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Two Nuthatches

During my visit to the feeder I noticed not one type, but tow types of Nuthatches, the White-breasted Nuthatch and the Red-breasted Nuthatch, the latter being the smaller of the two. The White-breasted Nuthatch is described as having a song “yank, yank, yank” a little lower in pitch than the Red-breasted. They travel up and down tree trunks using foot power alone and i find them to be a challenge to capture because they zoom into the feeder from a far away branch then take off to a distant perch. Here , they have stuck around a bit longer, which enabled me to get these shots.

The Red-breasted Nuthatch is the smallest, smaller than a Chickadeepictures 264-2

pictures 269-2

The White-breasted Nuthatchpictures 277-2

pictures 278-2

These were shot using a Canon Rebel XS and a 70-300 mm zoom lens.

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

I got up close and personal with this red-breasted nuthatch the other day. I am sick and have no energy so this post is short but I like the photo. Enjoy.pictures 214-2

Birding Count for Today

There are many feeders in the park and I found one today that I had never stopped at before. There were two squirrels competing with the Black-capped Chickadees and a White-breasted Nuthatch, and even a Bluejay stopped in for a visit. The squirrels would take turns running up the tree grab a nut then go back down, but one did stop to give me some cheek.The grosbeaks were at a new tree across the road, a little higher up in the branches gobbling those berries but did not appear to be drunk. I haven’t seen any woodpeckers but have heard them a couple of times.The Nature Club sent me a letter announcing the annual Christmas bird count. I always find that interesting, more so when it isn’t minus twenty-something.

Female Grosbeak doing an acrobatic move for some berries.

pictures 189-2

He is stopping for a look at me, sizing me up.pictures 072-2

White-breasted Nuthatch at a perch -they fly from far away then make very quick stopspictures 087-2

Blue jay keeping its distancepictures 093-2

Blue Jay likes to move around and hide in the branchespictures 107-2

Giving me some Cheek

pictures 136-2

Black-capped Chickadee at its perch just before going to the bird feederpictures 138-2

White-breasted Nuthatchpictures 140-2

 Male Pine Grosbeak Gorging himself on berriespictures 170-2

First Birds of 2014 and results of Christmas Bird Count 2013 in Edmonton

I didn’t have to work today, and the temperatures were above -20 celsius so headed for the park. At first there were quite a few Juncos that remained un-photographed, then Black-capped Chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, and red-breasted and white-breasted Nuthatches. At one point I was going to leave because not much was happening and I told myself, “Good things come to those who wait.” A few minutes later a female Pileated Woodpecker flew over me to a tree that was in the open and right in front of me.I managed to get some good, unobstructed shots. i was happy about that!

Here’s a list of the total bird count at Christmas in Edmonton, Alberta. I thought some of you would be interested.

Final numbers for the 2013 Edmonton Christmas Bird Count!

Total Birds = 26,566
Total # of Species = 46
Total # of Participants = 506!
(159 Bushbeaters + 347 Feederwatchers)
Feederwatchers spent a total of 535.25 hrs
Bushbeaters party hours = 299.44 hrs

Mallard = 444
Common Goldeneye = 20
Northern Goshawk = 5
Merlin = 21
Gray Partridge = 41
Ruffed Grouse = 1
Rock Pigeon = 3802
Great Horned Owl = 2
Downy Woodpecker = 474
Hairy Woodpecker = 61
Three-toed Woodpecker = 1
Northern Flicker = 73
Pileated Woodpecker = 65
Blue Jay = 741
Black-billed Magpie = 2745
American Crow = 40
Common Raven = 1053
Black-capped Chickadee = 4841
Boreal Chickadee = 34
Red-breasted Nuthatch = 613
White-breasted Nuthatch = 377
Brown Creeper = 8
Golden-crowned Kinglet = 7
American Robin = 45
Bohemian Waxwing = 3941
Cedar Waxwing = 52
Northern Shrike = 3
European Starling = 107
Dark-eyed Junco = 646
Snow Bunting = 5
Pine Grosbeak = 6
Common Redpoll = 144
Pine Siskin = 145
House Sparrow = 4901
Bald Eagle = 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk = 5
Coopers Hawk = 1
Rough-legged Hawk = 1
Gyrfalcon = 1
Prairie Falcon = 1
Great Gray Owl = 1
Townsend Solitaire = 8
White-throated Sparrow = 8
White-crowned Sparrow = 1
American Goldfinch = 5
House Finch = 1067 * New Record high

And here is a sample of what I saw today. Used my 70-300mm lens, mostly at 300mm and hand held with high(for me) ISO 800 . I have not seen Pine Grosbeaks this year nor any Red Polls. That is reflected in the bird count as well. Just not the year for them.







