I’m In A Funk

It seems like forever since I’ve been birding. Some family issues has kept myself and Kathy close to home, and just when I was ready to do some birding today with Jon and a group from the Cincinnati Bird Club. I have a fender bender with my new bird-mobile. It happened yesterday while the family was out celebrating our youngest son’s 22nd birthday. This put me into a terrible funk. So not wanting to subject Jon to my foul mood, I decided to cancel and stay home, despite the fact that I can’t even stand to be with myself. I needed to snap out of it so I staked out the front porch hummingbird feeders to catch some action. I figured if hummingbirds can’t cheer me up, then nothing would.

IMG_1108One of my better stop-the-action shots.

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IMG_1115A satisfactory shot of the male.

IMG_1135Then I caught him perched and had to really zoom in to capture him in the shade.

IMG_1139Then he turned his head to show of the ruby color of his throat. And considering the high ISO and using digital zoom this isn’t the clearest picture, but it will have to do.

IMG_1091Eventually he finally settled onto one of the feeders for this pretty nice still shot.

An Owl Hunt

My daughter has two of the best In-Laws. Granted she is the only married one out of my three children, but it still doesn’t take away the fact that they are such nice people. And I’m not just saying that because they might be reading this blog post, it’s just that we’ve decided that we’re calling ourselves the Fun-In-Laws, because we do have fun when we’re together. Which was the case last evening.

You see they’ve had some pretty regular visits from a Barred Owl. I’ve heard on a number of occasions and they always tell me when they spot it. However for the past few nights it’s not just being heard, they’re spotting it with regularity. So after dinner last evening we were off to their house for some owl hunting.

We arrived about 7:15 and waited for about 15 minutes till we got up and started to make our way round they’re large piece of land. As we made our way back towards a house they rent out to a very nice lady I noticed a large bird fly up from the ground into a tree. As I inched closer it flew off to my left. I had a feeling it was going to be one of those nights where the bird is one step ahead of you, with no photo-op to speak of. So Bill (one of the Fun-In-Laws) and myself followed it to where it flew. Where upon it flew back to where it was originally.

However this time it cooperated. And then some.

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Local Hummers

Back in January 2010, “Nature”, that marvelous show that airs on your local PBS station premiered “Hummingbirds: Magic In The Air”. For anyone who loves birds this particular episode was an absolute joy to watch. Besides all the different species found all over the world and the science behind the evolution of the hummingbirds, what I enjoyed the most was the the slow motion video of the birds. It was the kind of photography that would make any amateur photographer envious. But there was this one particular segment during the show that intrigued me the most. It was a laboratory setting where they had some hummingbirds confined in a enclosed setting with slow motion video recording them as they consumed very small, gnat type of insects. And as they filmed them you could see as they opened their beak and ate the insect in super slow motion. It was impressive video because we who love hummingbirds either as a bird watcher or not probably have never seen this behavior before. We normally see them as they buzz us while we’re out in the field. or as they sit perched. I’m sure the majority of us have watched as they feed on flowers or feeders we’ve hung up, never eat a bug considering how fast they move.

Well a few days ago while I was sitting on my front porch, with my camera, a hummingbird shows up by one of my hanging baskets on my front porch.

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So I raise my camera and get focused in on the bird and fire off several shots in succession in an attempt to freeze the bird and it’s wing beats. Later when I’m downloading the pictures onto my computer for some post-processing I see this picture.

IMG_0946The same behavior I saw the hummingbirds on “Nature” as they went for the gnats, just happened before my own camera. And if you look real close between the hanging basket and the birds open mouth you’ll see the very small insect it’s going for. What a very cool picture!

A Birders Haiku

rock garden

Cool late summer morn

Lonely train in the distance

A sunrise Wren calls

July 100 Species Challenge/ The End

Tomorrow is the 31st of July and unless there is some divine intervention, my final count will stand at 106 bird species. And what’s kind of frustrating is first my late start for this whole July challenge, and secondly is that are so many birds that I could have sighted that I didn’t.

Let’s take this last Sunday. Despite the forecast of rain on and off for the whole day I still felt the need to drive to some of my favorite hot spots so I could tick off a few more birds. So it was back out onto the highway to the west side of town., particularly Lost Bridge, and Shawnee Lookout Park. Lost Bridge for early migrating shore birds and Cliff Swallows, and Shawnee Lookout for a few more warbler species that summer over in this park. Such as Cerulean, Kentucky, Redstart, Prairie, Blue-winged, and Ovenbird.

Other than picking up Cliff Swallow at Lost Bridge it was a total bust, especially with the rain picking up. You see I neglected to grab my rain jacket when I left so I really didn’t want to be soaked this early in the day with Shawnee Lookout still ahead.

Shawnee wasn’t much better. There were plenty of birds, just not some of the ones I was really depending on. I was wanting to get an early start to the day when my chances were a bit better, but hitting it in the afternoon they weren’t singing as much as I would have liked.

IMG_0942One of the few cooperative birds was this male Eastern Towhee

IMG_0939Female American Redstart

So now after completing 2 different month long challenges so far this year I have to admit that this one was the easiest. The opportunities to pick up so many more bird species may seem smaller than in the spring, however I really could have added 10 to 12 more with an earlier start in the month. January is by far the most difficult after you count up all the duck species that is found around here. After that you don’t have to many birds that you can count on being there. Plus the weather can keep the most intrepid birder at home. I’ll never forget my trip to Dayton to tick off the Glaucous Gull when the wind chill was well below zero. The wind chill in July is measured by the AC hitting you in the face when you walk into the neighborhood mini-mart for something to cold drink.

Bird watching challenges like this keep the hobby fun and exciting. Instead of just going out into the field, you have to re-focus on what species you’re searching for and the habitat where you’ll find them. It sharpens your skill even if you’ve seen the bird hundreds of times before. And with January just 6 short months away it helps you prepare for the cold weather challenge.

So the end is now and with the addition of:

  • Cliff Swallow
  • Kentucky Warbler
  • American Redstart

my total is 106. So remember to challenge yourself every now and then. It does make you feel better about yourself no matter what you attempt.

 

 

July 100 Species Update

Armleder Park, California Woods, East End

A goal has been reached. This last Sunday turned out a lot better than planned, with plenty of new birds to take me over the 100 species for the month of July. The new birds were

  • Blue Grosbeak

IMG_0927There will come a time when I’ll get a good photo of this elusive Summertime visitor.

  • Black & White Warbler
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Orchard Oriole
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker
  • Bank Swallow
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • White-eyed Vireo

And with one full weekend left I’m still planning on going out and padding this total of 103 birds. Even if I excluded the 3 species that were specific to the Great Smoky Mountains, those being the Swainson’s Warbler, Dark-eyed Junco, and the Black-throated Blue Warbler, I’d still have 100 birds. Challenge complete. However there are still a few more warbler species that I’ll try to pick up probably this Sunday at Shawnee Lookout. So stayed tuned for yet another update.