Saturday, June 29, 2013

Green Heron and other Winged Things

I went with a friend this morning to a nearby boating access area that is run by the NC Wildlife Commission.  We were after the Green Heron.  The area was fairly busy but before long the heron put in an appearance.  We had hoped that the cloud cover was going to clear early however by the time we left, there was still a light drizzle from time to time and low clouds.

There were lots of small birds in the area.  Several patches of blackberries had birds coming in for a bite.  This Eastern Kingbird would duck in and grab a berry from time to time.

Several areas were planted with what looks to be millet were attracting lots of Goldfinches and some Indigo Buntings.  I thought it was a really good thing that thought was given to planting these areas.

Of course almost as soon as I arrived home, the sun finally started peeking out from the cloud cover.  Definitely an area to revisit another time.  We have been in this cycle of rain and storms on almost a daily basis.  It REALLY is getting old.  For sure the mosquitoes are having a big time with plenty of breeding areas from standing water.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Panasonic Lumix GX1 Test Shot

My new 4/3 camera arrived yesterday so I took it out for a test drive this morning.  I wanted a smaller camera to take on hiking trips or when I did not want the weight of the DSLR.  My intentions are also to attempt for it to be my digiscoping camera which I have not tried yet but will give it a go later today.

Panasonic Lumix GX1, 300mm and 2x optical zoom
With it only to be a back up type camera, I really did not want to go top of the line so after much research decided on the Panasonic Lumix GX1.  I spent more on the 100-300 lens than I did on the camera body.  I had hoped that by using the optical zoom (it has a 2x and 4x) I could get some additional distance when or if needed.

A couple of Great Bluer Herons were posing nicely this morning so I gave it a test.  This one thing I wish that I had done was to hook up the remote cable before shooting.  I can tell that any residual movement from manually pressing the shutter button shows when the image stabilization is off (due to being tripod mounted) has an effect.

The files are really large even saving at the lowest compression rate.  I did change the resolution down to 250 from 300 on this shot just to get a smaller file size.  I am hoping with a little more practice and learning the camera the shot quality will improve.  This was shot in jpeg vs raw which I usually shoot.  I believe on the next test I will change to raw format.

By comparison, the shot below was taken with my Canon 5D Mk III using a 100-400 lens.
Canon 5D Mk III, 100-400 lens,

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Slow Saturday

Not much going on today.  A gray day with bouts of drizzle.  A good day to be sort of lazy.  Someone gave me the nicest zucchini yesterday, way more than I could grill so I decided to make some zucchini bread.  I have five mini loaves baking in the oven now.  I decided to do the small loaves to give some away.  Too much temptation to have much in the house.  I am trying a new recipe as I have misplaced my tried and true so I am keeping fingers crossed it is good.

The deer are having a bit of a lazy day too.  They have been hanging around the edge of the yard chilling out.

I spent the morning reading reviews and comparing features on the micro 4/3 cameras.  I am giving some serious thought on getting one to use in digiscoping and for when I don't want to haul a full size camera around.  There are so many and everyone has an opinion on their performance so I am just as confused now as before I spent several hours looking.

The bread aroma is filling the house so time to go check.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tree Slider

Thursday, June 20, 2013

More Practice

I went back for some more practice today and to check out my engineering efforts to keep unwanted light from entering the back of the eyepiece on the scope.

Getting closer!  I kept a log as I was shooting today and learned more today than I have in two weeks.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Digiscoping Practice

I bought a fairly nice scope almost two years ago with the intent to attempt to become somewhat proficient at digiscoping.  Work at that time was so demanding that I never gave it any really serious attempt.  Since I can't afford to put out 5K for the next size up lens, I decided it was time to give it a go.

I have been making the effort to each day get some practice in over the last couple of weeks and am finally starting to have some success.  Slowly but surely there is improvement.  After spending about an hour out today and reviewing the shots, I have figured out that some extraneous light coming in from the rear is affecting the shots.  Hopefully some engineering this afternoon will solve that issue tomorrow.

Today's practice was on an obliging Kingfisher.  She was probably about 100 feet out.  I missed some great shots because at the moment of opportunity, a large group of kids came walking over the bridge causing too much vibration.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tree Hugger

Monday, June 17, 2013

Herd Matriarch

I have not spent much time fooling around with the deer since winter but started going out and sitting near the food plot over the last two weeks.
The matriarch of the herd has learned to come early and has gentled down and once again become accustomed  to my presence.  When I go to put out a scoop of food, she will now stay within about 15 feet of me.

