More From the Female Osprey

On Sunday morning our workshop group got the opportunity to photograph both mom and dad osprey eating a fish.  

Dad brought his fish to the nest to eat.  Mom was none too happy about this.  She screamed and squawked at him the entire time he ate, until he finally left the nest with the fish.  I think she was more upset that he brought the fish to the nest than she was that he wasn't sharing.  At one point while dad was eating at the nest, a mighty brave, little kestrel came swooping in trying to steal some of dad's meal.

After dad left the nest, mom went out and got a fish of her own.  She began eating it within the cover of some trees instead of at the nest.  This worked out great for the group.  The trees were much lower to the ground allowing a much better perspective for photographing her.

Aperture-priority, 1/1,600 sec, f/8, ISO 800, Compensation: +1 2/3, 600 mm

It was very cloudy and the light was not great, so I had to increase my exposure compensation for this by 1 2/3 rds.  Shooting a dark subject on a bright background always throws your camera meter into fits, so you need to adjust your settings to compensate for this.  

This image was made with my Nikon D500 and Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Lens mounted onto my Sirui P-324S monopod and L-20S Monopod Head.

Northern Flicker

Ever since we started going out to Jackson in the spring one of my highlights of the trip is always finding these "bird nurseries", as we like to call them.  Basically, any cluster of aspen trees you find has all sorts of nesting holes in them and all kinds of birds make use of them.  In a small area you could see several different species of birds.

Aperture Priority, 1/1000th, F/6.3, ISO 3200, Exposure Compensation +1/3

This is a Northern Flicker feeding it's chick.  These birds are found all over the United States in any season.  This is the red shafted form of the Northern Flicker.  There is also a yellow shafted form.  Their main diet is insects, mostly ants.  They use their long, barbed tongue to collect the ants.  I need some of these guys in my backyard.  It would be a like an all you can eat buffet for them!

This image was made using a Nikon D500 and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.  All resting a top my Sirui tripod and GImbal Head.

 

The Bluebirds Have Fledged

So it appears last week that Dagwood and Blondie successfully fledged a group of young bluebirds.  I was excited that everything went good with this brood.  They have even slowly began building a new nest for the next bunch.

I wanted to share a few of the images I was able to get just the day before they fledged.

This is Blondie feeding one of her chicks a delicious looking worm.  

Aperture Priority, F/8, 1/1,000th second, ISO 1600, 220mm

Here's the image just a second after the first.

Aperture Priority, F/8, 1/1,000th second, ISO 1600, 280mm

For these types of images I basically get my tripod set, then compose the scene and lock everything down tight so the camera doesn't move.  I'll set my aperture and then check to see if my shutter speed is fast enough and if not I will adjust my ISO until it is.  Then once I have everything locked down and the camera settings all dialed in, I wait.  Once I see one of the bluebirds flying to the box from across the yard, I hold the shutter button down until they reach the box.  It helps having 10 FPS.  

These images were created with a Nikon D500 and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.  I also used my Sirui Tripod and PH-20 Gimbal Head.

Bringing Home The Mealworms

If you follow me on Facebook, you'll see I posted a picture of the bluebird eggs hatching last week.  It was very exciting, because I really didn't know if they were going to hatch or not.  You can read the last blog post on that...

Well, since the eggs have hatched, feeding has picked up.  I took advantage of that yesterday and spent a little time trying to capture shots of Blondie and Dagwood flying in with food.  The babies are still too young to have their heads out of the box begging for food, but I think I still managed some pretty good shots.

Here is Dagwood bringing in food.  He spent most of the time hunting then delivering the food to Blondie, who stayed in the nest feeding babies.

Aperture Priority, F/8, ISO 800, 1/1600th second, 170mm

This is Blondie.  She only left the nest a few times to hunt.  She came out of the box a few times looking pretty rough.  Raising bluebird babies looked like a dirty job.

Aperture Priority, F/8, ISO 800, 1/1600th second, 320mm

These images were made with a Nikon D500 and Tamron 150-600mm Lens resting atop my Sirui tripod and PH-20 Gimbal Head.

Pileated Woodpecker Nest

Last week sometime I heard there was an easily accessible Pileated Woodpecker Nest in Huntsville.  I was a little late to the party, which is usually the case, but I got to go check it out on Saturday morning.

It's a good thing I got there Saturday morning, too.  I heard later that afternoon all of the babies fledged the nest.  I could tell they were about to when I was there photographing them.  They were really big.  They were getting really brave with how far they were coming out of the nest on their own.  The parents weren't feeding them very frequently either.  I think it was their way of telling them it's time to get out of the house.

While I was there dad did come in and feed once.  I didn't get a shot of him feeding all the chicks, but I did get a shot of him feeding this one. 

The leaves were really grown and in the way.  You basically had to wait on the wind and the birds to cooperate enough to get a shot without the leaves blocking the scene.

Sony A6300, LA-EA3 Lens Adapter, Tamron 150-600mm Lens, Sirui tripod and PH-20 Gimbal Head.

Aperture Priority, F/6.3, ISO 6400, 1/500th second, Exposure Compensation +0.3

Dagwood, You Charmer

So, the action in the backyard is starting to pick up quite a bit.  I've noticed over the last few days a lot of new, migratory birds stopping by the feeders.  Also, I'm still waiting any day now for the bluebird eggs to hatch.  In the meantime, Blondie and Dagwood are packing in the calories in preparation.

I've been putting out live mealworms for them and they are tearing those things up.  It's also been giving me some pretty good photo ops.

Here's a shot of Dagwood giving Blondie a little gift of love.  Personally, I would never want a worm for a gift, but hey, we are all different.

A bit of a tip here.  When I was out shooting yesterday the sun was moving in and out of the clouds causing the light to differ from one shot to the next.  If you find yourself in a similar situation try using Auto ISO.  In my Sony A6300 I can set a minimum shutter speed for auto ISO.  So I told my camera that when I'm using Auto ISO not to let the shutter speed get below 1/500th second.  Then I have my aperture set in aperture priority mode.  As the light changes the camera quickly calculates and adjusts the ISO (much quicker than I can) to keep that 1/500th shutter speed based on my selected aperture .  It saves a lot of missed shots from constantly having to change the ISO.

Image made with Sony A6300, LA-EA3 Adapter, Tamron 150-600mm Lenes, Sirui tripod and PH-20 Gimbal Head.

Aperture Priority at F/6.3, 1/500th second shutter speed, ISO 2000, Exposure Compensation +0.7