Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Deep Freeze

Two weekends ago temperatures dropped below zero for a couple days, which did cause the reservoirs to almost completely freeze over.  This for me was a good thing, because it forced the eagles to be near the stream where I can get the closest to them.  The eagle numbers were the highest I’ve seen this winter, but still lower than normal.  I was seeing about ten eagles every time I went out. 

However I only managed a few photographs.  I was having problems with lighting.  With the lens I use it has a very high f-stop when at long range, which was causing problems with getting the proper lighting.  Also due to this, most of the time I had to use a 1600 ISO. Which I would prefer not to use because of the extra noise that it adds to photographs.  Also I was battling the sun all day.  It was either too bright or not enough.  It always seemed to sneak behind a cloud at the worst moments.  In addition I was having problems with the full mature eagles because there heads were overexposing, and I could not figure out how to prevent it, without the rest of the image being drastically underexposed.

Furthermore I had a day that when I arrived at the lake, there was a construction crew working on clearing brush and putting in new electric poles.  They were working right where the eagles roost and feed.  This really upset me, especially since they were running a chainsaw and making tons of noise.  There are signs that it is an endangered species area during the winter months because of the eagle population in the area during those months.  Also there are signs stating that outdoor activity will disturb eagles.  Yet they were out there working.  It just seemed like poorly timed construction work.  Due to there noise the eagles left the area for the day.  But the next morning they were back and it was the best day I had all week.   

During my trips last week I was also seeing much higher numbers of ducks.  I saw plenty of common mergansers, black ducks, and a few hooded mergansers.  But I also found two common goldeneye ducks, which I don’t normally see.  I also spotted a downy woodpecker, but he didn’t stay around for long.   

Towards the end of last week, the weather had started another warming trend.  It is quite crazy.  Temperatures fell to below zero and days later it climbed into the fifties, with average temperatures around freezing.  I am hoping that I continue to see more eagles, but I believe that the warm weather won’t help.  I guess at least I can look forward to the spring duck migration.  Until next time.           

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Change of Luck

So far this winter’s eagle season for me has been a complete bust.  I have been seeing small numbers of eagles, but nothing within range to photograph.  Due to the warm winter most of the water in the lakes and reservoirs is not frozen.  Which gives the eagle’s free roam of the area, and they mostly stay in areas where people cannot go.  But yesterday and today Mother Nature is throwing a curve ball, and dropping temperatures to zero and below, with wind chills in the -20 to -30's.  I am sure that the ice will form on the lakes, and tomorrow I hope that I will get a chance to spend most of the day out.  Maybe these extremely cold temperatures will be the change of luck that I need to get my first eagle photographs of this year.

Since it has been so bad with the eagle count, I decided that I would fill my bird feeders and see what I could get.  I have had a good amount of species visiting including cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, juncos, tufted titmouse, and nuthatches, but I have not seen the woodpeckers that I have seen in the past.

I also have had a hawk that seems to show up every time I fill my feeders.  I guess he likes easy prey.  I feel bad about the situation, but I don’t think I can do much about it.  If you watch him carefully he normally hides in the trees above my feeder and ambushes the other animals.  Last year he attacked a squirrel on the ground below my feeder and chased him up a tree.  It was crazy too watch.  I had never seen a hawk hop branch to branch up a tree and chase a squirrel.  In the end he managed to kill the squirrel just behind my fence.  Since then I have felt bad about filling the feeders but I guess it is only nature taking its course.  If anyone has ideas about stopping the hawk, please feel free to comment.  The only thing I could find was to not fill the feeders for a while and hope the hawk moves on.

I know that I have not been posting much, but I have not had many photographs to post.  So I think I will be trying to post more helpful hints and other things to fill the time in between my photographs.  If anyone has a topic that they would like me to try and cover, please leave a comment and I will try and cover it.  Until next time.