A Devil Pecker… But Not Sure Which?

I’m a little off my schedule at the moment due to the little issue I had to take care of in the last post.  With that all past us now (and if you still think Linda isn’t the 2012 UB you need to go back and read the finely tuned analysis on the previous post), I can try to get through another entry in the Wisconsin Birds series.  This one is actually a bit of a mystery and hoping one of my fine readers can help me out a bit.  We were up on the cliff trail above Devil’s Lake when I heard a very familiar drumming a little ways into the woods (opposite cliff side).  I’ve been diligently searching for a Pileated Woodpecker without much luck so every time I hear that rattle I jump into search mode and start tracking.  Anyone watching me would have been trying to hold back a laugh.  Finding woodpeckers can be difficult in a dense forest – I swear their drumming echoes off of every try in the area.  Usually I walk to what appears to be the center point of the echoes and move my head in various directions looking for the the sharpest rattle position.. then walk a ways in that direction and repeat.  It looks stupid to onlookers, but it is effective.  After about 3 cycles of this I came upon this:

My initial guess through the viewfinder was a Downy Woodpecker.  Some doubt crept in as I was taking additional shots.  The most interesting aspect was the bird had a yellowish tint to it – most noticeable behind the head and on the breast below the legs.  Depending on how the light hit it, there seemed to be some yellow tint in the white areas on the back and wings.  We have numerous Downy’s where we live and I’ve have had a lot of opportunities to photograph them.  To my recollection, all of those Downy’s had very white highlighting and breast markings.  I tried changing positions to get a better shot of the head but that was difficult to do and still avoid all the branches.  The shot below was the best result, but a foreground branch managed to sneak in.  This shot, however, brought up an additional concern.  That beak is larger than most of the Downy’s around here which are smaller in relationship to the face.  They also look sharper than the one sported by this specimen.

Hit the jump to read more about this mystery bird.

Continue reading A Devil Pecker… But Not Sure Which?

The Good and the Ugly – A Wisconsin Twofor

Been a little hesitant to make another post after the blistering I took for the less that tack sharp images from the previous post.  This was mainly due to a few of the following shots being a little bit off as well.. hey, let’s go with the “style” excuse.  Actually, there is a reason for the ones below that are less than crispy.  All of these are flight shots taken while hand holding The Beast.  I’ve been working out but it’s going to take some extra reps and protein before I’ll feel comfortable chasing birds across the sky with an 8 pound glass.  I also have not committed to limiting the travel of the glass so once it focuses off the bird it is burden to get it back on target.  This isn’t so much an excuse as it is a celebration of success when one hits the tin in decent condition.  All in all, the following set isn’t that bad .. not gallery potential.. but still worth posting.

Today’s set features not one, but TWO birds and not those tiny Finch types.  When these fly over your head you take notice and every critter under 3 pounds has a near heart attack.  Although, if it isn’t already dead or prefer the water, these two birds are probably going to leave it alone.  One is a majestic bird of grace and color (the good) and one makes you wonder if they were designed by Wes Craven (the ugly).  Both were taken at Devil’s lake near Baraboo, Wisconsin.

First out of the gate is the Blue Heron.  This is not an unfamiliar bird to the blog (see here) and that is because it is one of my favorite shooting targets.  They are interesting to look at and have the photo friendly trait of remaining motionless for long periods of times – perfect for longer exposures when you want to push the ISO down as much as possible.  When we arrived at Devil’s Lake, we really didn’t see a lot of birds in the water (correction.. didn’t see ANY birds in the water) which was not the way I wanted to start the Wisconsin vacation.  The large rocks around the lake made a really nice setting.  So much that Linda decided she wanted to take a few shots of her for the business site.  With the longer glass I was standing back a ways to take the shots when all of a sudden a Heron landed on a rock about 20 feet from where Linda was sitting.   I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing – we were just about the only ones in the area with plenty of more solitaire places all around the lake.  The camera settings were manually configured for portrait mode which didn’t lend itself to bird shots.  By the time I got everything adjusted, the Heron took flight again.

The battle was on to keep the glass on the bird while it gathered air under its long wings.  There is one thing more enjoyable to watch than a Heron on the ground stalking dinner and that is a Heron taking flight.  Those long wings fold out, the neck curves back and those feet come together to complete the aerodynamics.  From afar, those legs are often mistaken for long tail feathers.  Every time I see one of these creatures sailing through the air I immediately think of my early school years when they taught us about the Pterodactylus .. my favorite member of the Jurassic Period (and probably the early seeding of my desire to become an archeologist) – editors note: I am still bitter of being taught the lie of the Brontosaurus .. I also want my planet Pluto back but I’ll save that rant for another time.

Here is another shot of the bird.  I was doing my best to pan along the flight path trying to keep the single focus point on the bird’s eye – thank god for Rear Focus allowing me to keep the focus where I wanted it.  The raised tips at the extent of both wings give a nice composition.  Not sure if I like the sand coming into the frame yet, but I was at the mercy of the bird’s flightpath.

Hit the jump to read more about the Heron and the bonus bird.

Continue reading The Good and the Ugly – A Wisconsin Twofor