Sunday, October 26, 2014


I split these photos out into their own post because there were so many of them. Usually, I'm extremely picky about my photos, often sorting one or two good ones out of dozens. What happened here, though, is that we ran into a mixed flock of mostly Eastern Bluebirds at the end of our hike. I crept closer and closer over the course of about fifteen minutes, and they were remarkably tolerant of my presence. I took hundreds of photos and cut it down to these ten.

Eventually I had crept close enough that I was actually in the middle of the flock. There were at least a dozen bluebirds, along with one White-breasted Nuthatch, a Downy Woodpecker, and a Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Myrtle subspecies). The warbler is actually in this shot, if you can find her.

The bluebirds were mostly clustered around the hole in this tree, and I'm not really sure why, unless there was some source of food in there.

There were several plumage variations in the flock, including both bright and dull males and females. I think this is a bright female, since males typically have a slight eyering toward the back of the eye or none at all, and adolescents have spotted backs.

This is the look I associate more with females—the truly drab gray head and white eye ring.

While the birds were pretty cooperative, conditions weren't perfect. It was late in the afternoon, and there was fairly heavy cover, so there wasn't quite as much available light as I would want for the high shutter speeds I needed to freeze their motion.

And while the birds were relatively cooperative in terms of staying in the area, I wasn't able to get as close as I liked. Bluebirds aren't that large, my lens maxes out at "just" 400mm.

Still, I did get some really terrific group shots, and the occasional curious bird got close enough to fill more of the frame.

I think this one is my favorite, since it showcases both sexes and really captures the personality of the bird. I think it has the strongest composition and color elements as well.

Regardless of the photos, it was a pretty magical experience to stand in the middle of a singing, fluttering flock of sapphire birds. I've never seen more than one bluebird at a time, let alone a dozen.

Goldens and Foliage

Just over a year after Summer first arrived, I met my parents for a hike at the East River Preserve in Guilford.

Summer has grown into a fun-loving, wonderful companion and friend, and she has a blast on the trails with just my folks or with the full crowd of us and our dogs.

These pictures are a bit out of order, since we stopped by the river early on and all the dogs got really wet, especially Jax, who will throw himself whole-hog into any body of water we come across. Summer jumped in and out too, but an hour of hiking will dry a Golden right out.

Our daily stay photo has become a tradition on these hikes, and the dogs are always good sports while we pose them and take a few pictures from different angles.

I saved the last photo (below) to blow up a little larger, because Comet, always handsome, chose a particularly pretty spot to look back over his shoulder.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Did the Tree Split the Rock?

My parents and I stumbled across this rather unique tree and rock and posed the dogs in front of it for their daily stay.

I wonder if this tree truly split the rock, or if the rock split for some other reason and the tree was simply the first seedling that took root successfully in the middle. I'm not sure there's any way to tell.

It's October, but the first leaves to turn are mostly yellow and so much is still green that the woods still seem bright and vibrant, even though they're well into their turning.

In warmer weather, I ask Jax to drop the big logs he likes to carry, because I'm afraid he'll overheat. But in the cooler weather, I let him march around with them because he seems so proud and happy with them.