Friday, September 28, 2007

Bye Bye Birdies!

I don't have anything new lately, so I chose to peruse the archives. I stumbled onto this Red-Headed Woodpecker, but I'm not sure what it's little morsel is, possibly a corn kernel, or maybe just a fresh chunk of wood. Anyway, I spotted this guy along with a mate, on Moose Island while adventuring with Snoop RobERob. We both took plenty of shots, and then I got the bright idea of sneaking up closer with a few trees as cover for my pursuit. I got to my destination, only to discover that I was walking in poison ivy with shorts on. Needless to say, I got out of there after a few shots, went to the car to find some wet naps to wipe down with, and headed to Rob's house for use of his tub to get the oily stuff off of my bare legs (Poison Ivy and the Hannibal don't mix) Thanks Rob again for your facilities. You most likely saved me a trip to the Dr. for one of those steriod packs, and a shot in the rump.

Migrating birds are at their peak last night and tonight for traveling, given the southerly winds, and the clear nights, added by the full moons brightness. Check it out tonight if you get a chance, you just might see flocks passing by the moons light. You won't see them again til next Spring...Bye Bye Birdies...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Heading South

I was walking the grassy paths in Goose Lake State Park, with my mind set on Monarchs, as they are migrating toward Texas/Mexico around this time of year. When they go, they go in droves. If you are lucky enough to see them, you could find hundreds, even thousands of them virtually dripping from trees (reststops). I have yet to see this phenomenon, but not without trying. Last year, I saw dozens on a certain tree in Goose Lake, but this year, none so far...Anyway, as I am taking in the wildflowers lining the path, with the butterflies fluttering about, I hear some geese in the distance taking flight. Their honks are becoming louder, so they are coming my way. I turn in that direction, just in time to see them clear the brush, and lift higher, yet I am directly in their path. As they approached, they see me, and veer off to my left, and left me to my own path. I continued on, trekked my way to the tree...No Monarchs...yet...

Monday, September 24, 2007

People are Assholes

This post is about common courtesy. Most humans with any sort of experience in the Walmart aisles know that people suck. Some people live on their own planet, and anyone else is just visiting...these people leave their carts in the middle of any given aisle, because... is "their" aisle. Your cart should not go down their aisle, but when you make this error, and have the patience to wait for them to move their precious cart, you get "the look", although some are just stupid, and apologize, as if they have never practiced this selfish act before. Hmm...slow learners.

I am at a "public park" doing my thing, minding my own business, shooting a bluebird that landed on a branch which made for a really colorful photo. I am probably 30 feet from it, and am inching my way closer for more detail. As I am doing this, I hear a bicycle bell ringing behind me. I immediately think I am going to lose this shot, the bird will flush before I can get any closer. The bell continues to ring louder as it gets closer and I think "what an asshole", can't this person see that I am shooting something with my camera and am standing my ground? Why can't he just slow to a stop and not interrupt what is happening in front of him? Or...choose an alternate route? That would be an option too. Nope! He's coming on strong and will bully his way past me, without any regard for what else might be happening in this world, besides his path to possible fitness, or...whatever. From the observation I made after seeing this intruder of space, I noticed he wore headphones while bicycling, which tells me he didn't have "nature" as his motivation for choosing this park. He could have chose any given road for his exercise, because environment wasn't a factor. I chose this park for nature. I expect to walk the paths because of the environment, and expect to get it because of my choosing, AND... pedestrians always have the right of way. Not for this guy, he passed me and my camera, and of course sent the bluebird off to find a safer spot to roost. Sometimes... it is just about courtesy towards others...I hate people! Anyway...Here's my post, although, had I been given some courtesy, I might have gotten a closer shot for more detail and the bird might have had peace for a little while longer.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Not My Wood Duck Photo

I have a personal vendetta against woodducks. I stalk them every chance I get during their breeding season. I have purchased camouflage in hopes to outsmart these little fellas. I get up way before dawn to set up my equipment before they wake up, just to capture a close photo which involves sneaking into the forest with a flashlight, backpack, and chair, stealthily weaving through the trees with my bulk. I arrive at my pre-determined site and set up as quietly as possible. I sit there for hours waiting....I do this most every weekend in the spring....I never get my duck even though the site is famous for them. I've tried other "good" sites-proven sites through my own eyes. I sneak just the same, but still, I haven't captured that visualized photo in my head. I see and hear them plenty. I see them as they flush from their cover and scream danger with their call, and send any within hearing, off to a safer place. That has happened to me every single time. I take great care with my planning and strategy, but something is still wrong. What? I don't know yet. I'm still learning, and luck has yet to grace me.
I've attempted these shots for years. I've not been beaten yet, I still have hope, and one day I will prevail...

Last weekend, I took "Becky" out shooting. We haven't done this in a long time, so I was hoping for a good day. We take off for my sweet spots and cruise the country roads. As we are passing a small and swampy pond, I check for activity, and what do you know...woodducks. Lots of them. I am driving, and the shot is on Becky's side of the car, so I hand her my camera, give her a 15 second lesson, and get into position. She takes her shots, which are somewhat distant, but all in all, she gets to shoot a prize I have yet to get. The swampy composition was something to envy, and even though the ducks are losing their bright plumage, it made for a really good "rookie" shot. Good One Becky!!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Corn Fest Photo Contest

I am entering the Corn Fest Photo Contest for the first time, and the research I have found is scaring me. Last years entries were over 800 photos. Thats alot of competition. The problem I am having is that they only take 1 entry per catagory. I am trying to get creative with black and white entries, just so I can enter more than 1 photo. I included a few here, but still have some more to ponder. If you are interested in seeing the Photo Show, it takes place at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall on Saturday, the 29th from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday. The purchase of a Corn Festival Button is your admission to the show, which is available at the door.

