I’ve been wanting to add some capability to document what’s happening on the far side of the bog for a while now, and I finally did it! This week I added a Canon SX60 HS super zoom to my arsenal. 65 X’s of pure zooming pleasure! I mounted this new camera on a flash bracket directly above my big white warbler rig and as it turns out, this is a fantastic two camera setup. I’ve had so much fun shooting video with this new camera that I haven’t even really tested it’s picture taking ability. Now I just need to figure out how to upload videos in such a way that the image quality isn’t completely degraded, dang youtube. To get an idea of how far out I’m shooting, be sure to watch all the way to the end of the video.
Edit: Ahah! After you click play a little gear symbol appears at the bottom of the youtube window. Click that and then select your resolution. I lernt sumthin’!
My morning route around the bog basically doubles back over itself. It was carefully mapped out this way to put me in front of as much good light as possible. On Sunday as I turned around at the halfway point I considered making a left and heading back to the car, there weren’t any birds over there two hours ago anyway, I thought to myself stupidly. And then I wised up, fall migration will be over soon and you’ll wish you hadn’t skipped out early today. So I continued on down the path of maximum birdness until I reached that spot where, earlier, there were no birds. And guess what? There still ain’t none, Grrr!!! I could have been half way home by now! I should have trusted my instincts, they never let me down. Now I AM going home; to get to the car from here I basically have to go around behind this spot where I was just looking for birds. Once I got back there I couldn’t help but notice… there were birds everywhere!!! Warblers, titmice, chickadees, White-throated Sparrows, and Towhees! Like I always say, trust your instincts! These Towhees sat there and preened for ten minutes while I gawked at them. I even ran out of film halfway through and frantically reloaded!
A while ago we looked at the male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, a big, beautiful black and white and red dude. This is the female with her earthy brown and white tones, and she’s a beaut too. This is a bird that used to catch me off guard all the time. Keeping in mind that grosbeaks are a relatively large bird, with her unique beak and distinctively raptor-like coloration, my first thought was always New hawk species! What should I name her!?!?
I could go on and on and on about the wonderful world of warblers. Oh yeah, I already do that. Anyway, continuing my fantastic fall migration, here is the Blackpoll Warbler. Just like all the other warblers, blackpolls are primarily insectivorous, but this time of year they go absolutely bananas for fruit! When they’ve got a face full of fruit they don’t care about anything else, which allows me to get real close.
American Coots are notoriously weak flyers, so when I spotted this old coot enjoying a nice stretch, I immediately assumed he was trying to takeoff! This coot codgery remained surprisingly calm in my presence last weekend and stayed near the shore while I made some photos. Usually they would be a big sloppy mess of flapping, flopping mud hens trying desperately to get away!
Every summer my little squirrel pal, Sunday, disappears. Vanishes without a trace, leaving me to fear the worst. And then in the fall she shows back up again, at the exact same time as one or more tiny little squirrel shaped fuzzballs. This year she brought me two of ‘em and as usual, they knew exactly where to go!
It was a crisp, cool morning, not a cloud in the dark blue sky and just a wisp of wind. A perfect opportunity to sneak out early for lunch at the bog. The goldfinches wanted to play hide-and-seek but sorry fellas, I’m not interested, looking for warblers. My oldest nemesis, a jumpy little Ruby-crowned Kinglet, popped out of a bush to taunt me, I’m not wasting an entire lunch break to chase your fuzzy butt all over the bog! I don’t even check to see if people can hear me talking to the birds anymore. As I continued down the path, of course that Ruby followed me, I wondered how long it had been since I’ve seen his cousin, the Golden-crowned Kinglet. It’s been a few years, I’d love to see one them right about now. And there she was in a bush just up ahead! Every bit as jumpy and impossible to photograph as her cousin Ruby, this Golden suddenly did something miraculous. She perched! For two whole minutes she sat perfectly still while I snapped away! After she was convinced that I got my shot, she went back to hopping around with Ruby and I hopped on down the trail, happy as a lark!
