Last day of March so one last bonus round for the month. Been doing a bit of Spring cleaning in the digital darkroom to get a bit more caught up. The hope is I can get to processing all those trips that we have taken since 2013 – which was the time most of the posts as of late have been originating out of. There are so many +1’s in the tin just sitting there waiting to get processed and counted! I’ve had this post ready go for over 6 months now and never got around to getting it out of draft mode. Today we remedy that.
These shots of the Northern Flicker came from a birding outing my brother Ron and I took at Chain O’ Lakes State Park back in April 2014. That would be the same outing where the shots came from in my previous post of Ring-Neck Ducks. Main difference is those pictures were crap and these are some of my favorite. In fact, the shot above was worked up for the Heart of Illinois Fair competition last year and ended up preserving my no-UB status for the year thanks to pulling in an Honorable Mention (which in or books a huge victory for reasons I will not go into right now).
Ron and I were hiking a hidden trail I had found the year before which takes you into a fairly remote area of the park. We ended up getting trapped thanks to flooding waters on this particular hike, but we were able to get some good shots in the tin. It was later in the day when we came upon this Northern Flicker hanging out in a dead tree. Unlike the Ring-Necked ducks, we were able to get nice and close to this specimen who didn’t seem to mind our presence. We could not have asked for better lighting or composition. Although I already have this bird checked off the list due to a chance encounter in my backyard, these shots are definitely worthy of replacing the crappy shot I had to use for my NA Birding List Gallery up on our EddieSoft Photography Gallery (link here).
I actually have a couple more Flicker shots in the tin from an encounter at Independence Grove and on our trips out East, but these by far are the best of the bunch. As my brother has pointed out – the great thing about birding from a photographer’s viewpoint is every trip has the opportunity to be successful – you can observe new birds, you learn more about behavior and you can always improve on your shots of birds you already have on your list – case in point with this post. For some reason Ron keeps getting asked (he is a very social person!) if he is a photographer who likes to take pictures of birds or a bird enthusiast who happens to have a camera. I’ve thought about that a lot and determined I must be a photographer first and a birder a very close second. A shot of a bird is nice, but a shot of a bird in perfect light can be breathtaking.
Happy birding everyone – see ya’ next month!
3 thoughts on “A Northern In Perfect Light”
Yes, your secret trail led us to a dead end. That made me feel better about leading you to a dead end earlier along the river there.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the question of whether I consider myself more of a birder or a photographer (since I’ve been asked that twice!), and I’ve come to the same ultimate conclusion–I may be more interested in photographing birds than just observing them, even though I do use the nice binoculars I bought last year as well. But first I take the pictures, and then when I’m done if the bird is still there I watch it with the binoculars. The only exception is when there are a lot of birds, such as at Emiquon, and I need to scan quickly to find which birds I should focus on first for taking pictures.
Having pictures allows me to really study the bird characteristics, and as you say you can always get a better bird shot, which might not even be technically better but which might show a bird mannerism or other behavioral and personal characteristics, and after all this is the essence of portrait photography and painting. As you do, I research the bird to identify it and learn other information about it, so it’s also a good means to being an informed birder.
I remember these shots of the Northern Flicker in the sunset. It was a nice prize for having walked to a dead end. I will never forget walking down that way and you stepping on a stick and a whole bunch of previously unseen ducks scattering off in flight, and hearing your expletive followed by even MORE unseen ducks taking off, followed by another expletive and EVEN MORE unseen ducks taking off. Very funny!!
You’ve reached the point where I am backlogged on processing, although I’ve done processing on some later trips. The Allerton Park or Chain O’ Lakes State Park bird outing is the earliest set that still has pics to process. I’ll have to work on that, since it’s now a year.
BTW, I’m not social at all when I’m birding–business all the way, thank you. 🙂
Wait a minute, the secret trail did not lead us to a dead in – we actually opted to turn back because it was getting dark – we could have continued on along the river and checked ourselves into a hotel somewhere in Chicago!
I will say those binoculars came in handy trying to locate birds in the trees at Chain O’ Lakes – as you said they really flatten the view.
Yeah, I pretty much screwed the pooch at that point in the walk – I was trying to be as quiet as possible and then CRACK when the stick that cost me birds…. then I am sure I said something family friendly and more birds took flight causing me to say something like awe shucks and then MORE damn birds left. Glad you got humor out of it – probably cost you a rare Pintail hehehe
I think you should focus on just processing – yep, just processing all the time, all the day and all the night – yep that sounds like a great idea.
…. and I think you once again proved your social trait at Chain O’ Lakes. talking to people in cars, standing on the road and even on horses!