Hawkeye

After the presentation at Wild Birds Unlimited, we got an added bonus. Pete Griffing invited a couple of us into the back room for a close up session with one of the raptors.  We got to be up close and personal with the red-winged hawk that he brought and she was fabulous.

It is totally amazing to see animals like this so nearby.  Pete was very clear in letting people know that these are not house pets.  They may be more used to people than a fully wild bird but they can still easily tear someone up with the talons and sharp beaks if they are the least bit threatened.  We were only a few inches away but I definitely had a healthy respect for the power that could be unleashed if we weren’t careful.  I’m glad we had a handler who knew what he was doing and what to expect from this wonderful animal.

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
165mm @ f/8 – 1/40 sec – ISO 1600

#Alpharetta #CharlieElliottWildlifeCenter #GeorgiaDepartmentOfNaturalResources #hawk #PeteGriffin #raptor #raptors #RedTailedHawk #WildBirdsUnlimited #Georgia #WithMyTamron #nature

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Red-tailed Hawk

On Saturday, we went over to Wild Birds Unlimited in Alpharetta to listen to Pete Griffon from the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center talk about raptors.  Pete brought three owls, a Screech, Barred and a Great Horned owl and a Red-tailed hawk to show the group.  It was a great presentation and everyone enjoyed learning about these magnificent birds.

The animals that are kept at the wildlife center are all victims of some accident or physical issue that prevents them from being released back into the wild.  It is very sad to hear how many beautiful, wild animals are injured because of the carelessness of man.  At least we can learn more about them and hopefully, be more respectful so that this happens less often.

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
300mm @ f/8 – 1/20 sec – ISO 1250

#Alpharetta #CharlieElliottWildlifeCenter #GeorgiaDepartmentOfNaturalResources #hawk #PeteGriffon #raptor #raptors #RedTailedHawk #WildBirdsUnlimited #Georgia #WithMyTamron #nature

Mindfulness

Yesterday, I spent the morning at a Musician’s Retreat at my church.  The group consisted of choir members, accompanist, instrumentalists and music ministers from the parish.  There were two speakers who had topics that I first thought were unrelated but, which I later discovered had a big connection.

The first speaker, Karen Thomas (shown above), Music Minister at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center, talked about finding space to listen to God as it relates to music.  The second talk, given by Ron Dennis, was about a method (the Alexander Technique) on using correct posture to improve the way your body works.  Although both of these topics can easily be related to music and singing, I didn’t see the deeper connection until later.

During Karen’s presentation, we had a short period where she asked us to take a time of silence and practice clearing our minds and being open.  During this time, someone arrived late and made a little noise on entering the room.  I found myself growling in my mind and wanting to scold the person for interrupting our quiet time and then I discovered a message in that reaction.  I remembered lessons I had heard before about the importance of being present for people even when our first reaction is to see them as an interruption.  Hey, I doing something here – don’t bother me!  That is often the reaction but, what if we instead put aside our tasks and were attentive to others?  The world would be a better place if more people were able to do that.

I found that the second presentation on posture was also about being aware, being mindful of how we carry ourselves.  We get into many habits that seem natural but really are not and it takes effort to break out of these.  I find that my photography is another exercise in mindfulness.  I must make an effort to observe what is around me and think about how I can compose a pleasing image of what I am seeing.  At the same time, I can get absorbed in looking for the shot and forget that others are there as well.  It’s a balancing act that takes work but, I think the outcome is always better when we make the effort to be mindful of our surrounding and the people who we are with and give each their due attention.

Musician’s Retreat
St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church
Alpharetta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
270mm @ f/6.3 – 1/25 sec – ISO 800

End of the line

I was watching this woodpecker work his way up a dead tree.  He was hidden behind the leaves of surrounding vegetation and I thought there was no way I would get  a good view of him but he kept going up.  Finally he reached the top and popped his head out from behind the leaves.  I guess he thought he was still protected or he just liked the clear view of the surroundings as he stayed in this spot for quite a while.

I guess patience pays off now and again!

Red-bellied Woodpecker
(Melanerpes carolinus )
Alpharetta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
350mm @ f/8 – 1/40 sec – ISO 200

Here’s how it’s done, son

One of the neat things about bird-watching this time of year is that there are so many baby birds around.  I was watching this pair of Downy woodpeckers and followed how one of them seemed to be feeding the other.

Birds-4715

At first, I didn’t know if it was just friendly sharing of food but on closer inspection, you can see that one (the one with a bright red stripe on the back of his head) is an adult and the other is a juvenile.  You can see the pale red patch on the top of the one to the right of this shot.  That’s the baby and it seems that he was hungry because they kept doing a dance on the side of the tree until Dad forked over some food.

Once again, I learn a little about nature while trying to get some good images.  What a great way to spend an afternoon.

Downy Woodpecker – Adult Male and Juvenile
(Picoides pubescens)
Alpharetta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
400mm @ f/8 – 1/40 sec – ISO 200

Gotcha!

So, I just pounded my head on the side of a tree to get some bugs to peek out of their hiding place then, Zap! I snag one with my tongue and there’s a mid-day snack.  The life of a woodpecker is so glamorous.

I don’t think I ever gave any thought to how a bird would snag a moving insect.  Kind of thought it would be like the Karate Kid catching a fly with chopsticks.  It’s more like an anteater burrowing into a termite mound but actually, the woodpecker’s tongue is like a spear with barbs on it.  They impale their prey with the tongue and the barbs pull the insects out of their holes and into the bird’s mouth.

The wonders of nature are all around us.  I love learning about this as part of my photographic journey.

Red-bellied Woodpecker
(Melanerpes carolinus )
Alpharetta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/8 – 1/15 sec – ISO 200

Pine Warbler

It is amazing what diversity of birds are visible in Georgia and how you see different species appearing in one area and then not in the next neighborhood over.  We went over to our friends home in Alpharetta to see if I could catch a shot of the yellow-variant of a Red-bellied Woodpecker that they have been seeing.  That rare bird did not show but we got a range of other birds some of which, like this beautiful yellow Pine Warbler, I never see at my house in Roswell.

We got a nice variety of birds who came up to the feeders and posed in the nearby trees.  There was also a great symphony of bird calls which ebbed and flowed with the birds moving around.  You could tell if a bird of prey passed by when the songs suddenly stopped and then soon after, the sound would rise and the little birds would quickly re-appear.

I guess this wouldn’t be an exciting Memorial Day for too many people but I sure enjoyed it.

Pine Warbler
(Setophaga pinus )
Alpharetta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/8 – 1/30 sec – ISO 200