First Sony Bird Pics

Yellow-Dumped Warbler, a winter visitor

Yellow-Rumped Warbler, a winter visitor

White-crowned Sparrow a winter visitor

White-crowned Sparrow a winter visitor

Western Bluebird on shed roof

Western Bluebird on shed roof

Western Bluebird flew just as I snapped

Western Bluebird flew just as I snapped

Western Bluebird checking me out

Western Bluebird checking me out

Spotted Towhee - spotted at last minute

Spotted Towhee – spotted at last minute

Scrub Jay - hopping around

Scrub Jay – hopping around

Red Tail Hawk at dusk

Red Tail Hawk at dusk

Oregon Junco

Oregon Junco

Western Bluebirds on Old Fence

Western Bluebirds on Old Fence

I wanted to share the first bird pictures with my new Sony a 6000, a mirrorless camera which is very light weight. I was using the 55 – 210 mm lens to shot the pictures at my daughter Em’s house on Christmas Day. There is a learning curve. After using my Canon for a billion years, I found the Sony zoom lens works just a tad differently. I am in love with the depth-of-field and look at the fabulously sharp bits of wood fence, roof, etc. Yep, I need to use it more so that the zooming becomes second nature as it is with my Canon. Those of you from the colder climes, we are taking good care of your summer birds the White-crowned Sparrow, the Oregon Junco, and the Yellow-rumped Warbler. They are common visitors to our yard where I have bird seed out for “visitors”.

QThanks for visiting us. Now go have a crafty day.

 

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Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’

q8~After three weeks, over 3,000 miles and singing “Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’ and “On The Road Again” continuously, Barb, Hubs and I made it safely home! What an adventure. Never had such a trip where “weird things” kept happening. What became apparent to Hubs and I is that we need an SUV because I love to find places to visit that take us over gravel and dirt roads. Next trip I need an SUV and a pop-up tent trailer and I’ll be set.

The first side-trip which made our car groan was to the Calico Early Man Site. I’ve passed that turn off a million times and never took the turn off to see it. Barb had visited it in the 1980’s and said it was a fun stop. Poor car, over 2 miles of pitted, rutted, dirt, rock-strewn road. And to what? An anticlimactic end! The wonderful display they had when Barb visited years ago is gone. The area they have been digging in has been chained off and it’s a 1/2 mile of hiking in the desert heat for squat! Look at what we were hiking through. Picture the thermometer in the high 90’s.

Barb and me hiking trough hot desert.

Barb and me hiking trough hot desert.

I have to admit that all of our trips to Montana to see family start with a night in Vegas (or as hubs says “Lost Wages”) or Mesquite. So, we had our requisite night staying at our favorite Southpoint hotel/casino. For the first time since 1976, we decided not to follow I-15 up to Montana. A new adventure beckoned to us. On the road again to Great Basin National Forest, where none of us had been. About an hour outside of Vegas it became apparent to us that we were going to be without cell service, imagine 3 days without service!

On the way to GBNF, we stopped at Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge’s (NWR). Our second encounter with pot-holed, dirt roads, our poor car will never be the same. Who goes hiking around in 90+ degree weather? Call us insane. All three of us had our cameras and were madly snapping photos: Alan and Barb capturing the beauty of the surroundings and me running after butterflies and birds.  We reached GBNF in late afternoon. This is the sight that greeted us while driving to the campground:

Wild Turkey crossing the road

Wild Turkey crossing the road

There are wild turkeys EVERYWHERE! Looking at the bird list for GBNF, wild turkeys are not on the list. They causally strolled through our campsite, along with deer. The next day we had a wonderful hike and a visit to the Lehman cave. We love caves and look for a chance to visit one where ever we are. This cave had features we’d never seen before, Alan took the photo below. It was the first time I’d been cool in days!

Lehman Cave

Lehman Cave

One thing I found out about National Parks vs. State Parks is that they don’t have running water and showers at the campsites. Quite rugged. Hum! After two days camping, it was time to hit the local town for a shower and then head to Salt Lake City. Barb and I had serious research to do at the Family History Center library. I mean, as mom says, we’re trying to prove whether or not we’ve been born.

While packing up my glasses fell to the ground and broke in two! Yikes! I need my glasses to read and to take pictures. With serious astigmatisms in my eyes I see double without my glasses. For the rest of the trip, this put a damper on taking pictures. I cannot focus a camera without them. I like to use manual focus to get exactly what I want. Relying on autofocus, I see that some of the butterflies and birds are not in focus in my photographs. Sigh……

Anyway, SLC here we come! Again, most of the way spent with the No Service phone. When there were a quick few bars I tried to call daughter Em to make sure she was doing ok and hadn’t gone into labor. She developed Gestational Diabetes so I was concerned about her. After three tries, success! She and baby boy were doing ok.

Our trip through Utah and Idaho continues tomorrow.

The Dead Tree And Me

q8~We’re re-landscaping the backyard. It’s gone to rack-and-ruin due to the Hubs accident and the dog digging it up looking for the gopher. The one item I will get a little weepy over is my dead, dwarf peach tree. I love this tree! All of my bird feeders hang from the tree. At any given time I can see at least 4 different species of visitors since there aren’t any leaves to hid them. Yesterday, at one time, I saw House Finch, Lesser-Green-Backed Goldfinch, Anna’s Hummingbird, Mourning Dove, and California Towhee. The new tree to replace it is a Palo Verde which has tiny little leaves so, hopefully, I’ll be able to easily see my little feathered friends.  Here are some of the easy-to-see-birds on my tree. Dead tree? Really? These are just a tiny fraction, not even the tip of the iceberg, of the birds visiting my favorite tree. For some reason, I’ve “lost” some of my favorite pics.