A Good Day for Birding

It was a great day  yesterday. I had only two clients each at opposite ends of the day so I spent the hours in between at the park and had a great time! Oh, and check this out Deb. I didn’t know I had this until I saw the photo: Birds are as follows: black-capped chickadee, slate-coloured Junco, female pileated woodpecker, white-breasted nuthatch  x2, black-capped chickadee, blue jay, red-breasted nuthatch, female pileated woodpecker, male pileated woodpecker, and male pileatedwoodpecker Most were shot in aperture or shutter priority with an ISO of 800.










Hawrelak 346-2

More Birds from Last Week

While I take a break from shovelling the snow from around the car -at least one foot of it – I would like to share some photos of the birds that I saw near the feeders at Hawrelak Park in the last week.

The first few were shot using Aperture Priority, the woodpecker in Shutter priority and the squirrel in Manual mode. I have been experimenting  with modes, departing from using  my usual manual mode because sometimes the birds move so fast or the light changes so quickly that one less button to adjust might come in handy. It is nice to have a narrow depth of field but more likely that parts of the bird will be out of focus when it is moving so much so better to shut down the aperture somewhat from f/6 to f/8.  I find too, that being zoomed- in totally gives me a better chance of losing parts of the planned composition.When I need the fast shutter speed I turn up the ISO. Live and learn.What mode do you shoot birds in?

Mostly I like to get a shot of a bird when it lands on a branch before or after going to the feeder but in the case of the Red-breasted Nuthatch, it was too well-hidden in the branches and very evasive.

There was a White-breasted Nuthatch.


as well as a Red-breasted Nuthatch. I once had one of these land in my hand while I was feeding the chickadees.


Some Common Redpolls:


and a few  Black-Capped Chickadees. Although I can not see this one’s face, I like seeing how it holds the seed between its feet so it can break the husk off.Image

Here is a different view of a Hairy Woodpecker feeding at the suet feeder:


and one with a Chickadee flying away that has no still, in-focus parts, but I like the action:


And of course, though it is not always welcome,  I had to include a Red Squirrel. Took this shot using manual mode and do admit is is somewhat over-exposed in spots:


I am looking forward to going back to the park but first need to dig myself out. Usually there is lots of activity at the feeders after a big snowfall.

Freezing Cold and Great Birding Weather

I am so glad that I went to the park on Christmas Eve day because it was so beautiful with fresh snow and bright sunshine even though it was freezing cold. Igot some great shots of the birds at the feeders restoring their energy. I stayed a while but had to leave when I couldn’t feel my toes. When I got home my cheeks burned as if i had gotten a sunburn but it was from the cold luckily no frost bite. Last night I went to the candlelight service at my neighbourhood church. It was a great ending to a wonderful day. Here are some photos of Pine Grosbeaks, common Redpolls, Red-breasted Nuthatch and the ever-loving Black-Capped Chickadee.

Female Pine Grosbeak

A Pair of Male Pine Grosbeaks

A Feeder Full of Redpolls

Red-Breasted Nuthatch


Black-Capped Chickadee

My Definition of a Good Day

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My definition  of a good day for me is being outdoors and getting close to the creatures of the wild, even the smallest ones.It is a very good day when I see a few species that I don’t always get to see. This one day I took a small bit of birdseed and my camera to a bird feeder in a  local park and saw a red breasted nuthatch, a white-breasted nuthatch, chickadees, a red squirrel, a downy woodpecker and a piliated woodpecker all in the same area!  I say a small bit of  birdseed, because, while it is a thrill to have these small creatures land in my hand to take a seed or two, they are wild and I don’t want to enable them to rely on humans so much that they forgo their natural abilities. Besides, it is impossible for me  to take a picture when they are flying right at me, too close to the lens to get a shot. Some photos were taken with a 18-55mm lens, others with a Sigma 70-300mm lens.

It is great to combine my love of photography with my love of birds and a priority for me once I bought my DSLR a couple of years ago was to buy a zoom lens to get closer shots of the  birds-I did buy the lens- a cheap one- but it works for me. I can reduce camera shake by using high speed shutter settings or will “cheat” sometimes and take photos in the sports mode. I am so grateful to get out for walks in nature and get close to the inhabitants of the land, as well as to enjoy the land itself, to breathe fresh air, to get exercise and practise seeing the world in a different perspective. I am truly living ” in the moment” and feel free of all the distractions and stresses of the  rest of my world.

It is a moment with my Creator, other creatures and with my self. Whatever the weather, I come back from a trip to nature feeling refreshed and happy.