The first signs of spring
It may seem early for such a post, since the official start of spring is over a month and a half away. However, spring doesn’t arrive in one day when the date on the calendar changes. It comes slowly at first, gaining momentum as it approaches. It’s the last day of January as I begin working on this post, and I’ve already noticed a few signs that spring is on its way. So far, it’s been the birds that are letting me know that so far. Unfortunately, I missed a photo of the first sign of spring that a bird sent me, it was a downy woodpecker testing dead branches to see which one would be the best to use for drumming.
Woodpeckers don’t sing songs, but they drum loudly against pieces of wood or metal to achieve the same effect, attracting a mate. People sometimes think this drumming is part of the birds’ feeding habits, but it isn’t. In fact, feeding birds make surprisingly little noise even when they’re digging vigorously into wood to find food. When you hear a male woodpecker rapidly drumming on a dead branch, it’s to attract a female.
Anyway, the male that I heard drumming was just out of camera range, and he was too busy looking for exactly the right dead branch to use for drumming to pause for me to get a good photo of him. So instead, I’ll have to use this photo as one of the first signs of spring.
As he went from branch to branch in search of food, he’d pause once in a while to sing for any females that may be looking for a mate this spring. I don’t know if he found one, I do know that hearing him singing certainly brightened up my day, especially since it was on a rare sunny day to begin with!
The day before that stood in stark contrast, it was the very gloomy day when I had gone to the Muskegon area in search of birds. As I noted in a previous post, I sighted many bald eagles, but the light was the pits, and the eagles kept their distance from me. Still, I have to remember that very few people have the chance to see one bald eagle, let alone several of them at one time. So, I decided to go ahead and post these next few photos of juvenile bald eagles establishing their rank within the flock that was there.
Okay, enough of the poor photos, it’s time for a good one, even if it’s just another mallard.
I had high hopes for that one when I snapped the shutter release, but I was a little disappointed with what the camera actually captured. I’ll have to work on that a bit more. Photographing anything well is a humbling experience, but mallards take that to the extreme due to their coloration. I’m not sure that any camera sensor has the dynamic range to handle an adult male mallard, but that won’t stop me from testing the limits. 😉
It has dawned on me that other than mallards, I haven’t been posting very many photos of the more common species of birds here in Michigan. So, since I had a few hours of filtered sunshine, and with a few birds to be photographed around home, I did shoot a few photos that I would normally have skipped these days.
I’ve posted similar series of photos before, but here’s another to show you how quickly the birds react when they spot me.
It heard the shutter go off, turned to see what made the sound…
…and was off.
I was shooting at 5 frames per second, and got three shots off including the take-off. The little buggers are quick!
On the other hand, mourning doves don’t flit around much, but for some reason, they’ve become very wary around here and will no longer pose for me. So, I had to shoot this next one at a greater distance than what I would have liked.
Recently, I posted a photo of a goldfinch eating seeds from a sycamore tree, not only are these next two better images…
…when I blew those photos up on my computer, I recognized that individual. It’s Scarface, a male goldfinch that I photographed back in the fall of 2014, he has a scar on the left side of his face, that you probably can’t see in these small versions of the photos. However, it’s good to see that he recovered from his wounds and is still around and kicking.
Next up, a pair of cardinals, other than I haven’t posted many photos of them recently, there’s nothing special about them.
It’s now early afternoon on Monday, I spent the day yesterday at Muskegon, I’m not sure how many, if any, of the photos that I shot I’ll end up posting. The light was good right at sunrise, but went downhill quickly. Besides, I had a great morning walk around home this morning, with plenty of signs of spring, much to my surprise. After all, it is only the first of February, neither I…
…nor the birds should be jumping the gun on spring. We’ll have plenty of ice…
…left to endure this winter.
I was surprised both the robins and waxwings had shown up on the same day. But, with them around, I went crazy as far as shooting photos, since it’s been a while since they’ve been around.
After their long flights, the birds were hungry!
However, this robin was tasting the crabapples before eating them…
…and if the berries didn’t taste good…
…the robin would spit the crabapple out.
It did find a few to its liking…
…swallowed whole of course.
With flocks of both species present, I had a tough time choosing a subject.
Then, I got serious about trying for some good portraits of the waxwings.
This one puffed itself up for me.
This next one thought that it would model for me, striking one pose…
The only thing that kept me from filing the memory card on my camera was that the light was just okay, not great for bird portraits. I also have to remember to pace myself, these birds will be around all summer, so I don’t have to get the perfect photo of them on their first day back.
I missed several other species of birds that I saw, but I did manage to catch this goldfinch.
What it and the Juncos (one of the species I missed) were doing in with the flocks of robins and waxwings, I have no idea. Maybe the other birds have missed them also?
I saw more signs of spring, the color green for a change.
I had taken one of the 60D bodies with the macro lens and one wide lens, just in case, and it was a good thing that I did. That was my first shot of that scene, I took several others, with this one being the best in my opinion.
The macro lens came in handy when I checked to see if the ornamental witch hazel bushes had buds in them yet. Not only did they have buds, but they were opening.
I also played with the wide lens to shoot this photo of the British soldier lichens growing on the fence at the entrance to the park.
One more sure sign that spring is coming…
…several of the cardinals were singing today, for the first time since last summer!
These signs of spring couldn’t have come at a better time, I was a bit down after the previous day at Muskegon. The day had begun with fair light, but soon, this is what it looked like there.
We may have had a mild winter so far as far as the temperatures and lack of snow, but the constant cloudy, gloomy days are wearing on me. I’m looking forward to spring when I can shoot photos of flowers…
…and insects again.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to build on what I’ve been learning over the past few years as far as photography is concerned, and get some really great photos this spring. It looks as though I may be able to get an early start if the weather continues to cooperate.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!