A New Warbler Addition

Since you patiently read through the last somewhat boring bird (the Mallard) post, I figured it would be prudent to now offer the latest new bird to my collection (the one I promised at the start of the Wisconsin Birds series).  With that…. drum roll … I’d like to introduce what I believe to be the Yellow-Rumped Warbler.

This male Warbler was shot at Devil’s Lake near Baraboo Wisconsin.  As with the rest of this series it was taken over last Easter Weekend.  We were actually up on the very picturesque cliffs overlooking the glacier formed lake when this bird flew over my head and landed in a nearby tree.  At the time I trying my best to capture Turkey Vultures which were circling the cliffs.  The frustration levels were mounting trying to get The Beast zeroed in and focused on those birds which, due to the height of the cliffs, were actually speeding by below us.  The yellow markings on this Warbler were pretty unique which caught my attention immediately.  Screw the Vultures, we’ve got a new bird to track down.  One thing that became painfully clear with this Warbler (and likely generalized to all of these Warblers) is it did not want to stay in one place very long at all.  It would land, give me about 3 seconds to get the big glass in position, get the exposure settings right and finally take one shot.

Hit the jump to see more pictures of this new Warbler

Continue reading A New Warbler Addition

Mallard Slumber

It occurred to me that as of late, I’ve been doing a bashing of the Mallard and thought it was time to ease up a bit.  If you recall there has been some assumptions regarding just how promiscuous this bird is – for reference, check out the muta.. I mean interesting specimens here and here.  The little known but powerful Mallard Urban Transgressions and Neglect Tracking Society has contacted me with a cease and desist.  Trust me, you do not want to stay on their bad side.  As an act of restitution, today’s featured bird is the Mallard.  Unless you live under a rock or in The City (sorry, inside college joke) you have seen one of these at your local river, lake, pond or for that matter the roadside ditch.  They are indeed the most abundant duck in North America and the male markings make it very easy to spot – note, this is not true of the female mallard which is about as common looking as you can get with the exception of the blue teal patch on their wings.  On our way back home from Wisconsin, we stopped in downtown Dells to see what was playing in the river that runs through the middle of it.  After walking a ways down the nice path they have for pedestrians I noticed this Mallard catching some Z’s under a bridge.  It must be nice to be able to carry your pillow with you wherever you go.

Due to the bridge supports and an outcropping of brush and trees, there was a limited viewing angle (I’m sure that was his intention when selecting this spot).  For about 20 minutes I wrestled with foot compositioning in a futile attempt to clear the shot of branches but still capture all the rock pedestal.  At one point in this effort, I banged the bridge beam with my knee and my yelp woke it up.  He gave a quick look around before eventually settling back into his slumber.

Eventually some of the rock had to be sacrificed to get most of the other distractions out (looks like my cropping effort on the right side was just a wee bit short but guessing it would matte out in a print anyway.  After all that work none of the shots would make my gallery list, but I’m finally starting to concentrate more on the in camera composition which results in an easier time in post processing.

I will say the subject in the above picture isn’t that exciting, but I really like the texture that came out in the water.  It kind of looks like molten glass.

Hit the jump to see some additional shots of the Mallard along with a composition discussion.

Continue reading Mallard Slumber

A Majestic Domestic Spotted in Baraboo

Once again, we are back in Baraboo, Wisconsin but this time with specimens from the Goose family.  First off, an apology.  The title of this post really doesn’t fit based on a crap load of Internet research.  After frying a bunch of synapse coming up with a clever title I hated to give it up so we are going with it.  This series of pictures was taken on our way home from our Easter stay at Chula Vista Resort.  just outside the Dells.  Our trek home took us through the city of Baraboo which always makes me shudder in fright  … who in their right mind would take the effort to make a Circus Museum?!?  I’ll answer that, a DERANGED CLOWN LOVER that’s who.  Give me a second to get the heart calmed down..

