March 12, 2016 Salineno Birding Area, Texas

Audubon Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Audubon Oriole and Northern Cardinal

Eight Days to Go !

Northern Cardinal and Long-billed Thrasher
Northern Cardinal and Long-billed Thrasher

We have had our first serious rainfall over the past two days, the first in four plus months to be exact. So that allowed me to catch up with some image processing, thus, yes, still more bird shots from Salineno.

Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Altamira Oriole and Female Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Female Cardinal
Audubon Oriole and Green Jay
Audubon Oriole and Green Jay
Audubon Oriole and Great Kiskadee
Audubon Oriole and Great Kiskadee
Green jays
Green jays
Green jays
Green jays
Green jay and Great Kiskadee
Green jay and Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher and Female Northern Cardinal
Long-billed Thrasher and Female Northern Cardinal
Long-billed Thrasher
Long-billed Thrasher

Red-winged Blackbirds

Red-winged Blackbird Harassing Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird Harassing Northern Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbirds are a very real problem here as elsewhere that birds are being fed, they want their share of the handouts, and obviously feel that their share is about 99% of the food put out.

Red-winged Blackbird Harassing Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Red-winged Blackbird Harassing Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Their constant, relentless attempts to mob the feeding area have admittedly gotten to me over the four months of attempting to keep them at bay. Their shrill trilling from the treetops around the yard and from their hidden perches in the bushes within the yard are like nails on a chalkboard to me.

Red-winged Blackbird and Green jay
Red-winged Blackbird and Green jay
Red-winged Blackbird and Green jays
Red-winged Blackbird and Green jays

My absolute disgust with these birds has made me reluctant to include images of them on this blog, or anywhere else for that matter. But they most certainly are part of the “action” shots I have been taking, for they are the central characters in most of the conflicts over food here.

Red-winged Blackbirds and Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds and Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole

They arrive in numbers the second I turn my back or whenever I have my eyes locked to the back of my camera, driving off the birds we are trying to attract through sheer force of numbers.

Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole
Red-winged Blackbirds Harass Altamira Oriole

The Altamira Oriole is normally the yards dominant bird, not really backing down to any other bird when challenged, but even they are eventually forced to yield when the Blackbirds descend in numbers.

An Unusual Red-winged Blackbird
An Unusual Red-winged Blackbird

Lastly, this rather different Red-winged Blackbird showed up a couple of weeks ago and I have no explanation for the odd coloring. Anybody seen anything like this or know the reason for it?

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March 8, 2016 Salineno Birding Area, Texas

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

Finally Getting Some of the Good Stuff Posted

My Nikon D810 camera died and was sent back to Nikon for warranty repairs a couple weeks ago now. Since then I have been concentrating on getting a serious backlog of image processing done.

Female Northern Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinal and Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Female Northern Cardinal and Golden-fronted Woodpecker

I still have hundreds of nice action shots to sort through and process, even though I haven’t shot anything new in two weeks. As I go through these images, and think back to where I started this action shot business three months ago, I can’t help but think I have made some pretty decent progress. My time here in Salineno has proven to me that you actually can teach an old dog new tricks.

Great Kiskadee
Great Kiskadee
Long-billed Thrasher
Long-billed Thrasher

Turns out that camera technique is only half the secret. Paying attention to how the props are constructed, where they are placed for bird flight paths, selecting the proper backgrounds, and knowing what time of day will yield which type of shot best, are every bit as important as knowing how to use the camera.

Female Northern Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinal
Female Northern Cardinal

The images in this post were shot over several days with varying light conditions. Most of my favorite shots from here were taken between 7:30 and 8:30 in the morning or in the very last hours of useable light in the evening. All of the above shots were shot at that time of day, where the dark backgrounds and brilliantly lit subjects produce very dramatic images. Yet those are also the shots that require the most patience. Because of the dim light,  it becomes difficult to maintain the shutter speeds necessary to freeze wing motion and it takes an awful lot of shots taken to get just a few good images, but I have found that when all the conditions are just right and the subjects catch that golden light just so, well, the results speak for themselves.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Female Northern Cardinal
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Female Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Female Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Female Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Female Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Female Northern Cardinal
Two Female Northern Cardinals
Two Female Northern Cardinals
Great Kiskadees
Great Kiskadees

Another very different lighting condition, foggy mornings that yield very diffused light, produces  an entirely different type of image, these soft, pastel like shots.

Great Kiskadee and Green jay
Great Kiskadee and Green jay
Great Kiskadee and Green jay
Great Kiskadee and Green jay
Great Kiskadee and Long-billed Thrasher
Great Kiskadee and Long-billed Thrasher
Great Kiskadee and Long-billed Thrasher
Great Kiskadee and Long-billed Thrasher
Long-billed Thrasher
Long-billed Thrasher
Audubon Orioles
Audubon Orioles
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Female Northern Cardinal
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Female Northern Cardinal
Great Kiskadee and Female Northern Cardinal
Great Kiskadee and Female Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Great Kiskadee
Altamira Oriole and Great Kiskadee
Altamira Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Altamira Orioles
Altamira Orioles
Altamira Orioles
Altamira Orioles
Altamira Oriole and Audubon Oriole
Altamira Oriole and Audubon Oriole
Audubon Oriole and Female Northern Cardinal
Audubon Oriole and Female Northern Cardinal

Midday produces the best light for freezing motion and thus some of the sharpest shots are taken then, though the bright backgrounds add little to the images.

