BIRDS OF A FEATHER SOMETIMES FLOCK TOGETHER – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s February Expressions #11


As a very birdie lady, I have this to say about that.

Cardinal (boy)

Lady Cardinal

Some birds — like finches — flock together. The Goldfinches show up in bunches, often more than a dozen at a time and they don’t mind taking in the House and Purple Finches who also live in the woods with them. They apparently don’t care whether you are red, raspberry, or bright yellow.

Goldfinches – just beginning to change to their breeding feathers.

Goldfinch and flying Titmouse

On the other hand, while the Cardinal often shows up with his mate, he will not tolerate the presence of another male Cardinal in his “patch” of woods. If they meet, they go at it like World War 1 aces, whirling and attacking each other in the air. It’s quite a thing to see.

Two bluebirds

Two more Goldfinches

The Hairy Woodpecker doesn’t like anything or anyone but will tolerate his mate if she doesn’t get in his way. The Red-Bellied Woodpecker will tolerate other birds nearby … as long as they don’t poach on his piece of feeder. The Tufted Titmouses show up in groups, but not flocks and all the other birds are perfectly okay with them. Ditto the Nuthatches. Bluebirds only show up in groups (protection?).

In the watery world of fowl, Canada Geese and Swans hate each other. Meanwhile, Herons will eat the eggs of any other fowl if they can find the nests.

But all of these fighting birds are happy to hang around with ducks. No other bird has a problem with ducks and when the ducks hang out, they don’t care what kind of duck you are. Whatever feathers you wear are fine with all the ducks.

ARTSY GOLDFINCHES – Marilyn Armstrong

I have to admit that I have a great many Goldfinches. They show up at the feeder in flocks. Sometimes, I look outside and they are not only all over all the feeders, but they are also waiting in the branches, sitting on the railing, and on top of all the feeders.

Two Goldfinches

So, rather than yet one more detailed picture of Goldfinches, I made these two pictures as artistic I could. These really came out looking sort of like paintings. I hope I remember how I did them.

I should have saved the components. I used about eight different filters, did a lot of cropping, and went through a huge number of remix formulae before I came up with this. Reproducing the effect could be interesting. On the upside, I like them. They look as much like paintings as I could create with software and photographs.

OUT THE WINDOW TO THE LIGHT – Marilyn Armstrong

INTO THE LIGHT THOUGH THE DAY WAS GRAY


I don’t have any space pictures. I wish I did. But I do have some pictures from today and this gray day as my orchid is getting ready to bloom.

Fat buds on my purple orchids. If the sun comes out (they promised tomorrow), they may bloom

I need to admit that I’d have more pictures if I hadn’t accidentally pressed a button somewhere on my newish camera. Now, I haven’t used this camera very much, probably because I haven’t been outside much. It hasn’t been very photogenic outside. We had one small snow at the beginning of December and nothing but a dusting since then. So mostly, I’ve been taking bird pictures and for that, I used my Olympus with a long lens.

Today, though, I wanted to take pictures of the fat buds on my orchid. I decided to use this camera and I took it into the dining room. Which is when I realized the Christmas cactus was back in bloom. The flowers were hidden under the leaves of the aloe vera and since I also have a red table covering, I hadn’t realized that some of that red was flowers.

I took out my camera to take pictures, but it wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t take a simple shot. Like most new cameras, the Panasonic DC ZS-80, it has a menu system with more choices for options I will never use — and couldn’t because I’m not even sure what they do.

I eventually found what I was looking for: the button that deletes all the settings that may have been set, including those you may have set by accident. It turns out that one of the things I had done was to set it on permanent movie mode and merely pressing the movie button didn’t unset it. And there were a few more settings that needed changing involving histograms and levels and red-eye settings. I never set them because I never used the menu. I just set it to Program or iAuto and took a few pictures. I don’t think I’ve taken as many as two dozen pictures with it.

Which is probably why I decided to use it today. Guilt.

I have this problem with almost all my cameras. Each one has its own super complicated menu that includes settings no one uses. After making the menu impossible to understand, they then charge additional money for the “upgrade.”

One more Goldfinch

Complexity is not an upgrade unless it gives you something you want and can use. I think these super complicated menus have led many of us to despair. It’s why many of us gave up all but basic settings. We use iAuto and make other changes with software.

