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

Archive for March, 2017

Orange-crowned Warbler, Oreothlypis celata

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Orange-crowned Warbler, Oreothlypis celata

The orange-crowned warbler (Oreothlypis celata) is a small songbird of the New World warbler family.

These birds are distinguished by their lack of wing bars, streaking on the underparts, strong face marking or bright colouring, resembling a fall Tennessee warbler and a black-throated blue warbler, both of which are also members of the New World warbler family. The orange patch on the crown is usually not visible. They have olive-grey upperparts, yellowish underparts with faint streaking and a thin pointed bill. They have a faint line over their eyes and a faint broken eye ring. Females and immatures are duller in colour than males. Western birds are yellower than eastern birds.

Their breeding habitat is open shrubby areas across Canada, Alaska and the western United States. The nest is a small open cup well-concealed on the ground under vegetation or low in shrubs. The female builds the nest; both parents feed the young.

These birds migrate to the southern United States and south to Central America.

They forage actively in low shrubs, flying from perch to perch, sometimes hovering. These birds eat insects, berries and nectar.

Four to six eggs are laid in a nest on the ground or in a low bush.

The song of this bird is a trill, descending in pitch and volume. The call is a high chip.

On to my photos:

These photos were shot at the local park that I used to walk in daily when I had the time.

Orange crowned warbler

 

Orange crowned warbler

This is number 201 in my photo life list, only 149 to go!

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

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Taking a break

I’ve been working on this post for weeks now, during the few moments when I have a chance to do anything with it. My work schedule allows me about an hour to myself in the morning, and that includes eating breakfast and getting dressed for work. On many evenings I have about an hour or a little more to myself, and that includes making supper and doing dishes after I eat. The only part of the week when I have any free time at all is on the weekends and that’s my time to be out shooting photos, editing them when I get home, adding keywords, and all the other things that I need to get done since I have no time during the work week.

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been commenting on your blog posts, it isn’t that I didn’t enjoy the posts, but I simply have no free time for myself the way that my current work schedule is.

So, I am going to take a break from blogging for a while, until my schedule changes so that I have more time for both my blog and all of yours’. My schedule should change late this spring, about the time that I take my vacation in the middle of May, as the parts that I carry won’t be used on the next year’s model of car.

I may whip out a few of the posts on species of birds for the My Photo Life List project that I’m working on, since I’m so far behind doing those posts. If I do publish any of those posts, I’ll turn off the comments and likes, since those posts are rather boring to most people anyway. I know who the readers are who actually appreciate those posts whether they comment or like the post anyway, and that way I won’t feel as obligated to keep up with their posts on their blogs, as I simply don’t have the time right now.

I really don’t want to take a break right now, as with the weather improving and the light getting better, I’m back to shooting some very good images again.

Male Bufflehead duck

So for now, it’s back to the post that I have been working on for a while.

The temperatures have been up and down around here over the past two weeks, with some days feeling like early spring, and others feeling like the middle of winter. It snowed here most of the day on Saturday, but by Sunday afternoon, it was feeling and looking like spring again.

Northern shovelers in flight

Northern shovelers in flight

Other than the dramatic change in the weather between Saturday and Sunday this weekend, the big news was how many species of birds are returning from their winter homes already.

Sandhill crane in flight

Sandhill crane in flight

 

Red-winged blackbird

Red-winged blackbird

 

American robin

American robin

I’m really looking forward to this spring, and trying to improve my photos even more than what I have already. One group of birds that I’m going to focus on early is waterfowl, mainly ducks.

Male common merganser

Male common merganser

 

Female common merganser

Female common merganser

 

Canvasback ducks

Canvasback ducks

 

Redhead ducks in flight

Redhead ducks in flight

 

Male northern shoveler landing

Male northern shoveler landing

 

Male northern shoveler in flight

Male northern shoveler in flight

I can see that I’m going to have a lot of fun shooting the ducks in flight, both for their beauty and to show how different species make it airborne. For example, the male ring-necked duck in these next two photos was able to launch itself into the air without a running start. However, the lesser scaup that it was hanging out with need a running start to build enough speed to get off the water.

Male Ring-necked duck and lesser scaup taking flight

Male Ring-necked duck and lesser scaup taking flight

So, the ring-necked duck was staying low and close to the scaup as you can see better in this photo. You can also see that the two species look similar, but between the way that they take off and the differences in their bills, it’s really quite easy to tell them apart in a good photo.

Male Ring-necked duck and lesser scaup taking flight

Male Ring-necked duck and lesser scaup taking flight

Here’s a for the record photo, a lone trumpeter swan on a frozen farm pond…

Trumpeter swan

Trumpeter swan

…because it’s unusual to see a lone swan since they mate for life, you almost always see at least two together most of the time. This may have been a young male looking for a territory to call its own.

I was afraid that my blog would end up being just gulls…

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

 

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

…and mallards…

Male mallard

Male mallard

 

Male mallard

Male mallard

 

Male mallard

Male mallard

…with an occasional bird of another species once in a while.

Starling in flight

Starling in flight

But with the return of more species of birds every day, that shouldn’t happen.

