Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Birding Walk

Though the temperature was cold enough to see my breath this morning, the skies dawned clear blue and I opted out of training at the gym in favor of going for a long walk around my neighborhood.  I'm fortunate to live in an area surrounded by woodlands with maintained trails, and I've navigated a nice 4 mile loop that is a nice combination of neighborhood walking and wetland/wooded trails.  It is not uncommon to see birds of prey in the area (haws and bald eagles are frequent fliers) so I've decided to start carrying my DSLR on my walks.  Unfortunately I don't have a compact case which can house my 300mm prime, so today I took my 55-300 compact zoom.  While it is handy and lightweight, the focus at 300mm seems questionable, putting a hazy glow around pretty much anything bright (and I'm now reminded of why I stopped using it). It is decent enough to record birds for this morning, and I'll attempt to clean both ends of the lens (maybe it is just coated with something?) but if the focus doesn't improve I might retire the lens and just take the superior 50-135.  It is heavier and not as much zoom, but especially with bird ID, I really need the clarity.

On to the birds!  Although I've walked this loop many times, I was surprised by the number of birds I was able to identify when I simply took the time to pay close attention. 

Terrible photo, but these are two of the 4 shy little buffleheads who frequent the lake near my house.  They dive and swim away as soon as anyone stops on the trail, hence the distant fuzzy shot.

I found several ducks floating in a water retention pond near a busy road.  Thanks to the road noise, and a chainlink fence, they didn't seem bothered by my stopping.
These are a couple of Hooded Mergansers

Here I captured a Bufflehead on the left, several Ring-Necked ducks in the center, and the Hooded Mergansers on the right.

There was also a pair of Mallards hanging out (upper left corner)  I attempted to get all the ducks in one shot, however framing was difficult due to shooting through a chainlink fence.

On a dirt trail running along a creek/watershed area, I found this Song Sparrow.  He sat still long enough for me to pull out my cell phone to shoot a video, put my cell phone away, pull the DSLR out of my camera bag, and take a couple of photos.  He was a very patient bird!

Along the pipeline trail, listening to the distant calls of crows, I stopped short when I heard a familiar "thunk-thunk-thunk" sound... this Pileated was on a tree just a few feet from the trail.  She hid behind the tree while I pulled out my camera, and kept peeking around waiting to see if I was advancing.  When she decided I wasn't coming closer, she resumed her feast on the side of the tree.  She left when a couple of women passing by stopped to see what I was pointing my camera at.

Outside of these birds, I also heard several hummingbirds chipping loudly, and spotted crows, wrens, juncos, and black-capped chickadees (though I did not walk with my camera out, so I missed those photo ops)

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