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.
It’s been almost a year since I visited Cape St. Mary’s in Newfoundland to photograph the magnificent spectacle of nesting Northern Gannets. Northern Gannets nest in huge rookeries like the one on the off shore sea stack known as Bird Rock at the Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve on the Atlantic Ocean. There are 20,000 pairs of Northern Gannets there and Bird Rock and the nearby cliffs are crowded with Northern Gannets and their offspring. There are so many birds there that is rare to see one flying solo. What freedom to soar like a Northern Gannet alone over the ocean. There were such high winds the first couple of days we were there that I didn’t take my tripod or my 500mm PF lens for fear that it might get blown off the narrow spit of cliff we were standing on. Instead, I handheld my Nikon D5 and Nikkor 300mmPF lens with the 1.4x teleconverter to give me a 420mm reach. Can’t wait to return next year for another incredible experience there.
Never in my wildest imagination did I think that I might get this close to a wild grizzly bear. But I did last year in Alaska. My Nikon 500mm PF lens loses focus at just under ten feet. The next frame in this series is out of focus. What an unforgettable encounter. Joe, one of our very competent Alaska Bear Adventures guides, kneeled a couple of feet in front and to the left of me as the young bear approached our small group that had been kneeling for hours watching the antics of a mama Griz and her trio of three year old cubs. Joe talked calmly to the bear as it ambled directly toward me. Prior to our arriving, we had been coached about what to do if a bear walked toward us. To my surprise, our guides told us to keep shooting. So I did. My heart was pounding but it was such an exciting event that I wasn’t ever afraid. And, the cub turned away a few seconds after I took this shot. Unforgettable encounter indeed. I’m looking forward to having another one next year.
When I found out this morning that it is National Hummingbird Day (the first Saturday of September) and since I adore hummingbirds, I knew I had to create a post in honor of this day. There has been lots of hummer activity in my garden the past few days and there are more than the single male Anna’s who dominates the feeders. This female Anna’s Hummingbird, apparently exhausted from chasing and being chased around my yard, was content to perch and tolerated me while I was firing my D6 with the 500mmPF just ten feet away. Even though I kept moving to get a better background, she could barely keep her eyes open. I have frequently captured an instant when a hummingbird blinked when I pressed the shutter release. But this morning I fired off 300 shots and in more than 100, her eyes were either closed or half closed. I’d like to think she knows I’m not a threat but I think she was just too tired to care.
A male Anna’s Hummingbird perched in the backyard, late in the afternoon. The light was at the right angle to light up his gorgeous gorget.
The overwhelming numbers of Pine Siskins at The Ranch in Montana made it very likely that one of them would land on the perfect perch in front of the perfect background at some point.
The new Nikkor Z 24-200mm lens arrived Monday afternoon and I realized I had forgotten to buy a protective NC filter so I spent an hour searching for the extra 67mm filter I knew I had someplace. Its whereabouts remain unknown however so eventually I borrowed the filter from my Nikkor 70-200mm f/4 lens so I could finally try out the lens. I attached it to my Nikon Z7 and went outside to see what I could find. A ray of sun hit one of the flower clusters on the garlic chives where a couple of honey bees were busy collecting pollen and nectar. I’m not sure what honey from garlic chives might taste like but I was happy to get the flower and the bee isolated in the afternoon light. I zoomed to 200mm and was only a couple of feet away from the flower cluster but I wanted to get closer so I switched to High Speed Crop to get another 100mm reach. Minimum focusing distance of this lens at 200mm is less than 2 and 1/2 feet, so it’s possible to get fairly close to the subject and thus increase the size of the image by zooming with your feet. I’ve only had a chance to take a few photographs so far but I’m very pleased with the performance and sharpness of the lens. I can tell this camera and lens combination will become a go-to pair for me when I want to limit the weight of my gear. Much more to come.
A pair of Pine Siskins seem to be on the lookout as they perched above the water feature at The Ranch in Montana in the warm morning sun. They had every reason to be concerned. A Cooper’s hawk was in the vicinity. Fortunately for the Pine Siskins that morning, the Cooper’s hawk was young and had not yet honed its hunting skills to perfection, so it made several unsuccessful passes over the flock in the water. Although he wasn’t successful while I was there, the Siskins were still a bit wary and I’ve heard that after a couple of days of practice, The Cooper’s hawk eventually managed to seize one of the Siskins who dropped its guard.