Best Of The Year!! November – December ‘Bird Is the Word’ Blog #82!! During the summer I purchased a used Nikon 1 mirrorless camera and a 70-300 millimeter lens. The 300mm lens with the Nikon 1 crop sensor claimed to make for an equivalent of 810mm. At a bit of a loss I got out of this set up, selling it off as the zoom was maybe 400mm and that simply defeated the purpose. As a Nikon user, who understands the realistic limitations and painfully slow focusing of my main horse: the Nikon P600 I was appalled at the dishonesty of the Nikon 1 system. I possibly have a new camera purchase on the horizon and I believe Nikon has lost me as a customer, but I digress.
I mention this not to slander Nikon but to point out that I did take one of the photo’s for the calendar month of November with it. You may notice that I actually have a photo with birds in flight! Simply impossible with the Nikon P600, there was some upside to flight shots with the Nikon 1. On a sunny summer day, with hundreds of seagull and tern subjects at the ready I got some decent flight shots! I didn’t dislike the Nikon 1, but if it was advertised as to what it actually performs as, it would have never been on my radar. Money would have been saved and I would not have been so bummed. Even with all my exhaustive research I still felt bamboozled.
Many of my birding friends rejoiced with me and for me when I came around with my upgraded set-up. Hanging my head in shame when two months later I had just my old P600 strapped on and a story of disappointment was…well.. disappointing. The first pic below is the shot that made the calendar, and a few “B” roll ‘flight’ shots included as well for good measure!
That was a fun day and the little Nikon 1 performed well! It is rare for me to have two of the same species of bird make the calendar but I liked this other Laughing Gull pic so much I had to include it too!
The Nikon P600 does good on close, large subjects that are still, as evidenced by this Greater black-backed Gull!
I had to sneak a Wood Duck photo in as per usual!
Also highlighted here is the very rare Mountain Bluebird that for some reason made it’s way here way out of it’s normal range:
The photo of the Mountain Bluebird just made the cut-off as it was a bit distant and not too sharp of a photograph. This year I made the cover of the calendar all sub-standard shots of all ‘next level’ birds. The subjects are absolutely thrilling, all rare stuff, but due to whatever conditions the photo’s just are not “calendar shots”. Having many small pictures minimizes the imperfections that would be seen if they were blown up larger. I will be however including them here as a ‘Easter egg’ bonus in their full pixelated glory at the end of this blog entry!
This Kingfisher pic was also almost omitted due to lack of sharpness of the photo, but I just liked it too much to not include! The picture was taken in a suburban back yard which adds to the fun of the memory for me, but I get that doesn’t mean much to anybody else.
Lastly and concluding this calendar/best of the year 2018 series is Earl! A local legend and friend that is a bit tame. My local Salt Marsh affords these kind of impeccable looks at many species including unreal looks at Osprey and Great Egrets. Earl will regularly just show up and land next to ya, sometimes even walk the path a little with ya. He’s a cool bird and I’m looking forward to his return in the spring! See you in a few months Earl!
As promised, a little overtime in photos! Best of the year subjects with less than stellar photographs..the Cover! If you love birds you’ll love these pictures, If you like great photography and nice sharp photo’s you may wanna skip it hahaha
…and with that we conclude our best of 2018/calendar series! Will there be a calendar for next year, I’m not too sure! I’ve gotten some decent photo’s and species since I submitted my pics for this year, so there’s a chance! Thanks again for reading! Please do click the links below for all things https://nursemothercaregiver.com/
Best Of The Year!! October!! ‘Bird Is the Word’ Blog #81!! October is heavily based on bird experiences I had throughout last summer, and three of the birds were ‘extra-limital’ which meant driving out of state to see them. There was word of a Roseate Spoonbill the next state over and I did see that great bird, however only less than stellar photo’s were obtained.
While scanning for the Roseate I was very pleased to see some Whimbrels loafing with the Terns and Gulls! I don’t see them very much at all where I live and I was really excited to have this opportunity! Whimbrels are such awesome looking shorebirds, and that beak is too cool!!
Among the loafing birds there was also a few Caspian Terns! Another bird that was so accessible here that I rarely see on my local birding adventures. A impressive Tern with a monster red beak, it is quite a looker!
