Good news, but potentially bad news too

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Despite the chill in the air, the little ruby-throated hummers were active at our feeders over the past few days. This one doesn’t seem to mind temperatures in the high 50s under overcast skies nearly as much as I do. He’s wearing his summer colors, while I am wearing my winter socks and warm sweater. (Sigh)! Apparently he enjoys the ease of perching on the new feeders as he sips sugar water. That is good news that cheers me immensely. The little summers are such a joy to see.

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And multiple members of the goldfinch family have been enjoying their tube feeder and visit often. Here is one resting on “shepherd’s crook” between visits to the feeder.

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The bad news is that I haven’t seen the bluebirds for several days. They have deserted the nesting box. I thought I glimpsed one at the new box late yesterday, only to discover it wasn’t a bluebird, it was this bird:

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A wren! Now wrens are cute little birds, but they’re not noted for their kindness to other small birds. I’ve never before seen a wren in the backyard buffet. A new bird can be interesting to watch, but, given the reputation of wrens, I fear for the fate of my beloved bluebirds. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, “When nesting, wrens become very aggressive, often chasing other birds out of nesting sites and sometimes destroying other birds’ eggs.” Does anyone have any advice about how to handle with this situation?

I will say, there is never a dull moment in the backyard buffet!

See you soon. Hopefully with good news!
~Trail Walker

Hummingbirds lead perilous lives!

It’s easy to be charmed by the antics of these tiny birds, especially when they put on a show, and that’s what this one was doing in my back yard today. Let’s sit for a bit on the patio bench and watch.
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Uh-oh! Watch out, Hummer. You’re not the only one that likes the sugar water. You’ve got competition!

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Lots of competition!

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August is not my favorite month because that’s when the yellow-jackets and wasps discover the back yard buffet, and they love sugar water. It doesn’t seem really fair to me. The hummers will soon begin their fall migration. They will head south…very far south, to their warm winter home somewhere in Central America. It’s a long and difficult journey from the south shore of Lake Erie over the Gulf of Mexico, and our tiny friends, the hummers, need plenty of nourishment to prepare for the rigors of migration.

Unfortunately, in the middle of August, hundreds of “bees” (yellow jackets, wasps, etc.) try to take over the sugar water feeders, but hummingbirds are feisty little critters, and I’ve watched them chase off the hungry hordes like this one eventually did today! Hummingbirds may be small, but they are not easily intimidated.

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I can’t help feeling sorry for the hummingbirds at this time of year, but I also feel a little sorry for myself. After mixing up the sugar water and filling the feeders, a day or two later I have to spill out the water, and clean and refill the feeders that are clogged up with the bodies of bees! What a waste! I don’t like bees any more than the hummingbirds do, but I definitely enjoy watching the hummers.

That’s all for today. See you soon.
Trail Watcher

Back yard birding

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Oh no, I messed up! I promised myself that I would post at least three times each week, but there has been so much happening recently that I couldn’t keep up. Mea culpa! It probably doesn’t bother anyone except me, but it really bothers me. So tonight I am posting some pictures I took today, and tomorrow I will get back on my Tuesday, Thursday, and weekend schedule.  

We purchased a swamp milkweed plant on Saturday, hoping to attract more butterflies, but today the only butterfly that landed in our back yard was this little one. Except for a very few, I can’t identify butterflies. Hopefully I will learn. I’ve been told that this is possibly a Peck’s skipper butterfly, so I will go with that. Here are a few images I captured this morning when it was sunny.  (The skipper and the pink flower were taken with my 50mm lens -more about that in a future post).

 

After supper, I returned to my bench in the back yard, hoping to see a hummer or two and possibly a monarch butterfly. Got the hummingbird. They were very happy to pose, especially this little female, but the butterflies were nowhere in sight tonight. That milkweed plant wasn’t earning its keep, but here is the lady  hummer. She perched in my neighbor’s tree and surveyed the situation and then made repeated visits to the feeder. The male came too, but he didn’t hold still for his photo opp.

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So that was today in the back yard. I’m glad you came by for a visit.

See you tomorrow!
Trail Walker

Birding (and more) from the backyard bench

My camera, a Nikon D7100, gives me the option to choose between two image areas”

  • DX crop (24×16) uses the full 24mm x 16mm image area, uncropped.
  • 1.3X (18x12mm) crops each image using an 18mm x 12mm image area.

Do I understand the math of these options?
I recommend David Busch’s Nikon D7100 Guide to Digital SLR Photography.Truthfully no, but I have a fantastic handbook on the D7100 by David Busch that says one argument for the 1.5X crop factor is that it “transforms any telephoto lens you have into a longer lens, which can be useful for sports, wildlife photography, and other endeavors that benefit from more reach.” of course, there’s more to it than that, and not everyone agrees, but, being a bird (and other wildlife) photographer, I decided it would be worth investigating.

