Green-winged Teal (and one reason I err on the side of high shutter speeds)

The Green-winged Teal is our smallest duck and to my eye the male is strikingly handsome and colorful, especially when you can catch the light just right on the iridescent greens of the crescent above and behind the eye.  It’s amazing how that crescent turns black in an instant at differing light angles.

 

green-winged teal 1979 ron dudley

1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 640, Canon 7D Mark 2, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in

I photographed this dandy little male two mornings ago at Farmington Bay when it came out of the water to preen.  Though the setting is busy and somewhat unattractive I enjoy seeing the entire bird, including the feet, for a change of pace.  But my point with these photos is more about bird photography technique than it is about classically beautiful images.

I’ve said before that whenever possible I almost instinctively shoot birds at relatively high shutter speeds in most situations because I gravitate toward action and behavior shots and birds are so very fast and unpredictable.  Here my 1/3200 sec shutter speed is fairly typical for me.  But I’d photographed this duck for quite a while as it preened on the shore of the pond among a group of foraging coots so I decided to drop my ISO from 640 to 500 for just a couple of shots in order to reduce the grain (noise) in some of my images.  Doing so of course dropped my shutter speed by half.

 

 

green-winged teal 1955 ron dudley

1/1600, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark 2, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in

Naturally the teal chose that precise moment to give me a nice wing flap at an angle with good light on the entire body and my slower shutter speed of 1/1600 sec could not freeze the wings, which disappointed me.  If the setting had been more attractive and less busy I’d have been even more disappointed.

Photography is often a bag-full of tradeoffs and juggling shutter speed with ISO is almost a given with birds.  Often it’s a matter of style and preferences – how much noise are you willing to tolerate and do you want perfect static shots more or less than you do action images.  In this case I could have switched from f/6.3 to f/5.6 for more shutter speed and less depth of field.  But I didn’t and you simply can’t go back and do it all over again…

Adobe finally updated ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) to support the Canon 7D Mark 2 and these two images are the first ones I’ve been able to process with the new camera using my usual work flow.  What a joy!  I’ve been shooting in both RAW and JPEG for over two weeks now so I’ll be extra busy in the next few days as I cull almost 4000 RAW images and delete all those JPEGS at the same time I’m trying to maintain my normal shooting, culling, processing and blogging schedule.  Throw in all the preparations for the upcoming holiday and my plate is full to overflowing (as it will almost certainly be Thanksgiving afternoon…)

I apologize for all the photography geekiness in this post but without that geekiness there are no quality images.  Back to more typical fare tomorrow.

Ron

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An Accipiter Preying On Rodents Instead Of Small Birds

Yesterday morning was my first experience with an Accipiter preying on rodents instead of the small birds that they’re best known for eating.

As one more evidence that I’m more of a bird photographer than I am a birder I’ll admit from the get-go that I’m unsure if this is a Cooper’s Hawk or a Sharp-shinned Hawk.  Based on the somewhat rounded shape of the tail-tip and the color of the face my guess would be juvenile Cooper’s but I have no real confidence in that tentative choice.  Help!

(note – this bird has now been confirmed by folks whose ID skills I trust, here and on FB, to be a Cooper’s Hawk.  Thanks for the help!)

But either way it’s an Accipiter and yesterday morning I watched as it very deliberately perch-hunted voles instead of birds at Farmington Bay.  This post is only meant as documentation of that fact – many of the images are mediocre at best.

 

sharp-shinned hawk 1845 ron dudley

 1/2000, f/5.6, ISo 500, Canon 7D Mark 2, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4 tc, taken and processed in JPEG, not baited, set up or called in 

Here the hawk is perch-hunting from a block of concrete overlooking a slope directly in front of it.  Moments after this image was taken (through many branches between me and the bird) the hawk pounced on prey only a couple of feet in front of the concrete and disappeared in the vegetation.  I assumed that if it had caught prey it would be a small bird and the hawk would fly far off with it.

 

 

sharp-shinned hawk 1315 ron dudley

  1/1000, f/5.6, ISo 500, Canon 7D, Canon 100-400 @ 400m, not baited, set up or called in 

Instead it landed in a nearby tree on the other side of my pick-up.  And the prey turned out to be a vole (I don’t believe it was a mouse because I never saw a long tail).  I spent the next 17 minutes watching and photographing as the hawk ate the vole and then cleaned up and relaxed after its meal.  The bird mostly had its back to me and the setting was cluttered with branches.

 

 

sharp-shinned hawk 1335 ron dudley

 1/1000, f/6.3, ISo 500, Canon 7D, Canon 100-400 @ 400m, not baited, set up or called in 

Raptors often reject the intestines of their prey and this bird did just that with some of them but I also saw it gulp down a portion of what appeared to be small intestine.  Here you see some of the rejected intestines hanging down from the large horizontal branch.

 

 

sharp-shinned hawk 1344 ron dudley

  1/1000, f/6.3, ISo 500, Canon 7D, Canon 100-400 @ 400m, not baited, set up or called in 

 I couldn’t resist including this image with its clear look at the face and eye from the rear and between the legs.  It’s a butt-shot for sure but I still enjoy it because it makes me smile…

 

 

sharp-shinned hawk 1391 ron dudley

  1/1000, f/6.3, ISo 500, Canon 7D, Canon 100-400 @ 400m, not baited, set up or called in

After the vole was consumed the hawk turned toward me on the perch and vigorously cleaned its bill.  The nictitating membrane is closed and I like the tongue hanging out during the process. 

 

 

sharp-shinned hawk 1411 ron dudley

  1/1000, f/6.3, ISo 500, Canon 7D, Canon 100-400 @ 400m, not baited, set up or called in 

Then the bird gave me a frontal pose in better light.

 

 

sharp-shinned hawk 1870 ron dudley

  1/320, f/13, ISo 500, Canon 7D Mark 2, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4 tc, taken and processed in JPEG, not baited, set up or called in 

At that point I grabbed my longer lens and took a few head shots before driving on and leaving the bird in the tree.

This hawk was one of the calmest Accipiters I’ve encountered.

Ron

Note to local birders and photographers:  Yesterday morning there was an adult Bald Eagle perched on the “eagle tree” at Farmington.  This was the first eagle I’ve seen there this season.  Another photographer friend saw one that same morning at Bear River MBR.  I believe our eagle season is finally beginning!

Note to photographers who have recently purchased the new Canon 7D Mark 2:  A few minutes ago I noticed that Adobe has finally updated their DNG converter for ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) and it now supports the Mark 2 (along with the Canon Powershot G7 X  and the Canon Powershot SX60 HS).  Link here.   It’s been a long time coming!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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