Just a few shots from this morning as the dogs and I enjoyed some fresh air and sunshine. All images in the slideshow can be found in the gallery below. Clicking on any frame will bring up the full size image.
Part 4 of my journey through the images I’ve been lucky enough to capture since taking up photography as a hobby two years ago. Nearly all were shot in and around Wythe County, Virginia, many of them in our back yard. Some evenings we have whitetail deer within 10 yards of the house and my wife’s feeder collection (I call it Burd Town.) always draws a crown to the maple tree right outside our bedroom window.
For larger views of any image just click on the thumb in the gallery below.
After mowing the lawn this morning Buddy and I spent some time outdoors enjoying a summer like day and experimenting with my new telephoto lens. I think I’m getting a handle on it but I’ll continue to practice, practice. practice. At least my forearms aren’t aching too badly from holding that 4 lb. monster up.
Incidentally, with the steep corporate discount, courtesy of the company I was working for when I had my accident, combined with the close out discount offered by the supply house I purchased this lens from my actual cost was less than half that quoted on the Sigma catalog page the first link takes you to.
Frankie had Godzilla today so Buddy and I were sticking close to home. These are a few of the best shots I managed to capture from the front porch at an average range of 15 to 20 yards. I can’t wait to get out and about with my new gear, especially on the beach next month when we go home on vacation.
If you’d like to see larger views of today’s images just click on the images from the gallery below.
If you would like to insert slide shows into your WordPress posts a step by step tutorial can be found here. Puzzle, a talented, creative and prolific blogger gave me the link a while back when I was still learning my way around here. I have followed her blogs since my first post on Windows Live Spaces a little over two years ago. Thank you, Heide for your friendship, knowledge and inspiration!
Still waiting for the new modem to arrive so I’m extremely limited to how much I can upload before the worn out piece of junk I’m currently using craps out again. I have discovered that blowing about half a can of air through the vents cools it down enough for me to stay online for as much as 20 minutes before it gets so hot it shuts down again. I think this time rather than following the tech support weasel’s advice to just toss the old one in the trash I’ll keep it. Since the average life span of the cheap junk our ISP provides is about 6 months it’s anyone guess when I’ll need spare parts. Maybe next time I can build my own modem (or even a Borg drone) while waiting for a replacement to arrive.
Buddy is in the pet hospital today so the house is unnaturally quiet. No, he’s not ill or injured, he’s getting neutered……poor guy. While I understand the need for such a thing it doesn’t make it any easier for me, as a man, to contemplate. I can’t help wondering if the pitch of his voice will change……or if eat all my shoes for leaving him in that place and letting them remove what are apparently his favorite toys.
My shutter button finger hasn’t been idle while the modem slowly melts down. This is the first Nuthatch I’ve seen this year and I managed to get a few frames shooting through the bedroom window again. I just hope I haven’t included too many images with this post to publish before the modem quits again. We shall see…….
These little guys have a unique way of feeding. They start at the top of a tree trunk and walk down, head first, pecking at tasty morsels hidden in the bark.
That is, they feed upside down when foraging for food.
When they’re getting their fill on the feeders they’ll eat upside down, backwards, sideways or any which way they can! The weather guessers are calling for more winter weather in the next few days so I should be able to get some good shots of the feathered gluttons as they put away as much free food as possible ahead of the weather.
Okay, now to see if I can get this published before the modem quits again. I’ll be around to visit all of you and respond to any comments you’ve left as soon as I get my new equipment. In the meantime y’all play nice. Don’t make me stop this car!
Cloudy skies, fog most of the day, washed out light….not the best for shooting but I’m not complaining because that fog is the result of warmer temperatures. The ice and snow around my parking space is nearly all melted away making the likelihood of my falling on my butt a little more remote.
Just a few random shots ……….and thoughts……. today from the trip to town to pick up THE BOSS this afternoon.
“I’m tellin’ ya, Maude that pond was right here yesterday! I even way pointed it on my GPS so I could find my way back!”
