Eastern Towhee

The towhee is one of my favorite local birds not only because of it’s beautiful coloring but also because of it’s call.  I have been told that it is not good to imitate bird calls because this makes the bird think there is another of their kind competing for territory.  Not sure if that is completely true but I can’t resist answering their calls and hearing them return the song.

I had more of a challenge getting a good shot of this bird than I was expecting.  They seem to be very aware of my presence and quite skittish when anything moves nearby.  I sometimes have trouble distinguishing the towhee from a robin when sighting them from a distance.  The coloring is similar but the towhee has a much more slender build and has a white under-side where the robin is mostly orange underneath.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/9 – 1/100 sec – ISO 800

Advertisements

Lots of Baby Birds

I’ve been watching the birds in my backyard and spending most of the time looking at the feeders I have out.  There are lots of interesting birds that come visit the suet and seed feeders but there are also some that prefer to stay on the ground.  The Brown Thrashers seem to like the ground most you see them jumping about looking for insects more than on the feeders.

I discovered that there must be a nest at the edge of my yard because there are 2 fledglings there who hop about and flap their wings waiting for mom and dad to come feed them.  The babies are out of the nest and able to fly but they still seem to prefer food delivered directly to them.

Birds-4097.jpg

I also noticed a behavior that I’m not sure why it happens.  The babies will lay flat on the ground and spread their wings out, looking as though they were injured.  I would think they are either trying to cool off or rid themselves of some kind of insects. They will lay like this for a good while and then jump up and hop away.

It really is amazing how much there is to see just going out the back door.

Brown Thrasher and young
Roswell, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/14 – 1/125 sec – ISO 800

Mike Moats Macro Workshop

This weekend is another opportunity for me to learn photographic technique from a master.  In this case, the master is Mike Moats and the subject is Macro photography.

I have been following Mike through his Facebook page and his blog: tinylanscapes.wordpress.com.  Finally, I have the chance to meet him in person and learn some of the secrets that make him the “Master of Macros”.

Today was primarily classroom instruction with some hands-on time at the end of the day.  We will return tomorrow to get some more time and hopefully more practical instruction on how to get better macro images.  I’m definitely looking forward to it!

Mike Moats Macro Boot Camp
Peachtree City, Georgia

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF Micro-Nikkor
105mm @ f/40 – 1/2 sec – ISO 200

Red-headed Woodpecker

I didn’t realize how many woodpeckers we have right in my own backyard.  I was actually trying to capture a different one when this specimen came into view.  The one I had seen earlier was a Red-bellied woodpecker but this is the red-headed variety.  The two are similar but the red-bellied one has red on the back of the head only.

All of the woodpeckers seem to be quite fond of suet feeders but they are also easy to scare away.  At first, this one landed on the side of the dogwood tree where my suet feeder hangs but when he spotted me, zipped around the back side.  You can see he peeked around the side in the first image and only hopped out after a while of checking the situation first.

Birds-4061

I call this bird “he” but since the plumage of the male and female of this species are the same, I don’t know which this is.  I’m sure the birds can tell the difference so, I guess that’s all that counts.

Red-headed Woodpecker
Melanerpes erythrocephalus

Roswell, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/9 – 1/100 sec – ISO 800

King of Cades Cove

This is the reason that many people go to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  It’s the place to go see black bears!  We were lucky enough to see several, including this one who was the cause of many a tourist to go wandering through the meadow.  This is the same spot where I got the coyote who was nearby.

It is always amazing to me that there are so many people who don’t seem to understand what nature is and how dangerous wild animals can be.  There were people who tried to cart little children and even baby strollers out into the field where the coyote and bear were.  One of the Park Rangers was telling us about how often they get questions about when the bears are let out and brought back in for the day.  Some people think nature and Disney World are the same thing.

I’m rather glad that this was not one of the mothers with cubs that are in the park right now.  I saw one with the cubs climbing up and down trees but that was quite a way off.  If there had been a scene like that with clueless people nearby, I can just imagine a mother bear protecting cubs going after some people.  Fortunately, that did not happen on this visit.

Smoky Mountains-3735
Mama bear waiting for her cub to come down

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/8 – 1/125 sec – ISO 400

North America’s smallest woodpecker

I’m learning quite a lot as I have been working with my new Tamron lens and watching the birds in my back yard.  This is one of the visitors that I have been trying to get a good image of recently.  This is a female Downy Woodpecker (the male has a red patch on the back of the head) that I was watching for a while.  They seem to be quite aware of my presence and often hide by circling around to the back of trees or fly off quickly when they see the slightest motion.

Fortunately for me, they seem to really like suet feeders and though they are easily spooked, they keep coming back.  I watched for a while and could see a pattern of how they usually approached the feeder the same way.  If I set up on the tree that they would land on before going to the feeder, I could catch a few shots before they jumped over there.

The other thing I learned is the mosquitoes will stay off of your arms and legs when you spray but they don’t mind biting you right through your shirt if you don’t spray that also.  Boy am I itchy!  Need to remember that for next time.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/8 – 1/100 sec – ISO 800

The Stare Down

It is very interesting to see how the creatures of nature react when a person sits out in their environment.  In the case of birds, many of them are easily scared away by the slightest move.  This is frustrating because I want the birds to stay around.  On the other hand, squirrels are happy to stick around forever.  They are hoping that I will go away so they can rummage through the bird feeder.

I was not looking to do squirrel portraits but there he was and since we were just staring at each other, why not?  I guess you can’t argue with nature.  Take what you get and it can turn out to be better than you thought.

Oh, by the way, I won the stare down (kind of).  The squirrel finally gave up and waited until I packed up my tripod and left before he feasted on sunflower seeds.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/7.1 – 1/125 sec – ISO 200