Today’s post features a pair of those adorable Bushtits who live somewhere in my garden and visit the fountain daily to bathe. This pair, a male (right) and a female (left), seem to be unable to decide whether to jump down into the water. Are they looking for the rest of their noisy little troupe? They never did jump in and left before any of the others joined them. Nikon D6, Nikkor 500mmPF, NikonTC14EIII.
Pine Siskins (Spinus pinus-I love the scientific name) are chattery little birds. Unless they’ve seen a predator nearby, they are constantly twittering and chirping to each other.
The new Hoodman eyecups for my Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras arrived Sunday (thank you Amazon). For me they make a world of difference when I use the Z camera bodies. I use the round Nikon DK-19 rubber eyecups for my DSLR cameras, and they allow me to push my eye against the eyecup to steady the camera and keep it still. I sometimes wear my glasses instead of my contact lenses when I shoot and the round eyecups work well for me with glasses as well. There is no way to firmly press your eye against the eyecup that is mounted on the Z bodies. When I learned that Hoodman makes an after market eyecup for the Z bodies (but not the Z50) that also works well with glasses, I ordered one for each body. When they arrived, I mounted them and shot some macro shots of the Lantana that is in bloom on my patio. The new eyecups enable me to press my eye against them to stabilize the camera. This shot is actually two shots merged into one. I took one shot focused on the center of the Lantana and one shot focused on they yellow flowers. I merged them in Photoshop, aligning and blending the two photographs into one.
One of the things I love about visiting the Marin Headlands is that in some places, you feel as if you can just step out onto the North Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge you’re so close. It’s not possible, of course, and you’d never catch me doing it if it were possible, but the people in this shot look as if they’re getting ready to walk onto the suspension cable. Taken with my Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 24-200mm S lens.
The Golden Gate Bridge is almost invisible and San Francisco beyond the bridge is completely invisible, both engulfed in fog a few days ago. By the time we got over to Fort Baker’s Battery Spencer with more views of the bridge, the fog had lifted enough so the the bridge was identifiable. You never know what weather you’ll get when you head over to the coast, but it’s always a delightful change from the hot dry conditions of the Sacramento Valley. Taken with Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 24-200 at 24mm.
Goofy looking but gorgeous at the same time; that’s what Roseate Spoonbills are. These large wading birds find food by feeling it with their spatula shaped bills as they sweep their bill back and forth through water near the shore. Like other birds, they preen their feathers with their bills as this brightly colored Roseate Spoonbill is doing. This shot is from the archives, taken in morning light at The Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, FL in February 2016. At the time, I was using my @nikonUSA Nikon Df with my Nikkor 600mm f/4 lens.
A male Evening Grosbeak stopped by for a sip at the water feature at The Ranch in Montana one afternoon while the other birds were taking a break. I was using my Nikon D6, Nikkor 500mm PF, and the Nikon TC24EIII with a tripod.
A trio of Common Ravens watched from the junipers as we ate our lunch at a picnic area in the Marin Headlands, in view of the Golden Gate Bridge on one side and the Point Bonita Lighthouse on the other. They made two or three flyovers and flew closer as we finished and packed up to return to the car. When I looked over my shoulder, two of the Ravens had landed on our table but not a crumb remained. One flew off as I returned with my camera but this Raven remained, not bothered by my presence and with an anthropomorphic look of disappointment.
San Francisco’s famous fog completely engulfed the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday but lifted briefly and I was able photograph the span from the Marin Headlands. The brisk cool breeze and ocean air was a delightful respite from the choking smoke generated by the relentless wildfires throughout much of the state the past few weeks.
The Pine Siskins in Montana were constantly moving and flitting about. It was a surprise to see this one hunkered down on the end of a perch, maybe waiting for things to calm down in the water below or the frenzy at the nearby feeders to stop. Maybe he’d just had his fill of sunflower seeds and bathing and wanted a moment to relax.
Garnet, Montana was once a boom town and is now a ghost town. Located in the Garnet Mountains, many of the buildings offer glimpses of the past like this view through a window of what was once a hotel.
Despite the many Pine Siskins crowding the water feature at The Ranch in Montana, whenever a single Red-breasted Nuthatch lurked around the edges, the white stripes on its head drew our attention. It was a real challenge to capture this tiny, quick-moving bird. Most of the time, when one of us spotted and called out the location, in the second or two it took to swing the camera around, the nuthatch had disappeared. It was always rewarding to actually photograph it.
One of the challenges of photographing Pine Siskins at the water feature at The Ranch in Montana was getting multiple birds in focus at the same time. The birds are small and they crowded the perches just fractions of an inch apart so it seemed like it was doable. Finally, on our last day, I managed to photograph two in the same focal plane so both their visible eyes were in focus. Although I’d hoped to get several crowded onto a single perch, and all on the same focal plane so all their eyes would be in focus, for me, it didn’t happen. I was using a Nikkor 500mm PF lens with the Nikon TC14eIII teleconverter, with the lens at its largest aperture, f/8. At that aperture, the depth of focus was very shallow and that difference softened the focus on one of the birds. If I’d reduced the aperture to increase the depth of focus to try to mitigate the slight distance differences, I risked losing the simple background. I chose the simple background and fewer birds.
The aptly named Pine Siskin spent lots of time in the Lodgepole Pine (pictured here) as well as the Ponderosa pines on The Ranch in Montana.
The smoke from California’s and other western wildfires hundreds of miles away, has covered Montana with ash, filled the skies with smoke, and degraded the air quality to levels found in my neighborhood in California, well into the unhealthy range. Early Monday morning we drove into the Sapphire Mountains to the Skalkaho Waterfall, a spectacular falls at about a mile above sea level where Lewis and Clark once made their way and documented in their journals. As the sun rose above the treetops, it glowed a fiery red from the particulate in the air. It was quite a spectacular sight, despite the grave implications of the scene. It looks almost as if the trees are burning but those without needles probably were dead either from a previous fire or die off from beetle infestations. I took this photograph at about 8:30 AM at an elevation of about 7200 feet.
Garnet, Montana, now a ghost town, was established in the late 1890’s in the Garnet Range when new technology made the extraction of gold from ore easier. The small town became a boom town for a short time before the veins of gold all but disappeared by World War I. There were a couple of hotels and saloons in the town as well as a local general store that sold mining tools along with other goods. Saws, once new, hang on the wall of what was once a flourishing mercantile in the town.
Red-breasted Nuthatches hatched at The Ranch earlier this year. While the Pine Siskins were the overwhelming species of bird that populated the very attractive water feature at The Ranch in Montana, on my first day back here, the Nuthatches, while significantly fewer in number, held their own with the Pine Siskins whose numbers seemingly diminished in the few weeks since I last visited. Although the classic Nuthatch pose eluded me on my first day back at The Ranch, I had quite a few opportunities for photographs as a couple of them returned to the water several times throughout the day.
Pier 39 in Astoria, Oregon after a rain storm at dusk this past January.
170 years ago today, when grizzlies still roamed here, California, then known as the Bear Flag Republic, was admitted to the Union by act of Congress as the 31st state of the Union. Grizzlies have been extinct in California since 1924 but a likeness still flies on California’s State flag.