Thursday, June 28, 2012

X Marks the Spot

Thursday morning found me back at Great Meadows to monitor progress on the Tree Swallow nest. I wasn't planning on boring you with more swallow photos. Action shots of parents feeding children are always good fodder for our monthly camera club competitions. So I figured I would see what state the nest was at and build some "inventory".

Activity at the nest was picking up, but the children were still not coming to the hole to feed. Besides trying to capture the swallow in flight, I was also interested in learning the direction and intensity of the sunlight and shadows upon the tree. So I pretty much camped out in the same spot for at least two hours. All of today's photos were taken without moving my camera more that 2-3 feet.

While the focus was the Tree Swallows, when they were away & an interesting subject appeared I would try to capture a quick shot or two.

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Singers do scales to warm up. I seem to capture the obligatory dragonfly.

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Further down the path Goldfinches were feeding

I wasn't sure what was going on with the nest, for at least 20 minutes there was no activity and no Tree Swallows to be seen.

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Finally they returned

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It seemed this morning that the female was doing a disproportionate share of bringing food. Though most of the time they alternated.


Along with the Goldfinches there were sparrows feeding in the distance. They would occasionally venture closer on the path (but that's a boring photo). The nice thing about standing in the same spot long enough the animals get use to your presence and start to ignore you.

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This Song Sparrow liked the Deer Tongue Grass that was 20 feet away more than it was scared of me

However, the focus of the morning was still the Tree Swallows. These are some of my favorites from the morning. That's probably because the way the sun lights up the bugs and the wings.

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Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120628 &emdash;

Mark was out walking the impoundment and taking photographs. He stopped to chat and inquire about what I was shooting. While we were talking we heard a horrible racket behind us. The Red-winged Blackbirds were especially agitated. They were flying and crying out. We wandered over to try to determine was was bothering them, but couldn't see the cause. Finally the commotion stopped

Less than 5 minutes later, several geese near the outflow gate started to become very agitated; hissing and flapping. We certainly weren't the cause, since we had not moved and they had ignored us for the last 15 minutes.

Finally we saw the cause of the commotion. Up from the Cattails popped a mink. It took a look around and then scurried down the path, diving back into the reeds. Five more mink popped out, one at a time, following it down the path.

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Someone asked about which predator destroyed last year's nest. I had assumed that it was either a raccoon or possibly a fisher cat (though I don't know that anyone has seen on at the refuge). I guess after this morning, I should add mink to the list of suspects.

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Even after the mink were long gone, it took quite a while before this goose lost his aggressive attitude.


With no babies to photograph, I worked on trying to get the killer photo of a parent arriving at the nest with food. While several are worthy, it just wasn't clicking.
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Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120628 &emdash;

With the mink long gone, the geese were finally content to wander around, feed on the grass along the trail, and swim in the outflow. The goslings are getting large. Many have grown in most of their "adult" feathers and have lost that downy look. This is one of the late bloomers.

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While variations color often are the result of my post-processing techniques, I love how Tree Swallows look different ranging from iridescent, to bright blue, to dark blue, to shades of grey depending upon the light and the sex of the bird.

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Selected a dragonfly to complement its colors.

Through out the morning this muskrat periodically swam up & down the outflow. I think it has tunneled into the dike. I hope it isn't undermining the integrity of the dike. That repair would take more than a load of gravel in Alan's cart.

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