Saturday, November 9, 2019

Figuring Things Out

     I recently treated myself to a new camera, I had my sights on a Nikon d500 for a while and I finally gave in. I rarely buy myself something fancy, so I went for it. Except this new camera is more computer than camera. It has so many settings and fancy modes I had to figure out. I went out with it one day and every single photo was grainy. Then I went out yesterday and had the grainy issue again, before switching to another mode and my pictures became more clear. Then today, I *GASP* read the manual. I learned a lot and put that new found information to the test and I am so pleased with my images.
Having a little knowledge about what in the heck "ISO" is, I was able to adjust and get some shots of the wood ducks at Big John's Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.
I was originally using the multi-frame setting, but everything was grainy. I had always used a sports mode on my d5100, to capture birds as they moved, but even ducks that were floating still were grainy.
When I made this discovery of taking clearer photos, I spent wayyyyy to long taking pictures of ducks, and re-tracing my steps to get pictures of one of the exciting ducks I saw.

I spied some female green-wing teal, little did I know this stud was hanging out across the water. Again, game changer when I fussed around with the camera settings.
Even with my camera proffed on the sill of the blind and this bird sitting still, the other setting was all grainy.

I love sexy duck season.

Sexy ducks have to be extra on the lookout for predators.

A female green-wing teal dabbles in the water among the wood ducks.

This boi can't even get over his own reflection.
Teal bottoms <3
What a little darling duck!

Earlier I had seen a Eurasian Wigeon on the East Pond, so I back tracked over.
But first grabbed a test shot of this American coot having a snack.
Bird was far, but there he is.
A v sexi boi. 
Among American Wigeon, the Eurasian Wigeon sticks out with that rusty head and peach stripe. I was very happy to find him.

He was happy to see me too. I think?
After learning ALL the options within a setting, I practiced on the birdies at my feeder. Which are mostly and sometimes only house sparrows.
This fella made a fine subject,

I learned about how to set and change up the focal points and adjust how the focal points all work according to the setting you're in. So I took this is that burst frame mode, and ta-da! It is not grainy! Yay!

So when I heard it rained potatoes last night in Green-Wood Cemetery, I knew they would be a perfect bird to try out what I had learned. Mostly because they kinda just sit, like a potato.
These potatoes are American woodcocks the most peculiar bird, but also the best bird.

Front head on, their vision is not so great.
Since they spend so much time probing the soil they see better above and behind them.

They are also very cute.

I also love how their large eyes perfectly capture their surroundings. In Green-Wood they capture the trees and headstones.

While this bird had it's back to me, it can see me just fine!

I was delighted to see so many!

And you wonder, why are you all so hunkered down?

Because hawks.

This red tail was ready!
I saw a woodcock fly and have a red tail in close pursuit. Thankfully for the woodcock, who is not the fastest flyer, neither is the red tail.
Red tails are built for power over speed, so chasing a bird can be tough. It can be done, but it has to be well executed.
This is a young red-tail, so it may not have its style perfected.

And after a short rest, something grabs its attention.

And off they go!
That banded tail, lacking red is the easiest way to tell a young bird from a mature adult.

This little timderdoodle was in the spotlight under the shade of a low hanging pine.

Woodcock can be a challenge, often they see you before you see them. Their camouflage is superb and chances are you will flush one if you are not looking hard enough. Or even if you are focusing on looking specifically for woodcock, you will still accidentally flush one.

I love these little birds so much.

Before leaving, I met up with my friends and we visited the Dell Water and had this little winter wren come out, stomp around, and tell us off.
A perfect little bird to end this visit with and share with friends.
And also pleased that I am beginning to figure out this new camera.
A happy little afternoon!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Marsh Wren


     It was a beautiful morning, getting out to the salt marsh in the golden sunlight was perfect. Can you believe this is Brooklyn, New York City, this beautiful salt marsh? I also feel quite fortunate that this beautiful escape is just about a mile from my home.
     While Tim went out for his run, I went out to bird in the Marine Park Salt Marsh. It was another day full of small brown birds, like sparrows, but I had the fortunate chance to have a close encounter with a favorite little round bird of mine, the marsh wren.
Looks like someone has some molting to do!

