Yesterday was a day for looking for wildflowers. I took my ebike out to the headquarters trail at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge to see if, despite our ridiculously late spring, there were flowers in bloom. The Hobblebush is, of course, still in bloom, but then, that sometimes blooms in February. The Lady Slippers, generally a safe bet for Mother’s Day, are just budding out. Late indeed. However the Two-bead Lily are past, so they apparently bloomed on schedule. ?? I found the Rhodora above in a road-side ditch on my way to Rachel Carson, and the Wood Violet, Blueberry, and Painted Trillium along the trail. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
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.
This is not a great photo as photo go. The birds were too far away across the Little River Marsh from the overlook on the Laird-Norton Trail at Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve)…so far away that it took 2x Clear Image (digital) zoom to identify them. And then a heavy crop to make the birds big enough so that you can identify them in the photo. But they are Red-breasted Mergansers, and they were actively displaying and courting, and on the theory that any photo is better than none 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). 1/1000th @ f5 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
Three trees obviously. Pine, Maple, and Birch. Two at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and one just down the road at Laudholm Farms. I don’t know if you can call it a “good” use of an ultra wide frame of view, but I like to try it on occasion. 🙂 Sony a5100 in-camera HDR at 18mm equivalent. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic. The trick of course is to be really close to the tree…but then trees are not that shy.
While down at the beach on Saturday, waiting for the Game Warden to call about the stranded Razorbill, there was a Common Loon fishing for crabs on the inland side of the causeway bridge in Back Creek. I managed to catch it with its mouth full. It took it 5 minutes to dismember and eat this crab. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my birds and wildlife modifications. 1/1000th @ f4.5 @ ISO 100. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr. This is a crop down to about 1200mm equivalent field of view.
I had a strange (and slightly wonderful) encounter yesterday. I decided to go down to the beach for a few moments to photograph the stormy sky. As I drove the access road, which runs along the top of a causeway, it was unusually high tide, with the normal marsh on either side of Back Creek where it empties into the Mousam River behind the dunes of our local beach was fully under water and the tide lapping high up on the causeway. I noticed what was obviously a fairly large bird right at the edge of the water, up against the causeway, not 6 feet from the road. My driving impression was that it was a Razorbill, and when I got the car parked and walked over to see, it was indeed a Razorbill. What it the world? What is a Razorbill doing behind the dunes, pressed up against a roadway? It seemed to be in relatively good shape. It stood and flapped both wings at one point, but when I approached it, instead of backing out into the water, it hopped out of the water altogether and came up the bank toward me, stopping right at my feet. Other than a slick of something brown on the chest I could see nothing wrong with it. Still, I called around trying to get help. I got an answering machine at both Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, which manages the marsh behind the beach, and the Wells Reserve (Estuarine Research Reserve, which is just down the road from Rachel Carson). I called the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Game Warden hot line, which is really for reporting wildlife violations. A lady answered and took my particulars and phone number and said someone would call. About 15 minutes later a Warden did call. He could not get anyone to me on Saturday afternoon. I expressed my concern that a dog was going to get the bird, as the beach is popular with dog walkers in the winter, and not everyone obeys the sign that says the dogs must be on a leash…or, more likely, that gulls would get it. He suggested that I either box the bird up and drive it an hour down the interstate to the Animal Rescue in York, where they might be able to help it, or that I move it to a more secluded spot out of the sight of any marauding dogs, and with some cover from gulls, and let it fend for itself. He said birds are often not really hurt…but just resting after some trauma, and will recover if left to their own devices…something I already knew from past encounters with apparently injured birds. My wife needed the car in just a few moments, so I did put a fabric shopping bag I had in the back seat of the car over the Razorbill and moved it to the shelter of some overhanging brush well off the road. Best I could do.
When I got home, of course, I did a bit of research, and discovered one concerning thing about stranded auks…they can not take flight from land. I worried I had put the bird too far from water, so this morning at first light I went back to the beach with heavy gloves and a box, intending a deeper intervention, perhaps even an attempt to clean the oil or whatever it was from the birds feathers, if it was still there. It was gone…and there was no sign of predication. I am taking that as good sign.
Of course I took a lot of photos while waiting for the Game Warden to call me back. As I said, the bird apparently had no fear of me, and I got closer than I ever hoped to get to a living Razorbill (close indeed since I actually had it in my hands when I moved it). That was certainly special.
The three photos above are from the Sony RX10iv, close-ups at 600mm and wide shot at 300mm. All in Program mode with my birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
We will take a break from the birds (and wildlife) of Florida this morning for this shot of ice bells on the Mousam River here in Kennebunk. I went out with my new ultra wide landscape camera to see what I could see along the Mousam, and had to walk back to the car for my RX10iv with its longer lens to get a close-up these ice bells several feet out into the stream. So it goes 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 378mm equivalent. In-camera HDR. Nominal exposure 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 160. Processed in Polarr.
I went to Roger’s Pond Park on the Mousam River in Kennebunk, Maine, to see if there were any Eagles yesterday morning. There were no Eagles, but there were Common Mergansers in the river. I like this shot taken over the back of the Mallard in the foreground. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. My birds and wildlife modifications of Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
I went out on a cold January morning to see what I could see before the promised snow the following day. It was a perfect day for ice sculptures to form in the spray and splash of rapidly moving water. I found this in the outflow of one of the little ponds along Rt. 9. I am always amazed at the shapes water can get into. Sony RX10iv at 140mm equivalent. In-camera HDR. 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.