Pine Warbler: Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area, West Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Last year we had a Pine Warbler coming to the suet by my backyard photo blind for several weeks. I even have shots of it singing in the branches of the pines over the feeders. This year, at least so far, I have only had a glimpse of one on the suit on our deck. Maybe I have just missed other visits, or maybe our bird has not returned yet. I found this one in full song, responding to another singing warbler further off, on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area, along the shore of Day Brook Pond. Both shots have an out of focus branch across the face of the bird, but that is the way it goes when shooting birds in their natural setting. I am always amazed at just how much obstruction you can focus out with a camera…and at the camera’s ability to auto focus through such obstructions. The Pine Warbler’s long high trill is a treat to hear and this bird was not holding back. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent (cropped for greater image scale). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. I used the selective luminance tool in Polarr to bring up the shadows in this somewhat back-lighted bird. ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Grey Catbird: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Another bird that has been a rare visitor to our yard until this year, is the Grey Catbird. This one came very close while I was in my backyard photo blind waiting for the Eastern Towhee to come out of the deep brush under the feeders. We have two Catbirds this year, and, as well as the spilled seed under the feeders by my photo blind, they seem to like to forage for spilled seed in pansy planter on our deck rail. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 1250 @ f4 @ 1/500th. +.3 EV exposure compensation.
Eastern Towhee: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — When I was out filling the bird feeders by my backyard photo blind yesterday morning, I heard an unfamiliar “chink and titter” call. I simply could not place it, but I knew it could be an interesting bird. Later I took a look out the deck doors in the kitchen, just to see what was out under the trees, and saw the leaves hopping up and down as only a Towhee can hop them. Got my binoculars and sure enough it was an Eastern Towhee…a first for our yard. I had been fooled because our bird was singing the “dink, ic,ic,ic,ic,ic,ic” variation of the song rather than the more familiar “drink yur tea tea tea tea tea” version. I went out with my camera, but if you know Towhees you know how hard they are to photograph when feeding in dense cover and heavily leaves. Most of the time they are well buried. He did hop up on the fence and sing once…this time his traditional tea song, but he was still obscured by the brush in the corner of our yard. I saw it again, mostly still buried in brush, several times during the day, so, late in the afternoon I set the blind out and sat there for an hour waiting on the bird to show itself. I have, as you might predict, a great many photos of pieces of Towhee, and an equal number of shots of focused foliage and brush and unfocused bird. I even played his song for him, hoping to strike a competitive streak and inspire him to hop up somewhere and sing. He was not having any of my tom-fool-ery. Eventually I did get some photos I was happy with…if not the full frame, full body, field guide quality shot I might have wanted. 🙂 I am hoping he will attract a mate and that they nest in neighborhood…but I am happy just to have had one in the yard. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 2000 @ f4 @ 1/500th. +.3 EV exposure compensation. The high ISO called for some extra processing in Polarr.
I am falling behind…not because I am not posting every day, but because I am taking too many photos 🙂 Not a bad problem to have. Of course a string of rainy days might cure that, but for now, I am going to group this set taken at the same location on the same outing: I rode my trike out to Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains near home here in Maine, to see how spring was coming along. We have the Plains landscape on the way into the pond at 24mm equivalent (all with the Sony Rx10iv, this one with HDR, and the rest with my birds and wildlife modifications to Program), a Northern Water Snake (one of the largest I have ever seen) at 465mm, Dogwood in bloom against a stand of white birch at 24mm, two Painted Turtles sharing what appears to be a tender moment (but probably was not really) at 600mm, and Eastern Pine Elfin at 600mm and about 3 feet (this is a tiny butterfly, about 1/2 inch across). In leaner times I might have stretched this out over 5 posts, as each shot has an interest of its own. (I did already post the Elfin to some of the Butterfly groups on Facebook, but it belongs here too, in the context of the the visit to Day Brook Pond.)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — When you only have one species of hummingbird, you learn to appreciate what you have…and the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds we get here in Southern Maine are easy to appreciate. I know we have at least 2 coming to our feeder…both males…since just once I saw them both making an attempt on the feeder at the same time. Yesterday, while out filling the seed feeders on the deck, one of them came in to use the feeder when I was just passing it, about a 18 inches away. I froze…literally froze in position and did not move…and after some dithering and dancing in the air, probably deciding if it was hungry enough to risk it while I was standing there so close, the hummer came in and fed for two or three minutes…then zoomed away. It was amazing to stand so close I could see every feather in the gorget when it flashed. These photos are cropped from images with the 600mm equivalent lens on the Sony RX10iv, from about 12 feet, and through double pane glass, but they capture a bit of the close up effect. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos (with the protruding feeder poll removed in TouchRetouch). ISO 640 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Purple Finch: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Another dynamic pose, this time a male Purple Finch. This particular bird shows a lot of white on its under parts. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent, from my backyard photo blind. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 400 @ f4 @ 1/500th. +1 EV exposure compensation for the backlight.
