New Isolation Project - Birds

Robert Watcher

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I have taken a few shots of rabbits, birds and flowers from the chair outside the trailer where we are staying. I decided to spend a bit of the afternoon preparing a small area that is in view of my chair, to hopefully attract some birds over the next months.

I didn’t have much for supplies - but it turned out that what I had is perfect for my needs.

I had read that the best way to attract birds is with water, even though most people automatically think attracting them with food. I will let you know how that works out. LOL. A plastic tray from under a flower pot worked for holding the water. I was informed that putting a stone in the water, creates ripples that allow the birds to recognize it. Checked along the grassy scruff for one of those. A steel post beside the big tree meant that I could use a couple of nails to fasten a found 2x8 piece of wood, to the tree and have the steel post support the wood without fastening.

Next thing —— I don’t want to take pics of birds on the rim of the plastic, so wanted some type of perch. I found an old dead tree limb on the property and nailed it to the same tree - after playing around with the positioning to find a decent height and make sure it stuck out far enough so that I can make use of the greenery in the background. Simple.

Now to be patient, see if birds come and stay around while I sit there, and take pictures. If I get any from this area, I will post them here. Unfortunately all of my portable flash gear is in the 4 luggage bags we left in El Salvador when fleeing a couple of months ago. So I won’t be able to experiment with flash. But I do know from my experience the last few nights, that the early evening lighting is quite nice in the area that I have set up.

Now I see the way it setup, I may find a hummingbird feeder and hang it from one extended limbs, at a good height for capturing them.


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Robert Watcher

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Refinement - found an old feeder in Anne’s moms basement. Had some budgie food. Had our first visitor land on the branch. A pretty little yellow canary. Hopefully he comes back with my camera set up.

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Robert Watcher

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First bird from the setup area. I wasn’t expecting a woodpecker because the old dead trees are not close. But this little Downy, was rummaging through the green leaves of smaller shrubs 10 meters from where my camera is I set up. It’s a start.


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Robert Watcher

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The last couple of days, a few birds have started making the odd appearance near our camper. We have been trying to observe their patterns and sounds from inside. We’ve started making some adjustments in the setting. As well I have been trying to figure out what times of day work best.

We have realized that this time of year when there is ample food naturally and lots of water, our success of seeing many birds may be slim. But we will be here for a while so have decided to just enjoy the experience —- mostly because we can’t - or have no interest in - just sitting for endless hours waiting for one bird to show up for a few seconds and then fly off —- in the hopes a capturing a moment on the perch.


————-

Limitations - what I described above —- as well the low light level when shooting in this more protected area as well as at times when the birds will be available - early morning and later in the evening. To use shutter speeds at a minimum of 1/100’th second using f5.6 to f8, requires 3200 ISO for the most part and I can get to 1600 ISO if it is a tad brighter.

Although we have a hummingbird coming around, I will not bother taking any pics of it because I won’t have access to fast enough shutter speeds.

——

Sitting outside I captured the hummingbird at the feeder as well as a snail working his way up to where the food was.


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Robert Watcher

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Observing and testing over the next while.

One feature that I love about my Olympus cameras, is the ability to wirelessly take pictures. So in trying to identify where specific birds prefer to land on the branches I installed above the feeder, I have my camera set up on a tripod about 20 feet away using a 140-600mm equivalent lens. I currently have it framed to include the 3 primary branches. That does make it harder to isolate the background not being able to benefit from 600mm.

Then from inside our camper, I can sit and drink coffee and observe any birds coming into view on my iPad - and then tap the screen on the bird to autofocus and shoot. I have noticed even at that distance, the subtle click of my E-M10 causes the birds to fly away and so I have to use split second timing to get off one shot. I will try my E-M1 with its silent shutter.


———-

This is my view from inside the trailer. The main limitation of shooting this way, is that I cannot swing the camera or zoom the lens remotely. But it works wonderful with wifi staying connected even with my iPad being 20-25 feet away from the camera.

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Robert Watcher

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Started off very early this morning, setting my camera up and after a few minutes seeing the little flitty Black Headed Chickadee. Boy does it move fast and only touched down for a split second on a couple of occasions. As well the Downy Woodpecker flew in and landed on the branch. A bit later the nasty old blackbirds flew In to eat all the food we put on the feeder to attract our Cardinal. When this Common Grackle hopped onto the branch, we were amazed at the stunning colouring of what appear to be a plain ordinary bird.


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Robert Watcher

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I lost my wifi connection to the camera, out on my warm clothes and went out to restart the camera. While standing there, the woodpecker swooped in and started into the solid feeder we bought yesterday. It appears that the Downy Woodpecker is the least shy and gittery of any of the birds so far. Anne and I stood in the open and watched him eating.


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Finally after waiting three hours for a sighting of the Cardinal, I turned off my iPad and went out and retrieved my camera off the tripod as the battery was depleted and it was starting to rain. No sooner did I step into the camper, and I could hear him in the area. I looked out the back window and he was trying to scrape together what was left from the Grackles. I gently opened the door and snapped off this shot and he flew away. Hopefully he will aclimatize to the environment eventually. We noticed yesterday that he finally stood on the branch for a few seconds. Normally it’s fly in to feeder and straight out after 10 or 20 seconds.


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I have taken a ton of bird pictures in Costa Rica in the past, where I was happy to capture whatever I could in the jungle. Once in a lifetime stuff. But have never thought about setting up an area to attract and shoot local birds. I’m not expecting great things. But it’s fun and an education.

 
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Robert Watcher

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This mornings treat outside our door. Mommy and baby Bluejays.

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Robert Watcher

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Robert Watcher

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Birds and more birds. That’s all there is around ;)


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I was a little upset because my perch got detached from the tree while grass was being cut. They temporarily put it back up, but not in the same position where I had it placed to provide a nice green backdrop. I was going at fixing it tomorrow. But some birds came in while I was sitting at the table beside our camper tonight, and so I took these pics without concern for the tan siding background. When I processed the photos, I actually found the light coloured background kind of refreshing and made the birds really stand out nicely. This picture puts my shooting position in perspective.

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Robert Watcher

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Cuteness Overload this morning. Friendly little chipmunk scampering around the property. And a return of the 2 baby Bluejays. It’s been a week since I photographed them and they disappeared - and now it appears that they have gained their flying wings and knew where to come back to for food. Both were perched in the cedar tree beside the feeder. We are suspecting by their colouring, that one may be a male and one a female.


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Robert Watcher

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A pair of cardinals have made our little sanctuary, home lately. Lifemates - the male and female fly in together. Hopefully one day I will catch both on the perch, together. Not considered often, the female is a stunningly beautiful creature


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