Seeing the Whimbrel and the Caspian Terns literally in thew same photo frame was very cool! A few hours later while getting assaulted by the marsh flies I did see the Roseate Spoonbill!
THese snazzy Terns “turn up” locally in very small numbers and I had zero luck on them for a few years. Simply going down south to see them was the way to go for me! With a bit of looking I found a large flock of Sandwich and Royal Terns and it was one of my coolest birding memories ever! Just looking at those pictures gives me much joy!
Seeing the Sandwich and Royal Terns many miles away was great, so when I got treated to a hang out session with a decent size flock of Royal Terns about 2 miles from my house I was happy about that as well!! There were adult and juvenile birds and the picture I used in the calendar was a noisy begging youngster being largely ignored by a non-plussed adult. The juveniles have the beaks that are more yellow in color.
These pictures were taken on a cloudy cold day in October. The Royals were surely not around much longer and soon after departed for warmer pastures I’m sure!
It’s nice when some of the stories from the blog also have images that I can use in something like this calendar. Sometimes I can’t capture quality images, sometimes I get decent pics and sometimes a few photo’s are just too poor for the calendar. This year I made the cover page a montage of all great birds, mostly quite rare that my pictures are not too good. Keeping the size very small keeps it moderately respectable. But.. look forward to a lot of pixelated images coming at ya in a week or so hahaha!
These Sora pictures are worth a mention regarding blurry photographs as I saw this bird in a persistent rain. I snuck it into a regular month but just barely. It was a tough call! Hopefully no one will look too closely at the sharpness of the photo! A great celebratory moment as a birder for me and I guess I just couldn’t help but feature it prominently!
Best Of The Year! September! ‘Bird Is the Word’ Blog #80!! Of course many of these photo’s and birds were featured in earlier posts in this blog. Avid readers of this blog may recall that I had a brush of luck with a rare Hudsonian Godwit before ever seeing the more “common” Marbled Godwit. Not such a bad position to be in, but I was still really buggin’ to see a Marbled!
When one was spotted somewhat nearby I hopped right on it. It was tough to get due to the hard to find legal parking and a long walk in the heat. Of course upon walking up to the bird all that was forgotten and it was really awesome to see this cool looking shorebird! The fact that I saw one a few days later, and also that a small fleet of them hung out consistently at my local beach soon after made me second guess my efforts slightly after! But hey, what can ya do! No regrets!
I had so much fun observing the Marbled Godwit and got to see it groom, sleep, fly and fraternize with the American Oystercatchers!
Getting a chance to see Least Bitterns was also a birding dream that I hoped would come true! They don’t seem to be readily seen locally, so I had to travel an hour or two to see them. Totally worth it! Especially with the great looks of them I got!
As much as I like to remember this beautiful chance meeting with an Eastern Meadowlark, I don’t really want to recall how many times I looked for and failed to see this species of bird! They do seem to like being quite elusive and don’t seem very fond of humans at all! Awesome birds though! I can’t wait to get another opportunity like this one. I hope it is in the cards to happen again one day!
Eastern Meadowlark certainly has a high ranking for me! Thanks to these pictures it could be part of the ‘Best Of’. My previous pictures of it were quite bad…quite bad!! Til’ next time!!, thank you for reading and please do click the links below for all things https://nursemothercaregiver.com/
Best Of The Year! July-August! Bird Is the Word’ Blog #79!! Summer is upon us, not in reality on the U.S. east coast where I am, but here, in your friendly ‘Bird Is The Word’ blog! Ahh, thinking of summer, how I do miss those mosquitoes and all the sweat! Can you trade them for frozen extremities? I’m not sure which I dislike more, but I guess it’s the mosquitoes. Even having to think about it while in the midst of winter weather conditions I guess reveals the answer!
Starting off this entry and representing the month of July is this Northern Parula! I wish every photo I took came out nearly as well as this one! My goal is to get a better camera and make this blog a bit more photo-centric. If I had better photo’s it would only help make this blog a “must click” My Nikon P600 did a nice job with this one however! Credit where it’s due!
This was the only month where only one bird was featured. Having multiple photo’s on each page allows smaller images and hides the fact that if those pictures were as large as this one they would be under-par for the most part. I’d consider this one a true “Calendar shot!”
