As promised, it is time to pop another offering from Brad’s growing queue. He has been working overtime to bring you a number of new adventures, many of which we will be releasing during my fast approaching migration trip. To wet your whistle, here is an adventure which happens to be closer to home. Note, I thought monopods were just for whacking faster runners when wildlife decides to make a S’more out of photographers. Who knew there was another purpose ha.
Take it away Brad…
Usually, these posts include some sort of travel or exotic location where there just happens to be a bird or three worth photographing. Brian heads to a bird sanctuary near the border in Texas. Jan and I have normally just returned from a fantastic vacation location. This time was a little bit different.
During our last trip to Colorado, I noticed my monopod (an aluminum Manfrotto 680B from the mid 2000’s) was slipping. It was having trouble supporting the weight of my Nikon 200-500 plus the D300 with battery grip. The middle section would slide down 4-5 inches, followed closely by the top section sliding 1-2 inches. I tried to tighten the joints with the plastic tool included with the monopod; no luck. When we arrived home, I discovered that parts are no longer available for this particular model. I also found several people on-line that had simply tightened the joints beyond what may be prudent. While that was not something I wanted to do, I wondered if the bolts had loosened because of usage. I grabbed my favorite metric socket set and loosened all the joints to look for debris. Finding none, I slowly tightened the bolts on the locking levers, about 1/16 of a turn each time. Try the joint. Adjust as necessary. Repeat. At some point I hit the magic friction point because the monopod stopped sliding with the lens/camera combo mounted on top. And it didn’t feel like I was going to snap off the locking levers. Now I had to verify the results.
Hit the jump to see the results of Brad’s verification efforts!
I can only assume things are getting .. if not already been.. crazy wherever you might call home. All the large events have now been canceled (including two of my scheduled races for April), schools have been shuttered, remote work has been instituted where possible and now we officially have our first confirmed case of the Coronavirus in our local area. I’ll spare you the political gamesmanship that is going on at the same time beyond the tidbit my tax evading governor of our broke state is on TV complaining that people are continuing to go outside – the horror, the horror (oh, but he still wants everyone to go out and vote on Tuesday – long live politics). Will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Lemons out of lemonade, there’s extra time to devote to the image backlog.
The queue can definitely use the extra attention now that it has been drastically inflated thanks to the discovery of the previously mentioned missing directory. Being that it is currently snowing here in the heart of Illinois, decided to take you on a virtual bird walk. There was a series of shots in the queue taken back in June of 2017 courtesy of a stroll through my favorite local state park – Jubilee College. It happens to be only a mile south of us – our woods and those of my neighbor’s all link to this park. A lot of my free time is spent there either training on hills or enjoying birding hikes on their many trails. This collection is more focused on the bird variety discovered that day than the photographic execution. Sometimes you just need to focus on the joy of being outdoors and experiencing nature leaving the stress of getting the camera and light settings mastered. Sean O’Connell said it best “Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.”
A Turkey, a Thrasher and a Titmouse walked into a bar. The bar tender goes “Sorry, we don’t server T’s. Okay, okay, not as funny as three men walk into a bar, the fourth one ducked, but I gave it my best shot. Like the last post this one brings you not one, not two but Terree (in my best Monty Python imitation) birds. Unfortunately, unlike last time it is short of images – a measly one per species, weak.
First up is the Wild Turkey. These birds definitely differ from their domesticated brethren in that they can flight. Not very well, but they can go short distances and launch themselves into the trees if need to escape from danger. Typically you will see them hanging out on the ground at the edges of tree lines looking for berries, insects and snails (per Cornell’s dietary information). Cornell also mentions they have made a comeback of sorts and now can be found in every state but Alaska. Likely easier to just go down to the local Walmart and grab one out of the freezer than stalk these quarky birds in the wild. According to Wikipedia they actually got their name from the country Turkey (as a result of Britain bringing us the domesticated version) – did not know that.
I have found them to be very aloof and not wanting to be around humans at all. Whenever we spot them they usually turn and head for the woods almost immediately. The one above is a female that has been hanging out in the woods near a ravine not too far from the house. While we were building our house we discovered a group of Wild Turkeys living there and did our best not to disturb them too much – one had actually laid about 8 to 10 eggs at the time. Soon after they were hatched, the mother took them to another location – our builder mentioned the Tom’s will kill them if they find them. Guessing it has been this female that has been hanging around here each year. This year she was hauling around two offspring! She brought them to the feeders twice but each time she saw me with the camera she gathered them up and high tailed into the woods. Glad to see at least two of them made it to juvi status – maybe those will take up residence next year as well! I was surprised to find that the Wild Turkey hasn’t made it to the Blog yet – chalk up another check mark.
Next up.. the Brown Thrasher. Now this bird has made a showing on the blog. The previous two showings were in my own backyard (link here and here). This new sighting was at Banner Marsh in a Mulberry tree along the side of the road partway to the marsh. While taking pictures of another bird, there was a rustling in the tree behind me. Turning to investigate this Thrasher was staring right at me.
That began a 15 minute battle to try and get a clear shot of that damn bird. Pretty sure it knew I wanted it in the tin so it purposely kept itself partially hidden. jumping form branch to branch as it circled the tree away from me. I’d stop it would stop on the other side of the tree – move left it went right, move right it went left and when I moved into the center of the tree it just went to the top. Extremely frustrating. Kind of feel bad for Linda having to hang out in the car watching me dance around this tree. This is the ONLY shot worth showing from that battle. All in all, not too bad if I say so myself. Again, the journey was more than the destination. Something about these birds make it seem like they are always pissed off (probably because humans keep disturbing them with their big glass). Guessing it is the yellow eye, but not sure on that.
Continuing the tribute to the winged ones, today’s focus is on the titmouse. Probably one of the stranger names for a bird since it doesn’t really resemble anything of the things that come to mind when I see that name. I might have to track down the origin of that name out of sheer curiosity. Based on the images in the field guide, I appear to have Tufted Titmouses (or is that Titmice?) which again is common to the region I live in. This first picture is a tad fuzzy and dark, but I thought it was interesting because it looked a tad fat. Due to the poor lighting I am unable to tell if it is browner than gray and thus might be a female.
Based on observation, the titmouse has to be the most skittish of all of the birds that use my feeders. They are very timid and always land on a nearby branch first and survey the situation before eventually diving down into the larger birdfeeder (with songbird mix).