OGUNQUIT BEACH WITH BIRDS AND A SUNRISE – Marilyn Armstrong

Sunrise Flight


Dawn on Ogunquit beach. It was about 4:30 in the morning when I dragged my body from the bed, threw some clothing on including long sleeves, long pants, and socks. Not because it was so cold. It was a warm September, but I had already discovered that the mosquitoes are voracious in those early hours.

One gull flying over the shore on the hunt for clams and crabs

Looking for breakfast at sunrise

At first, the beach was completely empty, but gradually as it got closer to daylight, there were runners and strollers. Couples hand-in-hand … but apparently only one photographer. Everyone else stayed close to the incoming tide and many walked in the water.

Plovers and a lone gull

I was looking for a wider view, so I stayed back. The farther you are from the water, the worse the mosquitoes become. I think I may have been the only “live one” on the scene.

 

ANGRY BIRDS, WINTRY LIGHT – Marilyn Armstrong

Angry birds, wintry light

Hairy Woodpeckers are the larger of two similar-looking woodpeckers. They aren’t actually related, but somehow, the Downy has copied the feathering and coloration of the Hairy Woodpecker, probably because the Hairy has a notoriously bad temper. The Downy has an equally bad temper, but he’s much smaller. By copying the bigger bird, on a quick look, they look the same.

It’s hard to see the difference unless they are near enough to one another to see the size difference which, despite them often sharing the same piece of forest, they rarely do.

Angry bird 1

Angry bird 2

Angry bird 3

Angry bird 4

Angry bird 5

Angry bird 6

Today I got lucky and for a few seconds (I didn’t get a picture, but I almost got a picture)  they shared the opposite sides of the big feeder. Suddenly, it was easy to tell the difference. The Hairy is obviously bigger. Bigger body, longer beak. They only shared space for a few seconds, then the Downy decided it was time to move on. The Hairy hung around long enough for me to get some pictures and for once, I was sure I knew which bird I was photographing.

Is it me or does this look like one of the original angry birds? Hairy Woodpeckers have a notoriously bad temper. They are permanently in a bad mood. I think it’s because they spend their entire lives banging their head against hardwood trees.

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.

 

WINTER SCENES – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Winter Scenes


It certainly is winter here and today, it was actually cold. The earlier parts of the month were springlike, sometimes downright summery. Today, cold. Tomorrow? Snow? Sleet? Rain? Cold? Warm? All of the preceding?

NOW you’re talking. our precipitous winter days have mostly been a bit of everything, usually in about 12-hours. Although we have rapidly changing weather, it doesn’t usually all happen in a single day between dawn and the late news.

Junco in a bird’s winter

Waiting to a place at the feeder

Home in the snow – Photo: Garry Armstrong

A bench on the Common with snow – Photo: Garry Armstrong

ALL ABOUT A DOWNY WOODPECKER AND HER NUTHATCH LUNCHMATE – Marilyn Armstrong

I had a really big set of photos from last week. I’d processed maybe 10 of them, then I took some more and worked on them. But I knew there were a bunch of pictures in there with which I’d not done anything. I’d shot these pictures quickly and taken a long sequence of a lovely lady Downy Woodpecker sharing the feeder alone or with a Nuthatch.

Last night, I put a bunch of them together. This is a lady Downy because she doesn’t have a red patch on her head.

Downy and Nuthatch

Just hanging out

Seedeaters!

Very plump or full of eggs?

It’s good to keep them al so well-fed.

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

SUNNY MIDDAY, A RED FINCH AND FRIENDS #13 – Marilyn Armstrong

RED FINCH AND FRIENDS

The finches have been conspicuous in their absence. I suspected it was because they didn’t like the food — or couldn’t eat it — so I changed food. And suddenly, we’ve had lots of Goldfinch and today, for the first time (well, second really), a red one came and hung around long enough for me to get some pictures.

I could not make all the pictures square. Many of them were too wide and short. But there were a couple that I could nicely square up.

Red Finch, Tufted Titmouse and Rose-breasted Nuthatch sharing a feeder

I admit it. I can’t tell the difference between a Purple Finch (who is red) and a House Finch (also red). They are the same size and basically the same color and on top of that, they hang out together.

Red Finch and a Rose-breasted Nuthatch

There is a difference in the beaks and the Purple Finch is supposed to be more raspberry than true red, but they look pretty much identical. Even comparing pictures I’ve taken of both, I still can’t see a real difference.

