Elusive

Blue Jays are a strange breed.  They are so very common yet, I have been struggling to get a good shot of one.  You would think that a relatively large bird, that is usually pretty aggressive with other birds would be an easy subject but, not these guys.  They spook at the slightest breeze.  They are kind of bullies at some points but I have seen them get scared off by sparrows.

They also have a very wide variety of calls.  One of these seems to be an imitation of a hawk – maybe in hopes of scaring other birds away.  I can always tell when they are around but every time I go out to get a shot, they scatter.  While the other birds slowly return to the feeders, the Jays stay out at the edges of the yard.  They fly up to the top of the trees and if I move at all they fly off.  I got this one by setting up at a spot near the yard-favorite suet feeder and snapping a shot with my cable release.  (He flew off immediately at the sound of the shutter of course!)

As soon as I went inside, there were 3 Blue Jays lined up to get to the feeder.  They are really bid teases!

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
280mm @ f/11 – 1/60 sec – ISO 400

Mississippi Kite

I experienced a new bird breed yesterday when visiting the State Botanical Garden in Athens, Georgia.  Joyce saw this elegant bird flying by first and we spotted where he landed, high on a bare branch.  It was very had to figure out what it was for a number of reasons.  First, I had never seen one of these before and second, it was approaching high-noon so, it was hard to pick out details of a white brested bird against the clouds and brilliant sun.

Joyce thought it may be an eagle and I thought it was a hawk of some sort until I saw it through my lens.  When I got a better look, I thought it might be an Osprey but, they don’t have the white head like this.  I have to credit David Akoubian for identifying this bird for me.  Being the great “bird nerd” that he is, he came back quickly with an ID on it.

I was lucky that I brought my long Tamron lens on this trip.  We heard that there were lots of hummingbirds at the gardens so, I hauled the big gun along.  Never expected to see this kind of sight but I’m glad that we did!

Mississippi Kite
(Ictinia mississippiensis)

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/11 – 1/1000 sec – ISO 250

Correction: Pine Warbler

We get tons of House finches at our feeders but the goldfinches only show up on occasion.  I am kind of  a novice at bird identification so I was pretty sure this is a female goldfinch but, it is actually a male Pine Warbler.  It seems that there are a few different finches and warblers that are close to the same size and have the yellow color as well as the black wings with white stripes.

I’m hoping that we see some male goldfinches soon since the color is brighter and it’s pretty easy to pick them out.  They really add some great color to contrast with the other birds we see often.  Lately, it’s been woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, house finches, chickadees, wrens, titmouse and nuthatches at the feeders most often.  We see morning doves, towhees, and brown thrashers on the ground and hummingbirds at the flowers and feeders.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
450mm @ f/10 – 1/30 sec – ISO 400

Blue Heron on the watch

On a more serious note, yesterday’s post was a juvenile tri-colored heron which was an awkward and humorous bird to see.  This blue heron is much more representative of the beautiful birds that adult herons are.  I also loved the patterns in the driftwood that provided a nice spot for this one to stand and enjoy the morning.

It is a great adventure to watch and capture images of the beauty and diversity that nature has to offer.  Time to get out and enjoy it!

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Townsend, 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 320

Hay, I’m hungry!

Baby birds fall into one of two categories – 1. Cute little balls of fluff and 2. Weird, gangly, bizarre looking creatures.  In the case of tri-colored herons, they fall into the second category at least until the feathers come in.  The rookery at Pinckney Island had a lot of odd looking chicks and a smaller number of cute ones.

It was also full of birds fighting over territory and protecting the nests.  It is amazing, with all the birds that flock to the same place to nest, that any of them survive all the squabbling that goes on but somehow, they seem to do OK.  The rookery is also surrounded by marsh and swampland that is home to a fair number of alligators.  I would have thought there would be a better spot for birds to raise their young but they come back every year.

Juvenile Tri-Colored Heron
(Egretta tricolor)

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge
Bluffton, SC

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/16 – 1/100 sec – ISO 400

Heron fishing

I believe this is a Green Heron who was fishing along the edge of Woody Pond at the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge.  I watched as this bird was concentrating hard and would periodically thrust his beak into the water and come back up with a small fish.  They must have amazing eyesight because I certainly couldn’t see anything through the reflections coming off the water.

Harris Neck is a beautiful wildlife refuge just south of Savannah, Georgia.  The peninsula was once the home of an Army airfield which was abandoned after World War II.  The area was taken over as a National Wildlife Refuge in 1962 and is home to a wide variety of  birds and other animals such as alligators.  The alligators were definitely out and about when we were there.  We saw some small ones and could hear the adults bellowing in the swampy areas.  You do need to be aware of your surroundings out here.

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
McIntosh County, GA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
500mm @ f/9 – 1/640 sec – ISO 320

Common Gallinule

Here’s a question for the bird nerds out there: What bird has a call that sounds like a kids bicycle horn?  This image is just that bird.  We spotted a number of them wading in the marshy area surrounding the ibis rookery at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge near Hilton Head Island.

The water surrounding the rookery was coated with some kind of green material which also covers the birds legs as you see it standing near the shoreline here.  The most viewed birds in this area are actually egrets, ibis and herons but the Gallinule was closer to shore and just looked neat against that green carpet of the water.  I love getting to know birds that I hadn’t been familiar with before!

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge
Bluffton, SC

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/16 – 1/100 sec – ISO 400