Thursday, April 11, 2013

Grass Blue & Glass New

Ok, so the title is corny, but it's hard to think of catchy lines for heading back to an oft visited location with pictures of birds you've shot before.  I called my brother Dan up on Sunday right after church, hoping he could join me on a mission to Grass Lake [Grass Blue] to inaugurate my new lens [Glass New].  Holly quickly made sandwiches for me and the boys and we met Dan and his gang there for hike around the lake.

Mallard Duck pair buffeted by the high winds.

We headed east around the lake perimeter, following the top of the ridge through the bare trees and underbrush which in the summer is not easily passable to see what we could discover at the "back" end of the lake.  With six of our own boys and a friend along, quietly approaching wildlife doesn't happen - good lessons for dads on priorities.  Sure enough, we flushed a Sandhill Crane pair from the water's edge in a noisy, protested escape and they took off into the air before we could escape enough of the branches and twigs to get any decent flight shots.  And they would have been great too - the wind was very stiff that afternoon.  Despite concerted effort on the part of the Cranes they made little headway into the brisk wind at first, staying almost directly in front of us for a short time till they dropped down and made their getaway.  I think Dan got a couple shots off, but I was still trying to get my camera out of a weird setting it mysteriously was on and only got one mildly salvageable shot.

Sandhill Crane pair

 After that, we walked onto the still stable ice left on the shadowed edge of the shallow, lake and watched the ducks which were flying in the wind.  A Red-tailed Hawk circled around and never really came very close.  This was a test for the new optics against a bright sky and the usual purple edging was nicely absent in this heavily cropped shot.

Red-tailed Hawk

 As we trooped back through a farmer's field, I caught site of a bird flying through the trees with the characteristic bounding flight of a woodpecker, though it seemed slightly larger than the typical hairy woodpecker size.  White flashes along the sides also seemed different.  I thought it might have been Blue Jay.  Later on though, I we re-found the bird and it turns out there was a reason the usual didn't fit with what we had seen - it was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  Thing is, I didn't figure it out completely till we got home as the picture wasn't terribly clear.  Turns out having a larger lens has it's drawbacks in windy weather.  But, it still counts as a life bird, and it just means it will be a bird I'm still glad to see again to try and get a better photo of.

male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Interestingly, many of us have probably seen the handiwork of these woodpeckers.  They make rows of holes to allow the sap to flow, stopping by their many feeding stations to drink the sap and eat the bugs that are also drawn to the food and either get stuck or don't notice the approaching predator.  They can actually kill trees with their habits if they construct enough holes close enough and all the way around the tree.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker holes.
Photo from here

We headed back to the cars, but noticed the Sandhill Cranes had meandered close to the road end of the lake, so we couldn't resist the opportunity for photos despite the time running out for the visit.  The new lens sure was nice to bring the subjects closer.  

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Cranes preening.
Sandhill Crane pair.

After a few shots more than we should have, we had to rush off at the risk of being late for church.  It was a great outing at one of my favourite spots with great company!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Brian
    Looks like you have a great lens to get you closer. Like the Sandhill Crane shots. Nice background to boot.
    Ryk Naves


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