My wife Carol came into the bedroom where I was writing and said there was a dragonfly on our back deck near the bird feeders. It had, of course, moved by the time I got my camera and got there, but it was still sitting on the bow of one of the feeder poles. I got a few shots before a Woodpecker came and scared it off for good. This is a Painted Skimmer, one of the most abundant dragons on the wing right now in Southern Maine. Sometimes they come to you 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm optical equivalent, plus 2x Clear Image Zoom. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
We put up a new feeder pole on the other corner of the deck this week, along with a branch I saved from pruning the cherry tree last fall. The birds started using it immediately. I also added one of those metal screen thistle feeders to replace the thistle sock, which never, in the past three years, attracted a single Finch. That too was a success. The Goldfinches, which came to the Black-oil Sunflower Seed feeders even if they did not come to the thistle sock, started using the screen thistle feeder on the second day. They also like the cherry tree branch, which is straight in line with the deck door and easily visible from the breakfast table…if I am careful I can get the door open a crack before the birds fly, hence this shot of a Gold Finch at close range. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
We interrupt this parade of the birds of Magee Marsh and Ohio with breaking news from the backyard! Carol first noticed the hummingbirds coming to our ornamental cherry tree blossoms a week ago, just as the last light was fading. I had to run for my binoculars to see for sure that they were Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (the only likely hummer we have here in Maine, but never, considering the nature of hummingbirds, the only possible hummingbird 🙂 When we saw them again around the pansies on the back deck, we dug out the hummingbird feeder and I mixed up a new batch of juice and hung it on its hook in one corner of the deck. We have had occasional hummingbird activity in the yard in the past (enough to have invested in the feeder and some hummingbird juice mix) but this year we have two pairs of Ruby-throats…two bright males and two clean females…coming to the feeder every few minutes all day long. At first both males tried to defend the feeder…keeping even rival females away…but now they have settled in to more or less tolerate each other. The females often feed at the same time, and I have seen both males on the feeder during the warmest part of the day. As it cooled yesterday, they got fiesty again, pushing each other from feeding hole to feeding hole around the feeder, but they still managed to share the resource. I have seen the males displaying for the females, and have some hope one or the other pair will nest in the big pines along the edge of our yard. The shot above was taken just before sunset, with no direct sun, and does not show the deep ruby of the gorget. Still I was happy to get what I could, standing in the open back door. There is a bit of heat distortion due to the differential between the warm house and the cooling deck, but I did not dare to step further out for fear the bird would fly. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
On Christmas Eve day I was looking out at the feeding station on our back deck behind the kitchen when I spotted a tiny bird on the deck below the feeders, gleaning among the fallen seed. It was a Brown Creeper, the first I have seen in our yard in over 20 years of living here in Kennebunk, and maybe only my third in Maine. It few off into the trees along the treeline between our house and the neighbors, where it stayed long enough for me to call my daughter Sarah, who is visiting for Christmas, to see scattering up a trunk. Yesterday it returned to the feeders…first on the suet and then on the fallen seed, and I managed a few shots of it before it flew off. It is apparently part of a mixed feeding flock which includes at least 6 Eastern Bluebirds, a Purple Finch (also a rare yard bird), White-breasted and at least one Red-breasted Nuthatch, a Downy Woodpecker, and numerous Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice. Such excitement! But the Brown Creeper is the real treat. Sony RX10iv at about 800mm and 1000mm equivalent (600mm optical and bit of Clear Image Zoom). Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
We have lived here in Kennebunk for 25 years, more or less, and we had the first Bluebirds in our yard two years ago, just about this time, for Christmas. They came all winter that year, and stayed for nesting somewhere in the area (though not in the box I nailed to a tree along the edge of our yard) and they came again the next year, and stayed with us through the first brood last summer…and then they were gone. We did not see them the second half of last summer or this fall. My daughter and I were discussing it as we drove back from the bus station where I picked her up for her Christmas visit. Then, she was standing at the back deck door in the kitchen watching the birds at the feeder and said, “Isn’t that a bluebird?” And, of course, it was. Four showed up over the next few moments, after I went out and shook down some mealworms for them in the feeder…2 males and 2 females (or immature birds from the last brood of the summer). So that is our little Christmas miracle for the year…or one of them. Having 3 of our 5 daughters home (my 7 daughters) and trusting the others are safe, and enjoying the day is another, as is the day itself, and what we remember on this day. Joy. Blessing. The gift of love in the baby Jesus…and, of course, the gift of love in Christmas Eve Bluebirds at the feeder! Merry Christmas.
I have not seen a Pine Siskin in our yard for many years now, perhaps as many as ten…until yesterday. A Bluebird sitting on the deck rail below the feeders caught my eye and sent me for the camera. It popped up into the trees behind the feeders when I opened the deck door and I got of a few shots before it moved over to a group of Bluebirds and Juncos feeding under our big pine, but then as I stood there with my head out the door in the February cold, several birds came to the thistle sock. At first, of course, I thought I was looking at very pale winter Goldfiches, but a second look showed them to be Pine Siskins. What do you know? Of course they may come every year and I have just missed them for the past 10, but I was certainly delighted to see them. We have had Bluebirds in the yead for the first time this winter, and others in area are reporting more Bluebirds then normal, and now Siskins. All it would take now is a few Redpoles, and a flock of Bohemian Waxwings to make it a truly record winter. 🙂
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 320. Program mode. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro.
Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/250th @ ISO 200 @ f4. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro.
We have lived here in Kennebunk, in this house, for over 20 years, and yesterday we had a new yard bird. That is always exciting. A small feeding flock that included at least 4 Eastern Bluebirds came to the back deck feeding station. Bluebirds are primarily insect eaters, so they don’t generally visit feeders (unless you have live mealworms out), but they were with a group of American Goldfinches, and Bluebirds have been known to supplement their diet with sunflower kernels (and fruits and berries). I suspect the Bluebirds were foraging on the fully opened and half eaten sunflower seeds the Goldfinches were dropping. A few did come up to deck level and perch on the railings and on the apple branches bolted to the deck for perches around the feeding station. I stepped out on the back deck with my camera and stood quietly until both Goldfinches and Bluebirds got comfortable enough with me there to perch 8 feet away. It was a cold, clear, winter day and the light was great. It does not get any better than that!
Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/250th @ ISO 160 @ f4. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. I edged as far out on the deck as I dared but I was still shooting under a branch that came up and to the right over the Bluebird’s head. I removed it with TouchRetouch, also on my iPad Pro. If you want to explore the feather detail you can look at this image, and others of the Bluebirds and Goldfinches, on my WideEyedInWonder site. This link takes you to this image.
Yet another shot from my mixed feeding flock experience on the back deck last week. The Hairy Woodpecker is a size bigger than the more common (in our yard) Downy, with a correspondingly heavier beak. This specimen was on the rail of deck, looking up longingly at the suet feeder. 🙂
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program Mode. 1/250th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Polarr on my Android tablet. There was a large green feeder pole running up through the image just to the right of the end of the bird’s beak, decorated with worn strips of Duck Tape no less…which I was able to remove entirely using Handy Photo. It worked so well that I really did not have to tell you that…but there you go…full disclosure. 🙂
This is another shot from my productive session with the feeding station on our back deck the other day. The Chickadees, of course, are totally fearless, and will land on the station while I am actually out on the deck. This is only slightly less than full frame at 600mm equivalent field of view. I especially like the bright eye on this bird, and the natural feather detail.
Sony RX10iii. Program Mode. 1/160th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Snapseed on my Android tablet. Distracting branch in upper right corner removed in Handy Photo.