April 2005
Copyright Gregory J. Scott
Photos in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia.

Arizona Hummingbirds
Broadbill female (?) at Firecracker Penstemon in ambient sunlight with supplemental flash.

Rufous HB at Honeysuckle 3603
Rufous at Cape Honeysuckle

Broadbill at flower in sunlight 3605
Broadbill male at Salvia Gregii in Sunlight

3592 and 3359
The Broadbills and the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds both looked very fat to me this year. Don't you think he has a pot belly?
This is a composite photo. I blurred the rufous hummer a bit with a gaussian blur, to make it appear out of focus, and in the background.
I did this to "subconsciously" explain to the viewer why the broadbillis sharper and bigger. The explaination is a lie, however.
The flash light stops the motion of the broadbill's wing entirely, but The rufous wing is a blur.
That's what I camoflaged by blurring the otherwise fairly sharp rufous.
If I didn't, the fakery would be more obvious. Most naive viewers won't see the fakery, I think.
There's a bit of a "halo" around the belly down that should be blended better.

Broadbill, Not pretty? 4147
Ugly pose? This is an ineresting pose, but I would NOT consider it graceful.
I'm not sure why we consider some poses more graceful.
Apart from "composition", I think this bird's posture would be uncomfortable if we would try to mimic it!

200504 Melee
I saw the photo on the internet, so it MUST be true! Below you see what is more typical of reality.

An actual fight. At least one bird is out of frame and out of focus. It's some sort of scientific law.

Bird was out of frame, but I enjoy the head and shoulder detail, and the nectar drops. This is one time when I won't digitally remove the feeder!

Other Arizona Birds
Bridle Titmouse - definitely should not be "published" here, but let's say it's serving a place holder until I get a better shot.
A very bold little bird, eating sunflower seeds from the picnic table right inches from where I was sitting.

Acorn Woodpecker 3521
Acorn Woodpecker. This guy strikes me as a kind of "zoot suit" sharp dresser, or maybe a tuxedo.
I think that it's his unusual white eye that  pushes his vivid coloration over the top.

Arizona Woodpecker

Alligator Pine. The bark is naturally "checkered" to resemble alligator skin to some degree.
That's the top of my parent's VW camper on the right side of the image.
Oops. Always check the background. Always check the background.

Arizona Desert
Cactus Rose

Arizona critters of other kinds.
Note to readers: I know that family album shots can be taxing, but that's the cost of using this page...
There are just  a few here, so plow on bravely, there are some really nice shots yet to come, in spite of what follows.

The deceptively dangerous grizzly photographer. This kind is known to bear arms, which usuallly protrude from each side of the vest, partially concealled by a shirt sleeve, though they are not seen in this photograph. It is thought that the eye-enhancing objects may be worn to mimic a "cuter" creature with eyes that appear larger in proportion to the face. This may help lure human prey into debates about  equipment and technique. However, you'll note that without the eye enhancers, this big guy would be downright beady-eyed, and such encounters should be avoided by all except Jeff Irwin, and others of similar courage and experience, or perhaps, stupidity. However, away from their territorial domain, these creatures are often quite social, and some folks have reputed to have tamed them and kept them for years without any noticable harm whatsoever.

Smiling in a pleasant social exchange, or baring her fangs? The brave or foolhardy person who may have tamed the grizzled photographer in the previous photo displays her social skills, while being alert to the potential photographic risks in her environment. Note that with her attention diverted, she has the presence of mind to keep the photograph firmly in hand, so that it cannot escape to wreck havoc.

Other species not directly related:

Mexican Jay

Scott's Oriole. Again, not sharp enough, but my best one so far...

New Mexico - Landscape

Eroded Mountain near Rock Hound State Park

Spring Canyon unit of Rockhound State Park, New Mexico, southeast of Deming, I think.
I walked just to the "scrub" line to shoot this photo. (Can't call it a tree line, really!)
A small airplane flew throught the valley, but was too small to resolve in another photo.
I was slightly above the plane.

Texas - Wildflowers

West Texas desert - blooming yucca

Texas Hill Country - North of Austin  - Wildflowers by the highway
Indian Paintbrush, bluebonnets in the background.

Louisiana - Sabine National Wildlife preserve - Wetland birds and other critters.

