Sunday, February 09, 2014

Snow Birding

This morning we awoke to a land of white... the snow which has been attacking Portland for days finally crept it's way up to our neck of the woods.  It is little more than a passing thought, however, as the temperature was only cold enough to snow overnight, and quickly climbed above freezing before noon today.  It was an ideal time for me to head out into the yard with my camera, as the backdrop was a solid lovely white yet the temperature was relatively mild.  I donned my snow gear and shuffled out with my 300mm lens, pausing to listen for chirps or wing movement.

I've noticed that robins do not visit my feeders at all, yet any time I mow the lawn they tend to appear right behind me to take advantage of the newly exposed undergrowth land.  The same was true this morning, only I found the robins bouncing about in the patches of lawn left by G having made snow angels earlier in the day.  As I observed the robins and adjusted my exposure for the bright snow, this robin jumped up to the very edge of one of G's wings to scope things out.

Through the gate and around to the back, I stopped to observe some of the action around my feeders.  We have a resident song sparrow who frequently visits among a flock of juncos.  This morning she was on her own, I found her resting atop of the wood pile on the back edge of the property.

She seemed to be resting, fluffing up her feathers for warmth, so I did not want to disturb her too much by coming too close.  She watched me, though did not seem to go into any high alert mode as long as I stayed back along side one of the trees.

From that vantage point I noticed a thrush at the base of the feeders under the trees.  I attempted a few shots, but with the thrush in the shadows and the white yard in the backdrop, all I could achieve were silhouettes, and the thrush bailed before I could adjust my settings.  He flew first up into the trees, then across the yard to the feeders next to the house.  I traced my tracks back around the edge of the property to the side path, then across the yard towards the chairs in the center of the yard, attempting to use them as a blind.  They were ineffective, being too short to hide behind, and of course I made a lot of noise in the snow.  The thrush enjoyed some seeds at ground level, every so often poking his head around the flower pot to see where I was at.  He was easily startled, though, and made a dash up to the trees.  As I walked away from the trees, towards the house, the thrush came down and landed on the same wood pile as the sparrow.  Now with the forest in the back drop, the lighting was just right so all I needed to do was turn to capture a shot of the bright thrush.

By this time my toes were beginning to feel the chill, so I headed in to warm up with some hot coffee and late-morning yoga.  It was lovely to spend a Sunday morning seeking out signs of life in the wintry silence.


Gino said...

i know you attempt to shoot the birds free of man-made structures and bird feeders. have you considered spreading seed on the ground?

Jade said...

Seed ends up on the ground because the birds spill it all over anyway. Many birds prefer being up on feeders, some are ground feeders and will hang out on the ground no matter what. I can generally shoot the ground-foragers without obstruction, however right now the feeders by the house have construction garbage all over the place. The birds that eat at the feeders will tend to hang out in nearby trees, so if I set my blind up then I'll have a great viewpoint to catch them. It was just too sloppy wet to set it up last weekend