All of this reminded me why Garry so loved my Leica. It is the only camera we own that has a menu written in simple English. And, if you set it in Auto it tells you “Just point the camera. I’ll take care of the rest.” No kidding. It reassures you!

What’s the point of a camera with a menu so absurdly complicated? Why do they add so many settings you have to hold the manual (assuming you have a manual) in one hand and the camera in the other while wearing your reading glasses?

I also forgot that this camera is slower than the one I normally use and by the time I got through figuring out how to reset the camera to default, it wasn’t afternoon. It was getting dark.

WINTERLIGHT IS WHITE, BUT BIRDS ARE NOT – Marilyn Armstrong

White winter light and birds of color

These were taken yesterday when it was even colder than today. Considering that early this morning it was several degrees below zero, “even colder” means something.

How do the poor little birds keep their tiny feet from freezing? You’d think they would grow feather stockings or little feathery boots on their tiny feet. I want to take them all in and warm them up!

Flapping wings and changing feathers. One of these Goldfinches looks like he has a black eye, but it’s just a black feather that’s a little out of place.

A Black-eyed Goldfinch and the feathery other …

I look at their tiny little feet and I feel immediately cold. How do they keep from freezing in this deep winter weather?

Junco and stone toad

Two Goldfinches on the finch feeder

Are these little birds ever warm during the winter months? And finally, one special photograph …

Chipper Sparrow in a graphic style

WINTER GOLDFINCHES IN THE LIGHT OF RECENT SNOW – Marilyn Armstrong

WINTERING WITH THE GOLDFINCHES

Snow was supposedly on the way, but our forecasts have more like guesswork than science lately. I no longer trust them. But I do trust our birds. They always know when snow is coming. The day before, they had barely bothered to show up at the feeders. Today, there was a flock of Goldfinches and at least one of every bird we normally see.

Two little Goldfinches sitting on a feeder …

Two (of many) Goldfinches on their feeder

Today, again, we also had lots of birds. Whenever they did something interesting, I had my camera pointed in the other direction. Talk about Murphy’s Law!

Goldfinches all over the big feeder, too.

Close up!

This is a classic. Point your camera left and all the action is to the right. Take a picture and half a second later, they are airborne and I missed it again. Moreover, the best shots will always be exactly when my battery goes flat.

 

BIRDS DU JOUR AGAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

I have good days and bad ones for bird photography. Some days, the birds decide I’m okay, so I get pictures. Other days, they decide my camera is a gun and I’m going to shoot them. The last couple of days have been pretty good. Also, I improved the food. The same food I used to feed them. There is no high-quality cheap birdseed. Sometimes you get lucky (there’s a sale somewhere), but usually, it costs a lot more than seems reasonable.

Nuthatch and Frog

This picture of the Nuthatch and the Frog was a bit dark, but not out of focus. I thought it would look good in monochrome. Then I added a bit of graphic treatment to brighten it up. I really like the way it came out!

Vertical Goldfinch

Goldfinch in the air and another on the feeder

Nuthatch and Downy Woodpecker sharing a bit of lunch

Freefall for a Goldfinch. These little birds like to play and do some exciting, fun flying

Fluttering Goldfinches and a Rose-breasted Titmouse

Of all of the birds, the most fun to watch are the little birds: the Chickadees and various finches. They don’t take off from the feeder. They fall off, only opening their wings just before they hit the ground. They also fall out of the trees and are inches from crashing when they finally open their wings. Owen says they used to roll off his barn roof and fall until right before they hit the ground.

Nuthatch and Downy Woodpecker

It can’t be accidental, either. They obviously have fun flying, so when they aren’t raiding a feeder, they like freefalling from trees and railings. Do they have to dare each other? Are there prizes for those who get closest to the ground?

Photobombing woodpecker?

The previous picture was funny. There were two Goldfinches on the finch feeder, but this nosy Downy Woodpecker wanted to see if maybe there was something delicious for her to eat. Mind you the holes in this feeder are too small for a bird of her size. I’m pretty sure it’s a girl because she has no red patch on her head and she also looks like she’s carrying around a few eggs.

