Saturday, June 13, 2009

Birds and Books

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - OCTOBER 2:  (IMAGE REVI...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I went birding with a friend today, and then to a used book sale.

We started out at the river, at what used to be a county-owned education center. To our disgust, we found they'd put up fences around everything and were charging admission. We couldn't even get to the toilets without paying $5. The ponds were behind the fence. The wetlands boardwalks were behind the fence. Very irritating.

So we went downstream aways, to a city park that was still a city park. We saw Mourning Dove, a male Northern Cardinal, Canada Geese (of course), a Brown Thrasher, grackles, and more.

Sadly, last night's thunderstorms had blown a baby Northern Mockingbird out of the nest. The parents were squawking around us but we didn't realize why until we saw him on the ground. He was still in his pinfeathers. He died in my hand while we were trying to figure out the best place to put him. The instant he died the parents stopped fussing. How do they know?

I carried my 300mm lens, and took about 145 shots. On the first pass through in Adobe, I winnowed that down to about 110. The biggest disappointment was the Red-shouldered Hawk: The center had one in rehab, and another was in a pine tree overhead, calling back and forth to each other. I took easily a dozen shots of the wild one, and not one was in focus. Either I was bobbling the long lens or, more likely, absent-mindedly left it on auto-focus. The field was too busy, what with a brown bird and branches and pine needles and stuff, and I always forget that the autofocus can't cope with that.

After another dozen or so of an immature Eastern Bluebird with the same problem, I got this:

I love the curve of her body, and the curls of water around her.

And then there was the totally frustrating series of the Bank Swallows feeding their baby that I didn't get.

I'm just gonna have to spring for a monopod. That's all there is to it.


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