A Little Birdy

You calling me LITTLE ???
You calling me LITTLE ???

OK… not you. It’s kinglet time in “Our Woods” and this year we’ve been out looking for kinglets – the first little guys to pass through on their way to their summer place in Muskoka. They are usually plentiful for a few weeks and then, too quickly, nada. The earliest we’ve seen them is March 31 and the latest April 28. Yesterday and this morning my mission was to identify and photograph the ruby-crowned kinglet particularly, just because they, and their golden-crowned cousins, are tricky to capture on film. Fast little folk, flitting all over, eating bugs, never resting long enough to look at the camera and smile. Nevertheless I tend to picture their energetic mealtime as joyful rather than desperate. The photographer surely qualifies as desperate – tracking the tiny beasts with the naked eye and aiming the camera’s 300 mm zoom only to find them – if she/he’s lucky – somewhere close enough to where they just were. Forget auto-focus! The cedar branches all around will confuse the heck out of that mechanism. No. You’ve gotta focus manually and hope they’re not gone. Kinglets give you a lot of blurry action shots – and fits. Patience. The kinglet quest would, at one time, have been called a “film gobbler.” This morning I lucked out. Anita, so sad…, stayed in bed and missed quite a show: a Northern Oriole perched momentarily high above whistling “C’mon!” to some sexy follower – then one more treetop and gone northward. A female yellow-rumped (Myrtle) warbler feeding almost as fast as the kinglets showed my camera just enough identifiable plumage and the slightest blurry hint of shoulder yellow.  Yep! Myrtle! Check! And lots of ruby-crowneds in the cedars and, bravely following bugs, even on bare branches of deciduous trees only just beginning to bud. The photos that follow are the best I could do. I was so busy and happily hyper that I gobbled my very tasty breakfast of left-over Peking Mallard Duck when I got home. Just kidding. Had Peking duck in Peking (Beijing, whatever…) in 2008 and, trust me, there never are any left-overs. They don’t taste that great, but they are sooo skinny!

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Anywaaayy, first, the softly-blurred ruby-crowneds:

“What rubies?”, you say. Well, the female isn’t ruby-crowned and the male doesn’t show off all the time, but you can tell they’re ruby-crowned because of the white eye-ring. The golden-crowned have a stong b&w streaking through the eye and no eye ring. Continue reading “A Little Birdy”

Girl and Gulls – Great Ocean Drive – March 2008*

Girl and gull on beach near Port Campbell on the Great Ocean Drive
Girl and gulls on beach near Port Campbell on the Great Ocean Drive

A quick shot taken with my 70-300 mm Sigma lens and my Maxxum 5D SLR in 2008 when we visited the Melbourne area with Aussie friends. It captured a mood but the sharpness suffers from distance and subsequent cropping. We stayed overnight in Port Campbell before returning to Melbourne.

When Camera Meets Hummingbird

Hummingbird at feeder

For a few years now the hummingbirds have stayed all summer. We’ve experimented with different types of feeder. This one I bought this spring at Canadian Tire. It comes in three parts: the antique glass bottle, an all-metal flower plate and a plastic bowl. It is the best one we’ve had: it’s easy to clean and fill and a key advantage is that the flowers are metal and do not detach, like the plastic insert flowers do. Probably less chewable if the squirrels get to it – but they don’t usually get past the cone below the feeder.

We have lots of hummingbird attracting flowers in our yards: monarda, nicotiana, and Wiegela shrubs, among lots of others. Haven’t noticed many males at our feeder. The males have the ruby throat. Our feeder gets visited about every 10 minutes – not quite a fast-food drive-thru, but there are plenty of flowers to give our tiny clients some variety. Sugar-water food: a third of a cup of sugar boiled briefly in a cup of water lasts about a week. I change it once a week to get rid of the bugs, so the easy clean feature is welcome.

These photos were taken with a 5 year-old Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5D digital SLR camera using a Sigma APO DG 70-300 mm f-4 – 5.6 zoom lens, which does a great job in well lit situations. Early morning, lower light shots are tricky, since this lens has to be steadied against something to avoid hand-held camera shake at these magnifications.