A boat-tailed grackle (I think) just looks black in overcast light. If your monitor is the same as mine, there's some irridescence in the grackle's neck and shoulders.

But in direct sunlight, a boat-tailed grackle's (I think) irridescensce can be very colorful.
(Is color right? seems too blue...)

Black-necked Stilt - Himantopus mexicanus

Black-Necked Stilt (Note: delete this image?)

Note to self: Include nutria, and flying birds, more wading birds here.

I found that the trick to spotting gators in this wetland was to took carefully at any spot without birds. If there are no birds, then there are likely to be gators. This one obviously isn't hiding, he's sunning, perhpaps to raise his body temperature so he can move quickly enough to catch slow, fat photographers, whose lenses aren't quite as long as they think. I think I had my zoom at 400mm on this one, but I'm not sure. He was no more than 20 yards from the trail.

You would think that this was one nervous bunny, with the gators everywhere.
But he just hung out on the trails, barely moving aside into the tall grass when I passed by.

Purple Gallinule. Porphyrio Martinica. I confess to bumping up the color intensity a bit on this photo, but not much, I swear!

Red-winged Blackbird putting on a territorial display.

Common Yellowthroat - Geothlypis trichas

A young gator practices invisibility. Even this guy was more difficult to spot than you would think from the photo.

3994 Barn Swallow on Cane - this was taken with Canon IS 100-400 in bright haze with on-camera flash.
The bird is perched on cane at the edge of the canal, and they have nests in the shelter midway down the path.

Orchard Oriole (I think) feeding on bugs on cane seed?
Icterus Spurius.

Orchard Oriole. Icterus Spurius. Same bird as above, this image was used for the ID.

Young gators in weeds and sun. The image has been adjusted in a way to make the colors seem more balanced, but in the original image, there is an overall green tint which hides the gators quite a bit. I'm not sure if this is more accurate, or the original. Many people walked by without ever seeing these animals, which were in "plain" sight no more than 20 feet from the boardwalk near the canal.

Louisiana - Lake Fausse Pointe State Park - Ruby Throated Hummingbirds!

This park is just west of the Atchafalaya Basin, and east of New Iberia, the capital of the Arcadian culture. It's a locale rich in history, culture, natural beauty, wildlife, and food. If you follow the levee road north from the park, you come to a fancy restraunt on the right. Go in, and eat well. If you find a better place nearby, let me know and I'll try it someday. Visiting in spring or fall may be best,  particularly if birding. If you like steam baths, then consider the summer.

I had the opportunity to rescue a hummingbird just before I shot the photos which follow. As I was setting up my "studio", a boy told me that there was something I would want to see, and he showed me a hummingbird that had fallen into the water just out of reach from a boat dock. I quickly shed wallet, cell phone, etc, and jumped in to retrieve the bird. I thought the water wouldn't be over my head... Blub, blub, blub... So I soddenly swam to the surface, cupped the bird in two hands, and managed to keep bird and nose afloat to the dock, where an onlooker took custody of the bird. We put him on a bird feeder to dry off, and I took some seaweed off of his wings using a pine needle as a tool. (I had to pick him back up for this task.) After about 15 minutes he was warm and dry enough to fly, and was feeding and flying, and hopefully was fully recovered.

On the other hand, I took over an hour to get dry enough to work and back on track. During this time I read signs, which I had not previously noticed, which prohibited swimming, and others which prohibited feeding the gators... I suppose I could have broken both rules at once... While I was drying off, I found three CF cards in my pocket. I had already downloaded them to my computer, and so I just cleaned them out as best I could with some electronics cleaner I had.They were just fine after they dried..

These birds are migrating north, and the park where I photograph them has numerous well-tended feeders.
The birds were quite numerous, but refused to come to my feeders with any regularity, since there were also many feeders without those bothersome flashy thingies. To get these photos, I had to eventually use one of the nature center's feeders for the "studio". There were still other feeders available without flashy thingies, but having fought for these feeders, I suppose they won't abandon them just because of some annoying flashy/clicky thingies. (I saw "Men in Black" not long before I wrote this.)

Ruby Throated Hummingbirds are also found in Georgia, but I've never gotten mature male birds to pose in my own garden, unfortunately, and I've never seen a concentration of this magnitude there. This park had as many as 10 or 15 birds zipping about at one time.
Eventually, as my visitors mature, and my garden matures, I hope that this condition changes. This year I planted two red buckeye trees in my garden, in the hopes of luring springtime male migrants, which I have never observed in the spring migration for any sustained visit.

