May 1 – one baby left
Late this afternoon I walked over to inspect the nest and saw only one baby. I had to use the flash to get a picture as the nest was in deep shadow. Two days ago there were still two in there:
April 29th – still 2 on board
Late afternoon light is a good time for pictures as the low sun makes for dramatic contrast.
I knew him, fly
the fastest animal on earth
Winter is the season of extreme moods. Rain on a summer day can never be as miserable as the grey gloom of winter. Today was one of those winter days we treasure – sunny and all blue skies. I felt like I couldn’t get enough sunshine. The birds responded with displays of beauty too, and I was lucky to get some good pictures. The Pileated Woodpecker was hard at work on the tall stump again, although he refused to come around to the sunny side of the tree. I caught a pair of Stellar’s Jays in a bush right in front of us, and a pair of Ravens high up in an oak, well lit by the sun. On the water I watched ducks for a while, hoping some of the Mergansers would come a little closer. Unlike the Mallards which make their year round home here, these Mergansers come infrequently, and I suppose they aren’t quite as comfortable around humans as the Mallards are. They have this reflex to stop and turn away at a distance of about 15 yards. I came home and hung about doing things like starting a loaf of bread, but always with an eye out the window, with a feeling that the beautiful sunshine was going to waste. So at 4 pm I grabbed my camera again and went back down to the lake to enjoy the last of the sun. I caught a Song Sparrow in the golden light, amongst a crowd of others hanging around some feeders. Then I spotted something far away, coming across the sky and heading for the top of one of the tall firs, about 40 or 50 yards away. It was impossible to recognize at a distance but with the 500mm lens I saw it better, although it was still a mere blip on the screen. I took some pictures and stood there waiting for about 10 minutes with my finger on the trigger, hoping to catch it in flight. When it finally took off my reflexes were just too slow, or my camera was, but in any case all I caught was air. It was another Peregrine Falcon, not exactly rare but then again not a common sight hereabouts. They are distinguished by their Elvis sideburns, although to be fair, falcons had them first. Not every day you see the fastest animal on earth. They dive at 250 km/hr (155 mph).
We live beside a small pond called Swan Lake. We never see swans here, however. It’s a bird sanctuary, in a park that by some miracle was never destroyed by development. Thank you for that, whoever you were that was responsible. Daily, we walk around the lake, a distance of about a mile, which takes 45 minutes almost invariably. Sometimes I carry a camera, but we have a joke that whenever I do so, we see no wildlife worthy of a photo. Of course when I leave the camera home we run into owls and hawks face to face! But I still like to lug the camera sometimes. Yesterday I put on my 500mm mirror lens. It’s a Tamron, and in its day was very expensive. I got it at a thrift shop for $65, which is not much. I regularly see photographers on out walks, carrying gigantic telephoto lenses mounted on tripods worth more than my camera. All for taking pictures of ducks? I don’t know what they do in truth, but as amazing as those lenses must be, I will probably never buy one. I’m more of an opportunist – I hope for good shots to present themselves randomly. As long as I have the camera at hand, turned on, and set to the right settings of course, then sometimes I get a lucky shot. This long lens is hard to hold steady, however – it probably requires a tripod but I’m too lazy to bother. My Pentax K50 has built in shake reduction, and with my shutter set to 1/1000 I shoot and hope for the best. Of course I also have to focus manually, which is the trickiest part. But here are a few shots. I have numbered them. It’s a quiz! Guess what they are. My answers are below.
Write down your answers – no cheating!
Put down that book!
One more to go, then all will be revealed…
OK, here are the answers:
1. Fuzz on a stick
2. Donatello and Raphael
3. Black footed log roller
4. Orca-like duck
5. Giant hummingbird
OK, who guessed right?