Red Finch all by himself

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.

OPPOSITIONS IN COLOR – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Opposing Colors

As often as we say “opposites attract, ” mostly we are not talking about colors. But opposites do attract, though they may not stay together for long periods.

On the color wheel, the opposites are:

  • Blue/Orange
  • Yellow/Purple
  • Red/Green

I don’t think I’ve ever worn a combination of blue and orange or yellow with purple. Back when we had autumn, red and green were a popular combination and always are at Christmas.

Let me see what I can find!

Bluebird on the fence – the perfect blue and orange combination!

And then, there is are bluebirds, a perfect natural combination of orange (some say red, but it really IS orange). What man may forego, nature brings perfectly to life!

Bluebird

And finally, red and green!

The shed from the side

Mumford Dam in October

The Blackstone River in the fall

And do it goes! Colors in nature and in our little world. Here’s to a vastly improved decade!

BIRD OF THE WEEK – Marilyn Armstrong

With some time available, I took these pictures and spent hours messing with the software. I still don’t think I’ve quite got them exactly how I want them, but I think they are okay. These are two pictures of the same chip. I have more, but they are all similar, I haven’t done anything with the rest of them. Yet.

Taking off

Yet one more Tufted Titmouse.

COUNT THE BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

The windows through which I shoot bird pictures had gotten dusty. Owen went out to clean them for me. All the birds around the deck and on the feeders flew up and into the trees. Owen said it sounded like something from “The Birds.” I wasn’t outside, but I was watching from the window in the kitchen. I watched this flock take off — maybe 100 birds  — many of them doves, took off.

Chipping Sparrow

When they settled down, I realized there were birds on pretty much every branch in the woods. I couldn’t tell you which birds were which — my eyes aren’t that good — but you could see their outlines against the fading sky.

A little downy woodpecker. He’s still a baby!

We have a lot of birds of every kind you might expect in this part of the world. We may be facing serious climactic change, but so far, at least we still have birds. So far, so good.

Birds in our bushes … er, feeders

The weather has been very up and down. Two days of extremely cold weather, followed by a few days in the mid-60s. That’s 17 or 18 C for those who aren’t good converters. I finally gave in and put the tick and flea collars back on all three of them. The bugs aren’t dying like they used to. The moment it warms up, the ticks and fleas appear like magic. It’s going to be a very buggy year.

Sharing

I didn’t take any picture or at least, any new ones. I still have a lot of pictures I’ve taken over the past week or two. And there was a lot of cooking getting done. And baking. There’s at least one more big meal coming out of that lamb — my joyful lamb curry.

Downy Woodpecker

I’m taking the rest of the season, such as it is, off. I’ve been looking for a good time to take a few days off and this seems a better time than most. So I’ll be back after the year turns. Let’s hope this one is better than the last few.

CHRISTMAS 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

I might have missed Christmas because I never know what day it is. The thing about retirement is that there is no “start of the workweek” or “weekend” to separate the time, so unless I’m looking at the calendar, I really don’t know what day it is.  I was so busy taking pictures, my son said: “So, see you tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?”

He looked at me. “Wednesday is Christmas Day. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.”

I thought about what I had to do. It was daunting. Garry hadn’t even looked at the Christmas cards and no one had wrapped any presents. I wasn’t even sure what I was going to wrap them in. I had nothing written. I wasn’t sure when I was going to wrap the few gifts I bought. Couldn’t I just hand things out? No, I suppose not.

I don’t like wrapping presents. I’m okay at most things including wrapping, but I don’t like it. I used o get very artistic about it … but the wrappings got torn off and no one even looked at them. Eventually, I realized it was just a way for Hallmark to make more money. I still wrap because how can I just hand people a naked box? But I resent the expense and extra effort.

A Merry Christmas to all from Garry and me and all the wee birds and beasts!

FEATHERED FRIENDS AND FLUFFY TREE CLIMBERS – Marilyn Armstrong

The squirrels knocked down one of the feeders this morning, so we filled it up and put it back. The ground feeders love all that fallen seed and it’s in a nice, safe place where the bird-eating hawks can’t easily go.

The squirrels also like it. All the corn and the big pieces of nuts that they like best are nicely spread out on the ground.

I think they knock the feeders down on purpose.

Welcome, Bluebird!

Just the tail!

Not bad … maybe I’ll have some more.

White on black – It’s a Junco!

Temporarily treed

I hope it’s still good!

Diggin in

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!