August is very heavy on the raptors! Featuring a very red-tailed Red-tailed Hawk! Also An Owl in the daylight of the Great-horned persuasion and an Osprey with the distant landmarks recognizable to people that know this area!
In photography, they say light is everything…
A case could very much be made for timing as well!! Thankfully seconds before taking off I got more than just the back of the bird! I suppose two eyes was asking too much! Oh well, I’m O.K. with it. I like the way the yellow eyes look with the green leaves in the background
I like how in the background of this shot it has the out of focus bokeh effect on images miles away. A nice touch that was purely accidental I’m sure! Thanks for reading! See you next time with the months of September-October! ..and please do click the links below!
Best Of The Year! May-June! Bird Is the Word’ Blog #78!! We’re already hitting the mid-point of last year! It certainly was an interesting birding year! The month of May on the calendar features a Chestnut-sided Warbler and a Green Heron. The warbler fallout just a few miles from my house was quite good! The “warbler tree” as I call it did not disappoint! The day when a Bay-breasted Warbler and this Chestnut-sided Warbler basically hung out in plain sight for the whole afternoon was quite awesome!
No reason to not add some pics of that beautiful Bay-breasted Warbler too!
Here are a few pictures of the Green Heron that made the calendar, the salt marsh offers some fantastic views on these small Herons!
This pic above is my favorite, the ‘head-on’ shots are always fun!
The month of June brings us to what are some extra special editions to my life list. Three birds I was so excited to see!
The first Pileated Woodpecker I ever saw clearly was this male that disappeared as fast as he appeared. The other photo’s are of a female that flew in moments later and ‘clung out’ for a bit! That day ended a pretty long search for this species. I have seen them twice since then, but one observation was quite distant. The other was recently, a fly-by while looking at a Barred Owl!
This year looking for rare warblers in specialized areas resulted in some fruitful sightings. Not only did I get to see Hooded Warblers, but a second, somewhat nearby location also yielded the Golden-winged Warbler. A protected species that isn’t too easy to find without knowing where to look! Missing out on Kentucky Warblers just gives me some motivation for next spring haha. Finally a picture of a Cerulean Warbler that wasn’t completely terrible was obtained that day as well!
There were some nice additional sightings as well like Prairie Warblers and Eastern Bluebirds, this cute turtle and even a nifty snake!
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Best Of The Year! March-April! Bird Is the Word’ Blog #77!! Back at it and continuing the ‘Best Of 2018’ series takes us to the months of March and April!
I had heard about a Red-necked Grebe that was hanging around a marina nearby. That bird was fun to chase around as it would disappear and re-appear but even when it would move on to the adjacent marina I would always re-find it and enjoy watching it! I got to share the bird with other birders too, and it made for some really nice moments!
When I was looking for the Red-necked Grebe I came across this darling pair of Greater Scaup Ducks. They were always together and just adorable! One one occasion they were resting in the marina very close to the boardwalk and I was able to set up for some pretty respectable photo’s!
They needed to be well represented in the calendar and of course this ‘Best Of The Year’ series!
I sat very patiently when trying to blend in to get decent Red-necked Grebe pgotographs and the Pigeons that call the marina home got used to me and started resting next to me on the boardwalk! It was sweet to earn some trust from them and that afforded some really nice photo opportunities!
The Palm Warbler above was a real nice photo capture for me, as these small feisty birds, like most all Warblers aren’t known for staying still very long. My camera has a good zoom, but it does need a lot of time to focus. A lot can change from getting the image I think I’m getting to what I actually get. Usually it changes for the worse. This was one of those times that the bird fortunately stayed still and I was shocked and excited at the result! Warbler season is breathtaking, they are so stunning and beautiful!
I made a special trip to see this Henslow’s Sparrow which apparently is trying to reestablish itself in territories it had long since been forced out of. Word is this bird had a mate and that they had a successful brood! Here’s hoping! I absolutely adore all sparrows and it will be hard for me to add any to my life-list without traveling a bit! This lifer required a bit of travel, but was quite cooperative upon arrival! My camera had a tough time focusing when it was singing on a thin branch, but I tried every trick in the book and got a few pics to come out.