“These goose suits were a brilliant idea, Simon! They don’t have a clue it was us that turned the pond into a giant ice cube! Your freeze ray works great!”
You’re right……it is leaning but it’s also still in use.
Not just an old farm building. This one contains a modern pumping station for the town water supply. Even though I doubt this was ever more than a humble shed I love that the town tries to preserve as much history as possible. Too many places don’t.
Having accepted the WordPress Daily Post Challenge I found myself wondering whether to use one of the suggested topics provided by the forum or just try to wing it. The need for a trip to town, an itchy shutter button finger, clear blue skies and sunshine outside my window this morning made the choice easy today……the feathered option won.
Now, what to write about?
The Mallards in a stock pond down the road?
Maybe Mr.Cardinal peering in the window when we returned home, wondering if we were going to re-stock the feeders.
The Red Bellied Woodpecker, who has recently discovered our feeders, was nearby, working on a suet cake.
Then there are the bossy Blue Jays who always find a bounty of spilled seed under the feeders
Perhaps the Dark Eyed Juncos, recent additions to the daily menagerie in and around Burd Town?
I can always count on the Sparrows for a visit and sometimes one will hold still long enough for a clear shot. More often than not my Sparrow shots are nothing but a blur of wings flitting through the branches.
Always on hand to watch us fill the feeders, and to sample the new seed, are the Titmice.
Decisions, decisions……….. Oh, yes; before I wander off I have to admit that I’m no authority on birds so some of my identifications may not always be accurate. This is where the Internet comes in very handy:
Today I had no sooner picked up the camera than this Red Bellied Woodpecker landed on a feeder no more than 15 feet from where I sat.
He even worked his way around the feeder to allow me to get a shot demonstrating where the name comes from. The 55-250MM image stabilized lens I was using really brought him in!
Just as I was about to get up this male Downy Woodpecker zoomed in to one of the other feeders. The male of the species has a red blaze on the head while the females don’t.
I’m still trying to capture a clear shot of a female but they are not only fast, they don’t hang around long, either. With more winter weather in the long range forecast for next week I’m sure I’ll get an opportunity.
While Frankie and Mom were shopping Buddy and I took a walk and found a few burdz to keep us amused.
Yes, I’m well aware that winter doesn’t officially begin until December 21st but, when standing in 4 inches of snow while my wild child Lab pup runs amok in the 16°F (-9°C) air, that’s close enough for me. In between gales of laughter at Buddy’s antics I managed to capture a few burdz in the tree overhead and thought I would share.
Downy woodpeckers, female on the left and male on the right.
Another male keeping a lookout from the upper branches.
Tufted Tit mouse, above and below
With the leaves off the trees and frigid winter temperatures the burdz are more numerous and easier to see. The number of species visiting Frankie’s feeders also increase. If you like burdz stay tuned.
Despite the bright sunshine it is frigid out in Burd Town today!
This little guy didn’t seem to mind the cold.
He didn’t seem to mind me standing so close, either. These were all shot hand held while standing under the tree the feeders hang from.
He seemed content to wait for us to fill the feeders while he perched on a branch and supervised.
And, of course, Buddy was by my side, on the lookout for marauding kitty cats. The stray cats infesting our neighborhood got a rude surprise when Buddy moved in. Like Sam, he has that “soft” mouth Labs are famous for so I really doubt that he’d hurt any cat he caught but he sure loves chasing them out of the flower beds and away from the feeders.
The surprise for the cats was Buddy’s speed. He is not only larger and more muscular than Sam was; he’s a LOT faster! When he first spotted a pair of cats staking out the feeders from the flower beds he let out a little whoof and the cats turned to give him a “we know how long that lead is and how long it takes a dog to get here” look.
Then he launched off the porch and was on them in the blink of an eye!
I haven’t seen any cats in the yard since.
Reposted from my Blogger page.
The view through the windshield while Buddy and I waited for Frankie to get off work Sunday. Yes, it is snowing in this shot but that pile of snow is not on Godzilla’s hood. It’s what the plows left in front of my parking space. Keep in mind the top of Godzilla’s hood is nearly 5 feet off the ground.
