Saturday, April 30, 2011

Adventures with Fox Kits

Had planned on going to Hills Creek Lake today to get sunrise photos for the Park Office--but it was very overcast and stormy so decided not to drive the two hours.  Later morning cleared and I went to some of my local haunts!  The warblers are moving in.  Saw thirty three different species of birds today-not a great count-but encouraging after a long winter.  A friend gave me a tip on where I might see some fox pups .  I "camped out" behind a log for a few hours and it paid off.  One of the little guys came out to play.  I got some ok shots of him but nothing I was real pleased with.  After going home to pick up Joan-we returned and before we got to the spot we saw the adult fox and could not get any pictures.  We went on and set up behind some brush.  Soon a Raccoon came ambling through and we were able to photograph him.  He decided to snoop around and crawled into the fox den-Well, he came out a lot faster than he went in. 

Canon MK IV 1D; Canon 600 f4 with 1.4TC; @f8 1/200 ISO800

Soon a fox pup emerged from the exit hole and we got some good pictures in nice light-but a little back lit.  Soon we saw more motion and it was a second pup out running and playing.  

Canon MK IV 1D; Canon 600 f4 with 1.4TC; @f10 1/160 ISO800 EC+.67

Canon MK IV 1D; Canon 600 f4 with 1.4TC; @f8 1/400 ISO800

While watching them, I saw a bird coming at us fast and it was a Cooper's hawk and it landed in tree on a branch above my shoulder-he was too close to take a picture (minimum focus distance on the big lens is 18 feet).  We were also treated to Yellow bellied sapsucker, chestnut sided warbler, pileated woodpecker, red bellied woodpecker, downy woodpecker and cackling eagles.  

Canon MK IV 1D; Canon 600 f4 with 1.4TC; @f9 1/1000 ISO500

Canon MK IV 1D; Canon 600 f4 with 1.4TC; @f7.1 1/1000 ISO400

Canon MK IV 1D; Canon 600 f4 with 1.4TC; @f9 1/125 ISO500

The eagle nest that had been near there was blown down in recent storm.  Other hikers were along the river and apparently the eagles were along the river as well.


Until Next Time

Jim Borden

Monday, April 11, 2011

Owls and Eagles

Great weekend.  Visited one of the eagle nests that we keep track of and two eaglets have hatched.  the nest is over two yards from road and in interest of not disturbing the eagles, I set up and take photos from the edge of the highway.  Because of the clutter of branches around the next I use live view with the screen magnified 10x and use manual focus and a cable release.  The photos are primarily used as documentation as they are severely cropped.  Look closely and you can see the two little eaglet heads watching the adult shred a fish for them.

After watching the eagles, I went to the top of the mountain to a dense area of evergreens where I can usually find barred owls this time of year.  Sure enough they were there and I captured better photos of them this year than last year due to the time I had taken to finely calibrate the af tuning on my camera bodies and lenses.

Spring must be coming!!!! The brown creepers are back!

Until next time!

Jim Borden

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Another Weekend of Birding-another Eagle Nest

Had planned on working all weekend as the weatherman had called for clouds and cold and general bad weather for the weekend.  However, Saturday morning started out with blue skies with scattered light, white clouds-so I decided to go look for ducks.  I first stopped at a small lake about 5 miles from our house and was watching buffleheads, hooded mergansers and common mergansers when a large soaring bird caught my eye.  Sure enough it was a mature Bald Eagle. It landed in a tree at upper end of the lake.  the residents see them here often and I have seen them in that area but have not located their nest yet.  I have also seen a pair of adults near Tunhannock flying up and down the river and it seemed that they were there quite often and that it did not seem logical that they would be using the three nests I knew about along the Susquehanna.

Bufflehead male and female
Canon 1D Mk IV; Canon 600 f4 @f9 1/1600 ISO500 

Common Merganser Male
Canon 1D Mk IV; Canon 600 f4 @f9 1/1250 ISO500

Mature Bald Eagle
Canon 1D Mk IV; canon 600 f4 @f9 1/1600 ISO500

I then decided to drive to a remote pond on an old farm that is in a wooded area to check for ducks. Upon arriving I saw two adult bald eagles in the air carrying nesting materials (odd for this time of year) and they were headed back to the Susquehanna River. I met the landowners and we made friends and they consented to me entering the property to photograph wildlife.  We had "known" each other for years but had never really formally met.  It turns out we have have common interests in wildlife and birds.  While the lady and I were talking an immature Bald Eagle flew over.  I found the pond had Canada Geese, Common Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers, Ring Neck Ducks and mallards on it along with a Great Blue Heron.  The owners were there with a surveyor and the ducks were at the far edge of the pond and approaching them from the other side put the sun in my face.  I decided to look for the Eagle nest that I knew must exist along the Susquehanna.  I stopped along a road that overlooks part of the river and began scanning the tree line on each side as well as trees on the islands.  I had about given up when a White spot about one half way up a sycamore tree caught my eye.  Observation with the spotting scope revealed it was a nest and had an adult eagle settled into it.  I found a place to park and walked the bank above the river to find a place I could see through the trees.  I finally found a spot about 175 yards from the nest and I set up with the 600mm lens with a 1.4 TC mounted.  Brush between me and the Eagle head interfered with focusing automatically so i used live view at 10X magnification and manually focused and used the remote release.
Canon 1D Mk IV; Canon 600mm f4 with 1.4TC; f9 1/1000 ISO 640 manual focus

Had to run some errands in town and then just before dark I decided to check on the ducks at the remote pond.  On the way there I saw a pair of hoodies on the farmer's pond nearer the house and they were in good light.
Canon 1D Mk IV; canon 600 f4 @f9 1/640 ISO500

On the way home i saw two large flocks of Turkeys and the one flock had a mature gobbler strutting and fanning.

Canon 1D Mk IV; canon 600 f4 @f10 1/800 ISO1000

This morning I went to the remote pond prepared to get lots of duck shots.  I had my cam clothing, my Ghillie suit, my blind and my stool.  When I arrived the ducks were close to the entry road and they quickly scooted to the far side of the pond.  I decided to hike back to where I had planned to set up and I did so carefully.  When I got to the small cove I found it loaded with common and hooded mergansers.  I was careful and setup and was waiting to get some good shots when all of a sudden two ducks that had been in the brush along the edge not 5 yards from me decided I was a threat and they exploded out of there and all of the ducks went to far side of pond (which really could be called a lake).  I went to the other side and set up again and waited and the Ring Neck ducks would only come so close to the blind-but i enjoyed every minute of it.
Canon 1D Mk IV; canon 600 f4 with 1.4 TC @f7.1 1/1250 ISO500

Went home to meet Joan and we went north to another friend's place that is remote in woods and there are some good ponds there.  It is only 18 miles north of us and we found most of the ponds still frozen, ice on the back roads and snow!!!  We found one beaver pond only half frozen over and there were 4 female and 4 male wood ducks there.  We watched them for over an hour.  Then some turkeys came and spooked them. I already have quote a few wood duck pictures-but none that I ever considered "killers".  Well, today I took a number of shots that are better than any I have ever taken of wood ducks.

Canon 1D Mk IV; canon 600 f4 with 1.4TC @f10 1/400 ISO500
Canon 7D; canon 600 f4 with 1.4TC @f10 1/320 ISO500 EC+.67

Canon 7D; canon 600 f4 with 1.4TC @f9 1/100 ISO500 

Until next Time

Jim Borden