Saturday, January 27, 2007

Red Tail Hawks

I believe this is the same hawk I saw yesterday near the rice drier that I guessed might be a Red Shouldered Hawk. I was able to get a bit more of a view of the belly area. Even though the tail isn't "red" -- this may be a Red Tail Hawk after all. Perhaps a juvenile. I'm basing this on the narrowness of the bands across the tail.

One thing I have discovered about Red Tail's, they have an incredible variation in coloring. This one is fairly dark, but seems to have the "V" shape of mottledness on the wings (when folded).

Back at Christmas time, I saw what I was sure was a Krieder's variant -- mostly white! (See my Christmas Birds post.)

In the picture to the right, you can see the belly even better. Right under the wing is the suggestion of the "Belly Bands" most Red Tails have. All the more reason to suspect this might be a Juvenile Red Tail.

After catching the handsome youngster at the rice dryer, we headed down Woods Road to see what we could see. This is the location where we found the Kryder's at Christmas time, so I was hoping to see that bird again. We may have seen it, but only from a distance, and I was not able to get a picture. THIS bird, however, was very cooperative!

In the picture below, you can see the bird's red tail. Isn't it a beauty?!

I managed not to snap what the bird did next... probably a good thing too. ;-)

Red Tail Hawks -- probably most hawks -- are very sensitive about their feet. After all, they are the main tools of the hawk's occupation -- finding food.

This one seems to say, "Euuu! I've got something on my foot."


So this afternoon was a bit overcast, but we decided to drive around and play with the new camera settings.

This Robin was very cooperative at first. Unfortunately, I'm using more manual controls and having a hard time getting a really clear shot.

This was a great heron shot -- but it's really hard to keep the focus when you're hand-holding the camera and trying to follow the bird!

Interestingly today, when I have a camera that will follow the movement a little better (ok - I'm still working on it!) -- none of the birds wanted to fly. They were very cooperative at sitting still. I guess I shouldn't complain. This is probably one of my best kestrel shots so far.

So here was a real surprise. I saw these birds on the high-wires as we drove by -- white tummies and rufus chests. We passed them by. Then I decided we really needed to go back and see what they were. Wow! Eastern Bluebirds! The maps show that they may be found in our area, but I had never seen one here. Another one for the list!

Friday, January 26, 2007

New Camera!

I finally became so frustrated with my old camera, that I decided to step up to a DSLR. I read and studied and narrowed it down to the Nikon D40 or the Pentax K100D. I was leaning toward the Pentax, but decided at the last minute that I liked the Nikon better. So we headed off to the camera store, where I asked to see the D40. I loved the "feel" of the D40 and had just about decided to buy it until I found out that the zoom lens I wanted cost almost as much as the Camera!!

SO... I am now the proud owner of a Pentax K100D camera!

I had two complaints about my previous camera -- A lot of my pictures were blurry (OK, I know that's most likely ME), but worse, the camera took so long to take a picture, that I missed a lot of shots.

The Pentax K100D is MUCH faster at taking shots. Some are still blurry, but the camera has shake reduction so that should help. It's also a lot heavier with the 300mm zoom lens! I'm still shooting on AutoFocus -- but that will change soon. I need to do a bit more reading to set things up properly.

So here's a few samples:

This was taken on the day I came home with the camera -- with the standard lens. It was very late in the afternoon -- getting on toward dusk. I had to stand on my tip-toes and shoot down on this leaf to get the focus right.

Here are some shots from today of my more common subjects:

OK, I don't usually take pictures of vultures -- but you have to admit they are pretty awesome gliders. This one was flying over the house.

There is a yaupon right at the side of our porch where a lot of the birds like to perch before checking out the feeders, or perhaps they also look for bugs there (as Robins aren't feeder birds).

The picture above, is the way I usually take pictures of hawks. This one's still a little blurry, but it's much better than most I've gotten (I'll credit the fast shutter for that!). This one is a Red Tail.

And this one is not... I haven't looked it up -- but I'm guessing it's a Red Shouldered Hawk -- see the buff color of the tummy?

And of course, it's Goldfinch time! I didn't notice until I was reviewing this shot, that this little guy is injured. Ouch! That has to hurt. Goldfinches, like humming birds, are pretty aggressive. I didn't think they had the "weaponry" to do that kind of damage, but those beaks do look pretty sharp!