Decmber 18 — Christmas bird count

I participated in the Christmas bird count this year once more.  I had the same territory, but a different partner.  Leo has moved away, and I obtained an able substitute in Beth Young.  She’s a retired teacher working part time for our School of Education.  We’ve been acquainted or some time, but I didn’t know her well.  It turns out we have more connections than I would have believed.  She mentioned she was originally from Bardolph, IL.  I said that we had bought the Colchester Chronicle from Don O’Harra, who had run the Bardolph News (which we technically owned as well, but never published).  She said that Don had bought it from her Grandfather in the 1950s.  That was pretty weird. 

Now on to the birds.  We had great weather, as it was only in the 20s and the roads were clear.  I’m not sure we saw the greatest diversity or numbers of birds, but we had some special ones.  We saw a pair of pileated woodpeckers, and Beth had only seen one before in her life.  Overall, it was the day of the raptors.  We saw more hawks than I’d ever seen on one of these counts and even a couple of eagles.

American Kestrel

We saw three of these.  They usually don’t sit still for me.

Northern Harrier

I don’t have too many pics of these either.  This one was out in a field.  I caught it taking off here.

Red-tailed Hawk

These were remarkably abundant.  I got photos of a few of them.  Most are too nervouse to stay put when I stop the car, but this one even let me get out of the car to shoot it.  For a little while anyway.

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December 19 — Eagle season has arrived

The onset of cold weather definitely has its drawbacks, like having to feed the wood furnace.  The up side, however, is the arrival of the eagles.  We’ve had some great days for observation lately, with low temperatures and sunny skies, perfect for photography.    I try to get mostly action/behavior shots these days.

So close…

This is very close to the image I am trying to capture.  If I could get the lighting and focus right, it would be perfect.

Crisp.

I have an entire sequence of this one, all in sharp focus.

Fish Face

I think the fish is less likely to be stolen if it’s carried in the beak.

Swing and a miss!

Sometimes even a dead fish gets away.

If you click through, there are a couple more I haven’t posted here.

December 8, 2010 — Odd birds

There’s not much to photograph this time of year, but fortune has brought a subject to my door.  I was watching the birds at our feeder one day and I noticed an aberrant female house sparrow.  I set up the camera, but didn’t catch her until about a week later.  Apparently, she lives in my neighborhood.

From Fall 2010

She has white wing coverts, and that’s not right.

A typical female appears below.

From Fall 2010

She’s basic brown.

Aberrant birds are not that uncommon.  I’ve seen several over the years.  They appear in just about every issue of Birds and Blooms.  It’s hard to photograph these backyard birds on cloudy days.  There just isn’t enough light, and they move too fast.  I did some experiments with high ISO.  It seemed to work for birds that are fairly close.  If you don’t crop the  image too much, you don’t see the pixel noise in the background.  The lighting is nice and even too.

From Fall 2010

Tufted titmouse.