Downy Woodpecker: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Compared to our visiting Pileated Woodpecker, the Downy Woodpecker that frequents our yard is indeed dainty…but oh so handsome. I caught the male here in a dynamic pose as it was on the way into the suet cage in front of my backyard photo blind. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Apple Photos. ISO 320 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Hermit Thrush: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I have not seen the Hermit Thrush (s?) that visited our yard for a few days last week, so maybe I should share a few more shots of this beautiful bird while it is still more or less current. We heard a few songs, coming from the denser woods across the street, and I had some hope we might have a nesting pair…but maybe not after all. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm from my backyard photo blind. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 1600 @ f4 @ 1/500th. +1 EV exposure compensation.
Northern Cardinal: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Though they are definitely becoming more common in our yard, year to year, I still celebrate each visit of the neighborhood Cardinals that I manage to catch. I see them often enough now to be assured that they come every day, at some point in the day, probably several times a day, mostly when I am not looking. I was in my backyard photo blind for this visit, and though the shots are not without foreground obstructions, they are still satisfying. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo using ML Super Resolution and a preset I developed for my bird shots. Finishing touches in Apple Photos. ISO 800 @ f4 @ 1/500th. +1 EV exposure compensation for the backlight.
Pileated Woodpecker: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — This is only the third time we have had a Pileated Woodpecker in our yard in the 25 plus years we have lived here on Brown Street. There used to be a pair that nested in the little patch of woods inside the loop of Mousam Ridge just off Brown Street where we could hear them, but they have been gone for many years now. And I have only seen 4 others in Maine…two at Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve), and two random sightings along the roads of southern Maine. I was, then, surprised to see one fly into back corner of the neighbor’s yard, into the trees behind my backyard photo blind, just as it was getting dark, and in the rain, two days ago. I went out but could not get a photo. Then yesterday, about 10 AM, I noticed movement at the base of dead pine that has been trying to fall over since we have lived here. It is hung up in a big maple and just leans there rotting away. Binocular time. It was indeed the Pileated Woodpecker. I went out and over the next hour or more worked my way around the bird, a female, eventually to within 15 feet, as it dug grubs from the decaying wood…excavating a huge cavity on either side of the trunk to the point where it is just about cut through. It flew off a few times when I was not cautious enough, but quickly returned to its work. I must have taken a thousand exposures…and I do not exaggerate. Such a treat! I left it there and went inside to get some lunch before heading out on my trike to check on the trilliums at the Rachel Carson headquarters (which was on my list of things to do on Monday, before the Pileated visitation). When I left, going on one o’clock, it was still there working away. 🙂 It was not there, when I tried to show it to Carol later in the day, but it returned just as it was getting dark again and she got to see it. We will see what today brings…but it is raining…and, really, I have enough photos to last me a while…unless, of course, the male shows up. Then I will be out in a flash with my camera, rain or no! One thing these photos can not capture is the SIZE of the bird. It is big! The size of a crow. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Apple Photos. ISO 500 to 800 @ f4 @ 1/500th.