They Really are Purple

And we are officially back with the second installment in the Recovery-a-Palooza series. I am starting to get the jitters now and I am pretty sure my hair is starting to fallout thanks to my body rebelling against sedentary life. Won’t be long and my internal inhibitors will be overwhelmed and the “crazies” will start coming out – NOBODY wants that! The good news is the swelling is subsiding and the bruising remains minimal. On the topic of purple, thought I’d go with these for tonight’s featured feathered friend(s).

Purple Martin found at Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton IL in June 2016

Good news – these shots are better than what is in the post coming down the pipe. Bad news – my readers out there deserve better for sure. To get the excuses out of the way, I was a bit handicapped the day these were taken. Not too long before this outing, my trusted D7000 workhorse finally succumbed to the torture I had inflicted on it since likely its Nikon debut in 2010. Later coupled with The Beast, that rig was everywhere I was – snap, after snap, after snap, after snap until there wasn’t enough light left in the day to focus. The shutter gave way while taking shots of a rarity in Havana, IL (that would be the post that is coming up). Heartbreak as I pressed the button thingy and nothing went clicky.

Purple Martin found at Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton IL in June 2016

Hit the jump if you want to see a few more shots of these big Purple Mosquito Eaters!

While that camera was getting fixed, I decided to rent the new D500 to see if it was time to upgrade. Called up Ron and we headed over to Weldon Springs State Park in Clinton IL to put it through its paces. Talk about a struggle. This camera line had its share of advantages especially in the ISO area, but the frustrations over the course of that day convinced me that the 500 line was NOT for me. I am sure most of the issues were completely my lack of familiarity, but reversing directions of the dials (later found a way to reverse that back to the old in the settings) produced quite the torrid of profanities and the fact that line does not have the two 7000 line user modes left me eager to get back to my baby. Two things that were very obvious was the sensor on that rental was hyped up. Even a small manipulation of any corner of the exposure triangle had a dramatic under/over impact. My fingers were used to giving the 7000 speed or aperture dial a good flick to hone in the settings – I was backtracking nonstop with that camera. The other annoyance that ended up sealing the deal to pass over the 500 line was the mirror slap – wow, is that ungodly loud. Slowly sneak up on a pond, focus in on a duck and SNAP followed by every bird in that pond hightailing it out of there. Jump to today and I happily carry a D7500 – my retirement gift to myself. Eesh, seems like a lot of words to simply apologize for these shots being weak.

Purple Martin found at Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton IL in June 2016

Like the previous post, the Purple Martin is one of those birds where I can easily tin by simply walking out my backdoor. Well, actually walking out my back door and taking a short ATV ride over to my neighbor’s horse farm. He has a nice colony living over there that I haven’t been able to convince to split and take up residence here – even promised them pancakes in the mornings. I could really use a group of these Mosquito vacuums over here. Since I took these back in June 2016, I’ve been meaning to get my butt over there and get better shots – clearly never happened. Decided I couldn’t wait anymore and went with this series from Weldon to officially get the +1.

Purple Martin found at Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton IL in June 2016

Weldon has a very nice set of houses at the edge of a large prairie field. If I pulled out far enough for you to see the entire multi-level condo you wouldn’t even be able to distinguish the birds. This colony was fairly large and most of the apartments looked occupied. There were also a good number of sentries out on the perches and on the perimeter likely keeping a watchful eye out for those invading House Sparrows. Strength in numbers and these aerial acrobats can fly rings around any Sparrow foolish enough to try and invade the area.

Purple Martin found at Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton IL in June 2016

Beyond maybe the first shot in this series, you wouldn’t know these birds actually do have a purple shimmer to them. The males are dark overall with a blackish wash that covers their body. On top of that basecoat is a deep purple that will shimmer as the light glances off (unless you blow the exposure – trust me, they look more purple than this in person). The females and juvis are much duller – browner – than the males with graduated gray bellies and varying amounts of speckling. They are the largest in our Swallow family, but still possess incredible skills on the wing.

Purple Martin found at Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton IL in June 2016

The Purple Martin pretty much covers the entire eastern region of the States during the breeding season and then head back down to South America when the Mosquito (and other flying insect) population starts to thin out for the season. Did learn something new while perusing Cornell’s site. These Purples take their fluids like they get their main courses – in flight. Like Skimmers (link here), the Purples will skim the nearby ponds and scoop up water with their lower bill). Will try to bring you that behavior on my next encounter.

Alleve time, so better wrap this up. I think I also just spotted a “crazy” trying to break through the defenses. Hope you got some enjoyment from these less than stellar shots of a very elegant Swallow.

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