Early May gets the birds

Seventy. This post has seventy photos presented either singly or in small galleries. At the end of the post, there’s a gallery of all the photos . . . that’s for them who just want to see the photos and have no interest in my words. Well, other than the words in this opening paragraph.

This photo is for mvschulze — that’s the current look of the trimmed River Birch. We’ll see how it’ll look in the summer.

For them not interested in reading my words but interested in the full-size versions of the photos, you can see the bird photos in THIS<<link SmugMug Gallery and the plant and miscellaneous photos in THIS<<link SmugMug Gallery. 

When you click the links, it will open in a new window, and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button near the top-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: Above the play/pause button there’s the option to go full screen. Most of these look really good viewed full screen. You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos (this will pause the slideshow).
3) If you click on the photo, it will zoom to full-size (1:1 view). Depending on the size and details of the photo, it might take a few seconds.

If you want the full experience, keep reading.

Common Grackle <<link

May 2nd, and like the mythical creator, I decided to rest (‘been painting and rearranging the garage, caulking, doing trim, and, in general, acting like I want to do stuff around the house as opposed to just vegetate and eat anything but vegetables).

For me, resting occasionally means sitting outside with my camera, my coffee, and my non-vegetable snacks. Specifically — on that day of rest — I aimed to catch me photos of birds and especially, birds in flight.

Birds are currently tending nest denizens (many eggs already hatched because I see the empty eggshells on the ground) which means plenty of opportunities to catch birds flying (like the above). You might notice the above shot is not very clear. Two reasons; one, it was a cloudy and gray day, and two, I’m out of practice.

The cloudy day comes into play because with low light, you either get low speeds or high ISO shots or both. Since I want to freeze the action, I set my shutter speed at about 1250th of a second . . . and that’s still not enough to freeze some of the action. The problem is that at that speed, the ISO jumps to — for the above shot — to 5600. Meaning, it’s very noisy.

“But, Disperser — if that’s really your name — that shot has hardly any noise! How can that be?”

Well, Bob — can I call you Bob? — I have a three-letter answer . . . DxO. More Accurately, DxO PhotoLab 4. I processed all of these photos in PhotoLab and made use of their “Prime” noise reduction algorithm. Seventy photos . . . it done took a while.

But, Disperser — Really? That’s your name? — that’s not that great a shot.

Well, Bob, give me a break! And I’m definitively going to call you Bob. That was the first shot of my practice session. You might not realize it, but them birds are fast, and you need to focus and track them as you control the release of the shutter.

But, I have Topaz Sharpen AI . . . let me see what it can do.

Processed with Topaz Sharpen AI . . . not bad. Not great, but not bad.

Well, it ain’t gonna win no awards, but on a small screen, it should look pretty good. A 1:1 view would show the nastiness of the details, but hardly anyone goes to check that out.

Here’s another of the same bird a split second later (more like 1/1250th of a second later) . . .

As shot with Noise reduction using DxO
Same photo run through Topaz Sharpen AI

Again, not super-great, but not awful if viewed at a reasonable size.

Warning: the Block Editor is still a pain to work with and can cause stress levels to spikes. Use with caution. Avoid if possible.

I don’t have to resort to Sharpen AI for shots of stationary birds . . . er . . . I don’t mean paper birds; I mean birds that ain’t moving (much).

Them little white/gray specks be falling raindrops. Some delu . . . er . . . uninformed people believe they are orbs; manifestation of spirits visiting from another plane of existence.

. . . I’m going with raindrops . . .

Black birds are difficult to shoot even in the best conditions, but they get especially difficult to photograph on a cloudy day when set against the relatively bright sky . . . as illustrated by this Red-winged Blackbird<<link . . .

Currently, the birds can be grouped into two groups . . . them who got some and are now feeding the results, and them who are still looking for some action (like the Red-winged Blackbird above, calling for all available females).

This Grackle is probably a parent, if not the parent . . . .

“hmm . . . where’s a good place for food?”
“Is that where the food is?”
“That yard looks like is wormy . . .”
“I need some food; I’m a growing bird!”
“Get back in there before a hawk comes by and eats you!”
“OK, OK . . . (I’m so going to take a dump on her side of the nest!)
“Why did I ever decide to have kids!? . . . oh, yeah; that dang evolutionary imperative!”
“Well, I better go scrounge up some food for the little shitter!”

Some people maintain I can’t possibly know what the birds are saying . . . but I remain staunch in my assertion regarding what I observe.

Anyway, one small concern I have is with regards to the tall grass in my neighbor’s boundary. I think that’s where a Red-winged Blackbird pair have nested. I say that because I see the female land on the corner lamp post with stuff in her beak, and then drop down, presumably to feed little Red-winged Blackbirds.

