It has been a while since I dedicated a post to birds and nothing but birds. It’s good to celebrate the visual glory of these avian wonders.
Birds are the photographic subject I am most prolific in. That is not unusual and I would not be surprised if birds are the most photographed subject in the world. I had an email conversation the other day with a local birder who wondered why some of the top bird photographers in Wisconsin/Illinois, no longer seem to photograph birds. I cannot really speak for friends who have forsaken this subject…..but I will anyway. Many photographers don’t want to photograph what everybody else photographs. They want to separate themselves from the crowd. That was never an issue with me because while I might be photographing birds today, tomorrow it would be flowers, or a sunset, or maybe even a non-nature subject. The biggest reason (I think) why a few of the best known have left for other subjects, is the over crowded scene that develops wherever there are interesting birds. I can relate to that one. Those groups can be fun but a lot of us seek nature subjects for other reasons than socializing. It is one of those things that I cannot explain. Either you understand it or you don’t.
The Commoners Most of the birds below are of the common ilk. Nothing wrong with the commoners.
I love Gray Catbirds. I am told that these cousins of the Northern Mockingbird can also mimic other birds. One thing is for sure, if you put some oranges out for Orioles, the Catbirds will take advantage of it. They pose in the most interesting and humorous ways.
Christmas is a time for family, but for me it was often a time for birds. It was Christmas morning of 2008 and this pretty Red-tailed Hawk presented me with a fine gift. Blue sky winter days are great for bird photography.
There are many different kinds of doves in North America, and the Mourning Dove is the most common. The great thing about doves is you can usually get very close to them. The tighter the image you get with most birds, the more your picture becomes natural art.
This too is a Mourning Dove. When young Mourning Doves fledge, they do not do so in one swoop. This one made it to my backyard, and spent well over a week there before it continued its journey. Mom stopped back several times a day to check out junior, see that he was healthy, eating well, and cleaning his room. Okay I made up the last part. The biggest issue to Junior’s new bedroom was that it was visited several times a day by our three dogs. Most of our time was spent trying to make sure he did not become a doggie snack. Junior and mom were successful.
Okay for a guy living in Wisconsin, Western Grebes are not a common bird. They are however common in…….you guessed it…….the west. This bird spent about two hours in a local harbor, but neither I or the twenty or so birders who ventured this way the next day, ever saw him again. Sometimes you just get lucky.
I’ll begin today’s guest artist segment, with return performances from great wildlife photographers David Hemmings and Marina Scarr. David’s first picture is that of a Common Eider and the second is an Arctic Tern with a fish, and Marina’s picture is that of a Barred Owlet. Great stuff as always.
Let’s switch horses and take a look at artist Valerie Roger’s beautiful bird paintings of a Snowy Owl, Ring-necked Pheasant, Great-horned Owls and a Kestrel. A trip to Valerie’s site to view her mammal work is well worth it. I do plan on showing some of those mammal paintings in the future.
Living in Sim City I don’t know how many of you know about the video game called Sim City. It is an old game and I know my audience is largely adult, so like me, you may have never seen the game.
Several years ago there was a movie produced on the concept of Sim City. It was a rather bazaar movie that had actual actors, but the actors and the backgrounds and sets were clearly digitized to look the way I would guess, the Sim City game looks. It was formatted to contain four or five small plays within the larger movie. My memory is not perfect but in one play a guy stops his car at the edge of a city. A cop stops and begins to question him. Finally the cop says I will have to arrest you and you will need to stand trial. Not too worry proclaims the cop, the best attorney available will be assigned to your case.
As the traveler sits in jail it finally occurs to him that everyone in this Twilight Zone type town, is a lawyer. Everyone. They take turns working other jobs so that the town can survive. The cop, the garbage collectors, the TV repairman, everybody is really a lawyer. They salivate when a stranger comes to town that they can either arrest or sue. When no strangers appear then they simply take turns suing each other. Every day the courts are filled and busy as they continually sue each other.
I live here in southeastern Wisconsin in the U.S., and when I turn on my TV and look at the commercials, I feel like I am in that town of Sim City. We seem to have more lawyers here than we have constructions workers, or factory workers, or car salesman. I vote we rename Wisconsin…….Sim City, and pass a law that lawyers can only sue each other.
Several years ago I received a very formal looking letter in the mail. It originated with a law firm. Upon reading it I realized that I was being asked to sign it so that I could receive justice. I had been wronged by credit card company X, in one of my European transactions, and I should sign to receive my just rewards for this miscarriage of justice. The problem was that I never held that brand of credit card, and I never carried out any business in Europe. I threw it away. A few months ago I received a check for $4. I was told that justice had been served. I crumpled the check and threw it away but not before I checked the internet to see what I could find out. What I did find out was that the law firm in question made several million dollars to serve justice. I wondered how many people like me, who had nothing to do with being wronged by this company, also received a minuscule settlement check. Hmmmm, a million people getting a four dollar check.
I live in a state that is proudly known as the class action law suit capitol of America. We are the only state in the U.S. that does not require a lawyer to pass a bar examine to practice here. Unless of course you come here from another state to tri a case, and in fact, lawyers travel here specifically to try their cases.
You and I pay the drugs bills, the insurance bills, the medical bills, and the product and service costs that are passed along in this “let’s sue somebody” society.
Remembering: Sometime (I forgot just when) in the spring of 1971 ( at 19) my new wife and I took off on our honeymoon. Being dirt poor all we could manage was a car trip to the Ozark Mountains of the American south. We pulled into the Lake of The Ozarks tourist town for gas. When I left Wisconsin gas prices were sitting at 40 cents per gallon. I had encountered wallet choking prices of up to 46 cents per gallon on our way down and I hoped that the fact that this was still the off-season for tourism, meant that I could find some relief at the pump in the Ozarks. I spotted a sign that advertised 19 cents per gallon. Wow! Even in 1971 that was a nice bargain. I pulled up at the pump but the attendant was nowhere to be seen. Then I noticed the sign. ALL GAS, SELF-SERVE. I had never heard of such a thing. A worker came out of the office and asked if I needed some help. I said no. I eventually figured out how to get gas from the pump to the tank and went in to pay. My 12 gallons had cost me less than $2.40. We moved on and soon spotted a Holliday Inn. We decided to stay in Lake of The Ozarks. Six dollars for our extremely nice double occupancy room. Off course breakfast would be served (for the same $6) at 7 a.m. Remembering times like that solidify the fact that I am indeed getting old.
Have a great day, Wayne