Portrait of a hungry Goldfinch

SPRING IN THE VALLEY – CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Spring Scenes and flowers of the day

We don’t have much of a spring season here. It tends to stay cold until suddenly in May, the leaves pop out of the trees and everything blooms during one, sunny midday. The process takes just a few hours. It’s amazing. One year, it was winter when we went into the grocery and summer when we came out.

Autumn to winter can be like that too. Garry and I went out for lunch in Boston wearing tee-shirts and shorts,. Two hours later, we came out and it was near freezing, We ran home — which, fortunately, wasn’t very far.

We do get spring flowers, though. And birds. I hope that will count because otherwise, I’m just out of luck!

Harbinger of spring – our purple crocuses

Columbine

More yellow daffodils

The Goldfinch turning bright yellow for mating season.

Spring along the river

Our last Tulip.

More bright Goldfinch

Baby oak leaves and a very blue sky

Along the fence, Forsythia flowers

And the House Finch turns brighter too

Spring on the Mumford River

Solomon’s Seal

Springtime on the Commons

FOTD – January 14, 2020 – Daffodils in Bloom

BIRDS CAN BE SQUARE TOO #10 – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

BACKYARD BIRDIES IN WILD ABSTRACTION (AND THE NUMBER ISN’T IN ORDER, EITHER)

It was a sunny afternoon and my camera was ready. I was ready. Were the birds ready? That is always the question. As for light, see that hint of golden sun on the trees and the birds? That is the reflection of the late afternoon winter sun. Photography is all about light.

I take pictures every day if there are active birds on the feeders. It’s a timing issue and I have to hope it isn’t the exact same group of birds that seem to actually live on the feeders. When I see enough interesting birds or types of birds, I try sneaking up on them and hope they won’t hide or fly away. I think they are laughing at me as they fly into the woods.

Flying: the bird in front is a Tufted Titmouse and the bird in the back is a woodpecker, either a downy or a hairy.

Last week, I dumped the flat feeder and the very damaged wire feeder. I got a smaller feeder with smooth sides and a rim for birds to hold onto. It is designed for smaller birds. I already owned a finch feeder, but I’d never bought food for it. I had Owen put up a third hook and invested in a small bag of finch food.

A Goldfinch on the finch feeder

It took about 72 hours for the birds to discover the new feeders. For a few days, there were almost no birds. On Sunday, I woke up and looked at the feeders and they were empty. I don’t mean that they needed filling. They were 100% empty, down to the last seed.

Woodpecker and Titmouse

I filled everything up and waited. The Goldfinches are back and so are the woodpeckers. The Cardinals have come home, though they refuse to sit still while I take their picture. I think they should show some appreciation, but they aren’t here as my friends. They just want to eat. I still think they could at least let me take pictures. Show me a little bit of gratitude.

Hairy Woodpecker

They hide on the opposite side of the feeders where I can’t see them. I have to wait for them to decide to ignore me and some days, they manage to elude me until I get tired and give up.

A beautiful Tufted Titmouse … and a surprisingly big oneToday I decided to exhume the SD card from the OMD and see what I had collected. I decided to play around with this batch. Others are less abstract. I admit it. Sometimes, I just want to play with pictures.

MORE WINTER BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

I see a lot more birds than I am able to photograph. I see them, but when I lift the camera up, they either hide or fly up into the tree. They obviously can see me through the glass doors. They don’t seem to mind me standing there and watching them, but as soon as I pick up the camera, about half of them disappear in a matter of seconds.

Tufted Titmouse

Junco and a Rose-Breasted Nuthatch

Nuthatch and incoming — but not sure what! Going by color, I think it’s a bluebird.

Downy Woodpecker

A Downy Woodpeckerwithout a red patch is a lady. Why does she always look like she’s got a mad on?

She really looks like she’s spent too many hours trying to talk to customer service

Titmouse

Another Titmouse

A Titmouse and a Flying Chickadee

Cardinal in full regalia

Goldfinch and Chickadee

Two bluebirds

I always wonder why some birds show up in a bunch one day, but I don’t see them again for a week or two. They are probably all there while I’m here, on the computer.

I’m finding it weird that it’s nearly Christmas. I’m not ready for another year. I have not yet recovered from this one. Or the one before this one. Actually, I haven’t been right in the head since 2016.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas! Or whatever you celebrate or even if you don’t celebrate anything. Enjoy the days off or overtime or whatever. Hey, Garry and I got our raises from Social Security. They said it was to “keep up with inflation.”

