4 August 2020
Almost all of my pictures are taken “by hand”. That is, I spot the bird, point the camera, adjust assorted settings, and take the picture. (Yes, there are lots of useless shots that way, but pixels are cheap.) Sometimes, though, I “cheat”. There's a rose of Sharon bush I know of that ruby-throated hummingbirds like to visit in August, but I can't easily predict when. Accordingly, I set up my camera on a tripod, aimed it broadside at one flower, and set the interval timer to take a shot every 15 seconds. 400 pictures later…
I didn't want to examine 400 pictures carefully, though. Accordingly, I wrote a small script that turned them into a short movie. Any time I saw something dark flicker through a frame, I noted where, and went back and reviewed those pictures by hand. (Technical details: I used a high shutter speed, to freeze wing movement, and I used a relatively small aperture to get the entire bird in focus. If you look closely at the picture, you'll see that even 1/1000th of a second exposure wasn't fast enough—I should have gone to 1/2000 or even 1/4000. To make the “movie”, I used ImageMagick to rescale each picture to 25% of the original, converted it to a GIF, and wrote the filename and timestamp in the upper right of each one. I then combined all 400 GIFs into an animated GIF, with each frame lasting 40 ms. That's long enough that I can see the flicker of a hummingbird, and since most of the characters of the filename don't change between frames I can see the approximate point in the sequence. I have to view ~15 shots quickly to pick out the ones I want.)
Of course, there are many insects who like flowers, too. And the flowers don't mind that much—look at how pollen-coated they are.
26 July 2020
I had a great time this morning at the Central Park Pond: a black-crowned night heron, an egret that found some prey, a turtle that decided it wanted to be under a bench instead of in the water, a wood duck, and a great blue heron perched in a tree. I should note: that bird showed why one should not park a car under a tree in which a heron perches…
25 July 2020
A red-tailed hawk was grooming itself. It apparently heard the click of my camera shutter, stopped what it was doing, and lookeed down at me. I suppose I'm anthropomorphizing to say that it was glaring at me…
23 July 2020
A pair of peregrine falcons have a nest high up on Riverside Church; the church very kindly installed some 2x4s for them to perch on.
The other day, I saw several falcons—at least two, more likely three or four—circling around the Interchurch Center across the street. Speculation I've heard is that this was the parents teaching the fledglings how to fly well.
9 July 2020
Great egrets are such beautiful birds!
6 July 2020
For the last few months, I've regularly visited the Tracy Brook Wildlife Sanctuary. As a result, I've been able to track particular nests. Here's a sequence, mostly of one nest, of two chicks from conception to about ready to fledge.
5 July 2020
I especially love the two great blue heron chicks, at the Tracy Brook Wildlife Sanctuary. And of course, the black-crowned night herons in the Central Park Pond are very photogenic.
2 July 2020
I've been remiss in posting to this blog for the last few months, and while I hope to be doing some make-up posts soon, here's are two sequences from tonight: a red-tailed hawk landing in a tree—note the pine needles flying in the second picture, and the small bird fleeing its new neighbor in the fourth—and then it taking off.
12 April 2020
There's a wildlife sanctuary run by Mass Audubon in Richmond, Massachusetts. I don't know how big the entire property is; what's available is a small pull-off from the road from which one can observe a beaver pond with more than twenty nests for great blue herons. I went there this morning, and although the light wasn't great for seeing or photography—the nests are well to the east of the road, so they were backlit—there were a number of birds visible. I wasn't certain what I was seeing at one point, when one of two birds in one nest started flapping its wings, but I figured I'd photograph it—display behavior, I guessed. Well, yes, it was mating related…
5 April 2020
I haven't been doing much bird-blogging of late, but I love this picture too much not to share it.