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.
Yellow-rumped Warbler: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — The other day I posted a photo of a single Yellow-rumped Warbler who visited our yard…a first in the almost 30 years we have lived here. Since then we have been inundated with Yellow-rumps. There are sometimes half a dozen at a time on our deck, often 3 or 4 inside the suet cage. And this has been going on for days now. Saturday morning and early evening I sat out in my backyard photo blind and, though I never thought I would say it, I think I already have enough photos of Yellow-rumps for this year 🙂 It is early yet here as I write, not yet full light on this overcast day, and already there are Yellow-rumps in the suet cage on the deck. I am not sure what is going on this year. I see photos on “Maine Birds” and “Backyard Birding in Maine” (on Facebook) that indicate that it is not just Kennebunk that is flooded with Yellow-rumps. Others are seeing them in their yards for the first time ever, and in numbers that are certainly out of the ordinary. Maybe it was just a bumper year for Yellow-rumps last breeding season. ?? You might want to check out my poem for today, which is also about Yellow-rumps. 🙂 (https://day-poems.tumblr.com/post/650156909047988224/53-i-can-only-think-there-must-be-a-surplus-of ) 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 1250 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Purple Finch: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Some of our Purple Finches this spring are just sooo bright. Especially in the early evening as the sun comes in low across the yard from the horizon. They might be called “strawberry finches”…but, of course, that name is already taken…though it appears to one of three names for an Australian bird, so maybe I can still borrow it for our spring male Purples. This fellow posed nicely for me on a perch near the feeders outside my backyard photo blind. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. (And, no, if you are thinking I “enhanced” the color…I can assure you this is how they look to the naked eye 🙂 ISO 250 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Brown-headed Cowbird: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — The male Brown-headed Cowbird is actually quite a handsome bird. There are lots of reasons not to like cowbirds. They hog seed feeders, and are messy eaters, wasting as much seed as they eat (and they eat a lot)…they lay their eggs in other bird’s nests to the detriment of more attractive (and often fragile) species…and their thin, piercing calls can be (and often are as far as I am concerned) annoying. Still, the rich brown, glossy black, and sleek lines make them look, well, a little like a gangsters dressed for a wedding (or a funeral). Sony Rx10iv at 600mm from my backyard photo blind. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. All at ISO 400 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Northern Cardinal: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I had to do some Googling this morning to see what was going on here. I know this pair of Northern Cardinals has already fledged the first brood, as I have seen the two fledglings with the parents passing through our yard. Turns out cardinals build a new nest for the second brood. This is a drastic crop as the bird was just too far back in the brush beyond my backyard photo blind (the light was not great either). I have used Pixelmator’s ML Super Resolution in processing and the results are not half bad…which means they are at least half good 🙂 At least good enough for viewing on a reasonably sized screen. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent (but more like 2400mm equivalent in the crop). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo. ISO 800 @ f4 @ 1/500th. +1 EV.
Emmon’s Preserve, Kennebunkport, Maine. This shot is actually form last week, but I want to post it before Trout Lily season passes us by altogether. You really have to get down low to fully appreciate the blossoms of the Lily, or Adder’s Tongue as it is also called. Someone posted a photo recently of a pure white Trout Lily…something I have never seen. According to Google the white flowering Trout Lily is actually a different species, but I do appreciate our little yellow troops on the floor of the Maine forest when they arrive in early spring. Sony Rx10iv at 78mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 100 @ f5 @ 1/1000th.
White-throated Sparrow: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — The White-throated Sparrow was another bird that showed up in our yard for the first time last year, after I started putting mixed seed out in the feeders for my backyard photo blind. (Or at least last year was the first time I saw one in our yard.) We had quite a bunch of them for weeks spring and fall. This is the one of the two first comers this year. I saw them one afternoon, and have not seem them since, so I suspect they were trail-blazers on their way north…the earliest migrants…with the promise of more to come. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent from my photo blind. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 500 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Yellow-rumpled Warbler: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Yesterday morning I was bemoaning the lack of warblers on our yard list. I see the flood of warbler photos on Facebook, and can not help but grieve a bit that I am not headed for Ohio’s Magee Marsh and the Biggest Week in American Birding this year, where for 10 days I could bathe myself in warblers at eye-level and 20 species in a day. I even used to have a half-way decent spring warbler spot here near the house, but it has been posted out of bounds (and never was that safe, being on the train tracks) so I have not been there in years. I had Ohio in May, and didn’t really need to find warblers in Maine. The pandemic has changed everything. I even wrote a little poem about it, which I will post as my poem of the day. (See it here: https://day-poems.tumblr.com/post/649611122967789568/427-if-you-are-like-me-you-have-to-look-twice-at) I had no sooner stood up from writing that and glanced out the back deck doors, when a Yellow-rumpled Warbler flew into the suet feeder. What? That will teach me! First ever in our yard! Of course it was gone by the time I got the camera, but still. A spring bright Yellow-rump…Audubon’s flavor…as you can see from this photo which I finally managed late in the day, and from too far away, but, again, still! A Yellow-dumped Warbler (not another Pine) in our yard! Sony Rx10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom and cropped to maybe 2400mm equivalent). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 320 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Northern Cardinal: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — We probably get a visit from the neighborhood cardinals every day, probably more than once a day, but I am rarely looking when they come. Therefore it is always a treat to see them. Both male and female will occasionally use the feeders, but they are both happier feeding on the ground…however they are much more difficult to photograph on the ground as they like to skulk among the leaves and brush, and seem to have a talent for keeping junk between themselves and my camera lens. 🙂 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. Feeder shot: ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/800th. Ground shot: ISO 160 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Hermit Thrush: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — After missing two good birds yesterday, the birding day ended with the gift of this Hermit Thrush in our yard. I could not get the camera on the Brown Creeper in the morning (though I had it in the frame several times) or on the Common Loon on the Mousam River on my eTrike ride (wrong camera in my hand, and gone by the time I got the right one), and I thought the thrush was going the same way. It flew in under the feeders by my backyard photo bind as I was folding up the blind to put it away, and after I had already put my camera up on the deck by the back door of the house. It sat there and looked at me, 10 feet away, for several moments and then scuttered off to the back side of the tree line and into the neighbor’s yard. I watched it through the brush for a while and then a chipmunk made a run at it, and it hopped back through the bushes close to me. So then I had to go get the camera. Again I had to contend with the full width of the tree line but I got some shots for the record. Then, another chipmunk ran at it (not sure what was going on there but two chipmunks apparently attacking a Hermit Thrush on the lawn has to be more than a coincidence) and it hopped over the brush, right past me, and into our yard below our deck. I was paying me no attention at all, so I was able to “stalk” it across the yard and get a few better photos. 🙂 Like I say, a gift! Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 1000 @ f4 @ 1/500th.