This morning, instead of hitting the trail in search of photo opps, I walked out to our back patio, sat down on the bench and spent a half hour playing around with the settings. The greatest test of the added reach the 1.5X crop factor afforded me was these two hummingbirds. For some reason, the hummers have stopped coming to our sugar water feeders; however, they still fly through the back yard and love to rest (as hummingbirds do) on the tip-top branches of our neighbor’s apple tree where they have a good view of the feeders and any back yard action. That’s where this little one was sitting when I took his picture:

It’s certainly not a closeup or even a good picture, but as a capture of a tiny bird about 18 feet (or so) from my lens, it’s better than anything I got with out using the crop factor. In my half hour of bench time, I captured the following images using the added reach afforded by the crop factor:

A note about the chipmunk: Chipmunks cant’s fly, but they can climb!!As we all know, chipmunks can’t fly, but they can climb. This summer my husband transformed an old step ladder into a bird feeding station. The birds like it, as do the squirrels and chipmunks. This little chippy jumped onto the bottom step and dashed upward to reach the big blocks of seeds (designed for the woodpeckers). As you can see, he was enjoying his meal.

That’s it for my first experiment with the 1.5X crop factor. Did it give my camera more reach? Yes. Is it “magical?” Maybe not, but I did get closer pictures with it than I have without it, so I guess I will keep on using it. It does lower the resolution of my images from 24mm to about 15-16, but since I usually don’t print my picture, that’s not a great concern, just something to keep in mind when I might want to print them for a contest or a gift or something.

So there you have it. If you have any thoughts to share about this topic, please add them to the comment section.

Thanks for visiting.
Carolyn aka Skip

 

Rainy day blues

Have you ever thought about how inaccurate that phrase is? The rainy day grays would be a better description in my opinion. Sitting at my computer this afternoon, I glance out the window above me, and what I see is gray, not blue. Gray is the color of rainy days, and a very accurate description for today. Two days ago, we celebrated a perfect, sunny-blue-sky day with the temperature topping out at 80 degrees Fahrenheit…our highest so far this spring. It seemed almost like summer, and a marvelous antidote to our long, snowy, and record-breaking frigid winter. A mere 48 hours later, we have plunged back into mid-March. That is to say: wet, chilly, overcast, and basically gray.

However, and this is my point here, despite the grayness of the weather and sky, I’m feeling sunny-blue-sky joyful. Although that may seem contradictory, my mood isn’t determined by the weather. Four things happened today that have me feeling sunny-blue-sky joyful:

  1. A good friend needed a ride to a doctor appointment. Taking her there got me out of the house, and we thankfully escaped the worst of the wet weather…driving between the cloudbursts. While I waited for her to finish her appointment, I encountered another patient who was waiting for a ride home. My conversation with this amazing 94-year-young stranger warmed my heart. That’s a story for another day, but I just hope our conversation blessed her as much as it did me.
  2. Out of the blue (a much better description for today), another good friend called with the news that she had made a big pot of chicken rice soup and wanted to give me some…my second mood brightener of the day, and a very tasty lunch when I arrived back home.
  3. The third source of my joy was the birds that visited my back yard “bird buffet,” 10 different species in all, and I got decent pictures of eight of them. They seemed positively energized and delighted by the falling rain and new bird seed waiting for them at the buffet.
  4. And to top it all, a hummingbird stopped by to sip fresh sugar water. It’s our first hummer of the summer (forgive me for being a little silly, but hummingbirds have that effect on me). Here he is. Doesn’t he look happy? These are far from the sharpest hummingbird photos I’ve ever taken, but capturing tiny, quick-moving birds is one thing cloudy gray skies don’t do well.

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So that’s my day.  For the record:
  • Exercise: No walk today. Too much rain and too little time!
  • Weather: In a word, wet. Another word: cool.
  • It has been a day full of blessings for which I am thankful.
  • If you want to see the other bird buffet visitors, click here. They are posted on my nature blog.

Thanks for stopping by!

Skip aka Carolyn

Long time between posts!

Life gets in the way of blogging and photography sometimes, and you (or at least I) can’t keep up with everything. So I have been pretty much absent from this photoblog for some time now. Can I come back on a full time basis? Truthfully, I don’t know, but a lot depends on the ease of posting from Lightroom to WordPress. If I could post directly to my WordPress photoblogs from within Lightroom, like I can with Flickr and Smugmug, life, or at least blogging, would be much simpler. Does anyone know if that can be done? If you do, please reply in the comments. Meanwhile, I would like to share several photos I took this morning.

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Bird’s eye view!2013_07_18_backyard_007

That’s all for today. See you soon.

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