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Discussion Starter #941
The juvie Cooper's hawk was still hanging around the marsh Tuesday (9/19/17). I suspect it is a one of the fledglings I photographed at nearby City Park earlier this summer. Based on my photos over the past several years, I believe City Park is home to a breeding pair of Cooper's hawks.

Shots #8 & 9 are blurred because right before the bird took off I had knocked my shutter speed down to 1/250 to get a shot with a low ISO setting.
 

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White Egret landing in nesting tree

There is a large tree a couple miles away that is home to about 20 pairs of white Egrets and Blue Herons during nesting season. They are well known in the community because the creek area where the tree is located is a stone's throw from a shopping center. I swing by there just to check them out and sometimes I bring my camera. I used a Canon T4i DSLR with a 400mm f/5.6L prime lens with a 1.4x extender set-up on a tripod. I can't recall what camera mode I was in, but 95% of the time I'm so used to manual I just leave it there.

When I got home I downloaded the image into photoshop and messed with it with various effects just to see the results. I happened across this gray hue filter and I liked it because to me it made the photo look "oriental". I lucked out with the focus because the bird's wings from the elbow to the tips were blurred, suggesting flight. This occurred totally by accident.
 

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Discussion Starter #943 (Edited)
Wow! That is a great shot! You are right about the overall effect looking like "Oriental" paintings. I think you should enter it in some photo contests. Birds such as egrets, cranes, and herons are often featured in Asian art. With that location being fairly close to you, it looks like just the place to experiment with your camera for more "artsy" shots.

When I first started photographing birds, I bought a "how to" book that was written at the dawn of the dSLR camera age. The author recommended taking detailed field notes for every shot: camera settings, lighting conditions, etc. The beauty of dSLR cameras is that you no longer have to do that; all of that info in available with the right click of a mouse. You can take note of your camera settings for that photo, then enter them into your camera's "memory" settings (C1, C2, and C3 on the Mode knob of my 7DII, probably similar for your Rebel) that you can access quickly in the field.
 

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Discussion Starter #944 (Edited)
Here is a marine bird many of you have probably never seen, the parasitic Jaeger. This is only the second time I have seen one as it only passes through the Puget Sound region in September during its annual winter migration.

The parasitic Jaeger makes a living by stealing fish from other birds. I caught this one trying to do just that Friday (9/22/17) as it chased some Bonaparte gulls, winter residents in my area. These shots were taken off Sunset Ave. with my 5DIII + 500L telephoto lens + 1.4x TC mounted on a tripod. I don't know why the Jaeger was wasting its time with this particular gull as it was not carrying a fish.

More info on the Jaeger here:
Parasitic Jaeger | Audubon Field Guide
 

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Bird photography in Florida

Bill, in your travels did you ever make it down the southern Florida? I've been everywhere in the state over the years and I'm always amazed at the number of different birds that frequent Florida, stuff I have never seen before and many of them really prehistoric looking. One time I was playing golf next to the Manatee River and a section of the golf cart path was a long wooden bridge that took you on a scenic tour of some cool swamps. This is where I wished I had a camera, just to take pictures of the variety of birds in the area. I actually would have parked the golf cart and instead of playing golf I would have spent the day taking pictures of many of these unique birds.

I forget what magazine I was reading, likely an environmental one, but a few pages in the back were directed at birders because Florida is a destination point for such activity. I don't have Florida any longer since I take care of international accounts now, but if I do get a chance to go back I'll certainly bring my camera. I used to make a swing from the Lauderdale area over to the gulf coast via Alligator Alley, there were many opportunities along the way to stop and take photos, after all, it's part of Everglades National Park. It is quite the place for wildlife viewing, that is as long as these critical habitat areas remain protected and the prospect of that happening is slim to none with today's political climate.
 

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Discussion Starter #946 (Edited)
For all of you who have been photographing Cooper's hawks in your yards, Thursday morning (10/12/17) my wife discovered a barred owl sleeping on a tree branch in our back yard. It may be one that I have photographed in nearby Pine Ridge Park, which borders the end of our court. My last two owl hunts in the park came up empty, so maybe the owl came to me for a change. I can add the barred owl to the short list list of birds of prey that have visited my back yard. The other two are a Cooper's hawk and a bald eagle.

