A New Checkmark for the Birding List

As a note, I highly recommend checking out this particular set of pictures on our SmugMug page at http://eddiesoft.smugmg.com.  The reason for this is the required size reduction for this blog really takes away from the detail and coloring found on the full sized shots up on smug – you can pick any size you want to view by putting your cursor inside the border for the picture and picking from the menu that comes up on the right.

Today is the true unveiling of the capability of The Beast.  We took it out one morning to see what we could find.  For the most part, our attempts to capture some interesting sunrises fell short.  A few of our favorite locations were either weak with color or there was nothing real interesting going on in the cloud front (trust me, sunrise pictures without anything to add to the composition are pretty boring.  Striking out there, we headed over to Jubilee Park to see what kind of wildlife was out and about.  That ended up being a great shoot, but more about that in another post.  I was elated that we didn’t come away empty handed and was feeling pretty good about the outing as we drove the short distance back to home.  That’s when the day turned from great to awesome.  It is a fact I am always looking around for any interesting wildlife.  To my surprise, this little guy was busy running alongside the road!

What luck.  Not only have I not been able to capture this particular bird on camera yet, but The Beast was already attached to the camera.  I quickly yelled out our code word for “Stop the car I see something worth taking a picture” (yes, we have a secret code for that since the time it would take to say all that could spoil the whole shot).  In immediate recognition of the command, Linda pulled to the side of the road and I brought The Beast into firing position through the open car window.  The added stability of the car frame to rest the camera on turned out to be a big plus.  This was the first outing with the big glass so there was some quick learning going on to figure out how to get the focus points where I wanted on a moving animal.  The size of the glass barrel may have alarmed it a bit since it tried to keep an eye on me as it ran around in the tall grass.

Again, it is hard to really see the detail in the small pictures here, but a quick crop should give you an idea of how pleased I was with the results.  Nice to know this huge investment pays off when it comes to the quality of the glass and the ability to get close enough to wildlife to see this level of eye detail. For the record, this is a Ring-Necked Pheasant for those keeping track and more importantly, a new check mark in the bird shot list.

Hit the jump to see even more pictures of this bird and more examples of the clarity the big glass brings to the table.

As mentioned before, he was busy keeping an eye on me while tracking down whatever it was looking for in the grass.  You know what, that is an interesting question.  Hold please while I consult the reference manuals… tick … tick … tick… crap… just a second… type… type… type… finally.  Pheasants eat insects, weed seeds and grains.  Unbelievable, I have 5 reference books and not one of them would tell me what I wanted to know forcing me to go Google.  I was wondering what the feeding habits were since it had such a large stature.

For the record, what I did learn from my reference books is that the Pheasant was introduced to the US from Asia and the population is actually in decline.  Being that this is the first male I’ve seen since moving out into the country I’d say its population is not booming.  Why don’t we just zoom you in a bit to see the detail in the shot above.  The aperture setting working nicely de-focusing the grass behind the head to add a nice pop to the stunning head coloring.

By now he was probably wondering what the hell was up.  His attempts to dodge left were not producing desired results so a he attempted a bold right hand maneuver.  Admittedly, this caught me off guard, but a quick swing of the glass brought him back into focus.  Nice try, but The Beast was up to the challenge.  In the next shot you can almost sense the feeling of surprise that his clever plan failed.

Yep, I’ll bring you in a bit.  It’s a tough call, but this might be my favorite shot.  Again, the bird head pops against the large aperture (well, for those who don’t like to invert, make this the smaller aperture “number”).  It also gives a sense that the pheasant is concern that the glass barrel may be a super sized shotgun.  No worries my friend, I do not wish any harm on the subjects in my wildlife shoots.

Eventually he made its way to a brushline and I figured it was time to put his beating heart at ease.  I had sufficiently captured the moment and was eager to get home and check out the final products.  With that, Linda pulled away from the side of the road as I bid my new feathered friend a goodbye and best wishes for a safe hunting season.

Which brings us to the “end” …

of this post.  Let’s see, that is about 6 shots, now divide that into the cost of the glass, ugh… apparently I need to get out into the field more.

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