They Really are Purple

And we are officially back with the second installment in the Recovery-a-Palooza series. I am starting to get the jitters now and I am pretty sure my hair is starting to fallout thanks to my body rebelling against sedentary life. Won’t be long and my internal inhibitors will be overwhelmed and the “crazies” will start coming out – NOBODY wants that! The good news is the swelling is subsiding and the bruising remains minimal. On the topic of purple, thought I’d go with these for tonight’s featured feathered friend(s).

Purple Martin found at Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton IL in June 2016

Good news – these shots are better than what is in the post coming down the pipe. Bad news – my readers out there deserve better for sure. To get the excuses out of the way, I was a bit handicapped the day these were taken. Not too long before this outing, my trusted D7000 workhorse finally succumbed to the torture I had inflicted on it since likely its Nikon debut in 2010. Later coupled with The Beast, that rig was everywhere I was – snap, after snap, after snap, after snap until there wasn’t enough light left in the day to focus. The shutter gave way while taking shots of a rarity in Havana, IL (that would be the post that is coming up). Heartbreak as I pressed the button thingy and nothing went clicky.

Purple Martin found at Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton IL in June 2016

Hit the jump if you want to see a few more shots of these big Purple Mosquito Eaters!

While that camera was getting fixed, I decided to rent the new D500 to see if it was time to upgrade. Called up Ron and we headed over to Weldon Springs State Park in Clinton IL to put it through its paces. Talk about a struggle. This camera line had its share of advantages especially in the ISO area, but the frustrations over the course of that day convinced me that the 500 line was NOT for me. I am sure most of the issues were completely my lack of familiarity, but reversing directions of the dials (later found a way to reverse that back to the old in the settings) produced quite the torrid of profanities and the fact that line does not have the two 7000 line user modes left me eager to get back to my baby. Two things that were very obvious was the sensor on that rental was hyped up. Even a small manipulation of any corner of the exposure triangle had a dramatic under/over impact. My fingers were used to giving the 7000 speed or aperture dial a good flick to hone in the settings – I was backtracking nonstop with that camera. The other annoyance that ended up sealing the deal to pass over the 500 line was the mirror slap – wow, is that ungodly loud. Slowly sneak up on a pond, focus in on a duck and SNAP followed by every bird in that pond hightailing it out of there. Jump to today and I happily carry a D7500 – my retirement gift to myself. Eesh, seems like a lot of words to simply apologize for these shots being weak.

Purple Martin found at Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton IL in June 2016

Like the previous post, the Purple Martin is one of those birds where I can easily tin by simply walking out my backdoor. Well, actually walking out my back door and taking a short ATV ride over to my neighbor’s horse farm. He has a nice colony living over there that I haven’t been able to convince to split and take up residence here – even promised them pancakes in the mornings. I could really use a group of these Mosquito vacuums over here. Since I took these back in June 2016, I’ve been meaning to get my butt over there and get better shots – clearly never happened. Decided I couldn’t wait anymore and went with this series from Weldon to officially get the +1.

Purple Martin found at Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton IL in June 2016

Weldon has a very nice set of houses at the edge of a large prairie field. If I pulled out far enough for you to see the entire multi-level condo you wouldn’t even be able to distinguish the birds. This colony was fairly large and most of the apartments looked occupied. There were also a good number of sentries out on the perches and on the perimeter likely keeping a watchful eye out for those invading House Sparrows. Strength in numbers and these aerial acrobats can fly rings around any Sparrow foolish enough to try and invade the area.

Purple Martin found at Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton IL in June 2016

Beyond maybe the first shot in this series, you wouldn’t know these birds actually do have a purple shimmer to them. The males are dark overall with a blackish wash that covers their body. On top of that basecoat is a deep purple that will shimmer as the light glances off (unless you blow the exposure – trust me, they look more purple than this in person). The females and juvis are much duller – browner – than the males with graduated gray bellies and varying amounts of speckling. They are the largest in our Swallow family, but still possess incredible skills on the wing.

Purple Martin found at Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton IL in June 2016

The Purple Martin pretty much covers the entire eastern region of the States during the breeding season and then head back down to South America when the Mosquito (and other flying insect) population starts to thin out for the season. Did learn something new while perusing Cornell’s site. These Purples take their fluids like they get their main courses – in flight. Like Skimmers (link here), the Purples will skim the nearby ponds and scoop up water with their lower bill). Will try to bring you that behavior on my next encounter.

Alleve time, so better wrap this up. I think I also just spotted a “crazy” trying to break through the defenses. Hope you got some enjoyment from these less than stellar shots of a very elegant Swallow.

