Sunday, July 4, 2010

Double trouble part 1: scarlet fever

Today's overall photo count wasn't nearly as bad as yesterdays, but I still ended up with too many selections for a single entry. So it's a two-parter this time.

This morning started out hazy, hot, and humid, the kind of day where it seems like there's a pane of dirty glass between you and the horizon that's obscuring your vision. The end result was that I didn't spend a whole lot of time outside early on, but I did manage to take a few bird shots. And the good news is that there's not a grosbeak in sight in any of them. ;)

To start with, a Baltimore Oriole sitting in the Japanese willow:

The willow is definitely a favorite spot for the orioles, as it's right next to the feeder and provides a lot of cover. Which meant there was another oriole sitting there about an hour later. It wasn't quite as vibrant an orange as the first one, but I did managed to snag a pretty decent shot of it flying away:

Speaking of favorite spots, the Blue Jays and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have been feasting on the fruits of my Dad's cherry tree lately. After a ton of unsuccessful attempts to catch a bird with one in its beak yesterday, I finally got lucky this morning when a Blue Jay grabbed one off the side of the tree facing the house:

Heading out to eat its food in peace:

However, that stroke of luck was nothing compared to the one that befell me when I was indoors. I was watching the Wimbledon final, and for whatever reason shifted my attention to the window behind the t.v. during a commercial break instead of returning to the newspaper I was reading. Yesterday I watched a lot of male grosbeaks chasing each other around at the edges of the yard, so it wasn't noteworthy to see one shoot by the window in this instance. However, the fact that the pursing bird was bright red... that definitely got my attention. Especially since I didn't think the color I saw was the same shade of red as that of a male Cardinal. So I grabbed my camera, went back outside, and started keeping a close eye on the tree line.

A little while after I began my watch I again saw that flash of red as it chased a grosbeak into the trees on my right. I took some photos after it landed, but I knew it was too far away to get any real details. It came back across to the group of trees about halfway between the woods and the porch, but naturally chose a spot that completely obscured it from my vision. This happened a few times: the bird would fly to my right, landing in view but too far away, then come back across to the closer trees only to perch far back enough on the branch that I could only see the barest sliver of red. But, at long last, it finally chose a landing spot in the trees directly across from the house. It wasn't nearly as close as I'd have liked distance-wise, but it was at least far enough out on the branch to enable me to finally get some halfway decent shots. Not to mention confirm that it was not a Cardinal I'd been watching, but the much more elusive Scarlet Tanager:

I even managed to score a few photos of it in flight, as it decided yet another change in location was in order while I was in the midst of shooting:

That was actually the last time I saw the tanager as well; I guess it decided to take pity on me and toss me a bone before heading back deeper into the woods.

It wasn't too long before it was time for myself and Kaylee to go over to my aunt and uncle's for a cookout. I took her for one last quick stroll into the woods to see if she had to take care of any business before we left, and as I waited for her this grouping of sunlit leaves caught my eye:

After arriving at the house, I'd no sooner gotten the food stuff in the kitchen and gone back outside to say a proper hello when this butterfly decided to sample the orange attached to my aunt and uncle's oriole feeder:

After I took these photos, though, I went from chronicler of nature to action photographer, as you'll see when you check out part 2.

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