Audubon Oriole and Female Northern Cardinal
Audubon Oriole and Female Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Great Kiskadee and Female Northern Cardinal
Great Kiskadee and Female Northern Cardinal
Green Jay and Female Northern Cardinal
Green Jay and Female Northern Cardinal

The weather here at the start of March has me itching to head north for a change of scenery , routine, and some more comfortable temperatures. March 20th has been announced as the closing date for birding at Salineo, so I begin my countdown to departure, hoping that Nikon gets my camera sent back to me in time to leave on schedule. I hope to be able to catch some of the Texas springtime wildflowers as I head north and west from here.

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February 19, 2016 Salineno Birding Area, Texas

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

Yet More From Salineno

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

Well, a little good news, bad news, for you. The good news is that I have apparently worn out my new Nikon D810 camera taking flight shots of small birds here at Salineno and have had to send it in to Nikon for repair, so, at long last, I now will have to stop taking any more of these shots. The bad news is, I have a backlog of several hundred shots that I have not yet found time to process, so these bird images will continue to be posted as I get the backlog processed.

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

The number of decent shots per session has ballooned as I improve my props and learn how to guide the birds flight paths so that they end up close to where I want them so that they are in focus. Thus where initially I may have only captured one out of twenty shots worthy of review now it is more like one out of six, and I may end up with as many as 200 shots I have to edit and process each day.

Female Northern Cardinal
Female Northern Cardinal
Female Northern Cardinal
Female Northern Cardinal

I now find myself throwing out shots I would have been elated to get just a few months ago. Yet, as long as the camera was working, I still had to keep shooting each day because … you never know, that perfect shot might just be the next one you take.

Female Northern Cardinal
Female Northern Cardinal
Female Northern Cardinal
Female Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Green Jay
Green Jay
Long-billed Thrasher
Long-billed Thrasher
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Green Jay and Female Northern Cardinal
Green Jay and Female Northern Cardinal
Green Jay and Female Northern Cardinal
Green Jay and Female Northern Cardinal
Green Jay and Female Northern Cardinal
Green Jay and Female Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal and Green jay
Northern Cardinal and Green jay
Northern Cardinal and Green jay
Northern Cardinal and Green Jay
Green Jay and Female Northern Cardinal
Green Jay and Female Northern Cardinal
Female Northern Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinals
Long-billed Thrasher and White-tipped Dove
Long-billed Thrasher and White-tipped Dove
Great Kiskadee and Female Cardinal
Great Kiskadee and Female Cardinal
Great Kiskadee and Female Cardinal
Great Kiskadee and Female Cardinal
Great Kiskadee and Altamira Oriole
Great Kiskadee and Altamira Oriole
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals
Altamira Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Northern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Green Jay Kiskadee and Altamira Oriole
Coming and Going
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay
Altamira Oriole and Green Jay

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February 17, 2016 Salineno Birding Area

Altamira Oriole andNorthern Cardinal
Altamira Oriole andNorthern Cardinal

A Month to Go ( Yet More Birds )

Altamira Oriole and Great Kiskadee
Altamira Oriole and Great Kiskadee

My four and a half month stint volunteering here in Salineno is now into it’s last month and yet I remain fascinated, and challenged by this small bird in flight photography. Looking back at my first attempts three months ago, I am going to say that months of practice have most certainly improved my images.

Green Jay and Female Cardinal
Green Jay and Female Cardinal

I now find myself concentrating on images with at least two individuals interacting in some interesting manner with at least one of them in flight.

Green Jay and Great Kiskadee
Green Jay and Great Kiskadee
Great Kiskadees
Great Kiskadees

My latest photo prop helps make this happen by being just large enough for two , and sometimes more, birds to be able to land and feed. This is an old fence post I found near my campsite that I was able to cut down to about three feet in length and then drill and chisel out the top, hollowing out a two and half inch deep cavity where I can conceal a fair amount of our peanut butter/lard/cornmeal mix. I then screwed a 16″ X 16″ piece of plywood to the base and actually attached a carrying handle to the back side of it to make moving it around a little easier. Because of the overhanging tree branches arching over the feeding area here, moving the prop around to escape the branch’s shadows is constantly required. This prop has worked out so well that I am going to have to make room for it in one of my basement storage areas and it will be traveling on with me.

Northern Cardinal and Long-billed Thrasher
Northern Cardinal and Long-billed Thrasher
Altamira Oriole and Female Cardinal
Altamira Oriole and Female Cardinal
Female Cardinal and Great Kiskadee
Female Cardinal and Great Kiskadee
Two Female Cardinals
Two Female Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinals

Early morning light …

Female Northern Cardinals
Female Northern Cardinals

AltaAndKiskadeePostVertDARK

Northern Cardinals
Northern Cardinals

… and late afternoon light continue to produce some dramatically lit shots. The limited light available makes it impossible to completely freeze the action, but the dramatic lighting I believe more than makes up for that.

Great Kiskadee
Great Kiskadee
Green Jay
Green Jay
Green Jay
Green Jay
Green Jay
Green Jay

A Few More Still Shots

Altamira Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Audubon Oriole
Audubon Oriole
Female Cardinal
Female Cardinal
Green Jay
Green Jay
Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

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