A little fast action

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Mr. Red-bellied Woodpecker discovered a cache of bark butter bits in the old tree stump and wasted no time flying in to get his share before they were all gone. I was standing nearby, hopefully out of sight, because I have been trying to learn the best settings on my camera to get action shots of the birds. It is a lesson that I am not learning fast enough for my liking. I have hundreds of near misses, but very few that I really like enough to share.

So there I stood, watching Mr. RBW feast on his treat when he suddenly took off, and this time I was ready. Zoom…and there he went. Obviously he has been taking classes in aerodynamics and knows just how to take off without losing the bark butter bit grasped in his beak. I wasn’t sure I got the picture until I opened it up on my computer. Learning is a slow process, and practice doesn’t always make for perfect results, but this time I am smiling at the outcome. His takeoff photo is even sharper than the shot of him hanging onto the post. I think I was a little shaky with the camera as I waited to see what he would do.

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Thanks for stopping by today. See you soon!
Trail Walker

Here she is: The red-eyed vireo

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In yesterday’s blog post about Friday Faces I mentioned that I saw my very first red-eyed vireo while walking on the trail through the bog. Another blogger commented that s/he had never seen a vireo, so, at that blogger’s request, here it is: momma vireo sitting on her nest. It’s not a great picture (not even a very good one), because she was hidden away among lots of leafy green branches. Sunlight filtering through the leaves gave it a green cast, but given the difficulties, I am happy to have a picture of this pretty little bird.

For the past four weeks I have been busy with Blogging 101, an online course for bloggers who want to improve their blog. With a new blogging assignment every day, there hasn’t been much time to go on my usual photowalks, so I have actually taken only a few pictures during these weeks. Hopefully normal photowalking will resume next week…if it stops raining and we aren’t flooded out.

UPDATE ON THE VIREO

Before the rain finally stopped yesterday (Sunday), I went back to the vireo’s nest to see if I could capture a few more/better pictures. I’m going to include them in my weekly photo update (my new blog feature starting today), but I thought this sweet little bird deserved a spotlight all her own. Here are a few new pictures of her at the nest: (Click on the first picture to scroll through the gallery).

I was excited to get a second chance to show you her red eye.
Pretty neat, isn’t it?

See you soon if the rain stays away!

Carolyn aka Skip

Shucks! I know I’m cute!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Is that a cute little chickadee, or what?

I’m doing a little experimenting again. Still trying to post from my March SmugMug gallery to this blog. I chose this little bird as the picture to post. It worked, but they don’t make it easy. It’s so easy to post to facebook and twitter. Why not WordPress? If anyone has an answer. Let me know please! I’m off to experiment some more.

Skip aka Carolyn

P.S. After another hour or so of fiddling around, several revisions, and with a helpful suggestion from my computer consultant (my adult granddaughter),the problem is solved to my satisfaction. I can grab a link to a picture in my SmugMug gallery and embed it here in my blog where you can click on the picture to go to my SmugMug gallery to see related pictures (if you should want to). I do not have to go through the time-consuming process of importing the pictures to the WordPress image gallery. I’m now smiling from ear-to-ear! This makes photo blogging much more do-able!

Spring has gone missing!

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I wonder where it went and when it will return? Last week we were basking in sunshine and wonderfully warm days. Trees and flowers burst into blossoms. I saw an oriole, a rose-breasted grosbeak, and a few ducklings on the bog. And I concluded that the long (very long) and slow (very slow) winter were finally drawing to a close. And then something strange happened. In the words of the cashier at Lowe’s Hardware Store where I purchased some birdseed and new feeders today, “We went backwards!” Back to winter…or so it seems. Rain, sleet, even a few snowflakes, and temperatures nearing the freezing mark…what a wakeup call! “Dont become complacent!” it seems to say. “Be thankful for the sights and sounds of spring; for the warm breezes, colorful flowers, and the sweet scent of blossoming fruit trees; but don’t take them for granted! Remember to “Take time to smell the roses.” Make the most of every moment. Sunshine and blue skies are not a guarantee. They are a gift!