Wish me luck!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Rustic Shores

One of my "new" favorite parks is the one on Moose Island in Channahon. It was just opened in August, and is still under construction although many joggers, bikers, and various other nature types are accessing its trails. I found that 1 particular trail takes me to a certain waters edge for this early morning shot of a rustic farm across the rivers' backwaters. The second photo is a view you might see as you park your car in the new parking lot. This place has a lot of potential, and I am hoping my next visit will bring new views, because I am coordinating a kayak voyage with my friend Pam. I do suggest bug spray, because the mosquitos are the size of bats, and just as thirsty. There were gorgeous wildflowers along every trail, and the outskirted borders were wooded, which is always a great cover for deer. I love this park and wish I could keep it as a secret spot all to myself. I can be quite selfish, but am displaying my generous side to the world, in hopes that my local readers will try it out for themselves and love it as much as I do-I'm such a giver-enjoy!

Coyote Crossing

I was doing my weekend morning ritual, driving to all my favorite secret wildlife hot spots, when I spotted orange ears in a far off field. I put the car in reverse, pulled over and got out the binoculars. It was a coyote, who had also spotted me. I am not nearly as discreet as he was, so I put the car back in gear and headed down the road in pursuit of a turnoff and enough time to give the coyote back his confidence to pursue his destination. I waited a few minutes, and then headed back in his general direction, when I see up ahead, that he is crossing the road. He jumped the ditch, crawled under the barbed wire, trotted into the field, and disappeared into the goldenrod, then reappeared as he leaped up on some huge hay bails. Perfect! The morning sun was harsh, the background was wooded except for an opening, so I stategically placed my car for the shot out the drivers side window. I grabbed "Big Daddy" (my largest lens) propped it on a cushion for my makeshift tripod, and shot away. The settings were tough because of the hard light, but with the background being dark it should make for a decent shot. I was lucky enough to have the time to mess with settings, because the coyote was content with his post. I took quite a few before he decided he had had enough of my disturbance, which always brings a feeling of regret for me, because I hate to have been the cause of his departure.
The top 2 photos were taken with Big Daddy (500mm)-the 3rd with a smaller lens (300mm). In comparison, the smaller worked better as a scenic shot, because my lowest f-stop (5.6) was lower than with Big Daddy (6.3). I got a brighter, and more detailed shot, along with being able to keep a faster shutter speed for sharpness.

Tomorrow...Rustic Shores

Hannibal's House of Hummingbirds

I have been attracting hummingbirds to my house with feeders filled with sugar water for the entire summer. It seemed that at the beginning of the season, I might have had 1 or 2. Now, as we are nearing the end of the season, I have had up to 8 individuals. These guys and a few females have been zipping past me for a month now, getting ready for their migration. I suspect a few have already left, because the nights are getting quite chilly, and the buzzing and chattering I hear throughout the day has grown infrequent. I really have enjoyed this particular season the most, because the activity at its peak was quite chaotic for these amazing little guys, trying to protect a certain feeder from other intruders.
I set up these shots with a tripod not more than 5 feet away focusing on the feeder or a certain branch in a tree. My lawnchair, drink, and smokes make it comfortable enough to stay and wait for hours. With patience and slow movements, I was able to get quite a few shots that I like. I did handfeed them this year, but setting up the camera shot was a bust, though I did attempt it. I needed an assistant for that shot, but none were available. Maybe next year...


The Sunflower That Broke My Camera...or Did It?

So here is the infamous sunflower that broke my camera. The last frame shot before...well, you know the story...but do you? I thought I knew the story, but it seems it is worse than I ever imagined...NOTHING was ever wrong-NOTHING! How can this be- you ask? Hannibal went on and on about this, can't she give it a rest? Do I really care to know the ending to this never-ending story? She broke her camera that was on her tripod, by not fully extending the legs-big mistake, rookie mistake- I took notes. It will never happen to me. She sends it off to her warranty company, they held on to it for a month, then finally looked at it, and to her surprise, absolutely nothing was wrong. It functioned properly. She wanted it shipped back immediately, but never assumed the company was efficient. She made several calls, heard several promises, never believed them, followed up with several phone calls, got her camera back the weekend of Labor Day after throwing a tantrum. She suspected it was her batterygrip that must be broke, so when the camera came back, sure enough, attaching it and not getting the camera to function, was the culprit to all this madness. She shall buy another batterygrip! Q-Ponz wanted to take a look at the batterygrip, just so he could tinker with it. Being the IT genius that he is, I , ofcourse brought it in for his inspection. He visits me later that morning with batterygrip in hand, turns it on, and viola! Batterygrip is fixed! He cleaned the frickin contacts! I feel so stupid. How a crash caused all of this, I will never know. I do know that I have a perfectly functioning camera, with a perfectly functioning batterygrip. I also know that I spent 50 perfectly good dollars to ship my perfectly functioning camera off to perfectly capable repair people with perfectly awful customer service.

And...I swear that this is the perfect ending to this never-ending story-The End!

TOMORROW--REAL hummingbird photos!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

How I spent my Labor Day

Q-Ponz and I went on an adventure Labor Day morning. He recieved his new camera on Friday, and I finally had mine returned from the "shop". I wanted to give him a great outing, so I showed him alot of my favorite secret wildlife spots. We saw a few deer, egrets, herons, insects, red-headed woodpeckers, among various others. I am posting shots I got that I really like. I am thinking about entering one of them into the Corn Fest Photo Contest but I can't decide which one I like better. That's where you come in. Please leave a comment as to which one you find more appealing. Thanks in advance!

Plenty of photos to come in the next few days. I am on vacation, and have been shooting alot!