Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is it raining where you are?

For the first year since I've been in Missouri, the amount of rain has been just about right. I know others around the country are complaining about too much rain. Other areas not enough.

Whichever way the rain is falling (or not) where you are, you might enjoy this. I don't know where it originated. Let me know if you do.

video

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Birds at Feeder - YES!

It just took a little patience and the birds have found my feeders. House finches dominate the feeders, but I have also seen house sparrows, cardinals and mourning doves. This morning a bright yellow goldfinch wanted to approach, but I was sitting outside enjoying coffee before work and scared him off. At least he knows the kitchen is open.

House Finches & Cardinal


House Finch


The biggest thrill came Saturday morning when I saw a solid gray bird approach the sunflower feeder. It quickly flew off before I could positively ID it, but I thought I knew what it was. I sat patiently, camera in hand and ready to shoot. Just as I thought, it was a Tufted Titmouse. It came back a couple more times and gave me good photo ops.

Tufted Titmouse

It has probably been three years since I've seen one, other than at my Mom's house in Louisville. Of course, she has a great location for seeing birds as her small back yard backs up to a protected creek with lots of trees and snags. She even has a Pileated Woodpecker flying through her backyard! I was lucky enough to see it when I visited the weekend before last.

Tufted Titmouse


Lucy is enjoying the new house with a lot more room to run around. But she still wonders why she has to view the wildlife from inside. Sorry little one. That's just the way it has to be :(




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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"Bring 'em Closer"

I took the plunge and bought a 2x teleconverter for my Canon DSLR. I bought a generic model for less than half the price of the Canon model. I wasn't sure that twice the price would be worth it so I started at the low end of the price range.

My telescopic lens has a 75 to 300 mm focal length, so this little baby will double it. This first picture is taken at the 75 mm length without the teleconverter. The red truck is about 150 feet away (although I am terrible at judging distances, but close enough.)


And this is with the teleconverter at 75mm focal length. Not too shabby. And it's lovely that the camera's auto-focus works just fine at this length. Actually, it's based more on aperture size, as I learn later on. At this focal length, the aperture wide open is 4. At a longer focal length, the maximum aperture value is 5.6. The teleconverter only auto-focuses at aperture values of 4.0 or "less".


So I took another picture at 300mm without the teleconverter. Works great for large objects, but my favorite subject is birds, not vehicles.


And with the teleconverter, this is the result.


Notice the lack of sharpness in the picture? Three issues. The first is that auto-focus doesn't work with the teleconverter at the longer focal length because the aperture size is smaller. So the lens has to be focused manually. That's not such a bad thing according to a photography instructor I learned from. He thinks it is better than relying on auto focus.

The second issue is the ability to keep the camera very very steady as you are shooting. This can be accomplished through not moving at all (yeah, right) or using a tripod and/or remote shutter release. In a lot of situations, I could live with that, but when you are photographing birds that move around quickly, I find a tripod to be a hindrance. Plus, if you have to manually focus, even if it takes just a second, the shot can be blown.

Finally, my lens doesn't have image stabilization which would correct some of the blur. My dream lens is one with image stabilization and up to a 400mm focal length. I don't think I'll be getting one of those very soon. The price is way more than the Canon DSLR camera itself cost.

So, while I'm glad I have it, I see that it will take a lot of practice and patience to take decent pictures with the teleconverter. Hopefully, I'll be able to post some "incredible" pictures soon.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bird Envy

It appears that the fellow two doors up from me has a monopoly on the birds. There are always birds at his feeders including lots of house finches, goldfinches, chickadees. Since my feeders have been up, I've had a rare pair of cardinals and one lone house finch with conjunctivitis. One of these days, I'm sure they will find their way over.


At least my fence looks much better than his !

This picture reminds me how badly I want an extender for my camera lens. I was thinking about it this morning and realized that I've made all the purchases planned for the house, and am way under budget. I was going to put the rest of it back into savings. I've done more than my fair share of stimulating the economy. Hmmm, maybe I'll hold a little back for a new toy.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Life Bird #100 !!!

And what a majestic bird it is: the GREAT BLUE HERON. It is a year-round resident in Missouri.  Fish is its primary diet and this 38" to 54" bird is found in a marsh habitat.  Wingspan is anywhere from 66" to 79".

I've seen this particular bird in a small pond near my home. It can usually be found standing on a rock in the pond looking for fish. In this picture, it is fishing from the edge of the pond.



I was getting ready to leave when it took flight! While it's not the best picture, I was thrilled to catch it in flight about to land on its favorite rock.


Thanks to my BOAF friends for ID confirmation and All About Birds for detailed information.
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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Chicken Little Update

Oh yes, it's a chicken. I saw the neighbor outside so I walked down the street and asked him. He said someone gave it to him so he has a chicken. He couldn't tell me if she has frizzle in her (as a friend suggested to me). It's just a chicken. And it's about one month old.  He feeds it and lets it wander around the yard and it sleeps in the shed at night. He's Russian or Bosnian or some eastern European nationality, I think. And he has a chicken. 

He also has a cute little girl.  I saw her in the window.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Chicken Little ???



It's been a long time since I've seen a chicken in its fancy clothes. The last time I saw a chicken it was wearing an egg/flour coat and sitting in a bucket. So I'm driving down the street, look over, and there is this chicken-like bird strutting around in a neighbor's yard.



I took these pictures (unfortunately they aren't very clear) because I couldn't figure out what this strange bird was. I am still confounded, but I swear it looks like a chicken. I never see it fly so I'm guessing clipped wings. It walks like I would imagine a chicken would walk. Do you think the kids got chicks at Easter?



I'm hoping to see a person outside the house so I can ask them what it is. In the meantime, what do you think?

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Where's Waldo

I'm sitting on my patio, enjoying the break in the horrific heat wave that had beset St Louis for the past week, when I heard this bird calling out over and over. I knew it was coming from the tree in front of me, but couldn't see it. Do you see the bird?



Finally, I could see the fluttering of wings ... it was a baby Robin. Look to the left side of the picture on the tree trunk.



He was screaming and screaming with no adults coming his way to feed him. But he did get around quite well despite his inability to fly. He left the tree and then hopped over to the patio. Wasn't happy there, so he spent a lot of time in the vinca.



He definitely has a good set of lungs. I never saw an adult come his way to feed him, but I do believe I heard him the next morning. Hopefully that's a good sign that he is on his way to becoming an adult bird.




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