My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

The new 100-400 mm lens post 2

I promised small birds in this post, and I’ll get to them shortly, I’m going to start with a few furry critters first.

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

 

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

 

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

 

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

 

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

 

Female Fox squirrel chill-laxin'

Female Fox squirrel chill-laxin’

The chipmunk was shot on Monday at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, the squirrels were shot on Saturday at the park near where I live.

It’s hard to say what I love the most about the new 100-400 mm lens, but right there at the top of the list has to be that it’s sharp no matter how far away from the subject that I am. I shot this wood chuck about 50 feet away from me, and cropped the image down quite a bit.

Wood chuck

Wood chuck

As you can see, the wood chuck is still sharp, you can even see its teeth.

Close-up, it’s every bit as sharp as the 300 mm lens is.

Bumblebee on an aster

Bumblebee on an aster

I knew that I’d be chasing smaller birds over the rest of the weekend, so to get warmed up for them, I tried the new lens out on a chickadee that I saw.

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

I could tell that I was out of practice when shooting small, quick birds, so the practice came in handy for what was to come.

It must be because that new lens is so sharp that it seems to extend the depth of field that I get in the photos that I shoot with it. Normally, when I would shoot a bird at that angle as close as I was, one end of the bird or the other would be soft because of the narrow depth of field at 400 mm and as close as I was to the bird. Because of how accurate the auto-focus is, and how sharp the lens is, the entire chickadee is reasonably sharp, although it is getting just a tad soft at both ends in that image. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

Unfortunately, the weather this weekend wasn’t the best for testing out any type of photo gear. We’ve had rain 7 of the last 8 days, and the humidity was very high the entire weekend. High humidity isn’t good for photography because the water in the atmosphere tends to diffuse the light. That can be a good thing when shooting landscapes…

Early morning rainbow

Early morning rainbow

…or this closer view shot with the new lens…

Early morning rainbow number 2

Early morning rainbow number 2

…and I suppose that the foggy weather helps set the mood at times…

Red-winged blackbirds in flight

Red-winged blackbirds in flight

…but for the very sharpest photos, less humidity and more light would have been nice.

There were thousands of the red-winged blackbirds eating corn in one of the farm fields there at the Muskegon Wastewater facility, I wonder what they did for food during the fall before the Europeans began planting corn?

Also, corn was supposedly developed by selective breeding of maize, a native plant which the Native Americans cultivated for food. If maize is a native plant, why is it that I’ve never found it growing anywhere that I’ve been?

It’s time to get to some of the smaller birds.

American goldfinch

American goldfinch

 

Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker

 

Eastern Phoebe?

Eastern Phoebe

The Phoebe was in no hurry to leave, so that’s one of the first images that I shot using the 2 X tele-converter behind the new lens. You’ve already seen some of the others in the previous post. That combination works just fine as you can see. You may wonder if I tried the 1.4 X tele-converter, yes I have, but I was more interested to see how well the 2 X extender did, especially since I have to manually focus that set-up, and I wanted to see if I could get the focus correct. I didn’t use either extender on any of the other small birds, as I was loving how quickly the new lens focused.

Of all the small birds that I shot, I can only remember the new lens hunting for a focus three times, that’s even better than the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) can do! There was only one of the three times when I couldn’t figure out why the lens hunted for focus, the other two times I moved the position of the focus point as the lens was getting close to a focus lock, and I realized that I was missing the bird. Moving the focus point must have confused the lens and camera, and both times, it was in very low light, which is tough enough for a lens and camera to focus anyway.

Savanah sparrow

Savannah sparrow

 

Savanah sparrow

Savannah sparrow

Not bad for no light, the same applies to this one, even more because there are twigs in front of the bird. But, it’s been months since I’ve seen a junco, they’ve been up north all summer, and spend winters in this area.

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

I got a few warblers also.

Blackpoll warbler

Blackpoll warbler

 

Yellow-Romped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

 

Yellow-Romped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

 

Palm warbler

Palm warbler

 

Brown thrasher

Brown thrasher

 

American pipit

American pipit

 

jvis6765

American pipit

Those were all from Sunday, now here’s a few from Monday.

Lincoln's sparrow

Lincoln’s sparrow

 

Lincoln's sparrow

Lincoln’s sparrow

 

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow

 

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow

 

Adult white-crowned sparrow

Adult white-crowned sparrow

Finally, some good light!

Eastern bluebird

Eastern bluebird

There was a good-sized flock of bluebirds, but do you think that any of them would ever land in a way that I could get a photo showing how blue they are? Of course not, unless the bird was partially hidden.

Eastern bluebird

Eastern bluebird

I didn’t have that problem with the palm warblers, which often hunt for insects on the ground.

Palm warbler

Palm warbler

Since I’m already over my limit for photos, I guess this is as good of time as any to end this post. I have plenty of photos left over, plus I shot a series of photos of a red-tailed hawk eating a snake yesterday. I save those, and my thoughts, for the next post.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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26 responses

  1. So many gorgeous photos here, Jerry. They just keep getting better and better! I love the fox squirrel, hanging out on the limb. The American pipit and Lincoln’s sparrows are quite artistic, along with the Savannah sparrow. All different, all appealing!

