Female Sapsucker – A Miscalculation At The Nest-hole

Sapsuckers must be nimble fliers to negotiate access to their nest-hole several hundred times per day during the nesting season – especially if the tree their nest is in leans toward the hole.  Usually it’s no problem for them but one time I did photograph the female as she stumbled.

 

williamson's sapsucker 2569 ron dudley

 1/6400, f/5.6, ISO 700, Canon 7D, Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM @ 400mm, not baited, set up or called in

Like me these Williamson Sapsuckers were creatures of habit and they would nearly always land on the tree in the same spot before launching upwards toward the hole.  I speculate that they did so because they could get a better grip on the ugly scar left behind when someone carved their initials and the date into the aspen.  In these shots (and many others I took) her bill is full of ants for her chicks.

 

 

williamson's sapsucker 2570 ron dudley

   1/6400, f/5.6, ISO 700, Canon 7D, Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM @ 400mm, not baited, set up or called in

One of my goals was to catch one of he birds as it flew straight up toward the hole but it was harder to do than I expected and this was my best result.  You can tell by her position relative to the “04″ carved in the tree that she’s completely airborne and in fact, because of the leaning tree, her angle of attack is even steeper than straight up.  I suspect it’s pretty unusual to photograph a bird in flight at that angle of attack.

 

 

williamson's sapsucker 2573 ron dudley

  1/6400, f/5.6, ISO 700, Canon 7D, Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM @ 400mm, not baited, set up or called in

But when she reached the nest her left foot slipped off the edge of the hole entrance and she had to use her left wing to prevent falling away completely.  This was the only time I noticed either bird stumble as they accessed the nest and I was lucky enough to click my shutter as it happened.  I thought it was an interesting pose, particularly with a good look at her eye.

Ron

Note: I’m off on another jaunt to Montana – duration unknown.  I’ve scheduled posts in my absence but I’ll be without access to a computer so I won’t be responding to any comments, though I do receive your comments on my phone when I have a signal and I always enjoy them. 

Wish me luck with the smoke from the fires in Washington, Oregon and Idaho – the prevailing wind direction is not helpful…

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Landing Red-tailed Hawk

This image goes back into my archives about as far back as they go.    It was taken on October 1, 2007 – just a few months after I became serious about my photography.  I was still shooting with my first digital camera, the Canon Rebel XTi which I still have.  It’s an entry-level camera and I still remember what the camera salesman said when I told him that I was planning on mounting that small camera onto a huge Canon 500 mm lens - “well, it will work but don’t you think it’ll look a little silly?”

Even at that early point in my “career” I knew that a photographer’s financial resources are better invested in great glass that holds its value than in cameras that quickly become obsolete.  It’s been years since I used the XTi but that lens was a great one until I sold it for its new upgrade a few months ago and when I sold it (well-used of course) I got as much as I paid for it almost 7 years earlier.

The XTi just gathers dust…

 

 

red-tailed hawk 6979 ron dudley

1/1250, f/9. ISO 400, Canon Rebel XTi, EF500mm f/4L IS USM +1.4 tc. not baited, set up or called in

This shot isn’t great technically but given my primitive skills at the time I was pleased with the results.  What I like best about it is that the hawk is landing rather than taking off.  Compared to landing shots, take-off shots are relatively easy because you generally don’t know where they’re going to land.  But this bird regularly hunted from this perch and returned to it so I prefocused on the branch and let it rip with the burst rate of the XTi that makes flowing molasses seem like a speed demon.

Luckily one of those few shots caught the hawk as it was reaching for the branch.

Ron

Note: I’m off on another jaunt to Montana – duration unknown.  I’ve scheduled posts in my absence but I’ll be without access to a computer so I won’t be responding to any comments, though I do receive your comments on my phone when I have a signal and I always enjoy them. 

Wish me luck with the smoke from the fires in Washington, Oregon and Idaho – the prevailing wind direction is not helpful…

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