December 2021 Birds — Part Three

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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Welcome to the third bird feeders bird post. This post has photos (Nikon D7500) and videos (Nikon P900) from December 16, 2021. Also, videos from the 15th.

The 16th was another warmish — if wet — day, and I sat outside for a few hours watching the wildlife. I shot 99 photos, and I managed to pare them down to 64.

Because I’m still working out the whole embedding thing, these will be loaded as I usually do, which means I’ll have galleries to help readers speed through the photos as opposed to having readers wear out the scroll wheel of their mouse. I calculated that based on the amount of storage I have left, the actual number of photos I can upload might be as many as 4,500 (depending on the sizes). That’s more than I’d estimated before, so that’s nice.

I’m also breaking with tradition and not presenting the photos in the order they were shot.

Tufted Titmouse using my Nikon D7500

Much like the last post, this is not a super-great photo of a Tufted Titmouse. What can I say? Sometimes, my luck runs out and my lack of talent shines through, even if I’m using the Nikon D7500 with the excellent 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. I could blame the poor lighting and the rain, but it’s all on me. However, I got luckier after that . . .

Tufted Titmouse using my Nikon D7500

Part of the reason many of the photos are not approaching stellar quality is because even in poor lighting and not-optimal shooting conditions, I try for action shots. On this particular day, I had no luck, with most of the action shots looking like this . . . .

Tufted Titmouse using my Nikon D7500

Again, I got better at the action shots, as will be seen in future posts. But, just to be clear, it’s always a struggle between getting as clean and sharp a photo as possible, and getting a good exposure. As it is, I processed these first on DxO PureRaw (all were very noisy), and then Luminar AI. The finishing touches were added using DxO Color Efex Pro.

Here’s what the photos look like before I crop them . . .

Many of my photos tend to have a slight lean to the right1 because I forget to use the guidelines, often because I hurry to get the shot.

But, even when I think I’m minding the alignment, the photos are slightly tilted to the right. Maybe because I’m right-handed, or maybe because I use my right eye . . . Oh, I know! The earth rotates to the right, so I’m bucking the resultant airflow and due to the shape of my arm and how it’s angled, the flow causes my right arm to dip.

These all had a bit more ‘lean’ than usual, as do all the photos I take when shooting outside from a seated position because, one, I tend to rest my elbow on the arm of the chair, and, two, I’m usually balancing the other camera on my lap.

Regardless, it all gets worked out in post-processing.

But, let me show you a couple of my favorite photos of these cute birds . . . mind you, they’re not great photos, but they are my favorite, proving once again that content beats quality.

By the way, notice how the middle (cement) bird is closer to the edge than the others? I have a working hypothesis (and no way to test it). Actually, two … that bird rests on a slightly uneven surface, and it can rock (slightly). We had some pretty good gusts of wind, and I’m theorizing the wind catches the tail of the bird, and the resulting ‘rocking’ slowly walks the bird forward.

My other hypothesis has to do with the gray squirrel that likes to sit on that bird. It can’t lift it (it’s cement and probably weighs more than the squirrel), but, again, it could be the repeated rocking ‘walks’ the bird forward.

Or, one of my neighbors sneaks into my yard (avoiding the cameras) and moves the bird forward a bit each night. If I catch them, boy, are they getting a whooping! I don’t care if they’re in their 80s.

There are a couple of other cute photos of the Titmouse and a North Carolina Chickadee. Here’s a quick gallery with the photos in question . . .

The Chickadee is just eating a seed, but it sure looks like it’s giving the Titmouse a talking to. Shortly after (I should have included it), the Titmouse flies off.

I like Chickadees, so here’s a small gallery of shots that look a lot like the shots from the last post, but are, in fact, new.

They could be stills from the video I included in the last post . . . but they’re not.

We’re getting many more House Sparrows visiting. Mini-flocks of them will swoop down, peck at the seeds on the ground for a few minutes, fly off to a nearby bush, wait a few minutes, then come back and repeat. But on this day, I only saw a few. Here’s the first on feeding on the ground.

As I mentioned before, they’re pretty birds, but they are aggressive and can displace other birds from their nests as well as kill their broods2.

This female House Sparrow (recognizable by the brown eyeliner) was playing coy. Luckily, I’m not susceptible to feminine wiles.

I found the behavior of this male House Sparrow interesting. With all the available food just laying around on our patio, he chose to go ‘natural’. Probably some sort of foodie snob.

The majority of birds feed off the ground (the Titmouses and Chickadees being exceptions), and the only other species eating directly from the feeders are the House Finches. They’ll occasionally hit the food on the ground . . .

. . . but most of the time, they perch nearby and then hit the feeders. Here are a few males and females casing the joint (and one hitting the feeder).

One of the most striking birds visiting the feeders are the cardinals, and especially the males. Their plumage is more vivid in the winter, and not just in contrast to the gray drabness of the weather or the whiteness of the snow (when there’s snow). Their coats are actually brighter (redder) in the winter as their feathers mature and they get ready for Spring mating.

The ladies, of course, are not to be outdone . . .

The last shot in the gallery is yet another failed ‘action’ shot taken at too slow a shutter speed to freeze the action . . . but, when they’re standing still, I get decent results.

Here’s the obligatory European Starlings on a tree photo . . .

And a small gallery of a small Song Sparrow . . .

I’m rushing through these because it’s not only birds I captured on that day. There are four fairly young squirrels who are cleaning me out of unshelled peanuts. I’ll have some of their exploits in future posts, but for now . . .

“Are you talking to me!?”

He looks like he has an attitude!

“You want a piece of me!?”

Luckily, squirrels are easily distracted by food, after which they break out in “Day-o! Da-ay-o!” a la Henry Bellafonte (RIP).

Yes, we’re nearing the end, and here are my last two photos. Photos of American Robins.

A couple of things . . . one, I like both those photos, but especially the second photo. Two, I’ve seen as many as twenty (probably more, but I lost count) congregating on my neighbor’s tree. There are berries, or some other fruit, that they (and the squirrels) have been working to get. So much for Robins coming in the Spring . . . they never left.

They used to be all over our holly tree . . . stripping all of the berries from it. Not a berry remains. I have a couple of videos documenting their demise. The videos are from the P900, and the first is slightly out of focus, but I want to share it because it shows a bird defending his stash from another bird (briefly seen, but otherwise not in frame). I didn’t bother adding a soundtrack because it’s so short.

The next video is in focus and you can see the bird make short work of the berries. I did add music to this one.

That tree is about 12 ft tall and was full of berries as of early December. There are no berries left on it.

Next up, one of the squirrels eating berries on a different tree, this one about 65-70 feet away from me. Again, Shot at 1/2 speed with the P900. I added music, but forgot to tone it down, meaning it might be loud.

Same squirrel, same tree, longer video (also loud music – depending on how high you have the volume on your device).

Well, if you made it this far . . . wow. I hope you enjoyed it.

Here are the galleries of all the above. Because Blocks still mostly suck, I can’t do a single gallery for all the photos, so I’m doing three.

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

Footnotes

[1] Just to be sure, I don’t mean the Political Right. I’m referring to the directional descriptor.

[2] It’s sometimes easy to get ‘mad’ at animals for something they do. I tend to remind myself that long before I get invested in judging animals, I have nearly the entire human population deserving of harsh judgment for their actions.

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