Archive for the ‘Nature’ category

Frosty Week

December 11, 2016

The weather has been pretty mild this fall. Unusually wet, but not cold…

…until this week. Our forecast called for freezing temperatures and snow mid-week. The prospect of snow always gets everyone in this household excited. So we woke up Wednesday with great expectations.

There was no snow yet, but frost was decorating the back yard.

Jody pointed out how festive the hydrangea on the deck looked with the frost on the edges of the petals so I took the opportunity to take some macro shots before the sun came around the house and melted the frost.

Below are some of my favorite pictures of the day.

These frosted petals make be think of sugar dipped Christmas cookies.

As I got in closer I could start to see the crystalline structure of the frost.

If you “right click” on this next picture and select “Open Image in New Tab” then click to expand you will be able to see the hexagonal tube structure of most of these frost crystals.

And not to be left out, even Zippy sported a bit of frost on the end of his beak while he was keeping close watch over his feeders from a small tree on our deck.

Cheers – DJD
Rain since last posting: 8.25 inches. 2016 year to date: 65 inches.

PS: Since Google has replaced Picasa Web Albums with Google Photos I’ve been having problems getting imbedded photo links to work reliably in my blog postings. If you find a broken link, would you please leave me a comment to that affect so I can address the problem.

Just Try to Photograph Me

November 23, 2016

I was running some errands last week and had a few minutes to kill so I went by the wetlands area across the street from where I used to work. It’s been really rainy lately so the wetlands is currently a small lake.

I saw a guy with a camera and long lens standing near the edge, so I stopped and joined him. I asked him if there were any interesting birds out today and he answered me with a long name I didn’t recognized and pointed across the lake, so I just said “Oh”. (Truth is, I’m not a real birder. I’m just a photographer who likes birds 🙂 .)

When I scanned the lake looking for the bird he was talking about, I couldn’t see any birds well enough to identify them. In fact, the only birds in sight were so far away that I needed my telephoto lens just to see them.

It was certainly not the best photo conditions. But I decided to take a few shots, hoping that when enlarged, they would help me identify the birds.

From this enlargement I’m pretty certain these birds are Cormorants, immature Brandt’s Cormorants to be precise. But I’m sure that’s not what the “birder” told me. But the species name is Phalacrocorax penicillatus. And that’s probably the name he gave me.

While we were talking, he noticed a Great Blue Heron in some brush right next to the bank not more than 12 feet from us. Normally that would be a great distance to get close shot. But there was so much brush between me and the heron and so little light that I couldn’t get a clean shot and my auto-focus was not!

I was going to pass on taking a shot. But before I left I decided to try to get something just as proof the bird was there. I had to manually focus the best I could and guess at the exposure.

Here is the result. Not a great picture because of all the out-of-focus brush in the way. But it came out better than I expected.

Digital Cameras are amazing.

Cheers – DJD
Rain since last posting: 3.0 inches. 2016 year to date: 56.75 inches.

I’m Not Sleeping, Just Resting My Eyes

November 16, 2016

This guy was buzzing me when I went outside to get some wood today. After he figured out I wasn’t there to bother his feeder, he went and sat in a nearby bush. That’s where he was when I got back with my camera. If you look closely you will see that I caught him blinking in this picture.

Cheers – DJD
Rain since last posting: 7.75 inches. 2016 year to date: 53.75 inches.

Beautiful Autumn Visitor

October 24, 2016

This Sharp Shinned hawk has been visiting our back yard lately. The telltale sign signaling his arrival is all the feeder birds scattering at once. We then know to look for him somewhere in a nearby tree.

He doesn’t usually stay very long. In fact, I’ve tried several times to get a picture of him but he usually takes off before I can get my camera ready.

This time was different.

Even though all the feeder birds were long gone, he sat in our tree and decided to preen his feathers. He didn’t seem to mind as I slowly walk out on our deck and got into position to take his picture without limbs and leaves in the way.

After I had gotten several good shots of him, he suddenly looked straight at me, mid-preen, as if to say “that’s enough of that!”.

Then, after a few more seconds, he was gone.

Cheers – DJD
Rain since last posting: 12 inches. 2016 year to date: 46.0 inches.

Baby Birdie Business

May 14, 2016

Spring is really here. The leaves are on the trees and the birds are busy making babies.

This past week we’ve have lot’s of fledglings visiting our back yard. At first they’re quite timid and spend a lot of time hiding in the shadows of the tree branches. Ultimately they’ll figure out how to navigate into the feeders, but until then I have a great opportunity to photograph them surrounded by dark foliage, like this first photo.

Here is a baby Pine Siskin considering it’s next move.

The parents are also nearby. Here’s a breading adult male American Goldfinch who was keeping an eye on the fledgelings.

And here is a picture of one of the two chickadee parents shown below cleaning out the nest to get ready for their next brood.

It’s a busy baby birdie time in our back yard. 🙂

Cheers – DJD
Rain since last posting: 1.75 inches. 2016 year to date: 34.0 inches.

Seeds in the Snow

January 3, 2016

In addition to the New Year, cold weather and snow arrived at our back yard this weekend. Since we’re in the middle of bird counting season, there were lots of birds visiting today. But the snow added a extra challenge for the ground feeders like this Junco.

These birds are smart. And they know the only way to get to the seed under the snow is to go digging.

“I know there’s seed right down there. I’m going in.”

“Oh boy, that snow on my beak is cold!”

“Thanks Jody for putting out premium sunflower seeds for us on this cold, snowy day.” 🙂

Cheers – DJD

Visitor at our “Bird Feeder”

December 6, 2015

There’s a Sharp-shinned Hawk that’s been visiting our backyard almost daily for a while. The visits are usually in the morning when I’m at work, so I haven’t had a chance to capture a photo until today.

I was watching football when I notice the hawk in the tree above our deck (and overlooking our bird feeders). I didn’t have my telephoto lens mounted on my camera so I had to run downstairs to get it, hoping the bird would still be there when I got back.

When I returned, the hawk was still there but he had turned around so now his back was toward me. I made some noise trying to get him to turn and face me. But all my action warranted was a fleeting glance by him over his left shoulder.

Then something in the distance caught his attention. He took a long look…

… and quickly took off. You can see him leaving just behind the brach in the lower right of this last picture.

From now on I’m going to keep my camera ready because I suspect he’ll be back…

Cheers – DJD
Rain since last posting: 17 in. 2015 year to date: 40.5 in.