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Sue's Bird Blog Archives

Big Day - Lens Test

Published April 07, 2013
Tags: General Observations, Eastern Meadowlark, Ring-necked Pheasant, Great Horned Owl, Short-eared Owl, Song Sparrow, Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Tree Swallow, Great Blue Heron, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk

I made a "Big Day" of it yesterday. I wanted to test drive a new lens (fixed Canon 400mm f/5.6) and I wanted to do it in the field - so I ended up going to 6 different locations - all but one offering long distance views.

The first place I visited, Forest Lawn Cemetery, I used my every day zoom lens because most views of anything were going to be close. Here I saw some nice spring arrivals, including my first warbler of the season, a Yellow-rumped Warbler - nice! I also saw 2 Belted Kingfishers (love those guys!), several Eastern Phoebes, Brown Creepers, and Tree Swallows like I had seen on Monday.

Next, I stopped by Tifft Nature Preserve to see about photographing the Ospreys. I found out that they haven't returned yet. There's another pair nesting behind an old building behind the preserve, but I wasn't able to find it.  Kim, at Tifft, says they're still hopeful their pair will return. While I was there, I was able to catch some nice photos of a Great Blue Heron that turned out quite nice from the considerable distance he was at.

Next on the agenda was to visit "Momma Great Horned". She's doing very well and, to my delight, one of the owlets was very visible and active! Covered in down, he's a funny looking little guy. Again I looked around for the dad, but no luck.  Apparently, he'd doing a good job providing for his family, though.

Since I wasn't able to find the Osprey at Tifft, I headed out to the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge where I saw an Osprey and its nest last Friday.  This time I found 2 Ospreys at the nest, substantially fewer Canada Geese, and more Great Blue Herons. In the same area, I also visited the Eagle's nest again at the lookout. The photos for both the Osprey and Eagle were disappointing, making me question the new lens.

Lastly, I stopped by the field where the Short-ears are known to hunt. I was treated to the beautiful song - and ultimately lots of great views - of an Eastern Meadowlark! This was a lifer for me and the highlight of the day.  I managed a few, fair shots of the meadowlark in the fading light and a little later, I did see 2 Short-eared Owls and 3 Northern Harriers.  By this time, the light was low and the lens proved to be pretty useless. It's still a thrill watching them hunt, though. Oh, but before the Short-eareds came out, I saw a Ring-necked Pheasant! I haven't seen one of those in many years. That was a real treat!

Back home, the common Redpolls continue to come in impressive numbers - from anywhere between 30 to 70. This morning, as I write this, we're closer to the 70 mark. They're cleaning me out of Nyjer thistle - but how can I complain?!  I love seeing them and who knows when we'll get an irruptive year like this again? Maybe I'll practice on them with the new lens for a little while today although the high winds will make that difficult.

I took over 700 photos yesterday, most with the new lens. I'm debating on whether to keep it. Going in, I knew I needed good light and, coupled with the 2x teleconverter, I was going to have to focus manually. It proved to be great in good lighting and where focusing could be done on a tripod. But I'm not sure that's what I'm looking for. The jury is still out...
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Forest Lawn Cemetery: Belted Kingfisher - 2 were continually flying over throughout the morning. It was wonderful to hear their rattle sound again!
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Forest Lawn Cemetery: a pair of Mallards? The purple coloring on the drake's head is throwing me off - but I think it's due to the lighting. Any input?
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Forest Lawn Cemetery: Eastern Phoebe
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Forest Lawn Cemetery: Black-capped Chickadee
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Forest Lawn Cemetery: Golden-crowned Kinglet
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Forest Lawn Cemetery: Golden-crowned Kinglet
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Forest Lawn Cemetery: Brown Creeper
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Forest Lawn Cemetery: Yellow-rumped Warbler - poor lighting made it challenging!
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Tifft Nature Preserve: Great Blue Heron
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Tifft Nature Preserve: Song Sparrow
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Momma Great Horned Owl and her baby
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Momma Great Horned Owl and her baby
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Iroquois Wildlife Nature Preserve: A disappointing shot of 2 Bald Eagles at their nest
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Iroquois Wildlife Nature Preserve: 2 Great Blue Herons
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En Route to Ringneck Marsh: Eastern Bluebird
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Iroquois Wildlife Nature Preserve (Ringneck Marsh): An Osprey flying from its nest
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En Route from Ringneck Marsh: Red-tailed Hawk. The hawk was actually hunting on the ground; I've never seen this before.
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Posson Rd: Song Sparrow - this was shot quite far out in a field, so not too bad...
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Posson Rd: A Ring-necked Pheasant (male). He walked by TWICE. Great surprise!
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Posson Rd: Ring-necked Pheasant
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Posson Rd: Eastern Meadowlark - my highlight for the day and a lifer!
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Posson Rd: Eastern Meadowlark
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Posson Rd: Eastern Meadowlark making beautiful music
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Posson Rd: Eastern Meadowlark
Reply from: marge on 4/7/2013 12:15 PM
 Sue - what a great job! Pictures are wonderful, especially momma owl and baby.
Reply from: Lynn Minter on 4/7/2013 5:43 PM
 What a fun day! So many great photos. I love the owls and the pheasant. So cool. I continue to be amazed at the variety you find. I must become more observant. Nice post!
Reply from: Tim on 4/8/2013 9:23 PM
 Hi Sue That must have been u as the only other birder on Posson Rd sat evening.Great photos! The pheasant was definitley a treat for me also.Having owned that Canon 400 lens it is a killer lens but does have its limitations.Just keep in mind that anything bigger comes at a much higher price and weight! You have an awesome blog here. Tim http://timmymacs.blogspot.com/ www.timothy-mcintyre.artistwebsites.com