After a time it did sit very auspiciously and gave great looks! That same day a nice fella told me about a hotspot for Red-headed Woodpeckers. I followed him to this really cool swampy lake with lots of dead trees. The Woodpeckers really like this habitat and it did not disappoint at all! The light was not on my side for good pictures, but it was still very cool!
Both of the times I was lucky enough to see Red-headed Woodpeckers they were both juvenile birds. This time they were all adult birds and just striking with their red heads and black wings with the prominent white feathers on them! Just beautiful!
No calendar can be complete without a cute little chickadee, right!?? My favorite sound is the banter of Black-capped Chickadees. It always makes me smile! They are such fun and sweet birds,and when I find myself joined by a flock of them it’s always special! This one is just adorable!
Thank you to all the readers out there! I appreciate your reading of this blog, and I appreciate you clicking our links below for all things https://nursemothercaregiver.com/
Best Of The Year! February! Bird Is the Word’ Blog #76!! Continuing from last week’s theme, we turn the page of the calendar to the next month of photos: February! I like this month especially because as it turns out three of the four pictures are from my favorite birding spot, my local Salt Marsh!
This was the place that transitioned me from curious party to legit birder. That credit goes to their knowledgeable and awesome staff! In addition, they are so nice to me despite all my millions of questions, and millions of requests for ID’s, usually from my less than stellar photo’s! If you guys ever read this, you know who you are!…and Thank You! Witnessing my progression from knowing nothing to sometimes thinking I know everything has to have been kind of a funny thing to witness!
The first photo for February was the one picture not taken at the marsh. That is of the Eastern Screech Owl that resides at a nice trail by a stream that I do enjoy very much! As a matter of fact this trail has at least two Eastern Screech Owls, this one, the red morph:
and this one, the gray morph!
I’m not sure if they are a pair or not, although a gray one and a red one have been seen together on that trail. If they are a pair perhaps they like some space as these two reside about a mile and a half from one another! I always go each winter to see them. Once the leaves are on the tree’s the gray one can be very very hard to see, the red one is in an easier spot thankfully! Here’s a few more pics of the red morph Eastern Screech Owl, she got a visit from a Blue Jay while she was resting just outside the tree cavity she lives in and it get her all riled up!
Before the Blue Jay visit, and…
Next up is the Tricolored Heron. A rare visitor to my area for the most part, though their breeding range can expand to as north as me and beyond. It is an exceptional treat to get one at my local marsh! This one stuck around for awhile too! It made many birders very happy!
I took a lot of pictures of this bird at various times, but none of them came out all that great. It is such a fantastic Heron though! It had to be included!! Here’s a few B-roll shots!
The next photo, I’m particularity happy about because it really was a “photographer’s shot”. Usually I walk around where the birds take me, and where I hope they’ll be. Yeah, I try to get the sun behind me if at all possible as that really helps out the quality of the photo’s. That is one of the cornerstones of taking pictures! Get that light behind ya if you can!!
On this picture I actually sat down next to this snag, a dead branch coming up from out of the marsh. I simply waited and hoped a bird would land there. By being in position and very quiet this Barn Swallow landed just mere feet away with little to no care of my presence! That allowed me to be much closer than I would have been able to if I tried to approach the bird after it had perched up there. Most likely the Barn Swallow would have flushed from that spot before anyone could get this close!
What a stunning subject! Just a real treat to try to get a real ‘calendar’ photo of this bird! My camera really does best when you fully zoom on the subject, even when it is quite close. It ‘bokehs’ the grass into that nice pea soup background and tends to take a pretty high quality image. That was a rewarding experience and a lesson that patience can certainly pay off!
Finishing off February is a Common Yellowthroat Warbler. We are lucky enough to be in their breeding range. As most warblers are flying through and past me to get up north, some of them stay put to spend the spring and summer to nest. I see them at the beach, the marsh,at the local parks and ponds. The Common Yellowthroat, especially the male was a bit of a nemesis bird to me. That is due to the fact that they are generally well hidden in the underbrush, and quite ‘skulky’ as we birders say!
In the fall, they are less numerous as most have begun traveling south for the winter, so when this bird posted up on a branch next to me as I walked the salt marsh trail on a dreary fall day I was really excited! It stayed for quite a while and I managed a few decent shots. I did what I could with my settings and did my best to combat against the lack of natural light! It was great moment that I’ll always remember fondly!