At some point, the neighbors are going to hire someone to come and clean that up. I’m hoping by then the birds will have fledged.

To wit, maybe the male wasn’t so much calling for female partners as guarding the nest and his current partner. 

If you don’t think that’s how it went down, here’s a close-up of the guy . . .

Yeah, them birds be scary . . .

These next bird, however, are just fun to watch . . .

“Look to the right!”
“Look to the left!”
“Eyes front!”
Me: “Holy shit on a cracker!” (ducks and covers)

OK, OK, I didn’t have to duck and cover because I was on the patio with a wall of windows behind me. The bird flew up on the roof.

Also, that’s another example where even 1250th of a second is not enough to freeze the action . . . so, again, I try Topaz Sharpen AI . . .


Not too bad, actually. I mean, the wings are in motion, as they should be, but Sharpen AI improved the focus on the face and body of the dove.

By the way, although we have the hummingbird feeders out — the migration is well on the way and sighting are now up near the Canadian Border (LINK) — we’ve not seen many Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (five in three weeks).

But, on this day, what we lacked in quantity, we made up in size . . .  

“I don’t see any seeds . . . you sure about this?”
“Well, it’s like a feeder . . . but, you’re right. This don’t look right.”
Maybe it’s a cruel joke by some sick bastard!”
“Whatever . . . I see real feeders in that other yard; let’s go!”

So, for the hummingbirds-challenged, those are House Finches (LINK). Here’s another — a lone male — drinking from one of our birdbaths . . .

House Finches are not the only red birds around here . . .


For them who do not click on galleries . . .

That is a Northern Cardinal (LINK). Last year they used to hang around the house a lot and even nested in one of our shrubs. However, we had those shrubs removed at the end of last year. So far, the only nesting bird in any of the trees and shrubs we have is a dove using an old nest (doves can’t build nests for crap).

Speaking of doves . . .


“Hey there, on the chair. Yes, you, with the non-vegetable snacks . . . “
“Wanna play hide-and-seek? Here, I’ll close my eyes . . .”
“What do you mean, ‘It looks like you’re peeking?’ Are you accusing me of cheating!?!”
“Here, I’ll turn around . . . if you can’t see my eyes, I certainly can’t see you.”
“Where you looking at my ass? It looked like you were . . . what? Of course I couldn’t see you! Forget I said anything.”
“Me? A cheater! Why, I never! . . . I don’t have to sit . . . er . . . stand here and take this. I’m outahere!”

So, those last three shots have — again — some motion blur. I mean, yes, I understand the wings, but the face and body should be in focus.

You know what’s coming, right? That’s right . . . Sharpen AI for the attempted rescue . . .

. . . and — again — I think the results are pretty good. Not stellar, but I don’t mind the end result.

FYI, by these shots, I’d switched lenses to the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR . . . I lose a bit on the zoom, but the faster lens allows for a lower ISO for the high shutter speed.

By the way, after about a hundred photos or so, I was getting the hang of tracking birds in flight . . . .

Two separate birds, one photo sequence . . . I feel almost like a real wildlife photographer.

Of course, I can still take flower stills . . . but these don’t go with the birds; I was merely checking the depth of field of the 70-200mm lens for various settings. Still, I shot them, so here they are.

OK, we’re nearing the end of this . . . next up, another grackle. This one highlights their weird mating calls — or what I presume are mating calls . . .

You probably won’t see it clearly on a small screen, but it actually lifts one leg at the height of the effort . . . must be some effort. I probably should have cropped closer . . . but, more reward for them going to look on SmugMug.

This next sequence of shots shows where the Dark Knight got the idea for his costume . . .

You can practically hear him say “I am Batman!” in a scratchy and gravely voice. Awesome!

After calling toward each direction in turn, it takes flight for parts unknown  . . . probably another tree, I’d wager.

I actually tracked him a long way. The D7500 can shoot more than seven frames per second, so I had over twenty photos. Of course, he was flying away from me, so each photo was less interesting and smaller. Plus, even those are marginal as far as them being interesting . . . but, it gets me to seventy photos. Actually, 71 photos if I count the first one for mvschultze.

I think I’ll call it quits for this post as I’m pretty sure the number of people who made it this far can be counted on less than half a handful of fingers.

Here’s the gallery of all the photos . . .

OK, OK, I lied . . . well, technically, I didn’t. There are 70 photos, but if you count all the above, I actually posted 76 photos. That’s because some are repeated to show the Sharpening AI results.

Sure, I should have mentioned it beforehand, but it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission, or so I’ve heard.

. . . to be clear, I’m not actually asking for forgiveness . . .

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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