beatbeatbeatbe atbe atb e atb e atb e a tbe e a t b e a t b e a t   ahhhh that was close

Continuing on, there is a nice stream that runs through that city which can be seen from the main thoroughfare (as it heads to Devil’s Head if you are curious).  On that day we spotted a couple of birds hanging out along the shore.  Not wanting to pass up a shot opportunity I had Linda turn onto a side road for some in vehicle shots – the Beast was on the camera so there was plenty of reach.  Turns out we were stopped right next to a No Parking sign and some cars were giving us disproving looks.  Not wanting to ruffle the locals, Linda dropped me off and started cruising around while I took some more shots from the banks.  Turns out the final product had a nice surprise.

It was high day which put up a pretty good fight on the exposure effort.  Admittedly, there is some blowout just below the neck, but was able to recover a lot of the feature detail outside that (embrace the RAW).  At the time, the small LCD screen was not able to really show a unique feature of the bird, but once in the digital darkroom it came out crystal clear.  Let’s move in a bit so you can see for yourself.

That eye is just plain gorgeous.  The orange eyelids really make it pop against the white coloring.  The sun angle even gave the highly desired glint.  To do it again I would have backed the exposure off one or two stops and then brought the light back in post processing.  Recovery restored a lot of the detail around the head, so a tighter crop would take out some of the blow outs, but there needs to be some of it left – otherwise it would look like someone took an ax to it (eesh).  As an example, here is another tight crop which gives even a better view of the eye but again, a less appealing crop from an overall composition perspective… and yes, I needed to apply some additional recovery on this version to get the detail back in the head feathering.

Hit the jump to see more pictures from this post

Continue reading A Majestic Domestic Spotted in Baraboo

The X-Ducks of Wisconsin

Howdy all, I was recently reminded that we are half way through the steamy month of July and there is yet to be a post on the blog. You would think with how hot it has been in the last two weeks I’d be cranking out post after post in the comfort of my air conditioned den. On the contrary, I’ve been swamped with activities as of late which has included wrapping up phase one of my summer project (literally put the last piece in that phase a mere two hours ago) and a healthy (or not) dose of heat running conditioning needed for the Bix race at the end of the month. I do not want a repeat of the Steamboat race and it looks like there has been some improvement based on my recent Bix@6 training run (93-95 out when the training race started last Thursday and it went quite well). The good news is all the post processing work on this month’s series of posts is already complete!   …and just what is the topic this month…

After much thought and contemplation I’m going with the birds captured during our photo shoot taken  in Wisconsin over Easter. Tragically, this means another month (at least) will pass before getting to the Indy Zoo pictures and the birds of Banner Marsh.

It’s quiz time.  Any guesses as to what that water fowl is (note, these are all non-shopped)?

If you can identify it, please feel free to let me know.  As far as I can tell this is another mutant specimen.  If you recall, this is not the first mutant to grace these pages.  The mallard derivative from the Emoquon series certainly fits this category (link here).    This strange bird has more of the duck features than the goose characteristics in that previous one.  It was also easier to pick out the main ingredients that made that bird.

This on the other hand doesn’t really match anything.  The dominant white and the the black tail feathers would put it somewhere in the Snow Goose realm (or just the white neck and orange beak has traits of an Embden Goose), but it took the stature of a smaller duck.

it that wasn’t fun enough, let’s move on to mutant specimen number 2 and 3.  The one on the right looks like someone sawed the head off the one above and slapped a better Mallard head on it.  Those Mallards must really like to sow their oats.

Shifting to the one of the left.  They were hanging together so the assumption is they were mates.  The left is likely the female due to the dominant male Mallard coloring on the right one.  It looks closer to an Eskimo Sandwich than it does a duck.  The breast feathering almost has a turkey composition and nothing in the reference books really showed markings that chocolaty.

Hit the jump to see even more strange waterfowl.

Continue reading The X-Ducks of Wisconsin