For the birds

Finally! I got my chance to perch (pardon the pun) in the backyard and photograph birds with my new lens (which I call Big Mamma – the 600mm VR). I’d been wanting to do this since I got the lens in December, but back then it was either too cold, too dark, or there just weren’t that many birds around. Anyway, I have all kinds of excuses…. But when it was clear that spring was actually going to arrive this year, I was just itching to get out to try my hand at bird photography. I knew from my few forays this winter that it was harder than it looked. But I’m determined to produce some great images. It’s all about practice, practice, practice! And well, the beaver hadn’t shown up while I was out there (despite sitting in a blind for an hour) and I was determined to make some images.

A White-breasted Nuthatch waiting patiently for his turn at the feeder (copyright Shelley L. Ball)

We have several bird feeders in our backyard and so there’s almost always a flurry of activity there. Mind you, it’s mostly the same characters showing up day to day, but occasionally, we get something new. One bird that did show up in winter and has surprisingly stuck around, is the Dark-eyed Junco. I love these little birds – slate grey on top and white on the bottom. They never go to the feeders to eat; they always stay on the ground and look for seed that the other birds have knocked out of the feeders. They must just love Bluejays! We often watch the Bluejays using their beaks to swipe seed out of the bottom of the feeder and fire it all over the ground. No wonder the feeders are empty so quickly and we’re going broke ….

A Robin who was bobbing around the backyard looking for insects (copyright Shelley L. Ball)

Thanks to the Bluejays (and with a little help from me too) the Juncos came right up behind our back patio to feed on fallen seed. They are quite shy little birds, but if you sit really still, they will come up quite close. Because of this, I was able to get a few really nice shots. The key to getting good shots of birds that feed on the ground is to get down to their level. Photographing a bird that’s on the ground while your camera is at human shoulder height doesn’t result in very appealing images. You need to get down to bird level, or close to it. So that’s what I did.

Here are some shots taken from our back patio.

Dark-eyed Junco (copyright Shelley L. Ball)

Dark-eyed Junco feeding on the ground (copyright Shelley L. Ball)

Looking for more seed (copyright Shelley L. Ball)

Looking around.... (copyright Shelley L. Ball)

I’ve  just finished work, the light is great, and before I go out to camera club meeting tonight, I’ll go see if the beavers are out there. If so, I’ll just have to spend a bit of time in the blind. After all, who needs to eat dinner. I need to lose weight anyway. And I’d sooner photograph wildlife. Plus, if I’m REALLY lucky, maybe the otter will come back. One of the otters made its first appearance of the spring. It showed up in the early evening yesterday and actually sat right near the spot where the beaver often sits to munch on aquatic plants. I would be soooo happy if the otters park over there for a while so I can get some good shots. Here’s hoping!



Filed under Wildlife Photography

2 responses to “For the birds

  1. Great shots, Shelley! My preference goes to the 1st and 4th photos of the dark-eyed junco. The soft backgrounds are really nice and make the bird stand out.

    • Thanks France. Really appreciate the feedback. My favourite is the first Junco image. I love the softness of the background and the colour of it compliments the slate-grey of the Junco. The full rez image is pin-sharp so you can see some nice feather detail.

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