Lately I have been gravitating back to birds as my primary subject of this blog. That may change tomorrow, but in the meantime I am enjoying writing about my most prolific subject. Today’s post is about either/or the subject or the photography. Sort of Half & Half.
Many of today’s pictures have never been shown before.
Below you see an adult Osprey (left) and two half-grown youngsters. The date on this file is July 7. That tells me that most young Ospreys in this area have likely fledged by now. They are probably following mom and dad and learning how to fish. I photographed Osprey families at this location for three years and in that middle year, I witnessed the entire season from working on the nest to the first time a baby brought back a fish. You kind of get to feel that you are a part of the family. You root for them every step of the way.
This nesting platform was eventually moved back closer to the wetland these birds use as their food source. I think it was a good move for the birds even if it did ruin it for photographers. The only thing you should care more about than getting your pictures are things like….your subjects, other people, private property, etc, etc., etc.
Something up above? I know, I know, House Sparrows are not the favorite birds of Americans. They are a world-wide species and are often enjoyed, even at bird feeders, in Europe and Asia. I love my country but we live under the philosophy that if we didn’t invite them to the feeders, get out! They should know what we want. This male seems to see something up above. Maybe our resident Cooper’s Hawk?
We viewed an Osprey nest in our first picture today, and now we see another of my favorite nesting locations. This Great-horned Owl nest was located in a cemetery. It was either three or four years that I worked here and I was privileged (again) to cover them twice from new eggs through fledging, although this species has the rude habit of having their babies fly at night. I did witness night flights twice in the early morning but it was just too early for pictures. Some of today’s equipment would succeed in making those pictures.
If memory serves me, and sometimes it does not, in this picture Mom is angry at some harassing crows. When she had just about lifted off dad showed up from another direction. He landed on a dead tree and the crows bothered him for several minutes before they finally gave up and flew away.
Notice the bright yellow feather on the side of the tree just below mom. That was all we could find of a yellow-shafted Northern Flicker, that served as a snack one day. That feather stayed there all season.
The cemetery finally did cut this tree down. They did so before the birds nested for the year. This action made some photographers angry. In general they were the same photographers who sat on gravestones, got in the way of people visiting their deceased loved ones, and basically camped out there all day. I chose to feel thankful for the years they allowed photographers like me to trespass on their property and make pictures. I guess life is all a matter of perspective.
Speaking of baby birds and we sort of were, I have always found ducklings to be as cute as it gets. I originally wanted to get both of these Mallard babies close together and in focus. When I got home I really preferred this image. I use this in and out of focus technique a lot with groups of flowers, but it is valid with birds as well. It matters that you can plainly see that the fuzzy duck is the same as the foreground bird.
Let’s close with some images from the Midwest’s premier bird location, Horicon Marsh NWR. I call this the Everglades of the north. Horicon has prairie, woodland, and farmland adjacent to the marsh. It attracts almost every species of bird, mammal, reptile, amphibian, insect and flower that exists in this part of the world. If you desire to shoot here try to go as often as possible. Learn every road and every path. Learn the seasons and what to expect. Some of the Snowy Owl, Northern Harrier and Rough-legged Hawk images that I have shown on these pages were made at Horicon in the winter. This can be a year round destination. Like any place it can go through lulls and it has bad days. Understanding what lives there and where, will minimize those days. There are also an amazing amount of colorful sunrises and sunsets to be found here.
We begin with a group of Great Egrets doing their thing. These large, social birds always make for artful shots.
An apparently near-sighted Egret. Maybe the world’s first vegan Egret?
My favorite big bird, the Sandhill Crane.
My favorite smaller wading bird….the Black-crowned Night Heron
Must be north. There is nothing like catching multiple species in one shot. This Northern Shoveler (left) and Northern Pintail almost seemed to have developed a friendship. I always think of Northern Shovelers as a large duck because of that big steam shovel of a bill. Of course when I see them next to a Pintail, I realize just how small they really are.
I hope you enjoyed your journey, Wayne