Saturday, January 30, 2010

Birder/photographer skill vs. instant gratification

I just read a post on the Florida birding listserve that I thought encapsulated the issue of frequent use of bird rcordings quite well. The issue pertained to a impatient photographer who wanted to get a photo of a rare bird, in this case a Masked Duck, though I think the issue is equally applicable to birders:

"A photographer who had been trying to get some shots of the bird was obviously frustrated by this as he came up to me and asked "I WONDER IF IT WOULD RESPOND TO A TAPE?". I was furious and my response to him probably reflected that. There seems to be an element in the birding community these days which has lost all concept of what it means to wait PATIENTLY AND QUIETLY for a bird to show. In their rush for instant gratification it has become all too convenient to reach for an I-Pod and force it into view so that it can be added to the county list, year list, life list or whatever. Over the past few months we have seen examples of that broadcast on BirdBrains. Some birds you may need to use a tape for but these represent a small minority of the bird species out there. Woodpeckers, Hermit Thrushes and Least Bitterns definitely do not belong to that category and Masked Ducks certainly don't. This may sound old school (and yes I have been birding for 40 years) but if you need to use a tape to see a Least Bittern or a Hermit Thrush then I think you need to take up another hobby.

I am therefore pleading with everyone out there to develop some patience and field craft and resist the urge to automatically reach for the I-pod when a bird refuses to show." Read the full post

Red-naped Sapsucker-wintering in Canon City,CO

I found this Red-naped Sapsucker on December 12 and it continues to winter here in Canon City, CO. Though Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers winter here every year, Red-naped are not found every year. They generally winter from the middle of New Mexico and south into Mexico at this latitude.
Though Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have more generalized white on their backs, more limited white on Red-naped Sapsuckers occurs in two longitudinal patches as clearly shown in the top pic.This bird has a lot of red on it's nape as shown clearly in the second pic.
Another difference between Red-naped and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers is the framing around their throats--the red throat feathers of this male Red-naped invade the black malar stripe that makes up the frame while on a Yellow=bellied the frame is intact.
I took these pics with my Canon dslr camera with a 400 mm lens (effective focal length of 640mm as camera is not full frame) then cropped pics to get these enlargements. Be sure to double-click on the top 3 pics for some awesome extreme close-up views (the bottom pic loses quality but the others stay pretty good). SeEtta

Friday, January 29, 2010

Red-napedSapsucker: video clips

These are two short video clips that show the Red-naped Sapsucker perched high on a deciduous tree engaging in grooming and some loafing. I video-scoped the sapsucker so it did not seem to be bothered by my distant presence, one of the main reasons I took up digi-scoping and video-scoping. SeEtta

Greater White-fronted Geese

Another species not commonly found in Colorado that is found regularly in Canon City in the winter is the Greater White-fronted Goose. These are part of a family group of 11 Greater White-fronted Geese that have been in Canon City since November. SeEtta

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers winter in the Canon City,CO area, the furthest west location in Colorado with a regular population (usually several). I first found this male on October 29, 2009 in Centennial Park and have seen it there off and on since then. Today it had snowed about an inch and this sapsucker was not in the mood to be disturbed from it's feeding on phloem in a pine tree--it gave it's mewing/screaming like call after I took a few pics. I stopped taking photos (though not loud, my dslr camera makes a mechanical noise each time I depress the shutter and some birds are disturbed by this) and sat quietly in my car for a few minutes in hopes it would go about it's business. It continued feeding so I snapped a few more pics but it called again. I did not want to further disturb it or cause it to flush from an apparently good spot on this pine tree so I not only stopped photographing the bird but left. I used my Canon xti dslr camera with 400mm super telephoto lens (effective focal length of 560 as camera is not full frame) then cropped pics to get these enlargements.
The fully framed throat that distinguishes Yellow-bellied from Red-naped Sapsuckers (another sapsucker along with Williamson's that we get in winter here) is shown well in the bottom pic. SeEtta

Sandhill Cranes in W.Texas: video clips

These are just two short video clips I video-scoped (video taken with my point and shoot camera that I handhold up to my spotting scope) in W. Texas on my way home to Colorado from Texas in early January. These cranes were part of a flock of hundreds that I spotted while driving down the highway. The bottom clip is very short showing the cranes flying but is mostly for the audio side as they sound came out very good. SeEtta

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Put a Songbird on Your Shopping List - National Wildlife Federation

Click here for important information for songbirds, farmworkers (who get poisoned by the pesticides) and you.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More from trip home thru Texas

My posting got interrupted by the Snowy Owl and I didn't get to finish posting about some of my birding on my way home as drove through West Texas and the Panhandle. I didn't get any post-able pics of a neat spectacle I saw in small town in West Texas--many hundreds of Chihuahuan Ravens. I first observed numbers of Chihuahuan Ravens feeding in a just-plowed ag field. When the farmer drove his tractor back towards them, the ravens started lifting off with many more coming from behind vegetation and others from the trees surrounding the field. They formed into 2 separate "kettles" and flew in apparent thermals around and around as they lifted higher--I was amazed as there were more than 500 ravens in total. As the kettles rose several hundred feet up, first one then the other kettle flew off each in a different direction. The above pic shows some of the ravens in a kettle--I just haven't mastered the technique necessary to get good pics of kettles be they ravens or hawks (any suggestions will be welcomed). I looked for signs of the ravens as I continued my drive north but they were long gone.
I saw many Ferruginous and Red-tailed Hawks in West Texas and in the Texas Panhandle and a few Rough-legged Hawks including this male I photographed in the Santa Rita Grasslands in the far nw corner of the state. Double-click on this pic for a closer view of his brilliant eyes.
The Sandhill Cranes in the bottom pic were part of a flock of 150 or more that I spotted in a pond not far off the highway. I saw several other flocks near the highway which made the drive more interesting. SeEtta