The first photo was taken from the back deck, the remainder from the ground. It displayed typical barred owl behavior: sleeping away while ignoring me and the pack of screeching crows around it. The owl left about a half hour later while I was back at my computer. Ironically, the owl was perched on one of the two dying western hemlocks that will be removed next month. I am having their 12-15 foot stumps kept in place to serve as habitat for woodpeckers and other birds.
 

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I dig owls

Owls are one of my favorite birds, I'm sure many others feel the same way. In fact when we were looking at new homes back in 05, one house stood out because beyond the backyard was a nature area, because a creek flowed through it. I went out to the backyard, looked into the canopy of trees and spotted a hugh owl sitting on branch, it was really cool to see. I watched him until he took flight and mainly because of him and the greenbelt, I wanted the house bad. However, it had the dreaded Mello Roos monthly bond payment attached to the purchase so we passed on it. Now I live in a house with a postage sized backyard (wanting to downsize to single story) which then was made even more confined when neighbors planted fast growing trees right up against the fences. I wasn't into astrophotography then, the views of the northern and eastern skies were unobstructed, but that changed over time. I started imaging deep sky a couple years back when I still had some clear sky available, but now it's hit and miss. Besides that the neighbor directly behind me installed multiple landscape illumination lights to highlight the trees and landscaping, further degrading the conditions for taking night time photos. I'm so stressed by this I've copped a real attitude about wanting to move to a more rural area, or if we stay in suburbia, find a place without two story homes on all sides and ideally with a greenbelt that is impossible to build on in the future. I wish we still lived in our first home up here, it had a 1/2 acre lot with plenty of room to construct an observatory. Furthermore, urban light pollution can be mitigated by going to CCD narrowband imaging with the use of skyglow filters, but this is even under challenge with the proliferation of LED lighting. Unfortunately, LED lighting emits unwanted light wavelengths through out the spectral zone and as of now are impossible segregate the good light wavelengths from the bad. The near solution is cooperation from city, county and state to adopt a design change in all light standards, simply make them with a cowling to prevent light escaping upwards which is a waste of light anyway. There have been some advancements in this and more awareness, but to get these people to make this simple change is like pulling teeth. Another problem with LED lighting, yes it is cheaper to operate, but knowing this cities have reacted by putting more of them on the grid. Lighting and safety is way overblown, but that's another topic.
 

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Discussion Starter #948
A male Anna's hummingbird brightened up an otherwise rainy, dreary Thursday afternoon (1-18-18) at the marsh. The streaks in the background are raindrops photographed at 1/250 sec. The Anna's are year around residents of western Washington and their mating season has already started.
 

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Discussion Starter #950
Friday afternoon (2-16-18) a male Anna's hummingbird kept perching on the twig of a blackberry bramble above the railroad tracks by Sunset Ave. The W sign beside the tracks is to alert the engineer to whistle for the Main St. crossing.
 

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Discussion Starter #951
Monday my son and I made a trip north to Skagit County in search of short-eared owls. I took too many photos to post up here. Check this thread for photos of the trip and to find out if we found any short-eared owls.

Skagit Trip 2-19-18
 

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Discussion Starter #952
I took advantage of Thursday's (2-22-18) sunshine to get out and look for birds.

1-3: To lead things off, Wesley, the male Anna's hummingbird who guards the boardwalk at the marsh, did some fantastic posing..

4: The East LA band Los Lobos had a hit song, Kiko and the Lavender Moon. Here is Wesley and the Edmonds Moon.


5-7: Wesley topped off his performance by landing about 10 feet from us on the hedge next to the boardwalk. He was so close that I had to back off on my telephoto zoom to get him in focus.
 

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Feeder expansion and other notes

You should have them year round according to Cornell. They are regular visitors to my bird feeder.
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Dark-eyed_Junco/id
Sorry, I didn't pick up on your response earlier Bill, but now that you have identified the Junco, I do believe the black-headed version is a frequent visitor to my bird feeders. I say feeders in plural because I installed another one since my wife, daughter and myself really enjoy having them come into our backyard. The bird feeders are between the hummingbird feeder. Not only that, the second feeder with three tubes is a hit and now we are getting flocks of birds and for the first time Red Wing Blackbirds are stopping by the last few days. Very skittish and aware of any movements so they are good watch birds for the prowling cat or Cooper's Hawks that sometimes patrol the area. About 10 to 15 Black Birds will show up and work the new feeder because it has a tray where they can stand easier to feed. There are times when I'll have upwards to 30+ birds including the blackbirds, various songbirds and Morning Doves working the feeders at the same time. Of course, the doves work the ground and I have prevented the one cat who comes around from setting up under the original feeder by putting a couple of tomato plant wire supports underneath it. The wires are hidden from view by a couple of mature bushes. Believe it or not, I have trained my two cats not to go into our backyard, so they have never been a threat.

