Photo Gallery and Blog 2010

It's mid June and time to start getting bird photos. The nuthatch seems to nest a few weeks earlier than the other cavity nesters. Nuthatches are perfectly happy to walk down a tree trunk head first as they hunt for bugs or as they approach their nest holes, so you never quite know where it will appear or which end will be up.

I finally moved into the world of digital photography and got to try my new camera on this bird. Autofocus simplifies this so much. Before, I frantically tried to focus on the bird as it hopped around on the side of the tree. With autofocus, the camera does the work, and fast too. It doesn't necessarily focus on the part of the bird you want to be sharp though.

I am impressed by the resolution and acuity of this new equipment. It is so much better than film. Here is a small area cropped from the photo above at full-resolution.

Mountain Bluebird
At this mountain bluebird nest, the female was quietly incubating her eggs while the male bluebird just hung around in nearby branches. Soon the eggs will hatch and the feeding activity will begin but until then, there's not much to see. That is, until a hapless chipmunk got too close to the nest hole. Then both bluebirds attacked it, dive bombing and fluttering around. The male bluebird happened to perch on that nice wax currant bush, right in front of me, so I quickly snapped its photo. It was only there for about two seconds before attacking the chipmunk again. There is no way I would have gotten that with manual focus.

I continue to be impressed by the sharpness of this new equipment. Here is another full-resolution sample.

At a different nest, a couple days later, feeding activities have commenced. Both adults are busily foraging for bugs and making numerous trips to the nest hole. Sometimes they pause on a nice photogenic perch before delivering their bug to their hungry brood. Sometimes they pause on that perch on the way out of the nest. Sometimes they don't stop there at all.

The position of the bird's head makes a big difference to the photo. It is important that the bird seems to be looking at you. If its head is turned too far, it seems to be looking away. However, a bird looking directly at you is quite unbecoming too. I like to have its tail visible in the photo, otherwise it's just a lot of belly. That little white highlight in its eyeball is of utmost importance. Without it, the black eyeball looks like a hole in its head.

Williamson's Sapsucker
These sapsuckers were busily feeding their young brood. These babies get a diet of ants. When the chicks get a little older, they will sit in the nest and chirp constantly. The two adult birds look completely different--the male is mostly black and the female is striped brown.

Fledgling Bluebirds
It was a dark and stormy evening, the 4th of July. I went to check on bird nests in the Upper Beaver Meadows area. That had been closed to the public for a week because it was a staging area for firefighters. As I approached one nest site, I heard and then saw both adults sitting on branches. But then I saw the three fledgling chicks were out of the nest, sitting on a bush and a branch. The chicks are almost all gray with a touch of blue on their stubby little tails. The chick sat there pretty much motionless and silent until a parent approached with some tasty bugs. Then it fluttered its little wings and squawked while the parent unceremoniously jammed the bugs into its mouth. Immediately after, it squawked for more. No gratitude here.
The chicks moved around by walking and hopping on branches or on the ground. I thought the head-on view looked funny--a grumpy face only a parent could love.

White Pelicans
There are lots of white pelicans in the ponds around Windsor. According to that old limerick, "His mouth can hold more than his belly can." This pair seemed to be especially friendly.

Up on the tundra in RMNP, the furry little pikas are quite obvious as they scamper around among jagged talus rocks. They are busily preparing for winter, gathering vegetation and carrying it to a stash under the rocks. Pikas are in the rabbit family and do not hibernate in winter, instead staying active under the blanket of snow and eating their food stash. These industrious little buggers make trip after trip all day long, carrying mouthfuls of food to their stores for the long alpine winter.


Even pikas can smile.


Want to see a giant-sized man-eating pika? Look here.

A sharp contrast to the assiduous and productive pika, nearby a pudgy marmot just lounged atop a pile of rocks, sunning itself. Marmots prepare for winter by fattening themselves and then hibernating. Seems like a lot less work than the pika's approach.
These young marmots were still busy eating. They still have to get nice and fat before winter comes.

Bull Elk
This was a tough year for elk photos. The weather was just too darn nice! The bulls just stood there, panting. There is something fundamentally wrong with watching the elk rut while wearing shorts and a T-shirt.

After the big boys were finished, the smaller bulls came back out. They have to practice for next year.

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