15 thoughts on “They Really are Purple”

  1. We are both on a purple kick today. You birds are beautiful. On broken shutters, the shutter broke on my Canon 1DS Mark II a week before we were heading to Paris in 2018. That Canon 1DS Mark II was my favorite body, and I actually work out a shutter in a top pro body. I wasn’t going to put out $5K for a 1Dx body (the 1Dx had replaced the 1Ds bodies), so I was able to get the 7D Mark II which has the same image processor as the 1Dx, but the 7D Mk II has a crop sensor, a few days before we left for Paris. I had planned on selling the 7D Mk II when I got back from Paris, but I found a place near Chicago that replace the Shutter in my 1Ds Mk II for a really great price. So I got a couple more years out of the 1Ds before Canon marked down their 5Ds 50 megapixel camera to a ridiculously low price and I grabbed one. I’m happy I kept the 7D Mk II because my 400 mm lens is equivalent to a 640 mm lens that I can handle without a tripod.

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    1. I wonder if we got our shutters fixed at the same place – we also used a place outside of Chicago to get my 7000 repaired (a bit closer for me though ha). Like you, that fix allowed me to wait out the early high pricing on my replacement body. The 7000 is a crop sensor as well so I am getting the same boost in zoom – wife has a D800, great for lowlight, but the miss the extra distance when I put the Beast on it. So far happy with the new body… maybe I’ll be able to get you better pictures of these purple Swallows now! As always, thanks for coming by.

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    1. Thanks Reed – not my best work, but good enough for me to finally claim my +1. New camera is working out fine – always learning on it, but most of the controls transferred nicely to the new body. Appreciate you dropping in.

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    1. I can absolutely relate. I can only assume the Purps in Minnesota are twice the size of the ones here due to the monster Mosquitoes that roam that area. Probably grab a couple of them out of the air and hit the condo couch to sleep off the meat coma ha. Are there Martins across the pond or is this “training” idea for when you subject him to the torture in the states? Thanks for dropping by CJ.

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  2. Bummer on the shutter, but they are easy, and cheap, enough to replace. I’ve done one of my fleet of cameras already (at 6k clicks). Two are now approaching a late life failure (150k clicks and counting on each, one of these shutters has already been replaced with the click counter reset). I’ve also noticed my D300’s are getting a bit noisy (physically not photographically) in their old age. Maybe mirrorless is your next stop? I’m like you, I know where the buttons all are and not really looking forward to learning a new “feel” of a different camera.
    Purple is as Purple does; almost royalty.

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  3. It was definitely worth the cost to allow me to wait a year or two longer before replacing my workhorse body. So happy I was able to pick up the new body last year before all the “empty shelves” fears started cropping up – guessing you are the same with your new glass. With the inventories going down those prices are going to go through the roof. Probably not looking at mirrorless for a long time – the thought of buying new glass doesn’t interest me at the moment (thus the huge relief when I figured out why the Beast was being stubborn covered a few posts back). You still exploring the mountains?

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    1. We are back from the mountains and already onto another retirement vacation (tomorrow). Still processing the photos from the last set of hikes in the mountains. I did capture a brief video of a bird, because I know if I don’t have video or photo evidence, I didn’t see it. 🙂 Already thinking of a return trip to the mountains, with my glass in tow this time.

      You can keep your glass with the mirrorless, just need a simple non-optic adapter. Besides, I haven’t bought a new camera body in nearly 17 years. I keep going to camera stores with warranties on gently used gear and beat the snot out of it myself. So far I’ve bought three bodies for a total of about 1/2 the price of a new one, combined (or 1/6th the cost for each for those of you doing the math at home).

      Now that most of my running photography has ended, I’ll have to focus (no pun intended) on flying things instead.

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    1. Thanks Sam – pretty happy with the new body and each outing gets me a bit more comfortable with it – at least now I can once again easily change the manual setting without ever taking the eye away from the camera. To be honest, the answer to the blinding sunstorm (love that term by the way) is to get my ass out of bed earlier. Right now my days are end heavy which has a tendency to push the start a bit. Appreciate you coming by.

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  4. My father used to make Martin houses out of aluminum siding. He made one for us and erected it in our backyard in Virginia. The first year, it was occupied by bluebirds, which we enjoyed. In subsequent years we had a colony of martins which we liked watching and appreciated very much. We lived above the Shenandoah River, so they had a good source of both water and mosquitos.

    Thank you for this post which brought back pleasant memories. ❤

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    1. Glad I was able to take you back! The Bluebirds can be an aggressive species in their own right – fortunately, they have the Wrens to fight it out with for the many nest boxes that are in the area (there is a group here that is dedicated to bringing the Bluebird numbers back and stock all of our local parks and wildlife sanctuaries with nest boxes). I was looking at my neighbor’s gourd based colony and decided that would be a lot of work to clean every year – thinking your siding approach may be a better way to go – anything to keep our Mosquito population under control ha! Thank you for dropping in Cheryl!

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