While Buddy and I were out investigating the yard yesterday this Titmouse landed just a few feet away from me. I could almost reach out and touch him.
I shot this Pine Siskin from the open door of the shed as I was putting out some seed for the Mourning Doves. The doves feed almost exclusively on the ground. Usually they find plenty to eat, seed spilled from the feeders by the smaller birds, but it’s buried under about 6 inches of snow now.
Buddy is following in Sam’s
foot paw prints. The first thing he does when we put him on his overhead lead is head straight for the flower beds in search of trespassing felines.
“There be kitty cat tracks here!” As I type Buddy is crashed out at my feet but judging by the way all 4 paws are twitching and the tail is thumping on the carpet he is on the job even in his sleep!
The view from the back yard, looking north.
No picnics today unless you’re having ice cream sandwiches.
That’s all I have for now. I hope to get some more today as Frankie gets off early but after checking the fridge and cupboards last night I discovered Wal-Mart needs some of our money so we’ll be fighting the crowds in the grocery section for a while. We still have snow showers blowing through and I do mean BLOWING! so I have no doubt that there will be a mob in the store buying up all the bred and milk.
A few of the burdz outside our window this morning.
Chickadees (above and below)
And, last but not least, a Pine Siskin.
I was just about to go outside to photograph a pair of Purple Finches and two pairs of cardinals when all of the birds scattered. Sam quickly pointed out the cause; a pair of cats lurking in the flower bed. While he chased them off I managed to capture these shots through the window before they darted away, as well. I thought I would get these posted while I wait for the sun to move enough to do some more shooting.
While Sam was working on building up his stamina, chasing cats out of the flowerbeds, I pulled my lawn chair into a patch of sunlight and watched the critters flitting from branch to branch in Burd Town.
This one took brought back happy childhood memories.
What does a woodpecker have to do with my childhood?
Woody Woodpecker cartoons, of course!
It is cold and blustery out today and the National Weather Service is calling for a slight chance of rain.
Considering the looks of the clouds rolling in and the occasional flakes falling I wonder just what sort of showers they have in mind.
Add to that the special weather statement just issued calling for a hard freeze tonight and I think I can guess.
This shot taken during a quick trip for milk and bread this afternoon, looking north towards Big Walker Mountain. confirms my suspicions. Snow showers! Don’t ask me why but everyone runs to the store for bread and milk as soon as the first mention of snow is made. I figure I ought to join in, just in case……
Every time I pass this old shed it seems to lean another inch or two.
Titmice watching the pine siskins battle over the thistle sock in Burd Town this afternoon.
One day I’ll remember to ask someone what this weed is.
Last but not least, a woodpecker made a brief stop outside our window this morning/ past experience tells me there will be many more as winter sets in.
We had just a hint of blue sky this morning but, by the time I got outdoors with the camera……
…..and replaced the dead battery pack with the spare, fully charged battery…..
………the sky had clouded over and I switched from “capture what little is left of the fall color” mode to “maybe I should see what I can get in black and white” mode”…….especially after capturing this shot from behind the wheel as we sailed past at 45 MPH! I didn’t even use the viewfinder, just laid the camera on my left arm, hit the auto focus and held the shutter button down for 5 or 6 frames when I heard the beep. Man I love image stabilized lenses!
NOTE TO FISH HOOK: I have no doubt that you recognize this shed and I also know that the speed limit on this stretch of road is 35 MPH but that only applies if there is a police officer in the area. Still let’s keep this just between you and me.
A lady up the street has this wrought iron set in her front yard and I think they look great, no matter what the season. Note the dry stacked retaining wall she built to keep the ridge from sliding into her yard when it pours down rain. I wonder if I could get her to build one to make the ridge slide into
the village idiot dufus reason inbreeding is illegal Walter’s yard when it pours down rain.
Parking my rear end in my Adirondack chair a little burd brought me a burst of inspiration.