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This has been a public service announcement by Carolyn aka Skip

Red, white, black, and prehistoric

The pileated woodpecker was in the park today. Because it has been more than a month since I last saw him, I was pretty excited. I thought perhaps he had moved on, so spotting him today was a treat. I have an iBird app on my phone that includes the songs of many different birds, so when I caught sight of him, I dug out my phone, opened the app, and played the song of the pileated woodpecker. To my surprise, he reacted by swooping across the trail in front of me, landing on a nearby tree. Eventually he flew out of my sight and up to the top of the sledding hill. I followed and found him again, bagging a few more pictures. In several of the pictures, I was actually above the W.P. because I was on the observation platform at the top of the hill, and he flew to one of the trees slightly below me. From that point, I had a pretty amazing view of Mr. Woodpecker! If you want to see larger pictures, click on one of them. I think the pileated is a pretty fascinating bird.Even on a cloudy and chilly day like today, spring photo walks can be filled with fun.I hope you enjoy the gallery.

Carolyn aka Skip

P.S. In the title, “prehistoric” refers to the look of the bird. To me, it looks like a throwback to prehistoric times.

Hobnobbing with the chickadees

The chickadees in my neighborhood park are well-acquainted with my habit of carrying sunflower seeds in the pocket of my jacket, a fact that brings them flying when they see me tramping down the trail. Yesterday I actually had one land on my hat, but usually they just light on a tree branch or bush nearby, hoping that I have brought them a treat.

Today I had a different kind of chickadee experience. It seems that chickadees are attracted by the song of the Carolina wren. A photographer friend told me she had seen the wrens recently in the area around the evergreen trees, so I headed down that trail. Not seeing any, I got out my phone, opened the iBird app, and played the Carolina wren song. I hoped to see a wren appear among the evergreens, but what appeared instead were, you guessed it, chickadees, and they posed quite willingly on the branches of the evergreen trees.

Unfortunately, as the sun was shining brilliantly (a novelty for March here on the south shore of Lake Erie) and the chickadees had perched on the dark evergreen trees, the camera metered for the dark green trees and completely blew out the white feathers on the chickadees, a fact I didn’t realize it until I saw the pictures on my computer. So today I am sharing with you this picture, one of only two that were salvageable from the 10 or so that I shot today. Lesson learned…and shared with my “blog buddies.”

Until next time…
Carolyn aka Skip

Great horned owl

A great horned owl is sitting on a nest in the park where I usually take my photowalks. Last week it was pointed out to me, but the owl was not in sight, although others had seen it. Today I took a few pictures of the nest, came home, and brought them up on my computer screen, and I could see the little tufts on the top of her head. Can you see them?

According to the bird app on my computer, the owl lays one to five dull white eggs in an abandoned nest made by hawks or crows, which this nest is. She will incubate the eggs for 28-35 days, and it is mostly the female who does the hard work of sitting on the eggs until they hatch. If all goes well, we could see at least one nestling in four weeks or so.

I find that exciting, and I will keep you updated.
Carolyn aka Skip

Unusual pose for a nuthatch

Walking in the park, I am much more likely to see the nuthatches (and there are hundreds of them) land in a tree and walk down the trunk. That is typical behavior for the nuthatch, but this fellow decided to pose a little differently for his portrait. I wonder if he is more vain than the rest of them?

Carolyn aka Skip

This bold nuthatch was determined to get more than his share of the sunflower seeds.

A happy surprise!

For years I have been walking past this bird nesting box, stopping occasionally to check it out. Never have I seen any inhabitants…until today that is! I tried to creep closer, hoping for more detail, but screech owls are apparently very shy. At least this one is. As soon as I approached the box, he dropped out of sight. I will try again tomorrow.

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Thanks for stopping by today. See you soon.
Carolyn aka Skip

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