Never Short a Player

As a wildlife photographer, I tend to gravitate to the new or rarer opportunities. Clearly those experiences come with a greater opportunity to learn something interesting or to simply expand your portfolio. I try to be conscious of this tendency while out in the field since it can cause tunnel vision – a narrowing/restriction of your photo targets. The best example of this is on your first trip to Yellowstone compared to subsequent and even the later days of your first trip. If you have been there, go back and take a look at your first day’s shots. Guessing there are a lot of Bison in there. Now check the second, third and any subsequent trips. If you are like me, there is a logarithmic decline in those types of shots. Linda is very aware of this when it comes to my birding efforts. Takes a lot for me to take another picture of a Coot ha! I bring this all up because today’s post is one of those cases where traditional tunnel vision often occurs – fortunately, there’s a remedy!

Mallards shot at Springfield Lake May 2015

The Mallard is abundantly common in my parts, well for that matter, all of North America. If you are birding and come upon a decent sized body of water you are most assuredly going to see one or two hanging out near the banks paddling lazily by. To uphold my golden rule, I’ll quickly snap a pick just to record a species spotting – little effort in making sure the camera settings are ideal. For Coots I’m tempted to shoot from the hip and not even worry about getting it framed – those things are EVERYWHERE. There is something that changes my nonchalant attitude to the Mallard, something that transforms a minutia of shooting time into minutes if not hours.

Mallards shot at Springfield Lake May 2015

Hit the jump to see some more pics of this cuties!

Continue reading Never Short a Player

Exhausted by a Tiny Bird

I hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday (for those of you that celebrate Thanksgiving that is – keep forgetting my readership spans the globe). Linda and I had a very nice T-Day dinner followed up with night and day activities feeding Black Friday frenzy – now even starting as early as Thursdays. Admittedly, for the most part, a lot of holiday shopping is done online these days. Hard to pass up a completely hassle free shopping experience for the exact same cost point. There was a time constraint this year as we’re holding my side’s Christmas in a few days. We couldn’t wait for the delivery and there were a few in store sales worth braving the cold and hectic morning. Then there’s today where we do head out to help our local small businessmen and businesswomen. I mainly mention this because we are home now and basically exhausted which is good news for you since wind down for me generally involves blogging! Been hitting the Halloween posts on my other blog this month, so opted for this today.

American Redstart shot in Minnesota on Lake Superior in July 2017

The American Redstart is one of the more colorful birds available to us in the US. Although they winter in South America, they can be found in the contiguous states with the exception of the far western states either during migration months or summer residence – that according to Cornell. Other references are a bit more restrictive on their region. One place I know they are abundant is Northern Minnesota along the Lake Superior coastline.

American Redstart shot in Minnesota on Lake Superior in July 2017

Hit the jump to see a couple more pictures of this colorful bird from our Minnesota trip

Continue reading Exhausted by a Tiny Bird

Happy Gobble Gobble Day

“As God as my witness, I thought Turkeys could fly.” If you are in the 50-60 year old range, you probably recognize that quote instantly and remember with admiration for one of the truly funny sitcoms of the era – WKRP in Cincinnati. A time when I could sit down, enjoy a bit of TV and laugh a little for 30 minutes – now, not so much. Have a wonderful holiday wherever you might be, stay safe in your travels and enjoy today’s timely feature of Turkeys that CAN fly (a bit at least ha).

Tom Turkey Shot at Rocky Mountain National Park May 2014

This particular Tom Turkey was an unexpected surprise. Linda and I had stopped to take pictures of a Great Horned Owl in Rocky Mountain National Park back in May 2014. You might recall, we were able to get some shots of both the mother and her Owlets (link here). I had moved to a location up on a hill allowing me to shoot almost directly into the pine tree they were nesting in and yet still far enough away that there were no unwarranted concerns by any of the subjects – somewhat aided by the fact I was shooting from behind a large boulder on top of the hill. So caught up in shooting the owls, I didn’t even notice this dude come walking up behind me.

Tom Turkey Shot at Rocky Mountain National Park May 2014

In honor of today, hit the jump to see a few more pictures and read a bit more about the Wild Turkey.

Continue reading Happy Gobble Gobble Day

Yellow Throat of Georgia

Rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated! Granted I have been lax on my wildlife posts, but there is a good reason for that – namely I have been busy busy busy. Halloween has now wrapped up, which means I’m on the clock to get all the haunted trail and prop making posts out on my other blog. Add to that some medical procedures to recover from and the accounting year is winding down at my day job which means extra time to get loose ends straightened up before the holidays hit. Of course, these are still not good enough to warrant keeping my loyal wildlife readers devoid of fodder. With overwhelming guilt I bring you today’s featured bird!

Yellow-Throated Warbler Shot in Georgia May 2015

Before the hate mail starts pouring in, I realize this isn’t my best work behind the shutter. These images are a bit soft likely due to the brief window of time available to get any shots of this interesting bird. These are the only three shots that made it into the tin on this encounter. This specimen was located on our Georgia Birding Trip back in May 2015. If it wasn’t for the high pitch call emanating from high above in the pine trees I would have never found it. I’d zero in on the call, get The Beast pointed in the general direction only to find that the sound was coming from another area in the trees. Repeat process, repeat results. All of sudden, a bird popped out in the opening. Got the camera on point, snapped two shots and a final one as it moved off through the branches – that’s it. One chance, three quick images and birdy went bye bye. It is amazing how many times this plays out on our birding trips. A few minutes before that or a few minutes after that and you wouldn’t even know the bird was even in the area. People ask me if birding gets boring – definitely not – when you consider these brief encounters during the course of a day’s outing, think of how many chances you missed, how many different species you might have seen or what was simply sitting in the tree quiet as a mouse just laughing at your inability to find it.

Yellow-Throated Warbler Shot in Georgia May 2015

This happens to be one of those times where the excitement of the experience wasn’t truly appreciated until many years later in the digital darkroom. The original encounter was cataloged as another Yellow-Rumped Warbler. Better understanding of the difference in songs should have given a clue, but that is a definite weak spot in my game. Both are fairly high pitched in their song and their color palette is remarkably close. A lot more details surfaced when processing the RAW images. Like the Audubon variety of the Rumped, they both had yellow throats. What caught my attention was the extra white and black patterns of the head. A quick look at my reference collection confirmed this was not a Yellow-Rumped Warbler, rather a Yellow-Throated Warbler. Let’s all take a moment to celebrate another check on my birding list. By then I was kicking myself the pictures didn’t come out as crispy as desired. On the positive front, at least they were good enough to properly ID the bird – was also able to confirm it with my brother Ron. Fingers crossed he doesn’t already have one so I can get a little closer to his current count.

Yellow-Throated Warbler Shot in Georgia May 2015

Being that this is a new bird, how about we jump over to Cornell to see what interesting things they have to say about it. This is a Warbler who calls Southeast US home in the summer. Confirms with our shooting location and the time of year. It is also considered a canopy bird preferring to hang out in the upper sections of pine trees. Well, we can definitely confirm that based on the pictures and how sore my neck was after the encounter. Prefers insects and spiders which means it is dear to me – based on my short time in Georgia, anything that might dent the population of No-See-Ums down there is tops in my book. Cornell is pretty sparse beyond those few tidbits.

Again, sorry about the quality of picture on this set. These hyper warblers are always a struggle to freeze. Hope you enjoyed my new addition to my North American Birding List.