Great blue herons in flight

Great blue herons in flight

 

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

 

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

 

Dark-eyed junco on the run

Dark-eyed junco on the run

 

Pekin duck

Pekin duck

 

Ruddy ducks

Ruddy ducks

Another week has gone by, and I’ve had very little time to work on this post. My work schedule leaves me with no time for blogging except for on the weekends, and then I’d rather be out shooting photos than writing about shooting photos. This past week was worse because I had that nasty cold which caused me to need more sleep, but it’s been the same since I started this run in January. All that I have time for during the week is to eat, sleep, and work.

My plan for over the winter had been to post a few of the species of birds that I have saved for the My Photo Life List project that I’ve been working on, but I haven’t had the time to do any of those posts along with my regular posts. That’s too bad in a way, for I have been finding a few new to me species of birds this winter, like this lesser black-backed gull that I found on Saturday.

Lesser black-backed gull

Lesser black-backed gull

And, I was able to better images of an adult glaucous gull also…

Glaucous gull

Glaucous gull

…if I remember correctly, my best photos of that species were of a juvenile, so I can update the post for that species with good images of an adult.

As with most things, I jumped into that project without thinking through everything that it entails, such as looking at thousands of gulls…

Ring-billed gull in breeding plumage

Ring-billed gull in breeding plumage

…to find the two odd individuals from within that huge flock of mostly ring-billed and herring gulls. On the other hand, I’ve been learning so much from taking on that project about birds, photography, and myself, that I’m extremely happy that I decided to tackle it. Who knew that common gulls like the ring-billed go through a breeding plumage phase?

And, getting good photos of a bird in question makes it easier to properly identify which species it is. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a greater black-backed gull, so I assumed that the lesser black-backed from above was also a greater, until I got good photos. Then, I saw that the gull in question has yellow legs, making it a lesser black-backed gull, since greater black-backed gulls have pink legs. If I had been working from just my memories of the bird in question, I wouldn’t have been able to make a positive ID.

 

Okay, the only way that I wrote the introduction to this post where I explained that I’ll be taking a break from blogging for a while is by bringing my Macbook Pro with me while working, and typing while the trailer is being unloaded and then reloaded again.

I’m going to throw in a few more of my most recent photos to finish this off.

American kestrel

 

Killdeer

 

Male red-winged blackbird

 

Tufted titmouse

 

Red squirrel

 

Grey squirrel

 

male northern cardinal

 

Female northern cardinal

 

By the way, I shot another video of northern shovelers in a feeding frenzy, and it’s the best video that I’ve shot to date.

I should have, but didn’t, use my newest acquisitions to shoot that video. With all that I’ve been working lately, I’ve been able to afford a very sturdy but simple tripod and a gimbal head to go on the tripod. After much soul-searching, I went with a cheap off brand of gimbal head, only after having tested it out in the store with my birding set-up mounted on the gimbal head. While I’m sure that the head that I purchased wouldn’t be good enough for one of the monster long lenses that I’ll never be able to afford, it seems to be adequate for the medium length lenses that I have.

Ring-billed gull in flight

I also shot this image of a goose after it had fallen through thin ice and was on its way to catch up with the rest of the flock that had flown across the ice.

Canada goose in flight

I was surprised how easy it is to follow a moving subject the very first time that I used the gimbal head, it will only get better in the future. In some ways, it’s easier to follow the motion of a subject with the tripod and gimbal head supporting the camera, allowing me to concentrate on tracking the subject in a nice smooth manner. That’s because  I’m not dealing with my own wobbling around, the camera and lens are steady on the gimbal head making it easier to pan with the subject’s motion.

The gimbal head on the tripod will also come in very handy once I begin doing more of my photography from a blind or hide. That’s because the camera/lens can be balanced on the gimbal head so that the lens stays pointed where ever I want it pointed. So, I can leave everything set-up pointed in the general direction that I plan to shoot in, rather than having to set the camera down all the time because it’s too heavy to hold up all the time.

I didn’t use a hide or the new gimbal head, but I did sit stationary waiting for many of the small songbirds in this post, including these.

Black-capped chickadee

 

Common grackle

 

American tree sparrow

While these are good, I’m sure that if I were in a hide and had the camera all set-up on the gimbal head/tripod that I’d be able to do even better.

Like I said, I should have used the tripod for the video, but I had gulls flying overhead all the time, doing what gulls are known to do, as in pooping in flight so often that I had to wash my car on my way home, so I decided not to risk getting pooped on myself, since I can’t use the tripod and gimbal head inside of my Subaru.

You can be sure that I’ll continue to play with the new tripod/head set-up, just as I continue to play with lenses and settings.

A while back, I wrote that I had come up with new bird in flight settings based on using the manual mode, those settings worked so well that I’ve been using the manual mode more often lately for both flying and perched birds.

Herring gull shot in manual mode using 70-200 mm lens at 70 mm

Shooting in manual works best if I’m shooting the same or very similarly colored species of birds multiple times, so that I can get the exposure perfect for the birds. Then, it doesn’t matter if the background changes from light to dark or vice versa, the bird is exposed correctly most of the time.

I also used that photo to make another point, since I shot it with the 70-200 mm lens, you can see much more of the background due to the use of the wider lens. Most of the time a longer lens works better to reduce distractions in the background, but there are times when I like the wider view better. What I should have done is to have used the 100 mm f/2.8 macro lens for that shot, not that I needed the added focal length, but so that I could have used a smaller aperture to blur the background more. But, I’m not used to getting that close to my subjects.

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