Nest Building

Earlier this week I stopped at a few places near Lake Erie’s shoreline checking on the bird migration soon to arrive here in Northwest Ohio.  The birds were a little sparse as yet.  A few ducks were in the waters by the road.  A great Blue Heron was basking in the sun near the Ottawa Wildlife Refuge.  But the one thing that caught my eye while I was walking the boardwalk was a simple robin that was building her nest.  Robin’s are quite plentiful around here and even in my own backyard.  We have a tendency to search for the unusual capture.  The birds we don’t see everyday or special events that seem to be more dramatic than your everyday experience.  This image of a Robin attracted me because I could see that she had something in her mouth.  I walked slowly up to the area where she was sitting and was able to capture this moment of rest while she was apparently building a nest nearby. A simple click and I registered a nice portrait of a bird that we see everyday.  Enjoy!

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Pied Billed Grebe

The countdown continues for the Biggest Week in American Birding.  My friends from the southern states are posting some interesting images of the migratory birds as they work their way towards us and on into Canada.  12 days and counting!  Magee Marsh and the other birding areas in the Great Black Swamp are already starting to see some activity.  I found this Pied Billed Grebe in the waters along the road that goes back to the Boardwalk in Magee Marsh.  There are other water fowl in the area and I hope to capture a few more this coming week.  This bird has its breeding plumage as seen by the black strip on its beak.  It appears to be an adult and is often found in ponds and marsh areas.  Join me in the coming weeks as we work our way along the boardwalk seeking some great images of the migratory birds here in  Northwest Ohio.  Enjoy!

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Black Swamp Activity

In my recent posts about the birds in Magee Marsh Wildlife preserve, you have seen many images from an area that is part of the Great Black Swamp here in Northwest Ohio. The Black Swamp Conservancy has worked on many projects to highlight this area and the environment surrounding it. The wetlands is part of a area of consisting of farm land and other aspects of the Black Swamp that covers approximately 15,000 square miles. There are more than just birds and other waterfowl to see along the wetlands area. While searching for my Eagle shot the other day I came upon this rascal in the waterways along the Magee Marsh Boardwalk. I’m thinking this is a beaver. There are many different mammals found in the Great Black Swamp. Muskrat, mink, beaver, rabbits, and otters just to name a few.

If you are planning to attend The Biggest Week in American Birding coming up this May from the 3rd through the 12th, stop in to the Black Swamp Conservancy areas and speak to the many people that will be there to assist your experience. Also remeber that there are moe than just birds to be seen in the Black Swamp so don’t just look up for the birds but down into the wetlands to find other interesting wildlife among the habitat that is the Great Black Swamp. Enjoy!

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Blue Winged Teal

My trip to the Marsh last weekend allowed me some time to spend with several species of water fowl located along the drive back to the lake.  Mallards, Northern Shovelers, and Pied Billed Grebes were plentiful.  I was watching from the shelter of my SUV and was able to shoot from there which gave me a little protection from spooking the birds while they plied the waters looking for food.  The above image is a male Blue Winged Teal.  he was searching for food alongside his mate oblivious to all the traffic that was moving alongside the road.  The countdown continues with only 19 days before the Biggest Week in American Birding here in Northwest Ohio.  even though the migration has yet to begin, there are still many opportunities to hone my skills with my long lenses and camera techniques needed to capture the best bird images of the spring season.  Practice makes perfect regardless as to which camera system you choose.  Just be aware that when the activities in the Marsh get started, swift action is required and taking time to learn your camera’s capabilities on the fly will produce more disappointment than success.  19 days and counting, get your gear ready and join me for the Biggest Week next month.  Enjoy!

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24 Days and Counting!

24 days and counting until the Biggest Week in American Birding kicks off in Northwest Ohio.  I took a chance last weekend and traveled to Magee Marsh along the coast of Lake Erie to see if any of the migratory birds had arrived.  I wasn’t alone on the Boardwalk but the birds were few and far between.  On my way back to the Boardwalk I observed many different species of ducks and other waterfowl.  I also noticed as I hit the parking area one of the local Eagles were out of their nest and up into the trees near the first opening on the boardwalk.  I parked and walked from one end to the other in search of any photographs.  It wasn’t until I arrived at the location of the Eagle when I struck gold.  The Eagle was still on his perch near the water towards the first opening.  There was only one other photographer in the area and we watched for quite a while as the Eagle was looking for something to eat or to bring back to the nest.  I was able to capture many images of this magnificent bird as he was ever watchful from his perch.

There are usually two or more pairs of Eagles along this area of the coastal waters of Lake Erie.  The nesting areas are well protected by the park and access is limited.  Thankfully my long lens combination helped me get up close and personal with this bird and I brought home quite a few keepers.  Enjoy!

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The Biggest Week in American Birding!

