Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Wild Bird Wednesday - Locals Only

When I first got my new camera, I took it out to practice with every day on my lunch hour from work.  Overhead sun makes things more challenging, but as a single parent, that one hour is usually my best solo time when I can really focus (no pun intended) on what I'm doing.  The tiny vineyard remnant across the street from my office makes for a great little birding spot for catching up with the typical local bird population:

Here's my buddy K-bird...he's a Cassin's Kingbird who regularly hangs out around the grapevines.

For a long time I was (as a newbie birder) not completely sure if he was a Western Kingbird or a Cassin's, but the more I looked at how the white patch under his chin is a defined patch rather than a wash of white, the more I started to think he was a Cassin's and the Facebook Bird ID group was kind enough to confirm it for me.

He's such a good poser!  I keep thinking I should leave him some treats, but I'm not sure if I can handle carrying a bag of fresh bugs around with me until lunch time.

The Northern Mockingbirds were super active this year - I don't remember ever seeing quite this many of them around the office area.  But they were so busy singing, chasing hawks away and performing aerial displays that I had a hard time getting any good photos.  Finally, one day, this guy agreed to pose...although he is kind of doing the Mockingbird pee-pee dance in this shot...

I did get one good still shot before he took off.  Their ability to mimic and their catalog of bird calls is quite amazing.  I am convinced that they pick up other noises as well because I'm just sure I heard one doing an imitation of a car alarm one day.

Black Phoebes are one of my favorite local birds.  They look so dapper in their black and white "tuxedo" outfits (although my son maintains that only penguins can be considered "tuxedo" birds).  I find them difficult to photograph, though, because their black eyes blend so perfectly into their black head feathers that it seems like every shot I get, the eyes aren't visible.  I finally managed to solve that issue with this bird and a slightly cloudy day. 

The hit of rust on his feathers and that bright interior to his mouth and bit of a gape at the back of the beak make me think he might be a juvenile.  Either way, he's not all that happy that I'm documenting his preening session.

Now you can see his "tuxedo."

And, I decided to try my VERY basic Photoshop skills at a cropped portrait photo.  I'm actually pretty pleased with it and I'd like to think my photography skills are steadily improving (not without some setbacks and the fact that I still take far more bad photos than good ones LOL).  I'm hoping by Christmas to feel I've improved enough to justify making the expenditure for my first DSLR camera.


Chris Rohrer said...

Black Phoebes are adorable. Really cool birds. As for your others, just as wonderful. These guys are found here around Tucson. The Black Phoebe returns in large numbers during our winter season.

Margaret Adamson said...

I think you are doing VERY well with your camera. I love all the birds adn how you shots them. Carry on shooting!

eileeninmd said...

Hello, your Cassins' Kingbird is pretty. I also love the Black Phoebe! Great variety of local birds!

mick said...

I like all your local birds - which are so very different from my "locals". The head portrait of that last bird is really great.

GreenComotion said...

I loved seeing two new birds - the Phoebe and the K-bird.
Your photos are very nice - don't really see the need to wait till Christmas to get the ROI :)
Have a Happy Week!
Peace :)

Adam Jones said...

Your new camera looks to be working very well indeed. Some excellent shots, and a nice crop too.

Gayle said...

I could have written your post. Stick with it. Moving to my Canon 40 Power Shot SX 40 HS (thank you Eileen)as a bridge between cameras was like night and day. And its fairly inexpensive as cameras go.
BTW - My co-workers are coming to accept their quirky parking lot birder-haha.

Marie C said...

You did this on your lunch break! I am so impressed! The Kingbird shots are great...he was a new bird for me last summer on our trip to Utah & Colorado and my photos were from underneath as he sat on a tree branch but then we saw one in AZ a few months later and my shot was from a great distance. He didn't hang around as I kept moving closer. :-) Love the mockkingbird (one of my favorites!) and the phoebe is really pretty! Great post!

NatureFootstep said...

really nice shots of your locals. Loved to see them :)

Phil Slade said...

You are really getting into your birding now and taking some real nice shots. The Black Phoebe ones especially good and you're right about black eyes in a black face. Always difficult but maybe over exposure a little helps.

Stewart M said...

Great shots - I also struggle to find time to take as many pictures as I would like - I once said that parents of any sort need to become the 'thieves of moments' - i.e. you need to become good at stealing times for yourself that other people do not notice.

Hope you feel confident enough to keep going with the bird pics and the DSLR - all contributions welcome at WBW!

cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

EG CameraGirl said...

We have the Eastern Kingbird here but I think your is even lovelier.

Wally Jones said...

I really enjoyed my "virtual lunch" with you! You have some really good-looking locals there. Very nice series of images!