Watching her this afternoon I noticed she is really beginning to show signs of aging.  I guess we all are.  There is something very special about being trusted enough to sit closely and be able to photograph them.  The experience always leaves me feeling very serene and at peace.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Horned Lark

I went out early this morning to check the status of the Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher nest I observed last weekend.  About time I arrived clouds came in the photos were not the best.  I decided to go back later this afternoon when I thought the sun would be in good position.

A car stopped by while I was photographing the nest and asked had I seen the Horned Lark that was supposed to be in the area.  After finishing photographing the nest, I took off walking up the road.  To my delight as I reached the top of the road, it came flying right out.

This is my first Horned Lark so I am thrilled.  I fear however the bird will not last long.  It seemed to really have no fear and in the territory where is was so out in the open will probably fall prey to a hawk.  I have never seen one in this area and have to wonder did it get blown in with the strong line of storms that came through earlier in the week?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Seeing Red

It has been a fairly uneventful week until Thursday when a line of strong storms came through knocking out power and bringing down many limbs in the yard.  It could have been so much worse.  Friday was spent cutting up and picking up limbs.

Out for a bit today but not much happening.  Best shots today were of a Summer Tanager who posed so nicely.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Social Goldfinches

Beak contact particularly between male and female birds is a way of socializing and in many cases, a prelude to mate selection.  If you have ever really watched Goldfinches, I am sure you have noticed they generally travel in groups and when one flies, the remainder of the group usually follow.

Personal observations show they are very social birds.  I encountered a rather large group that were feeding on some seeds heads of flowers and grasses but my attention was captured by a few off to the side of the main group.

There were three females and one male in this particular side group.  The male approached the first female.  She wanted no part of him.

He then moved on to the second female.  A little brief beak action but nothing more.

Again he moved on to the third female.  Some more beak action.  I was tickled as the second female appears to have a pleased look about her.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers Nest Building

I met some ladies out this morning who were kind enough to point out a  location where they spotted a pair of Gnatcatchers building a nest.  We agreed it seemed very late but there they were.  I suspect the extended period of cool weather we had during the spring is in part the reason for the late building.  In general it seems like with the migratory birds, activities are running about two weeks behind.

Both the male and female were involved in the nest building activities.  On several occasions we watched as the male would fly off and return to hand off a bit of lichen to the female.

Off for more material.

Great care was being taken to the task at hand.  I am always amazed at the different nest building styles and choices of materials.  These nest are quite pretty with lichen being the material of choice.

Checking for size, no, not large enough yet.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Juvenile House Wren

After a slow and overcast start to the morning, the day ended up with nice sunshine.  Late this afternoon the House Wren that nested in one of the bluebird boxes was chattering away.  All of the little ones were out hunting in the underbrush with the exception of one.  It seemed hesitant preferring to stay above the deep brush.

Unlike the nest mates who were busy learning to search for insects, this little one still did the wing flutter and begged to be fed.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Cabin Fever

After two days of steady rain from TS Andrea, I am not the only one with cabin fever.  During a brief break  between the waves of rain, I walked outside and noticed lots of little faces looking out of the tree.

Looking out of the window, I have watched them off and on today.  Between naps they would play fight and wiggle and squirm for best position.

I am so seriously tired of rain.  I hope that the remainder of this system will clear out tonight and we have sunshine tomorrow.  The air today is very humid and tropical feeling.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Over the past several days I have seen some movement in a tree beside the house at the edge of dark.   Late this afternoon, I again spotted the activity.  With the overcast skies, the raccoons were sticking their heads out earlier.

I set up the scope to get a good look and before long, I think every kid on the street was in the yard and all wanted a look.  There is one adult and three little ones.  When I would walk down closer to the tree with the camera, the view was not as good.  My plans to digiscope some shots was blown when all the kids showed up but that is okay.  It  was good to see the children excited about nature.  They really liked when the little ones would almost completely come out of the hole.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Slow Sunday

Not too much going on today.  I have been a bit under par for the past several days and have not done much.  I was hoping to go see the Painted Buntings tomorrow but the weather is not going to cooperate.

The flurry of spring activity is slowing down and the summer routine is setting in.  The hummingbirds have been very active at the feeders so  I sat on the deck and watched them for a while today.  Several times one of the young Carolina Wrens went after the hummers.  The young wren sat on a nearby post and scolded the hummers each time they came in.

Hot and humid weather has sure set in.  Storms are projected for tomorrow so I guess I will work on some inside projects.