This is my little pin striped pal, the Black-and-white Warbler. He’s not quite like the other warblers in that he prefers foraging for food on the sides of trees. It was for this reason that he was originally classified as a creeper, but eventually he was correctly reclassified as a warbler. This isn’t one of those birds you go looking for, he’ll find you, usually by crawling around from the back side of a tree trunk when you least expect it.
At fifty feet I’ll start to think about taking a photo of that bird, especially if it’s uncommon, but definitely if it’s unknown. These are low resolution photos for identification purposes only. Forty feet, thirty feet, same deal, I’ll take some id shots but now I’m also trying to figure out what that bird likes and dislikes, how tolerant will he be of the enormous human creeping ever closer. Twenty feet, he likes that I’m quiet and not making any sudden movements, I might get a pretty good shot from here. Fifteen feet, we’ve bonded and now we’re pals, this is the money shot. Ten feet, now I’m too close, my camera may or may not focus at this range and he’ll probably come even closer leaving me with nothing to do but watch. I knew he was new, I spied a special sparrow. Little did I know though, that I wasn’t supposed to just walk up and introduce myself to this incredibly shy Lincoln’s Sparrow. What can I say, I got a way with birds I guess.
Here’s a bright-eyed, bushy tailed female Chestnut-sided Warbler. Well, maybe not bushy tailed, but I do love the white eyeliner as well as the stunning olive-green back of this bird. The adult male has a golden crown, a cool black mask and bold chestnut brown streaks on either side. I’ve only caught a few glimpses of him and managed just a couple blurry butt shots as he darts away, but you know I’ll keep trying to capture that dude.
The Tennessee Warblers are trending at the bog right now, and by that I mean they are all over the place! From high in the trees to down low in the bushes, hopping from limb to limb in search of food. Funny little warblers, they prefer to stay in a seemingly perpetual state of locomotion, stopping only briefly to investigate the sound of my camera. I’ve always felt like the fall migration was a big celebration for warblers and these little dudes epitomize that feeling; fun and food come first for this bird.
I was chasing this dang warbler all over the bog last weekend and the whole time I’m thinking out loud to myself, I’ve got a million Yellow-rumped Warbler photos, why am I wasting so much valuable time on this one!?!? Well… because it’s a Cape May Warbler, said my subconscious, a bird that you’ve never seen before, and now you’ve got her photograph! Sometimes when you’re talking to yourself, it pays to listen!
It was just a few short weeks ago that Carl the cardinal was persuading his girlfriend to come onto the deck for some peanuts… and now she won’t leave! I was sitting out there last evening when birds vs. squirrel happened. Gotta love peanut time!
Winter, winter, winter Hi there! Winter, winter, winter Hi there! Winter, winter, winter Hi there! This chipmunk was clearly concerned about the encroaching winter as he hurriedly scampered back and forth carrying acorns to his den, stopping only to look both ways before crossing the path and to say hello to the photographer.
Ever heard a goldfinch giggle? The goldfinch giggle is a phenomenon that occurs when a world-class wilderness explorer is standing right next to a treasury of goldfinches and doesn’t even realize it. I’ve heard it many times. They can hardly contain themselves and eventually one of them lets out a little goldfinch snort and soon after that they are all flying away, giggling! Missing so many golden opportunities does not make me giggle. That pun however, does! Get it? Goldfinch? Golden opportunity? Wow, tough crowd!
The first thing you’ll notice about Magnolia Warblers is how small they are. Tiny! Then you’ll realize how friendly they are, constantly peeking out of the bushes as if they’re taunting you into a game of hide-and-seek. Don’t fall for it though, you’ll lose every time! Next, you’ll start to feel really good about yourself, and then just downright happy! And finally you’ll wonder why you waited so long to spot your first warbler. That’s just the way it is with warblers.