't exactly close so I wouldn't have had a chance without the big lens BUT I still can't believe I got any good shots at all.

Ok, back to the deck visitors. I love to watch my birdfeeder but only the very bravest of the birds will come to the feeder while I'm out on the deck because of confined space. So you will notice that these pictures are partially diffused by the screen door between us since I took these pictures from my livingroom.

This is a gold finch and a house finch sharing a ledge:

I managed to catch the gold finch flying off:

and the house finch all on his own:

I also was amused to catch what appears to be a red-cockaded woodpecker (had to do a little research to come up with that) adding "texture" to the side of the house:

Last summer, I was visiting some friends who live just outside Rochester, MN and have great set up for attracting birds of many varieties. I spent quite awhile early one morning just watching to see who would show up as the sun was coming up. I apologize that they seem a little grainier than I would like since it was max zoom in most cases and pretty dim early morning light.

The first to show were the rose breasted grosbeaks:

then there was a VERY shy blue jay which is a vastly different attitude from the brazen guys who live by me:

My patience was rewarded by seeing a pair of baltimore orioles finally come out into the open since I had been hearing them for two days without a sighting:

Lastly, I got the chance to follow a very cute downy woodpecker:

This last grouping are just pictures I caught during various walks around my neighborhood.

A female cardinal hiding in the fall trees:

An egret fishing along the edge of a pond:

A pair of gold finches flirting back and forth in the water grasses:

A fledgling sparrow feeling his first pangs of separation anxiety:

and lastly, a beautiful woodduck: