Everyone loves a cool dip in the hot summer. Birds, and especially hummingbirds, are drawn to water. It’s not only the adorable Bushtits that flock to the fountain in my garden. Almost every morning I see one or more of the Anna’s Hummingbirds bathing there too. This young hummer plopped itself down in the cool water and splashed. Nikon D6, Nikkor 500mm PF.
So much for social distancing with the Bushtits! Sunday morning it looked like a rugby scrum on the fountain. They kept piling on top of one another for their bath. I counted a dozen at one point all tangled together. There are ten visible in this shot, nine in the scrum.
Because you just can’t have too many cameras, I am now the proud owner of six Nikons, three DSLR and three mirrorless cameras. The newest member of my collection is the tiny Nikon Z50, a mirrorless crop sensor camera with a 16-50mm lens, the equivalent of a 24-70mm in a full frame camera. For years, I carried my Nikon D800 and 24-70mm lens with me everywhere. It was a heavy combination but I got used to it. My camera bag became my purse and my friends joked that my purse needed its own chair when we went to a restaurant. I loved having the camera with me at all times because I often got shots I never would have had otherwise. But, as the years passed and my photography evolved more toward wildlife photography, my main camera body and lenses were very much heavier and it wasn’t convenient to carry a camera with me 24/7. And, with my focus now on photographing birds and wildlife, I didn’t feel the need to have a camera with me when I wasn’t on a designated photography mission. Still, I discovered that there were times that I wished I’d had a camera with me other than my smart phone. Fast forward to the introduction of Nikon’s mirrorless Z cameras. Smaller, compact, and lighter than the hefty full frame cameras I thought perhaps I would begin to carry a camera with me again. But the Z and its lenses while much smaller than the D6, are not particularly light weight or compact. Enter the Nikon Z50 mirrorless crop sensor camera. It is tiny, and coupled with the 16-50 mm lens is small, light weight, fits into my purse, no camera bag required, and, once again, I will have it with me. Saturday morning while running errands, I came across acres of sunflower fields in full bloom. I pulled over, took a few shots, and was able to continue on my way, with the satisfaction of knowing that I hadn’t missed something.
Improvements in Nikon’s autofocusing system in the D6 include enhancements to the 3D Auto Focus Feature. It allows the shooter to select the starting point for the autofocus which so far to me seems like a great feature. I tried it out in my backyard when the adorable Bushtits were heading down to the fountain for a bath. They congregate on the leafy twigs and branches behind the fountain as they make their way to the water. The 3D system picked out this Bushtit in the midst of lots of leaves because I had the starting point just to the left and slightly up of center. So far I am pleased with how quickly it reacts and maintains focus once it latches on. Nikon D6, Nikkor 500mm PF.
Sea Otter pups depend on their mothers for survival. They stay with their mothers until they develop their own survival skills and that can be as long as six months. It is so fascinating to watch the pups with their mothers. They lay on her stomach or float next to her. They don’t sink. Their fur is so dense they can’t dive until they get their adult fur.
The Northern Sea Otters in Kachemak Bay seemed just as curious about us as we were about them. When Captain Jim maneuvered the barge to give us the best viewing angle for photographing them, the otters watched us, keeping their eyes on us as we turned and as they floated by. There’s something irresistible about that face.
I’m reading a book called Return of the Sea Otter by Todd McLeish that describes the importance of Sea Otters to the health of the Pacific coastal ecosystem. Sea Otters feed on sea urchins, mollusks, crabs, and other shellfish. When otter numbers diminish, the shellfish that feed on the kelp, especially sea urchins, increase to the devastation and eventual deforestation of the ecosystem. Without kelp, the coastal waters quickly become an ocean desert. The kelp forests, home to countless species in the Pacific Coastal waters, thrive because of the Sea Otters. And, Sea Otters sometimes use kelp, especially Giant Kelp, to tie themselves so they don’t float away while they’re sleeping. I’m not sure what this Sea Otter was doing with a fistful of kelp but it looks like it had some purpose in mind.
The hummers are acclimating to the new features on my patio, the new perches, the new plants, the new layout. The biggest hit is a perch I positioned a few weeks ago but with the new arrangement of plants, it is getting more use. This juvenile male Anna’s Hummingbird is getting used to me outside and he will perch on the twig for quite a while I photograph him before he decides he’s had it with me and flies off. Nikon D6, Nikkor 300mm PF, Nikon TC-14EIII.
Saturday I potted some new plants to attract hummingbirds. And, they do! So, kudos to KUDOS RED, a compact, upright dwarf hybrid hyssop, also known as hummingbird mint, that blooms from mid-summer through early fall. First thing Sunday morning the hummers were checking it out. The pot is on a table on the patio and the plant is full of blooms so this Anna’s spent quite a while checking out the flowers while I stood nearby and photographed him. Nikon D6, Nikkor 300mm PF, Nikon TC-14EIII.
Kachemak Bay in Alaska is home to an abundant number of bird species in the spring. Last week as we traversed the bay on our transport barge, we saw mostly Glaucous Gulls, Black-footed Kittiwakes, Black Guillemots, a few Tufted Puffins, Bald Eagles, and huge rafts of Common Murres. Thousands of them paddled in large groups. This one paddled away from the crowd briefly and I was able to isolate it from the others with my Nikon D6 and 500mm PF lens.