Sunday, March 26, 2006

Around the Yard, Yesterday

Sunday, March 26, 2006
Digiscoped male cardinal, taken through the north-facing studio window.

I was home all day yesterday while The Orchid Stalker journeyed to Cowtown to an orchid show with fellow OS Shila. The kids and I had a good day cooking, goofing off, and playing whiffleball (I cut them no slack--and there's no crying in whiffleball).

The morning started off with a nice visit from our turkey flock. Then, after launching The Orchid Stalker on her journey, I prepared breakfast for our overnight house guest, Paul Baicich. Paul was returning to his Maryland home from a wildlife conservation conference in Columbus (or Cowtown to some of us longtime Ohioans). He and I had a morning of interesting conversation about birds, conservation, and the thousands of people we know in common. Paul is a dedicated and well-informed bird conservationist. In past working lives he has been editor of Birding magazine (plus a variety of other roles for the American Birding Association), coordinator of The Swarovski Birding Community, and now, a consultant for the National Wildlife Refuge Association. One area of his current work is focusing on expanding the Duck Stamp program to include non-game birds. Imagine if you could buy a "duck" stamp with a prothonotary warbler on it!Paul Baicich (left) passed through Whipple. We added him to our yard list. Photo by Phoebe Thompson.

The evening before, while in the tower with Julie, Paul found our first fox sparrow of the spring. My barely identifiable photograph of this lovely bird is at right.

As we ate breakfast, Paul and I enjoyed quite a few birds, including courting red-tailed hawks over the orchard, and a line of five great blue herons migrating northward along the western horizon.

After Paul's departure I tried a bit of digiscoping from the house, with mixed results. Shooting through double-paned window glass only works when there's no light creating a reflection on the glass. Unfortunately it was too cold to shoot with the windows wide open, but I still managed to get a few shots. One technique I am trying to understand better is using the manual focus option. Unless the camera's auto-focus unit has a clear, unobstructed shot at the bird I'm trying to shoot, it often focused on the first object it encounters. This is usually anything by the bird. So I've got some amazing shots of tree branches, blades of grass, and leaves, with fuzzy birdlike objects in the background. Clearly I still have some work to do.The male American goldfinches are beginning to molt into their spring finery.

Here are some of the things seen and photographed around our yard yesterday.
Everyone loves the corn we put out for our turkeys, especially the blue jays.

Carolina chickadees dig our peanut feeder. The scold us the entire time while we fill the feeders.

Late March and early April give us an interesting confluence of birds. The juncos are still around and the chipping sparrows, thrashers, and gnatcatchers will be arriving any day.


On March 27, 2006 at 9:04 AM Rondeau Ric said...

I'd buy seveal Prothonotary Duck stamps. What a collectors series!
Blackburnian Duck ans of course the Snipe Duck.