Early Birds

They seemed to know something was coming so they were out early on seed patrol before the wind kicked up.  So was I in my makeshift bird blind with the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 at the ready.

This Common Grackle appeared to be waiting for his mate.  A large bronzed black bird with a large tail, long legs and an iridescent bluish glow on his head when the light is at the right angle, the smaller birds give him a wide birth.

Just getting a shot of these Carolina Chickadees is a challenge.  Very quick, flighty little birds, they grab a spot in a nearby tree, dart down to pick up a seed then fly back to almost exact same spot in the tree to break the shell and have a snack.  The trick is to focus on the bird when he first lands in the tree then hold the exposure and wait for him to return.  He almost always will.

The Chipping Sparrows strike me as very quiet, patient little birds who perch and watch for a while before going for a seed.  Then they’ll come back to the tree, hold the seed under a foot and pop it open with their bill.  After a snack, they’ll just perch and watch the action for a while.  Easy to get a shot of, we have lots of them here.

Another rather patient bird, the Dark Eyed Junkos are another of the year round residents here. I’ve always wondered why so many  people in Eastern North Carolina call them snow birds because we get so little snow every year.  I suppose it’s because, when it does snow, their dark feathers make them easy to spot.

The wind quickly began picking up as the Nor’easter took hold, the birds took cover and I headed for the house.  By late morning, the wind was clocking at 45 to 50 miles an hour as the storm began its trek up the eastern seaboard. Have a good week.  See you next time.

Photo Of The Week: Back To the Birds

Big Snow storms in Eastern North Carolina are rare but this time around, the TV weather readers were pretty convincing with all their dopplers, models and statistics. Rain, they said, would turn to freezing rain as the temperature dropped.  Then sleet would pile on followed by snow.  In all, two to four inches would accumulate before the storm petered out.  Doesn’t sound like much but 4 inches here is a pretty big deal.  Snow removal here is the month of July.  I’m an aging radio news veteran from the days when news on the radio was actually quite the norm and I remember well the hype that kicks in when snow appears in a weather forecast, but this time, even I bought in.  I rushed out and bought five gallons of gasoline for our generator.  Freezing rain almost always means power outages in the rural area where I live.

The gasoline went in my truck.  The storm fizzled.  We had maybe a trace of snow and sleet but that was it.  No eye popping winter vistas.  So, I ventured down to my makeshift bird blind and spent the day with the birds.

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A little snow on the River Birch Tree would have been a nice enhancement but you dance with what brung ya.  A sack of sunflower seeds scatterred on the ground around the trees always works and soon the Cardinals and the Gold Finches et al were grabbing them and flying into the tree to crack the shells and munch away.  So I got some pretty decent shots.  One or two might find their way onto my web site.  Not bad for plan B.

Here’s the gear list on these shots:  Nikon D750, 70-300mm telephoto, Aperture Priority, Spot Metering, f/11, iso 200.  Slik tripod.  See you next time.

 

Photo Of The Day: Iced In Junko

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Another shot from the recent ice storm here.  This Dark Eyed Junko was waiting to dart down to the ground below this River Birch Tree where I had spread a healthy amount of  black oiled sunflower seeds.  I was maybe 10 feet away in a makeshift bird blind with a Nikon D7100 fitted with a 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G lens.  I use the D7100 for most bird photography I do because of the crop factor involved in using a full frame lens on the small sensor camera. I’ve tried the Nikon 18-300mm but find the 70-300 far sharper.

The ice lingered for about a day until warmer temperatures brought more rain. What the Northeast has gotten in snow, we have gotten in rain. Eastern North Carolina to the coast is a virtual swamp because of the nonstop rain so other than during the ice event, I haven’t been out much working instead on a backlog of images.  I’m hoping for a dry spring but it seems unlikely. Thanks for the look and have a good week.

Photo Of The Day: The Christmas Card

Resident Reds   Posted to flickr November 20, 2014  I start thinking about the birds around this time every year when my Christmas Card comes to mind.  My attention wanes during the spring and summer when I am more focused on what we’re growing here and of course the beach and the sound which are always uppermost in my mind.

I use a photograph of a Cardinal on my Christmas Card every year which I send to old friends and clients and what bird better conveys the holiday season than a male Northern Cardinal in his new red suit.  These guys are my choice for this year.  They were braving the cold snap in a bare River Birch Tree here on the farm.  I caught them with a Nikon D7100 coupled to a Nikon 70-300 mm lens which on the small sensor D7100 is the equivalent of a 400 mm plenty of power to bring him up close and personal.  My cards won’t go out until the second week of December but for all of you, an early peek.

Need I say this photograph and the entire collection of Cardinals and hundreds of other shots   are available for cards or prints or framed shots etc via my web site.  Just click on “John Harding Art Prints” and off you go.

Forgive the plug. It pays the bills.

Have a Great Holiday Season.  See you next time.

Photo Of The Day: Snow Dweller

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Hope I’m not wearing you out with Cardinals.  I must have a hundred shots of them from the two winter storms we’ve had.  I did want to post this one though because it looks like he’s shed a tear.  Just an ice pellet that stuck just below his eye.  Nikon D7100. 300mm  Thanks for the look and have a great weekend.

Photo Of The Day: The Snow Flake

birds.096.edited_edited-1Of all the pictures I took of the recent Winter Snow Blast, and I took a lot, this is my favorite.  For starters, its a little male House Finch , a bird I had not seen on the farm in quite a while.  But suddenly, there he was along with his mate.  I zeroed in on him with my 300mm telephoto lens from my bird blind nearby.  He looked around a bit then he started looking up and he kept looking up.  My first thought was he was watching the snow coming down but then it dawned on me he appeared to be trying to get a look at the snowflake that had stuck on his head just above his beak.  He shook his head several times and looked back up  but the flake was still there. That’s when I snapped this picture.    Finally he seemed to accept the fact that the flake was not going away.  He darted to the ground below the River Birch Tree where I had spread some seed then flew back to his perch.  The flake was still there.  One of the little moments that makes wildlife photography so worthwhile.  Thanks for the look.  Have a Great Valentine’s Day, A Great Weekend and a Great Evening.

Nikon D7100/ Nikon 70-300mm lens