The young Anna’s Hummingbirds have started to tolerate my presence and allow me to approach within a few feet so I can sit and enjoy the show. If I’m not already outside, when I see one buzzing around the feeders or the fountain I grab my camera which is always at the ready and slowly walk outside. Yesterday morning I went out three times before I left for my morning walk. It’s given me an opportunity to get more familiar with the new Nikon D6 autofocus system. Maintaining focus on a hummingbird in flight can be a challenge. But, when they hover in flight, it is possible to lock on the eye and maintain focus even when shooting with a slow enough shutter speed to blur the wings. Nikon D6, Nikkor 300mm PF, Nikon TC-14 EIII.
At the grocery store a day or so ago I found some Alstroemeria that looked green in the store’s lighting. I decided to try some more focus shift shooting with the Nikon Z7. This time, instead of using the Nikkor 105mmf/2.8 Micro lens, I used a native Z lens, the Nikkor 24-70mm S. I think its results are an improvement over the micro lens, probably because the micro lens has a much more narrow depth of focus than the 24-70. They are actually less green than they they looked under the store’s florescent lights but they still have a greenish hue.
There seem to be more Lesser Goldfinches in my garden this year than in past years and they have dominated the fountain, especially on these first 100 degree days. This female Lesser Goldfinch waits in the Photineas before taking her turn to frolic in the cool water below. Nikon D6, Nikkor 300mm PF, Nikon TC-14 E III.
My Nikon D6 DSLR arrived last Friday. It is Nikon’s flagship camera and I love it. Since its arrival I have been getting acquainted with it. It’s particularly welcome right now because my Nikon D5, what the D6 will replace, has been languishing at Nikon’s Service Facility in Los Angeles since it arrived there on March 16 for routine cleaning and servicing. Immediately after it arrived, the facility closed, deemed a non-essential entity by the State of California. I know it is safe there and will eventually be serviced and returned to me but just when that will happen is anybody’s guess. Getting the new D6 in my hands was very welcome indeed. The heft and ergonomic feel of the camera is just as good if not better than that of the D5. It’s a large camera but is so well designed that it doesn’t feel heavy to me and shooting with it and its expanded autofocus system has been heavenly. My shooting options right now are limited mainly to my backyard so I have been on the lookout for subjects. My favorites, the Anna’s Hummingbirds, have been fairly elusive but I finally captured a sub-adult male who cooperated by sitting still on one of the perches I strategically placed between the feeders and a potted salvia late Monday afternoon.
The Pyrrhuloxia is a song bird closely related to Northern Cardinals. In fact, female Northern Cardinals look very similar to both male and female Pyrrhuloxia with their crest and coloring. The main distinguishing feature is the bill, more yellow and more parrot-like than that of the Northern Cardinal. They thrive in the hot arid deserts of the Southwest United States and into Mexico. This female Pyrrhuloxia perches in the heat of South Texas, panting a bit.
I guess you can call the bell shaped salvia blossoms a hummingbird sippy cup. Yesterday morning I noticed one of the Anna’s Hummingbirds sipping nectar from one of the flowers on the Black and Bloom Salvia plant. My camera is always at the ready to capture something fun in my backyard and this hummingbird was taking its time, giving me enough time to capture a few frames before it darted away.
Water is critical to the survival of birds, and in places where ground water is scarce, water features that provide this essential element provide a welcome respite. Santa Clara Ranch in South Texas was designed for wildlife photographers and includes numerous water features to help native birds in this dry, arid place. When the temperatures hover in the high 90’s and low 100’s all kinds of birds flock to the ponds. This is a Long-billed Thrasher enthusiastically drinking water. Several water droplets fly off its bill and drip back into the pond.
In these days of curb-side pickup and home delivery, might Wile E. Coyote once again be outsmarted by the Roadrunner? This Greater Roadrunner seems ready to spring into action, perhaps as an Acme delivery guy. Beep, Beep! Photographed in South Texas. Nikon D5, Nikkor 500mm PF.
It’s hard to miss a male Northern Cardinal. This brilliant red male strikes a pose. The red of his feathers draws attention to him and apparently, the lady cardinals love the color. Female Northern Cardinals have a bit of red on their crests and wings but are drab by comparison and don’t sport the brilliant hues that make this male stand out. Photographed from a blind in South Texas. Nikon D500, 500mm PF.
This time at home has given me lots of opportunity to revisit some of my past photography adventures and reflect on the many gorgeous birds I’ve had the good fortune to photograph. I have a soft spot for jays and the Green Jay, native to the southern tip of Texas, seems to have all the same personality traits of the Scrub Jays here in California that I know and love. The major difference is the colors of their feathers. It is much more striking, exotic, and tropical.