On Saturday (February 23th) I awoke to the sound of mourning doves cooing, cardinals singing, and my alarm clock beeping. After getting up, eating, and loafing around for a while, I went and gathered my birding equipment (my bluebird feeder, dired mealworms for the feeder, 10x25 binoculars, and the camera) and headed outside. I was greeted by the sound of eastern meadowlarks and house finches singing, as well as an ocassional song from a northern cardinal. Spring has nearly sprung! After heading out to the field and putting up my bluebird feeder and filling it with the delectable dried mealworms, I stuffed the half-full container of last year's left over dried mealworms into my over-sized jacket pocket and set out to photograph the eastern meadowlark. Not to my surprise, it was gone by the time I went to where I had heard it. I next listened for the house finch. It also had vanished from the area; it had ceased to sing, thus I could not locate it (it later turned out to be in the blue spruse of which they are so fond).
It was in this hopeless plight with no birds to photograph, when, to my delight, I remembered the yellow-rumped warblers which had arrived in the area about a week past. I gazed the tree tops and right then a puny yellow-rumped warbler alighted in the great sugar maple tree directly before me. A second followed. The two trouble-maiking warblers were battling a tufted titmouse pair, and they would both furiously swoop at each other; the warbler chirping angrily, and the titmice scolding vehemently. After about 3 minutes of trying to photograph any of the four birds, the warblers had won their battle and the titmice moved on to the sweetgum and apple trees, still scolding in anger at their defeat.
I happily kept trying to photograph the warbler until finally I got angry with the auto focus because it kept focusing on the branches and twigs infront of the warbler, or the ones behind it, but never on the warbler! It was at this time that I angrily marched off to the field to seek more fair prey to shoot with the 30x optical zoom camera. It was then that I noticed a flock of about twenty of these same little birds feeding frenziedly in a row of juniper or cedar or whatever-they-were trees. They would swarm in and out, plucking succulent berries off of the tree and would then proceed to devour the berries, which were very large in proportion to the size of the birds neck and throat. However, these little birds made a feast of the berries and I slowly moved closer and closer and began photographing. Below is a photo I captured of one of the yellow-rumped warblers in the process of swallowing a whole berry:
After a time of photographing these birds, I noticed an eastern bluebird call way back in the field, but I ignored it (which was extremely hard to do). A few moments later I had to ignore the calls of northern mockingbirds in the field (which was not nearly as extremely hard to do as ignoring the bluebird calls).
Finally I got cold enough that I could photograph the ravenous little warblers no more. I had to go inside. Even though the temperature was nearly 40 degrees fahrenheit with a slight breeze. My fingers felt like they were going to fall off from frost bite, but this never stops me. I didn't even notices how cold my fingers wer until I decided to go in because the rest of me was cold. I was once outside photographing birds at the feeders in 15 mph winds when it was snowing out with a temperature of 28-30 degrees fahrenheit. Of course I couldn't use gloves, because, in case you have never tried it, it is virtually impossible to operate the zoom and shutter, or anything else for that matter, when you are wearing bulky winter gloves. I am glad I nearly got frost bite though, because I got some of the best bird photos in the history of my bird photography hobby (not Sunday; the time mentioned above) Sometimes when I am out in the cold photographing and my fingers are terribly cold I can't help but think, "What if my fingers would happen to get frostbite and would have to be amputated? How would I photograph the birds then?!"
In a little while I was surprised by being told that we were going to the local lake. Okay with me! I've been wanting to go! Once we arrived, we hoped to see the bald eagle that returned in January because it has a nest in the area. After inquiring about the eagle, a park ranger told us two important things. Where it had been seen recently, and that a golden eagle has been making it's home at the nearby lake. How, I wondered, did a golden eagle get down here in southern Ohio, when they are supposed to live nowhere near here, way up north in Michigan and above? I don't know, but I don't mind, either. Now I have to go see that!
I had no luck seeing the eagle, but I did get to see a lifer: the canvasback duck. There were three of them, and I managed to take an awful photograph of them. I was thrilled to death by seeing 5 bluebirds at the park, though. That is the bird that I have decided to persue to the fullest this spring, summer, fall, and winter. Basically all year. Last year it was the meadowlark (and I failed terribly at that endeavor; actually the failure was quite humbling). I hope to get some great photos, and I am building a nestbox for them in hopes of attracting them, aslo. I usuallly see them in my area every March. I guess since my nestbox for them isn't built yet the possibillity of them arriving early this year isn't a very bad idea to embrace. Anyways... I did get three photos of the bluebirds at the lake. The first of a dull, drab female bluebird in a bush, and two of the vivid, bright blue male bluebirds on a wire. I will post the photo of the male bluebird below, and that will conclude my article. I don't want to have to think of anything else to say (or type, rather) at the moment. Below is the photo of the male bluebird on the telephone wire. Let me conclude by saying that I got two good bird photos out of an entire day of birding, a lifer (wahoo! lifers are always exciting), and it was an entirely worthwhile day of birding.