December 2021 Birds — Part Two

For them not interested in reading, you can see the photos in THIS<<link SmugMug Gallery.  

For a SmugMug slideshow, click HERE<<link. When you click the link, it will open in a new window, and you have two options:
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If you want the full experience, keep reading.

Welcome to the second bird feeders bird post.

The weather having been unusually warm (we had a few days in the 70s and a number of days in the middle and upper 60s … in December) I have lots of photos to share . . . and if it’s anything like my cruise photos effort, I’ll probably finish sharing them sometime in late 2024.

Overall, I’ve been pleased with the bird attendance at the feeders, this being winter and all, and I look forward to more of a showing once Spring rolls around, which, at this rate, will probably be in the middle of January.

Sneak peek of a Tufted Titmouse using my Nikon P900

I’ll have more off those guys in future posts. They are cagey and seldom sit still long enough for a shot when at the feeders, hence why the P900’s long zoom came in handy for that opportunity.

I don’t remember if I mentioned it, but — weather permitting — I sit outside with a cup of coffee and the two cameras (Nikon P900 and Nikon D7500 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens) for a few hours during the time the birds are most active. Even if there’s little avian activity, I still shoot photos of shrubs, rocks, leaves, etc.

Most of those photos get blown away (yes, I occasionally get rid of photos), but what I’m doing as I wait for birds, is trying different settings, learning what the cameras can and cannot do, and finding the best settings for the conditions.

American Robin photographed using my Nikon P900

And, what are the conditions?

Well, this set of photos are samples from two days — December 14 and 16 — and both days were overcast and featured an occasional raindrop or two (a few raindrops are visible on that photo, and you can see water drops on the bird’s tail).

In that particular photo, the bird was about twenty feet away. This next bird was about 160 feet away.

American Robin photographed using my Nikon P900

This next trio were probably right at the 100 feet distance . . .

Non-breeding adults or immature European Starlings photographed with the Nikon P900.

I should clarify that all these photos were processed in at least a couple of programs. Depending on their original quality and clarity, the P900 photos require a bit more work than the D7500 photos. Regardless, none of these offerings are spectacular at full resolution because of the lighting conditions (dull and severely overcast and shot at long zooms).

Let me dispense with a few photos before I get to a series I want to share . . .

. . . These are all birds already familiar from the last post. Like, for instance, this female Northern Cardinal.

Female Northern Cardinal photographed with the Nikon P900.

Cardinals are timid (at least around here) and these photos are shot in very poor lighting (under a bush, except for the last one).

Female Northern Cardinal photographed with the Nikon P900.

She kept slowly advancing toward the seed I’d thrown down, but kept her eye(s) on me the whole time.

Female Northern Cardinal photographed with the Nikon P900.

The male — which will make an appearance on my next post in the series — was a bolder, but not by much.

Female Northern Cardinal photographed with the Nikon P900.

I’ve gotten a few more House Finch photos — they’re some of the bolder birds, using the feeders with me sitting twenty feet away and swapping Cameras as I shoot. It’s usually movements like raising the cameras that get most birds to bolt. Why I often sit with the camera already up near my face.

In this next gallery, the first two photos were shot with the P900, the other three, with the D7500.

Here’s another small gallery; two photos of a White-throated Sparrow and one photo of a Dark-eyed Junco at the birdbath.

I’ll mention again, I highly recommend getting the Merlin app put out by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (LINK).

I said I occasionally use it to play a bird’s species calls … as was the case on the 14th, when I entertained this Carolina Chickadee.

It began on a now-naked small tree on the side of the house, the bird trying to identify where the calls were originating . . .

. . . and it continued on the feeder, where it was either answering or adding its own song . . .

Before I go on, I’d like to point your attention to the third photo . . . pretty sharp, right? Not so the original . . .

Click to open in a new tab.

Note also how dark the exposure (because of the bright background). I adjusted the exposure, shadows, highlights, darks, contrast, to bring out the details, but for this photo — which I wanted to include — I had to also bring to bear the power of Topaz Sharpen AI. Go ahead and go back to the gallery and see the difference.

I also mention the lighting because this is the same bird but, in a moment when the clouds thinned and the light improved, it looked like a different bird . . .

The difference in the color of its side and chest plumage might also be due to it fluffing its feathers (in the first photo) and the reflection of light from the cement in the other two photos.

And, of course, on how the camera metered the scene. But, just to be clear, I can set the white balance based on its gray feathers, and it hardly changes. I think the low-light condition brings out more of the tan in its feathers, and the darker color is masked in better light. When it’s sunny out, those feathers look much closer to white than tan.

Two days later, what is likely a different Chickadee, ignored the recorded songs and calls, and just sat at the feeder, eating. These next three photos were taken with the P900 and are minimally cropped.

Like most birds, Chickadees don’t stand still for very long. That’s why I typically have the P900 movie mode set at half speed . . . and even that is a bit fast. The P900 doesn’t record audio when shooting in slow-motion, so I added some.

Here’s a gallery of all the above . . .

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