We are 30 days away from the Biggest Week in American Birding.  As the Warblers and other birds migrate towards Canada, they stop off for a respite along the coast of Lake Erie before the long flight across the Lake.  This activity can be observed all across the lakefront.  One of My favorite locations is Magee Marsh located in Ottawa County here in Ohio.  A short drive from my home here in Sylvania and I am surrounded by many different species of birds and water fowl.  Egrets and Great Blue Herons are quite plentiful.  I am looking forward to the migration this year and have been practicing my technique with my camera gear to ensure positive results in the field.  This year, I plan experimenting with fill flash as well as the Pro Capture feature on my Olympus OM-D EM-1x camera.

Since the migration occurs over a specific time frame, you really need to prepare for the experience.  You need to clean up your gear making sure you have enough batteries to be in the field and shoot many frames over several hours.  Checking the weather each day is essential so that you can be prepared with the proper clothing for the type of weather you will be experiencing.  Keep in mid it might be warm where you are, but on the lake the winds can drop the temperatures so bring a jacket or a sweater just in case.  You might want to bring some food and plenty of water along for the day depending on how long you want to stay.  The “Biggest Week” is great fun and you can sign up for many different lectures and such on their website.  Look for the Biggest Week website right here.  Get ready for some great bird photography and I will see you, and many more, in the field for the Biggest Week in American Birding.  Enjoy!

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Black and White

Often times many images that I capture in color look even better or enhanced finished in Black and White.  A throw back to the days of Tri X film and processing the roll in my basement.  Certainly times have changed and there are many ways to take a color image and move it over to be seen in Black and White.  Digital imaging software even allows for you to render the look that we used to get from Ilford black and white film or even Kodak’s Tri x which used to be a standard for images back many decades.  With that in mind I scanned through some of my posts and found several images that I could enhance using a black and white conversion process on my computer.  I placed these in a new gallery on my web site.  You can see them right here or go to www.newdawnphotography.com and search the Galleries Tab for the Black and White Gallery I just added.    Enjoy!

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Eagles Gallery

I recently updated my Eagles Gallery on my website and made it one of the featured galleries for the month of March.  The images in this gallery were taken on a trip to the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska.  Many of these flight photos were taken from a moving boat. The challenge was hand holding a large camera since a tripod was useless while the boat rocked on the water.  Thankfully, our guides got us close enough to the Eagles that I could use a standard telephoto lens and not my big 600mm.  Making my gear a little more lighter really allowed me to use good hand holding technique and capture these birds in flight using a fast shutter speed.  Shutter speeds basically have two functions.  Slowing the speed can be used to illustrate action as the subject would be blurred.  Great for shooting waterfalls in getting that smooth look on the falls.  The other function is illustrated with these flight photos and that is to freeze the action with a fast shutter speed. This function is also useful if you have children in sports.  Whether it be soccer, football, basketball, or even volleyball, speeding up your camera’s shutter speed is necessary to capture all the action on the field or on the court.  Use the warm up time for your team to practice your hand holding technique so when the action starts you can be ready.  A great lesson on good technique in order to reduce blurred photos is on line at the Photography Life website and you can find it right here.

As the weather starts to get warmer, now would be a good time to get your gear in shape.  Make sure your firmware is up to date.  Clean your lenses and don’t forget to vacuum out your gear bag as they have a tendency to gather a lot of dust which always seems to gravitate to your digital sensors.  Practice a few of these hand holding techniques and be ready.  I will see you in the field.  Enjoy!

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Cardinal Landscape

Here is another image from our recent trip to the Lake House.  Our trees were populated with many cardinals and blue jays.  I was able to conceal myself behind one of our large trees and watch the activity in the woods next to our property.  The Male Cardinals were quite active and provided me with many opportunities to photograph their behaviors.  Often times the Blue Jays would arrive and scatter the cardinals.  Within minutes they would return to our feeders.  If I moved even a slight bit, the Blue Jays would scatter and frighten off the rest of the birds.  I needed to be patient and over time the birds would return to within my range of focus.  The weather was a bit chilly, but with the proper clothing and hand warmers I was able to maintain my position and capture some great photos of these colorful birds.

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Northern Woodpecker

Took a little time off this weekend to check in at the lake house.  In spite of the cold weather we did have a little bit of a warming spell and I had an opportunity to observe some bird activity on the property adjacent to ours.  I watched as this Northern Woodpecker was feasting away on a large tree stump high above the brush line.  The challenge for me was trying to get into position where the brush and tree branches were not blocking my field of view.  It took a lot of patience and finding the right spot as the bird climbed more towards the top of the tree.  I wasn’t after a quick snap but to capture the bird doing something interesting as he chopped away looking for his meal.  After several clicks I could see him turn towards me and give me a nice profile shot.  When I looked at the image on my computer, I could see the white spot in his eye.  A great eye catch from the sun.  When photographing wildlife, the eyes have it.  They must be sharp and a glint from the sun is usually the icing on the cake.  For more of my bird photographs, click on the galleries menu and go to my Avian Gallery.  As always, comments are welcomed.  Enjoy!

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