Having said that, I'm planning to send my big lens in for maintenance. Sigma has a 7 year warranty period and I finally tracked down the receipt of the original purchase (I bought it used) to prove the seven years is still in effect. I should have sent it in long ago as then I'd have it back by now. Sigma plans to take a look at why the lens' focus seems to be quite soft on the far end of the zoom. I'm hoping they can improve it a bit, and that it's not just the actual limitation of this lens at it's farthest reaches of the zoom - I know this is an unavoidable limitation of large zoom lenses to some degree.
While up north, I took my usual half day outing by myself earlier in the week and headed out in the morning. I was disappointed on my first stop that there were no signs of the loons on Tait Lake. I did see a young family of Green Herons which I flushed into a nearby Willow Tree. I wish I had seen them earlier to be able to get a picture of about 4 of them all perched on a dead branch over the water... it would have been a great shot.
|hatch year Green Heron|
Along the same lake shore I was able to slowly approach a Brown Thrasher perched on a stump in the long grasses. It was watching me closely with its bright yellow eye. Finally it flew up into a nearby tree and let me get surprisingly close for some nice pictures in the morning sun!
I headed out to Eagle's Nest trail in Bancroft, but didn't see a lot of birds there. In some sections of the trail it was very quiet and I thought I'd try some bird calls to see if it truly was as devoid of birds as it sounded. I played a Hermit Thrush call briefly, and from not far away, a first year bird came scrambling through the leaf litter on the ground. The poor bird was trembling like crazy so I stopped the bird song as soon as I noticed. But it continued to approach to see where the mystery bird was. I'm not sure what the dynamic of the short bird call on a young bird like this would be. Being late fall, I wouldn't have thought it would be of any more than a curiosity to another bird given it's not breeding season.
|hatch year Hermit Thrush|
|hatch year Hermit Thrush|
I did manage to see a few other birds busy moving through the higher leaves of the tree tops looking for bugs to eat. I figured they were the most common Yellow-rumped Warblers that I usually see in that location, setting, and time. But, a lesson was learned as I looked at the pictures later and discovered that at least one of the birds was actually a female Cape May Warbler. Who knows what else I missed.
|female Cape May Warbler|
Later in the week I wandered down the roadway and actually saw the most exciting birds of the week. A Ruby-throated Hummingbird was fueling up for its amazing migration south.
Up in the Aspen leaves, there were lots of warblers constantly feeding, also putting on fat for their migration trip. A pair of Red-eyed Vireos (a lifer) were feeding on what bugs and caterpillars they could find under leaves.
|Red-eyed Vireo |
You can actually see the red eye in this picture.
Along the roadside, there was one patch of trees where there was a whole mix of birds slowly moving along gleaning what food they could find. It held a number of different birds and I added a couple more lifers including a Nashville Warbler, a female Magnolia Warbler (which looks somewhat similar with its grey head and white eye ring, but the streaked sides made me keep researching), the beautiful Black-and-white Warbler.
|female Magnolia Warbler|
At the same location I saw what I'm pretty sure is a 1st winter Blackburnian Warbler. The only picture I got was this top view shot.
|1st Winter Blackburnian Warbler|
A female Common Yellowthroat was not shy and checked me out from just the other side of the fence that I was standing on. It was so close I thought I was going to miss a picture while my lens protested at bringing the focus from about 20 meters to 3m.
|female Common Yellowthroat|
Back by the lodge later that week I saw another female Cape May Warbler with its striped flanks.
|female Cape May Warbler|
The highlight of the week though was a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers that were noisily calling all through the week as they frequented the forests lodge. At first I only heard them calling with their loud, almost laughing sounding calls. But with a hunt up the hills into the mixed cedar, pine and deciduous forests, I finally tracked one down. The heavy woodwork with its big bill gave its location as it tunneled into an old cedar tree. But it soon noticed me as I tried to get closer for pictures. Later I saw them a number of times as they were flew over the lodge yard moving to different areas.
|female Pileated Woodpecker|
While trying to track them down later in the week, I was nicely surprised to find another woodpecker instead. We don't see many Hairy Woodpeckers around home and I've never gotten a picture of one. This one was very busy eating out of a dead branch so I could try and move around to find this one small hole in the foliage to get a few clear shots.
|male Hairy Woodpecker|
As I followed the woodpecker thinking I might get another chance, I noticed a small dark bird (in the already muted light of the forest on a drizzly day). As it hopped about the ground and lower branches, I noticed a bright white patch on its side. From the few poor pictures I got, later determined it was a Black-throated Blue Warbler. Another lifer. Not a bad way to end the week!
|Black-throated Blue Warbler|
So another summer came to an end and I added five new birds to my list. I'm not sure when I'll get out birding again. I still haven't sent in the lens so that will affect when I get back at it again. As I write this, I realize if I send it soon, I'm sure I'll be motivated to get out an try the tuned up lens. I think I'll send it soon for that very reason.
Till next time,
Keep enjoying HIS handiwork!