Eastern Bluebird, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I have way too many photos of the Eastern Bluebird at the mealworm feeder…in all kinds of poses and all kinds of light…but he rarely sits long enough away from the feeder (and near the blind) for me to get an memorable image. This time he did. Late day sun. Perfect background. Great pose. What more can any photographer ask…at least for a portrait shot. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. You can drill in on this quite a ways before you run out of feather detail. (One of these days I am going to make a collage of all the mealworm feeder shots, just for fun.)
House Wren, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — When the House Wren is not singing, it is generally foraging among the leaf litter under my feeders…or somewhere out of my sight…but foraging all the same. I caught this one in the act, with success. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Purple Finch, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I continue to be amazed at the success of my backyard photo blind project…way beyond my expectations. I spend about 2 hours there each day when the weather allows, mostly in the late afternoon when the light is at its best. While I am, of course, missing all the birds that do not come to our yard (warblers in particular this time of year and the more obvious shore and water birds, not to mention raptors) I am seeing lots of birds I did not expect from my casual feeder watching in previous years. The Purple Finches are among them. We rarely had them at the feeders on the deck, but this year we have them daily at the feeders by the blind. For a while there I was not seeing the adult male, but he has been coming the past few days, several times a day. Yesterday I had the immense privilege of watching him do his mating display. He was moving rapidly and not sitting anywhere long, and I did not get to the video button in time for video, but I got many stills of his various poses. The Purple Finch display is a mix of begging postures…wings drooped and fluttering rapidly, chin up, just like a nestling…and aggressive displays with his crest raised and his back arched and his tail cocked up. It is really something to see! You will want to view the still image as big as you can make it. 🙂 I am also posting a short animation of the action. Though this is the best of 4 attempts, the frames are not perfectly aligned and at 4 frames per second, it does not capture the wing fluttering at all, but you can see the rapid changes in posture and attitude. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. Video assembled in ImgPlay.
American Goldfinch, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I have watched this Goldfinch come into full breeding plumage over the past 8 weeks here in Southern Maine. It is only now becoming certain that it is partially leucistic…that grey patch on the back of the neck should not be there. It makes it vaguely reminiscent of a Lawrence’s Goldfinch from about as far away as you can get from Maine and still be in the US…the far southern coast and mountains of California. Also over the past two months the greenery behind the feeders and perches at my photo blind has come in nicely to provide this kind of of backdrop to portraits of the birds. This twist of Bittersweet vine is a favorite perch for the Goldfinches. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Northern Cardinal, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Both the male and female cardinals are coming to the feeder station by the blind several times a day now…of course they generally come when I am not in the blind…but occasionally I am out there to see them. This is the kind of view you can only get from a blind. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Mourning Dove, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Mourning Doves spend a lot of time feeding on the ground, and most of my photos are of doves on the ground. This one came a perched nicely in front of the blind up just above eye-level. I like the tones in this photo. The dove looks like it might be cast in brass, while the feather detail against the smooth bokeh of the tree in the background adds a dimension to the photo. Right time, right place, and ready! Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
American Goldfinch, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I find these photos particularly amusing because of the contrast of how hard the Goldfinch tries to sing, and how tiny the actual sound is. I published this little poem a few days ago, but it bears repeating here. 🙂
The Goldfinch sings such a wispy tune,
a whisper song, an absent-minded twitter
totally without conviction. It takes a flock
of them to make much noise, and then
it has all the coherence of a string ensemble
behind a closed door tuning. I want to say,
“hey, Goldfinches, you can do better!” but
then, considering the numbers coming to our
feeders, their song, no matter how deficiently
soft and un-melodic to my untrained ear, must
be perfectly sufficient to Goldfinch needs.
Got to give them points for effort as well. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
My friend Stef and I took a loop out through the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area yesterday to take in, among other things, the last of the Northern Blazing Star bloom. Blazing Star is endangered in Maine and the Plains are one of its last strongholds. I was reminded just how important a resource it is. Besides flocks of busy Goldfinches and Pine Warblers, the Blazing Star along Day Brook Pond was full of insects…butterflies and moths and bees and flies. When I first saw this White-lined Sphinx Moth I took it for one of the Clearwings. I have seen both Snowberry and Hummingbird Clearwings working the Blazing Star in the past. A closer look showed that despite similar size and behavior, this was a different moth. No transparent wings. I had to look it up when I got home. The White-lined Sphinx, like many Hawk moths, is mostly nocturnal, and mostly seen early and late, during dawn and dusk, so I can be forgiven for assuming it was a Clearwing. If I remember correctly, my only other sighting was years ago by artificial light on our back deck, feeding on the potted plants we keep there, when I, like many others, called it a Hummingbird Moth because of its size and behavior. (That name actually belongs to the Clearwing.) The White-lined Sphinx Moth occupies a huge range, all of North America and parts of Central America, and there are apparently known populations in Europe, Asia, and Africa. This one was very cooperative, working the same patch of Blazing Star for 15 minutes or more, and coming in close enough for lots of photos, before zooming off in search of a new patch of flowers. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
I am working back through my photos from my Birding the Manu Road adventure with Amazon Journeys more or less in order. This is from the first day, still on the highway to Purcartambo (where the Manu Road really begins). We pulled off in a “likely spot” on one of the hairpin turns to walk a ways and see what we could see. This is the Chestnut-breasted Mountain Finch, a lovely little bird the Birds of Peru guide lists as rare and local throughout its limited range on the mid-range dry slopes of the Andes. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (600mm optical plus 2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
We had a long cold spring in southern Maine this year, and most dragon and damselflies are late arriving or late flying, but here in the first weeks of July, we are finally seeing some action. These dragons were all at the drainage pond at Southern Maine Medical Center in Kennebunk yesterday. Unicorn Clubtail, Twelve Spotted Skimmer, female Eastern Pondhawk, and Blue Dasher. All but the Unicorn will be abundant at the area ponds for the next month or more, but it is good to see them flying. Sony RX10iv at 600mm optical equivalent, plus enough Clear Image Zoom to fill the frame. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.