    Those birds are quite opportunistic feeders, even eating cat food. Back when old Klaatu the wild feral cat was around, I would keep a bowl of dry food and cream up on a wine barrel on the porch. I soon discovered a Spotted Towhee I eventually named Rufus helping himself to the cat food.

    October 6, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! I’m not surprised that you had a bird eating the cat food, the only surprise is that the jays and other species didn’t steal all of the food that you put out before the cat could eat it.

      October 7, 2016 at 12:04 am

      • Jays did come up to the porch, but for the most part, they stayed out in the fields. The towhee did not seem to be as afraid of the cat.

        I love the expression on your woodchuck. He might be a good candidate for mammalian Mr. Grumpy on this side of the Atlantic. 🙂

        October 11, 2016 at 3:02 pm

      • Thank you very much Lavinia! Wood chucks are cute in their own way, but you’re right, it could be another type of Mr. Grumpy.

        October 12, 2016 at 12:07 am

  2. Loved all those furry creatures, that new lens of yours with your eagle eye behind it gives the viewer a wonderful experience.

    October 6, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    • Thank you very much Susan! I hope to put the new lens to use story telling soon, it works wonderfully for that.

      October 7, 2016 at 12:07 am

  3. Amazing photos all of them-the furry friends have the bonus of the cute factor too! You are indeed fortunate to live where there is such an abundance of beautiful bird life and to have your skill to make your photos using your new lens so superb! Love the rainbow photo too. Do children in USA have a mnemonic to remember the colours?

    October 6, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    • Thank you very much Marianne! I am lucky to live where I do, it makes wildlife photography easy in some ways. I seem to remember hearing a mnemonic about the colors of a rainbow once or twice, but I’m not sure about that, and if there is one, it isn’t very popular here.

      October 7, 2016 at 12:09 am

  4. I love the shots of the adult White-crowned Sparrow, the female Fox Squirrel and the Savannah Sparrow with the green background. I am pleased the new lens is working so well for you.

    October 6, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! The new lens has been so easy to learn that I hope to put it to use story telling soon, something that I haven’t been doing enough of lately.

      October 7, 2016 at 12:11 am

      • I look forward to that 🙂

        October 7, 2016 at 7:26 am

  5. Maize is still around but you’ll probably have to go to Texas or Mexico to see it. And it’ll look more like corn than what it looked like 10,000 years ago. Corn is really just a grass, so red winged blackbirds would probably just eat other grass seeds or other grains if they didn’t have corn.
    That lens is just dead sharp and worth whatever you paid for it!
    It was interesting to see some of the birds hanging out in the Virginia creeper. I would imagine that they must eat the fruit as well.
    I see woodchucks but haven’t come close to getting a shot of one, so I’d say that yours is a great shot.
    My favorite is the chipmunk with the acorn. I wonder if he was eating it or trying to stuff his cheek with it.

    October 6, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! I wondered if maize was a southern species of plant that had been brought north by the native Americans, but I did know that it was a grass.

      The new lens is sharp, at any distance and in all conditions, unlike my other lenses that work well some of the time but not all the time.

      The warblers would eat an occasional Virginia creeper berry, but they seemed to be more interested in the insects in the same area.

      It’s funny, a few weeks ago I shot a wood chuck because it’s been a while since I posted a photo of one, but that one came out terrible with the old lens, so I deleted it.

      The chipmunk may have wanted to stuff the acorn into its cheek, but it heard the camera shutter go, so it just grabbed the acorn in its teeth and took off.

      October 7, 2016 at 12:30 am

  6. The Eastern Phoebe was my favourite but that new lens is really doing the business so there was a lot to choose from.

    October 6, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! Since the fall migration is happening, there are plenty of birds around here to shoot for the time being.

      October 7, 2016 at 12:12 am

      • The fall migration is a source of wonder to me.

        October 7, 2016 at 5:47 pm

  7. I am lost in admiration, not just at the skill and patience required, but at the sheer beauty of the photographs.

    October 6, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    • Thank you very much Simon!

      October 7, 2016 at 12:13 am

  8. I vote for the white crowned sparrow and the blackbirds in flight – nice job!

    October 6, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      October 7, 2016 at 12:13 am

  9. The whole series is just stunning, but I really loved the expression you captured in your squirrel shots.

    October 7, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    • Thank you very much Charlie!

      October 7, 2016 at 2:32 pm

  10. An excellent series again! With the smaller birds, did you have to crop a lot to get these beautiful photos?

    October 7, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    • Thank you very much Hien! Yes, I cropped all of them except for the eastern Phoebe that I shot at 800 mm. I may be able to print a few of them at 8 X 10 inches, but that would be pushing things.

      October 7, 2016 at 2:34 pm

  11. Even on my dodgy little laptop screen I can see how sharp these shots are and the improved depth of field from the new lens. You must be so pleased with your purchase. It’s not just equipment though. Your knowledge of bird behaviour, your patience and hard earned photographic skills make great shots, Jerry. You should be very proud of yourself. I love your adorable furry critter shots.

    October 16, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    • Thanks again Jane! Yes, the new lens is awesome, but it does take more than good equipment, although it does make things easier. Now, I’ll have to get better at operating all the controls.

      October 17, 2016 at 3:11 am