Nectar Stealing bird:
prothonotary warbler 4074
prothonotary warbler stealing nectar. The hummingbirds don't seem to challenge him.

Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird -  Archilochus  Colubris
Vertical pose, tail splayed, wings up, with dark background.
This photo was taken without the white poster board I usually use for a background. It illustrates the problem of "digital noise" quite clearly. Shooting with a relatively high ISO value, perhaps about 800, dark values in the image have digital noise, seen as "snow" in the darkest portions of the image. This is the digital penalty for high ISO images analagous to grain in high speed film. Nothing is "free" in photography, and everything is a compromise. There is another undiagnosed problem in this image. As you can tell from the eye reflection, I was using 3 flashes, all approximately at the same height, and at the same power. The center, dimmer image is from the on-cameral flash, which was behind the two slave flashes, on the camera. I had not yet set up the off-camera cable for the main flash, either. I don't know why I have the "ghost" double image, most noticable on the wing-tip on the right, but also on the left. Perhaps the slave flashes did not synchronize properly with the master. I haven't seen this before in my photos, and have not been able to determine a likely cause for the problem.

Ruby Throated Hummingbird Male - gear down, wings high forward, tail back, taken from 3/4 profile, slightly above bird. This is my sharpest photo of the season, with good depth of field overall. The double image seen in the darker image above is also visisble here, but much less severe in appearance, because the fainter "ghost" wing is mostly lost against the bright background. I often see more minor problems of this magnitude with non-simultaneous flash of in my photos.
Technical notes: needs more white-space left and bottom, add a fake a landing twig, background, target flower? Remove ghosting on upper right wing.

Male ruby throated hummingbird  approaching a landing.

Male RTH. I don't have any photo that's more of a straight full-body profile than this one. This may be sharper than the one above. but it doesn't "register" as sharp, somehow.

This is a typical hummingbird fight photo.
There's always at least one that's out of frame and out of focus. Sigh. Someday...
What made me decide to include it is the wonderful pose of the defender.
The tail position makes it very clear that he's doing some very acrobatic defense.

I shot hummingbirds until dark.
I suppose it was therefore my inevitable Karma to encounter this thug as I was packing my equipment afterwards.
This spider's leg span was nearly my hand span. I do have short, stubby fingers. Sweet dreams...

Georgia - Bluebird photos

These nesting bluebirds were photographed in a suburb north of Atlanta, GA
They were taken about the last week in april, 2005.
The bluebirds were nesting in a bird house about 20 feet from a mealworm feeding station.
This was at a suburban residence with two occupied bluebird houses, adjacent to a golf course.
Homes in the neighborhood had partially wooded lots with large mature trees, pine and hardwood.
The homeowner feeds mealworms at least twice a day during nesting season.
The female bird did not pay much attention to the flash, but the male was more reticent, limiting his visits to the feeder when photos were being taken. He did come more frequently when I was not taking photos, and yet more frequently when I was not at the end of my remote control "tether". The female's behavior was much less affected. She quickly came to disregard me, camera, flash, tripods, and stepladder with background cardboard. I was about 35 feet away from the mealworm feeder, generally.
The 3 flashes were very close to the bird, set on 1/128th power.
The lens used is mostly a 100mm Canon F2.8 macro lens.
ISO was set on about 400 or 800.

Bluebird Landing Female? not sure on gender... 4377
Eastern Bluebird - Sialis Sialis
Landing (Female?) wings back, asymetrical adjustments for landing.
Tail forward posture is somewhat unusual. Very close to landing.

4349 Bluebird4349
Bluebird about to land. Wings forward, side view.
I like the way the flight feathers are splayed apart in this image.

This is definitely my favorite bluebird image, so far, in spite of the fact that you can't see the bird's "face".
I'm very fond of the curve of the trailing edge of the wings, and the "flaps" visible at the wing tips.
As far as that goes, I like the curve from the head, neck, back and tail.
The separation in the feathers reduces turbulance at low speeds, and steep angle of attack that is necessary when landing.
The reduction in turbulance increases the lift, which helps compensate for the lower speed, allowing an easier landing.