Note that, unlike our neighbor lady, I prefer to let the leaves remain where they landed, as Mother Nature no doubt intended. This is also done in the fervent hope that they will blow across the street and
the village idiot dufus reason inbreeding is illegal Walter will have to rake them up in his yard. In case you haven’t noticed, I really dislike that guy. I still think he had more than a little to do with Sam’s illness.
Back on track …..what better subject to photograph in black and white than a black and white burd?
Ah, my little chickadees!
There must have been a dozen of them flitting from branch to feeder then disappearing in a flash.
When I say they disappeared in a flash that is no exaggeration. Them little critters is FAST! I wonder how tough it would be to train them to fly across the street and dive bomb
the village idiot dufus reason inbreeding is illegal Walter every time he steps foot outside.
Fast as they may be I managed to get a couple dozen clear frames of them as well as a few of my favorite black and white subject, Sam the Wonder Dog, who is continuing to recover and, even when he’s ill, is always at my side. Right now he’s doing his impression of a foot stool after snuggling his way under my feet so that I can’t get to the cookie jar without him knowing it.
NOTE TO SELF: Turning the power switch to the OFF position before putting the camera back in the bag when finished shooting will make the battery last a lot longer.
NOTE TO SANTA: Thank you for the spare battery pack and power inverter for the truck that you brought last Christmas! I trust my wish list for this year has arrived intact. If not, just text me and I’ll e-mail another half dozen copies, complete with photos, best prices, online ordering info, and anything else to make this year’s procurement and delivery as easy as possible. I’m even willing to pay shipping and handling. How’s that for being nice?
NOTE TO THE US POSTAL SERVICE: Thank you for delivering the latest copy of the B+H Photo catalogue in time for me to get my Christmas wish list off to Santa. Now to get busy with the Cabela’s catalogue so that I can get my other list together for the family’s shopping convenience.
Even though I dearly love sleeping in, there are rewards for getting up early. Sitting in my Adirondack chair with my morning coffee and camera with Sam the Wonder Dog at my side may become a regular practice, at least until the snow flies.
Several days of high winds and rain have stripped most of the leaves from the Burd Town maple.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Now the burds are easier to spot.
The goldfinches seemed to be posing for me.
The male purple finch Frankie first spotted last week has become a regular visitor.
Yesterday I spotted a female purple finch perched high in the maple.
I’m really loving my 55-300 MM image stabilized lens. If the burds will stay still long enough for me to focus on them I can really get some tight shots.
While researching purple finches on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology web site I learned that this female is putting on a display of agitation as she stretches her neck and points her beak towards this goldfinch intruder.
Wow; I learned something and my head didn’t explode!
When I first became interested in photography as a hobby I found that I began looking at the world around me differently. It’s almost as if I’m always framing a shot and I realized that I was noticing a lot of things that I had always overlooked. One of those things was song birds and I shoot a lot of them, especially around Frankie’s feeders.
Blogging about the birds I photograph led to Internet research and I now have a shortcut folder containing a wealth of information on ornithology and backyard birding. In case you’re interested, these are a few of my favorite references:
Peterson’s (I have a hard copy of the Birds of North America in my camera bag)
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (I carry a copy of their field guide, as well)
A cold front moved in overnight, dropping our overnight temperatures to below freezing. Despite today’s sunny skies the brisk wind and low 50 degree air temperature had me wearing layers when Sam and I went outdoors today. While he snoozed in a patch of sunshine at my feet I turned my lens towards the American Goldfinches visiting Burd Town today.
There seemed to be at least one on every branch.
They’re not really that chubby.
As a defense against the icy winds birds puff their feathers away from their skin to trap air and create a layer of insulation.
As I was scanning the branches for more Goldfinches I got a surprise.
Burd Town is one of my favorite shooting sites and I’ve seen many species on the feeders or perched in the tree but this is the first time I’ve seen this guy.
I’m no ornithologist but after some online research and a browse through our Pederson’s Field Guide I’m pretty certain this is a Purple Finch.
Now that most of the leaves are off the tree it’s much easier to spot birds in the upper branches. Most species seemed to develop much brighter plumage during the winter months and I’ll be keeping an eye out for this one.