This is the photo that made the calendar, and below are a few bonus photo’s as well:
Best of 2018! January! Hi everybody! I enjoy being a birder, and it does have a tendency to also somewhat make you a photographer. In the early stages of learning, a camera is very handy to capture images that can be studied later. I notice the more veteran birders carry scopes and binoculars, but not always cameras. They are confident in their abilities and can bird in real-time, even when it’s just a flyover bird in the distance.
However, I need to take photo’s! I can compare field marks in the photo’s with my guides, or use the internet to figure out the exact bird I did see. I can ask friends and other birder’s their opinions too. Without the photo’s to reference, I’m afraid I would forget or become fuzzy on the details.
Speaking of fuzzy, many of my pictures are fuzzy and pixelated. Sometimes a fleeting moment is all I’m offered and I know without that reference shot that sighting will always be a mystery. I don’t like that at all! I want to know what species of birds I see. Even a rough reference photo can still be very useful in getting the right identification!
Sometimes instead of fuzzy and pixelated, the images come out quite nice, and I’ve always lovingly described these photo’s as ‘calendar shots’. I use these photo’s to create an annual holiday gift for some friends and family. That gift is a calendar, highlighting….well, the highlights of my birding year!
So without further ado! And through the power of this blog I can now share my best moments of the year with everybody, including you! Hey, that rhymes!
The centerpiece of the first month of 2019 is the Bonaparte’s Gull. I recently blogged about running into several hundred of them, but this was from last winter. A few of these beautiful gulls were loafing on the (very cold) beach and I was afforded much better photo opp’s than my more recent sighting!
Above, is the pic that made it to the calendar. Below are some alternate shots:
I believe it was the same day that I saw those Bonaparte’s Gulls when I photographed this Ruddy Turnstone. It had found an easy meal of the remnants of this Horseshoe Crab. Here’s that photo and an alternate shot as well!
Moving on the January page clockwise is a somewhat recent photo of a Lesser-Black-backed Gull. This Eurasian species has been more and more common over the last few years. I’m told maybe just a decade ago a sighting of one would have caused a lot of excitement in the birding community. It is now a bird that most birders can see by checking just a few reliable spots. Here is the photo that made the calendar and an alternate shot of this bird as well! We hung out for a while, an awesome bird that had made it into last years calendar as well!
There is a honest attempt to try to have birds from appropriate months to make the calendar well rounded. If you look close you can sometimes find a summer photo in a winter month and vice versa. Guilty! I wouldn’t put a spring migration bird in say, February. It’s just a loose translation that gets muddy by the time I cram everything in! The future will hopefully bring a more professional camera and my hope is a future calendar will just be one photo for each month. Using smaller pictures helps the resolution stay intact, and the photo’s will look a bit sharper than being blown up very large to fit the whole page.
Each year I fear I won’t have enough good photo’s to make the grade, but so far I have had surplus and tough omissions. Not every picture is an A+, but I do the best I can with equipment that is quite tangible for anyone interested in starting out. A Nikon P600 camera, which was a little under $300 new, and Diamondback Vortex binoculars which were around $200. I had some cheap Bushnell binoculars until I couldn’t take it anymore!
Next up, is a extra special one for me. If you read this blog you know I loooove all kinds of ducks and this rare visitor was a real treat! Yes, it was freezing out. Yes, I had heard there were steep fines for walking out on the jetties. I didn’t push my luck, especially after “eating” the jetty the year before and clinging on a rock so I didn’t fall in the winter ocean lol! So i didn’t get as close I would have liked. But whatever…it’s a King Eider! The pics are not great, but it’s a special moment for me as a birder and I needed to highlight that sighting!
Lastly for the month of January is this Horned Grebe. Most all of these pictures for January where all from the same beach. Not this bird though. This grebe was seen at a nearby bay and we had a bit of staring contest. It showed really well but it would dive frequently and my camera was too slow to get any good shots, but this one was pretty cool:
And…an alternate shot:
That does it for January! Some months have quite a few pics and others less. I’ll cover February and March in next weeks edition of ‘Bird Is The Word! Till then please do click the links below for all things https://nursemothercaregiver.com/