It was such a special treat for this bird to come out from the thick of the phragmites into clear view, actively singing, being so round, and so cute.
These robotic sounding birds, soft and almost muffled is their song, in stark contrast to the loud, clear song of its cousin, the Carolina wren.

I mean, really, who is watching who?
Sometimes just being still, quiet, and maybe whispering a few "hello's" and reminding the bird of how cute it is, rewards you with some amazing, special looks at usually secretive birds.
I think they appreciate knowing how cute they are.
 Listen to the fun little sounds of the marsh wren (which I only saw one of), What I thought was a second bird was indeed a Nelson's Sparrow. Inf act there were TWO Nelson's Sparrows.
You can see how curious this wren was, it comes right out, and I filmed this on my phone, not digiscoped in any way. I actually found myself backing up so I could focus my camera on the bird who ended up being too close!

To not risk scaring this bird, I just shot through the grass. I have never seen a Nelson's Sparrow at this location, and I was rewarded with two. Glad I got a good look and chance to enjoy them because all three were soon flushed into the grasses by a runner on the trails.

In large numbers were palm warbler, foraging on the goldenrod growing in the fields that I am glad they were reluctant to mow down in the marsh. It is surely benefitting migrants and the raptors who frequent the area.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Nemesis No More!

     Most birders have a nemesis bird. A bird you want to find but it always evades you. You go where it was seen to no avail. You study it, learn its field marks and try to turn similar birds into it. You crave to see this bird, because somehow everyone else finds it with seemingly no problem. And they even get photos of it. The heck am I doing wrong?!
     Mine up until today was the Lincoln's Sparrow. Today I found a Lincoln's sparrow on my own, identified it on my own (with some confirmations of my ID by some good friends) AND THEN FOUND A SECOND ONE!
     It was a good morning in Green-Wood Cemetery.

I saw A LOT of chipping sparrows today.
But sorting through them all is what got me some birds that made me smile.

Foraging in the grasses and weeds in just as high of numbers as the chipping sparrows were ruby crowned kinglets.

This bird was first facing me, buffy chest and flanks. VERY fine streaking. Thin malar stripe.
My lifer Lincoln's Sparrow.
A bird that I have never been able to ID, spot, and forget photo, ever.
This was a very rewarding sight and moment.

Can you believe I used to try turning song sparrows into Lincoln's sparrows?!
To be fair, this is not a good example of a song sparrow that will make you look twice. This one is heavily smudgy and dark.

I never get upset to see a field sparrow.
Especially one that can choose a perch that compliments its color and tone.

According to the eBird filters, I counted too many of these.
I saw 4 blue-headed vireo's today.
And they were nice and low to enjoy!

Fall colors and fall birds.
Ruby Crowned Kinglet.

I'm still riding my high from that Lincoln's AND THEN I FOUND A SECOND BIRD.
Look at those field marks, how the hell was I turning other birds into this?!

And then it went on to do Lincoln's Sparrow things, like sit in grass, hide in the brush and under leaves.

I had an apple turnover from Baked in Brooklyn across 5th ave from the Cemetery in celebration. It was good.

This juvie Black-crowned night heron and myself, we both scared the crap out of each other.
I didn't realize it was in a tree I was under, watching a phoebe. And then with a loud woosh of its wings and a jump-launch into the air, I startled just as much as it had startled.
At the Dell Water, I sifted again through Chipping Sparrows.
And gave a scowl at the photographers using bright flash photography in broad daylight for birds.
Anyway, standing around did me good...

I was rewarded with a Nashville Warbler!

Birds are weird. What is its body doing?!

What a picture perfect little buddy!
Took a lot of patience and reject shots for this alright one.

The buckeyes I am seeing lately just look more and more worn. Hope you make it to your destination little pal.

I was looking at chipping sparrows flocking into the lower parts of this tree. Then I found a yellow-bellied sapsucker in a yellow-leaved tree stashing away a berry on a mossy limb that perfectly matches the coloration and patterns on its back.

Also, lots of palm warblers. Has anyone else ever noticed how the bottoms of their feets are yellow?! How cute!

A chipping sparrow was foraging on the ground not too far from me. Scanned over a bit and found this little field sparrow foraging right next to it.
Quite possibly the cutest sparrow, I believe I have even seen "cute" used in books and field guides to describe this bird.
I mean, they are not wrong.