Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wondering at Winter

After a Sunday filled with falling snow I headed out yesterday afternoon to see if I could find anything to photograph during the bright cold day. At lunch I found House Finches showing brilliant color in the reflected sunlight, but they remained hidden well back in thick bushes and brush. This squirrel had no reservations about staring me down from just above eye level. I did get one very distant shot of a Slate-colored Dark-eyed Junco stretching its wings in the sun. I guess being slate colored has its advantages on sunny days when it is cold. I wondered why more birds weren't out in open perches soaking up some radiation. Perhaps the Red-tailed Hawk that I saw pass overhead was part of the reason.

Hawks were everywhere, but a pair of Song Sparrows that I found at McKay Lake Woods later in the afternoon were more photogenic. The shot above was just after I had spotted it feeding on seed heads. It was back-lit, and just on the edge of the trees.

As I had found myself and my subject just inside the trees I dialed up the ISO, and then pulled back the exposure compensation to try to pull more detail out of the subject. It works, but I like the back-lit seed heads in the first shot to.

Finally the birds crossed to the other side if the path, and I was able to watch them as they moved through the half-buried grass. Sneaky sparrows, you have to be quick and shoot a lot of frames to catch them when they are scavenging.... Its a wonder to me that small birds make it through the long cold nights mid-winter. Sure in the sun they can puff their feathers and soak up some rays, but those nights must be brutal. Hope they find lots of seeds.

Even later in the afternoon as the sun was setting and the temps were plummeting I caught a few passing looks at a nice Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk. They don't look much like a typical Red-tail, but when you hear them give the Red-tail scream you know they have to be the same species. I'll spare the bad pictures I did get here, and direct anyone interested to the Harlan's keyword in the menu at right - I was surprised when I looked back at how many better shots I already had of that cool variation.

Sunny and still cold today, with less time for birding and less exciting results. Hopefully my lunchtime walk tomorrow will yield some more good photo ops.

1 comment:

  1. I like seeing the birds all fluffed up. and that squirrel looks as though he has been doing quite well this winter!