Are you ready?

I’m getting an EXTRA $18 every month! And Garry is getting an ADDITIONAL $21 every month. Wowee zowee! I hope you’re impressed. It’s the first raise in a couple of years, so they had to make it huge!

BIRDS OF WINTER – Marilyn Armstrong

Many birds stay here in the winter who used to migrate southward. This is probably because it is warmer here  (usually) than it used to be. New England has been harder hit by climate change than many other parts of the country.

Chickadee-dee-dee

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

I somehow thought it was going to hit the whole world at the same time. I have no idea why I thought that. No one ever said that. I just thought it was going to be more even-handed.

Bluebird

Tufted Titmouse

Junco

And thus the migratory birds have stopped migrating. I hope we still have birds left when this mess gets fixed.

If it gets fixed.

FEATHERED FRIENDS – Marilyn Armstrong

UPS is very slow delivering this year, so all the birdseed I have left is black-oil Sunflower seeds. It’s healthier to mix them, but the other two bags of seed haven’t arrived. They are weeks late. Just one seed isn’t the best I can do, but at least it is food and they like it.

I think it’s two birds having a little tiff. Hard to tell but that’s my best guess.

Owen shortened up the feeders today. The wind has been pretty strong and the feeders were blowing around like mad. He was afraid they would just blow right off the hooks — which they have done before.

Goldfinch

Nuthatch

He’ll have to feed the birds until he puts the long hooks back because neither Garry nor I can reach the feeders at that height.

Goldfinch and a bird in flight Probably a Titmouse (going by feather color).

Cardinal in the snowy branches

These are interesting pictures with birds in flight and in one of them, at least two birds mixing it up in the air. I think they are Titmice, but it’s hard to tell just a swoosh of feathers.

Goldfinch and Chickadee

 

THE GOLDFINCH CAME HOME! – Marilyn Armstrong

It’s not the big flock I had last year, but three Goldfinch showed up today and hung around long enough for me to get their pictures. They were the stars of last winter’s bird portraits. They are so awfully cute.

Welcome home American Goldfinch

We also had a visitor I haven’t seen in years. It was a baby Chipmunk! We used to have hordes of Chipmunks chittering at us as they tried to take over the driveway. Then the bobcat showed up and he ate them. All of them. This is the first Chipmunk I’ve seen in at least five years. He was so little!

What a cute pair!

A Titmouse and his little pal

Hunting, I guess, for seeds left on the deck. For some reason, I didn’t take his pictures. I was so bedazzled just seeing him on the deck. I even had time to call Garry over to see him too, so I certainly could have taken his picture, but I was having so much fun watching her skitter around the deck looking for seeds.

A better version of a flying … wren?

The birds are coming back. Slowly. The Mourning Doves are still missing, but maybe they are just being shy. They are also a bit big for these feeders. They liked picking seeds from the deck. They are flat feeders.

On a positive note, we have lots of joyously singing Carolina Wrens.

Fair Lady Cardinal

Also, I saw, but he was gone before I could get the picture, a full red-headed woodpecker. Not the big one who looks like Woody. This one looks just like the Red-Bellied Woodpecker, but his entire head is completely red. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen one outside a bird book.

Sometimes, it’s good to live in the woods.

FLOCKING TOGETHER – GREGARIOUS! – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Gregarious

Birds do it! Bees do it! Sometimes, even people do it! We’ve put up the feeders. I actually ordered a new hanging feeder because the flat feeder gets emptied in mere minutes.

Now I’m hoping the birds show up. I don’t know how much damage the poison has done, so I’m a little nervous. I know a lot of people don’t like feeders because they are messy. Good birdfeed is expensive and then, there are squirrels. But if we don’t feed them, we won’t have birds or squirrels.

There was a question in one of these question and answer things not long ago about whether or not anyone was willing to actually do anything to help the environment.

You could put up feeders. For birds, for squirrels, for all the small creatures whose world we are destroying along with our own. Yes, it’s messy but it’s not that big a deal to clean it up, either.  Think about it.

If a bird feeder is too much work, we are absolutely doomed.