Wanamassa Birds

I frequently stroll the streets of Wanamassa, NJ, with camera at the ready to take pictures of birds.

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Location: Ocean, New Jersey, United States

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Young House Finch

I'd been sitting under the feeder with my grandson for quite a while. A downy, a chickadee, a titmouse and a house finch all dropped by the feeder. Other birds were in the vicinity. Suddenly, I realized there was a very young bird perched on a branch on my side of the tree. I incorrectly jumped to the conclusion it was a young song sparrow. In fact, it is a young house finch. I was surprised and pleased that the camera was able to focus on the bird without being distracted by the branches.

It was not at all perturbed by my circling it as I struggled to get a good angle. Again the camera cooperated by focusing on the bird rather than the branch.

It flew down to the feeder, which was a bit of a surprise given how stationary it had been until then. Having gotten there, it's inexperience showed.

For all its struggles, it ended up with a seed!

However, it looks as though it proceeded to drop it. This following shot and the one after it were taken within a fraction of a second of each other, so I'm afraid all that struggling was in vain.

Once again, the bird just sat there inviting me to take pictures. This time, it was easier to frame and so I got this excellent shot:

I was also able to get this picture of the bird's back:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron

Just the other day, I was bemoaning the fact that I hadn't seen a black-crowned night heron all year. But yesterday, just as I was sitting down for lunch, we got a call from Denise who said there was an unusual bird at the bridge on Wickapecko. From her description, it sounded as though this could be it. Here's a shot of the bridge with the bird on the grill.

I approached the bird cautiously and took this shot as soon as I could, just in case it was about to fly off.

But it seemed entirely unmoved by my approach.

Indeed, it started to put on a show, scratching itself:

Preening under its wing:

Then it settled down again, so I took this chance to get the scene-setting shot of the bridge.

Although it didn't give me a look at its neck fully extended, this shot gives a pretty good idea of how long it is:

Finally, it turned around and looked under the bridge.

I think it had by now gotten fed up with the clicking of my camera's shutter. It readied itself:

And then jumped under the bridge out of my sight.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Two Young Downy Woodpeckers

Disappointed with the picture I posted yesterday of the downy, I went out today intent on doing better. To my amazement, there were two downy woodpeckers on the tree, and both of them were obviously very young. The first one is a male, because you can see the red cap forming:

It was obviously nervous at my close approach, but it allowed me to get so close I was having trouble keeping it in the frame.

The other bird was smaller still. It has no red showing, but could be young enough that none has developed yet. It wouldn't let me get as close as the other. This shot suffers a bit from having been backlit.

Eventually, it came to the feeder and so I was happy to get this lovely shot.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Great Day at the Feeder

I bought a new bag of seed this morning, similar to the last bag but not exactly the same. Still, I expected it to attract the birds and I was not disappointed. At first, I went out with the 300mm lens and the 1.4x teleconverter. A family of finches, two adults and three youngsters, kept me busy. Here's one of the youngsters and the two adults:

As I was about to leave, the female finch took up residence atop the feeder and she let me get quite close:

But the shots I got of the blue jay that popped in at one point were all out of focus. I decided to try an experiment. I dispensed with the 1.4x converter and sat myself in a chair, closer to the feeder. With the size of the blue jay, this gave me a better chance of fitting it in the frame of the image, and with the lesser zoom, I'd have a little more flexibility with depth of field.

Again, the finches appeared, and although I was determined to not take a whole lot of pictures of them, I could resist this shot:

But then the blue jay put in an appearance and I got this jaw-dropping shot. The bird flew into the top of the tree, hopped quickly from one branch to another to get closer to the feeder, then jumped on to the feeder for the briefest moment, grabbed a nut and flew off. I caught it with the nut in its beak.

Next on the scene was the female downy (unfortunately, the sun shone too brightly on its breast, washing out the image some):

Then I was distracted by a pair of song sparrows. This one was under the feeder, presumably picking up droppings, although they're often to be seen rooting around in grass where there is no feeder.

At first, I thought this second song sparrow might be some other kind of sparrow because it doesn't have much of a central breast spot, but I think it is indeed a song sparrow.

And, the tufted titmouse put in an appearance. Like the blue jay, it didn't hang around long in the tree, flying straight into the feeder, grabbing a seed and flying off. The effort of carrying a seed seemed to affected its ability to display its tuft.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Seed Attracts Diverse Crowd

I was taking a sanity break from work this afternoon. Took a look at the tree that holds the feeder at the side of the house. I've recently changed to a seed mix that includes nuts and various fruit -- looks like raisins. I couldn't believe my luck that there were three different kinds of birds on the tree all looking at the feeder.

I was pleased that the blue jay hung around.

And then I was shocked to see it actually go to the feeder, where it used this technique:

After picking out a seed, it decided to fly back to a branch of the tree.

No sooner had the blue jay departed than this young male cardinal showed up.

The female downy returned and gave me a different angle.

This male house finch posed in the tree on the way to the feeder.

The female was not far behind, although by now the light was failing some so I've had to do some post processing to brighten this image.

A tufted titmouse dropped by the feeder:

Even a song sparrow dropped by:

Even a catbird dropped by:

There were also a couple of chickadees. Here's one of them:

Finally, on my way back into the house, I spotted this goldfinch on the other feeder:

An amazing diversity in the space of a quarter of an hour or so.