With the usual bird aggressive behaviors around the feeders, they all seem to get along well enough otherwise. With so many birds present, they can go through both feeders within three days, fortunately, we can find 20 lb bird feed for cheap so the cost doesn't bother me. My wife ran into a super sale of black thistle, a seed the birds absolutely love, otherwise, the stuff is costly so we wait until it goes on sale at the usual outlets.

This year I want to install a water feature near the feeders, as you know it gets pretty hot here in the summer. Having a water source will add a new dimension of viewing pleasure and provide water for bathing and drinking too.

The one thing I can't figure out is why I never had any nesting activity around the nesting box I installed several years ago. I believe it has the right dimensions and it isn't exposed to the afternoon sun. Maybe it's the funky tan color I painted it, a color that doesn't look all that natural and makes it stick out like a sore thumb. The other problem is yellow jackets, they are a nuisance in this area. A couple times I found them building a nest in there and I made short work of them at night. I guess there isn't a way to keep them out, not that they frequent it all that much, just a couple times in the last few years.
 

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Discussion Starter #954
I say feeders in plural because I installed another one since my wife, daughter and myself really enjoy having them come into our backyard........
Sounds like fun. You can use the "backyard birds" to practice your bird photography techniques without having to leave home. Quite a saving$ on ga$.
A friend of mine has a water feature in her backyard and it really draws birds in the summer.
 

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Wow! That is a great shot! You are right about the overall effect looking like "Oriental" paintings. I think you should enter it in some photo contests. Birds such as egrets, cranes, and herons are often featured in Asian art. With that location being fairly close to you, it looks like just the place to experiment with your camera for more "artsy" shots.

When I first started photographing birds, I bought a "how to" book that was written at the dawn of the dSLR camera age. The author recommended taking detailed field notes for every shot: camera settings, lighting conditions, etc. The beauty of dSLR cameras is that you no longer have to do that; all of that info in available with the right click of a mouse. You can take note of your camera settings for that photo, then enter them into your camera's "memory" settings (C1, C2, and C3 on the Mode knob of my 7DII, probably similar for your Rebel) that you can access quickly in the field.
Bill, I took your advise and entered the Egret photo in Audubon's 2018 photo contest. They do have some leeway on any modifications you make, I believe the gray monochromatic filter might be OK according to their rules, maybe not. Otherwise, it was that and some sharpening. I've always felt you should do the same thing, but with so many candidates, it would be difficult to choose which one.
 

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Discussion Starter #956 (Edited)
Bill, I took your advise and entered the Egret photo in Audubon's 2018 photo contest...... I've always felt you should do the same thing, but with so many candidates, it would be difficult to choose which one.
I have entered two local contests with no success. I feel my photos lack the artistic flair that winning photos have, probably because I photograph to record behavior rather than to create a work of art. Your photo of the egret is very artistic, whether you intended it or not when you took it.
 

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Discussion Starter #959
Several of our local eagles took advantage of Thursday's (3/1/18) sunshine and were out and about. I took advantage of the sunshine as well and photographed them. Attached are four of the many photos I took.

The rest of the photos I took and a narration of my day's activities can be seen by scrolling down page 4 of this link.
Edmonds Eagles 2017-2018 - Page 4
 

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Discussion Starter #960
March Marsh Madness

February has gone and its now time for March Marsh Madness.

1-2: Things started off Saturday (3-3-18) with a visiting merlin, which perched on the tallest tree next to the boardwalk. I had to wait for photos until the wind blew the branch away from its head.

3-5 Later that afternoon the resident juvie Cooper's (?) hawk perched on the swallow box west of the #1 viewing platform. After grooming itself for several minutes, it dived into the foliage east of the platform. We thought it might have captured a small bird like one of the marsh wrens I had heard calling from that area, but it came up empty-taloned and flew west towards the railroad tracks.

6-10: Two pairs of hooded mergansers swam in and out of the dead en waterway in front of the viewing platform.
 

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