RELAXING WHILE THE BIRDS HIT THE FEEDER – Marilyn Armstrong

Relaxing With the Birds – 12/28/2018

I love watching the birds. I peer out of my bathroom window to see what they are doing when I’m getting up in the morning, but unless I’m getting up unusually late, there’s usually not much happening.

Birds are on a schedule.

They come by for breakfast just after sunrise. I’m not usually awake at that hour unless the dogs have been unusually noisy, in which case I might be awake. I might even take a few pictures, though I’d really rather be in bed.

Nuthatch and Chickadee

The shy birds — the ones who avoid people and barking dogs — visit the feeder early in the day, so unless I happen to be up, I don’t see them. By the time I’m ready to take pictures — about midday — it’s the usual suspects. Warblers (several kinds). I still can’t tell which is which without a photograph and my book). Tufted Titmouses, Chickadees, Nuthatches and depending on luck, one of three different woodpeckers — the Hairy, Downy, and Red-Bellied varieties all come to the feeder. Not to mention the Juncos — all those who live in the area.

Birds not of one feather

A Cardinal came, looked around. So did a few Blue Jays. When I buy expensive bird food, I also get a variety of finches. They eat different food than other birds. The current food selection is (alas) not to their taste. A pity because the finches are a colorful and adorable group of little birds.

The squirrels must come early in the day. I know they’ve been here because a lot of food is missing from the flat feeder. Sometimes they drop by in the late afternoon, just before dark. I don’t always see them because when they are around, I’m tired. I’ve already done my shooting by then.

Landing Chickadee with a sitting Warbler

I realized today that at least part of the reason my arm hurts is from holding the heavy lens still and ready to shoot. When the birds are busy and I’m waiting for them to settle down, I keep the camera up and ready. There’s a Murphy’s Law involved in this. I know the second I lower the camera, half a dozen birds will be all over the feeder and by the time I get the camera back in place, they will be gone.

Not all the birds perch on the feeder. Many of them fly by. They dive to the feeder, grab a seed, and fly off. It’s hard getting pictures of diving birds, but I got one this morning.

Yay me!

Coming in for a landing

So all the typing and working on the computer is only part of the problem. The rest of my problem is hoisting the big camera into position than holding it at eye level, trying to keep it steady.

This is difficult with a long 2.5-pound lens. I try to wedge my butt against the dining room table and prop the camera up by doubling my right arm and pressing it against my chest. Today, I felt that old familiar ache and realize “Oh, there’s that pain.” It was a revelatory moment for me. Suddenly, I understood why — out of the blue — my arm was bothering me. It was all about the camera. My wrist is an old, familiar pain. The arm problem is new.

I’ve known a lot of camera people (Garry used to hang out with the tech people). They all had shoulder and arm problems. Of course, television cameras are heavier than my camera, even with a heavy lens, but the camera people were younger than me when they were working. It all evens out.

Woodpecker and Warbler

It made me remember being a kid and going bowling — duckpins rather than the bigger balls for tenpins — and two days later, I thought I was going to die. Every inch of me hurt. I had no idea what was wrong with me.

No fever, just pain. Until my uncle said “Hey, remember we went bowling a couple of days ago? I bet that’s why you hurt.”

Chickadee landing

I’m a “two days later” sufferer. I feel fine the same and following day, but the next day … oh boy. I don’t know why my body delays the pain for an extra day but apparently, it isn’t so unusual either. It does give me extra time to take a couple of hot showers, and with luck get some sleep.

If I know what’s coming, I can “do stuff” to take the edge off.

Tufted Titmouse

I knew I was becoming a pretty good rider (of horses) when I could ride for a couple of hours and even a few days later, I felt fine. I developed muscles in places I didn’t know you could develop muscles. Interesting muscles.

Just saying.

I have not developed any special muscles for hoisting a 5-pound camera and holding it steady for an hour a day. I’m not sure I will, either. What can I do?

There are the birds and there’s my camera, right at the end of the table with the lens in place. How can I not take pictures? The birds are waiting. The feathery flutterers need me. I need them.

The world is waiting! Isn’t it?

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

19 thoughts on “RELAXING WHILE THE BIRDS HIT THE FEEDER – Marilyn Armstrong”

      1. I have never really used a tripod, but this is a fixed location, so in theory I could set up the camera to point at the feeder and just shoot. But I know me and I would have to check each time to make sure it’s pointed exactly right.

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          1. I have a tripod, but I bought it for its lightness. The trouble is, this camera is pretty heavy. Not physically big, but weighty and the lens is even heavier. The tripod own has had trouble not falling over with a light camera. I’m not counting on it being sturdy enough to withstand the dogs and a heavy camera with a big lens. I need something more solid. AKA, more expensive.

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              1. I’m trying to find someone willing to sell one second-hand. People hang on to these. They are really expensive — the good ones, anyway. I’ve put our messages to all the old camera guys we know from Garry’s work. Hopefully someone will have a set of sticks they can spare. Otherwise, I’ll have to find a better set of aluminum ones, but they aren’t nearly as good as the carbon fiber.

                Liked by 1 person

    1. Scribbles, I have word out to some of my former work colleagues – news cameramen who are also into still photography for tips about tripods. Hoping someone has “sticks” to spare.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The Juncos are usually on the ground. We don’t seem to have many crows around here. I think they hang around the rivers more than the woods. But we have FLOCKS of Chickadees and Warblers, dozens of Nuthatches. The doves also like walking around the deck cleaning up the fallen food. And I think we get squirrels early in the day. Something big and hungry gets into that flat feeder and an awful lot of food vanishes in a big hurry. The woodpeckers are mostly lunchtime birds and in the evening, it’s largely the little birds — chickadees and warblers and Titmice. Since we aren’t providing the special food for finches, we haven’t been getting any of them. When I feel richer, I’ll get the better food and then we’ll get more birds!

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        1. I don’t know if I can get the angle through the window from the table. And the little ones are pretty limp. They give them to you for free most of the time and they are worth what you pay for them.

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  1. Squirrels are crepuscular by nature (A fact that is central to my most popular post of all time). That means they are most active near the twilight hours… which is why you see them most often early morning and late afternoon. You’ll really notice this when summer rolls around next year, as they’re rarely out and about in the middle of the day heat…

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