Bushtit

Bushtit

Anna's and Bushtit- I was aiming for Bushtit when Anna got in the pic

Anna’s and Bushtit- I was aiming for Bushtit when Anna appeared

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

Female Hooded Oriole - Summer Visitor

Female Hooded Oriole – Summer Visitor

Male House Finch

Male House Finch

House Finch feeding baby

House Finch feeding baby

California Towhee kept moving

California Towhee kept moving

Lesser Green-backed Goldfinch male

Lesser Green-backed Goldfinch male

Lovely shadows on fence

Lovely shadows on fence

All photos were taken with my Canon Rebel.

It Was Worth The Wait!!

curls  – Guess who finally showed up?

allgrownWas I surprised to see two, new, baby Killdeer. This year it seemed to take longer than normal for the eggs to hatch, so I thought maybe the eggs were bad. How excited I was to be proven wrong. Mama was covering her babies, while dad was drawing away potential predators by playing the wounded bird. Now to wait for number three to hatch. Look at the adorable babies. They really match the ground. Notice there really isn’t a “nest” the way we imagine one. Killdeer lay their eggs directly on the ground.

Day 2: I got up around 6 am to get a picture of the whole family. What a unpleasant surprise I had when all the birds were gone. I knew from past hatchings that they leave within 24 hours. There wasn’t any sign left that they had been nesting there. 😦

Anna’s Always Around

q8~Anna’s always around; flitting from flower to flower, buzzing by our heads, sitting on my favorite dead dwarf peach (another story), squeaking at us, or just generally flying about. This hummingbird does not migrate from our area, even in the coldest San Diego weather, Anna is always around. We are amazed at how brazen this bird is, I guess without any natural predators she doesn’t have to be afraid. I know there are he’s, I swear I see the female more even though the male is “prettier” with the gorgeous red neck feathers.

During the fall, if we leave the front door open Anna’s will fly in straight through the house and try to get out of the vaulted-roof-high window. The Hubs has had to save many a hummer. He climbs up a ladder and plucks the bird down when it’s become too tired to fly. Holding the bird in your hand is as if you’re holding air.

When I go out to water the garden, I’ll spray the water into the air so Anna’s can come and enjoy. I was amazed the first time this happened.  Our garden has a lot of hummingbird friendly plants, so I figure I’m being thanked

Anna looking at me as I take her picture.

Anna looking at me as I take her picture.

Anna loving the purple salvia.

Anna loving the purple salvia.

Male Anna's enjoying the Verbena flower's nectar.

Male Anna’s enjoying the Verbena flower’s nectar.


I actually dusted off my Canon Rebel XSi with the 55 – 250 mm zoom lens to take pictures. My Anna’s deserve better than the iPhone point and click!

Take That Birds!

q8~We are bird watchers who love to feed the birds around our homes. A lot of the plants at my home were planted to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The various birds have a choice of oiled sunflower seed, a bird seed mix, and thistle. When I first put out the thistle the yellow-rumped warblers were all over it, but then the bully Lesser Green-backed Goldfinch moved in and took over. Every morning, a California Towhee is chipping at me out on the patio . This is the most curious bird, when I left the patio door open once, the bird hopped into the house, looked around, and hopped out. As I type this blog, the computer faces out onto the patio and I can see the reflection of my towhee hopping around.

When visiting Darcey in Texas, I purchased some Southwest, wildflower seed mixture at the Wildseed Farm in Fredericksburg. What a fun store! Anyway. I know it’s late in the season, but I just got around to planting the seeds. Knowing that they get handouts, I figured the birds would eat the seed so it was time to get inventive. I took a black, plant flat that I got from the Cuyamaca Community College Nursery and turned it upside down over the area the seeds were planted in. Success! With the holes its easy to water and the sunlight gets through. The flat is too high for the birds to fit their beaks into believe me, the towhee tried. I check on the progress of the seedlings every day, they’ve sprouted and are looking great.

Seed Cover

Seed Cover

Towhee jumping around trying to get to seeds

Towhee jumping around trying to get to seeds

Sprouting Seedlings

Sprouting Seedlings


And, does anyone know how to get rid of pesky crows? The crows moved in a few years ago and scare off the other birds.

Curls And The Killdeer

q~Finally! A visit to Curls, she had a day off on Friday, well until 1:30 pm when they called and asked her to come in and help a new person with deliveries. Curls and husband Al live on a two acre lot up in the San Diego mountains and there are always a lot of critters visiting. When driving in the longish driveway to the house I passed some killdeers. When I mentioned this to Barb, she said two killdeers had set up nests on the ground in the front of the property. We drove past the nest which borders the driveway so I could get some shots. This is a perfect nesting site, look how well she blends in with the dirt. They don’t fly off if a car goes by, they do if it’s someone walking. Love what the killdeer is saying to me: 1. Are you looking at me? 2. You are looking at me. What do you want? 3. Get the heck out of here! Just leave a nesting mom alone.

Are you looking at me?

Are you looking at me?

You are looking at me. What do you want?

You are looking at me. What do you want?

 Get the heck out of here! Just leave a nesting mom alone.

Get the heck out of here! Just leave a nesting mom alone.

We left before she went into her wounded wing act, thus giving the bird the name “killdeer”. Figured she needed to stay on the eggs. I didn’t have my good camera with me so I used my iPhone.