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Entries in birds (4)


The Birds and Butterflies of Carden Alvar

We've visited the Carden Alvar several times already this year but we wanted to go one more time before the birding begins to quiet down.  Of particular interest was the Loggerhead Shrike which we were eager to add to our LBY list.  So, last Saturday we rose with the sun and spent a beautiful morning exploring the alvar.  We thoroughly enjoyed all of what the alvar had to offer -  the birds were plentiful and vocal and the flowers were in bloom, covered with butterflies and bees.  We met a few people along the way, including Jean Iron.  It is always a pleasure being surrounded by those who love to observe and photograph the same things we do.  Once there we drove directly to Wylie Road and headed for the location where a Loggerhead Shrike family has been observed this season.  While I scanned the landscape for our goal species Nate spent some time photographing the other local birds, including the Barn Swallows...
...the Catbirds foraging for breakfast...
...and the Eastern Blubirds bringing food to their young.
It was about 8am when Jean Iron arrived and kindly let us know where the Loggerheads were located.  It turns out I had been looking on the wrong side of the road for the entire morning. LOL  It wasn't long thereafter we saw two young Loggerheads along the fence and we were happy campers!! :-)  The birds were positioned into the sunlight making shooting conditions practically impossible but we did get to observe them via Jean's scope which was great. 
Across the road from where the Loggerheads were located was a nice sized collection of Spreading Dogbane buzzing with butterfly activity.  We were able to photograph a few new species including some Bronze Coppers. With their wings closed male and female Bronze Coppers look like this...
...With their wings open, a male Bronze Copper looks like this...
...and a female Bronze Copper looks like this.
Here is a photo Nate captured of a Milbert's Tortoiseshell when closed...
...and a Milbert's Tortoiseshell open.
We spent a couple of hours with the Loggerheads and butterflies before heading down to the Sedge Marsh area. This area was also busy with bird and butterfly activity.  Within the first ten minutes were were able to photograph a European Skipper on Birdsfoot Trefoil...
...and a Marsh Wren performing its little heart out.
Timing was on our side when Nate happed to see a young Virginia Rail at the side of the narrow road.  We chose a spot and hunkered down to wait and see if any others would emerge.  Sure enough the young one popped out again... 
...and then another...
...and finaly the mother emerged.  The whole family crossed the road together, making their way into the growth on the other side then disappreared.  Getting to watch this crossing was a lot of fun, we were both grinning from ear to ear.
Around the puddles on the rough gravel of Wylie Road we were able to photograph American Ladies.
I couldn't pass up the opportunity to photograph this gorgeous White Admiral when it landed right in front of me. I find with this species to be almost more beautiful closed...
...than they are open.
Finally, I wanted to let everyone know that  the government has proposed to establish a portion of the Carden Alvar as a Provincial Park.  You can show your support by visiting the Environmental Registry page and leave a comment.  Click HERE to be directed their webpage.
I hope you're all having a great weekend.

Nature 10+1 - 2.22 "Snow Day"

Shot in Ravenshoe ~ Canon 7D, EF-S 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 IS

Kelly and I headed around Lake Simcoe to Ravenshoe in search of the seemingly elusive Snowy Owl.  We didn't see an  owl but get a bird with at least snow in the name, a nice flock of Snow Buntings ;-) On the way back we decided to take a quick tour around Holland Marsh and finally we got our Snowy Owl!  It was pretty far out in the field so no pictures but a great sighting for us, it's been nearly two years since we've seen one!

  • 70 ~ Snow Buntings
  • 71 ~ Snowy Owl


Tuesday Photo Tip - The Big Three Pt. 2 ~ Head Angle

Image A

Image B

We'll start off this post with a quick question - which image do you prefer, A or B?  Nine out of ten people will pick image B and the interesting thing about this choice is that most can't tell you the reason behind it.  Both images are identical except for one small difference, head angle.

The first few times I read about head angle I just couldn't understand how a couple degrees of difference could make or break an image.  Despite my willingness to learn I couldn't wrap my head around the idea, no pun intended! :)  It wasn't until someone posted two images highlighting the difference that I immediately understood what it was all about.

In Image A the ducks head is a couple degrees away from the camera's sensor (bad head angle) and in Image B it is a couple degress towards the cameras sensor (good head angle).  If the birds head is exactly parallel to the cameras sensor then it's considered an acceptable head angle.  

Here's two more images which are very similar - which do you prefer?

Image A

Image B

Image B has an acceptable head angle, but Image A is much better! :)  The difference is quite subtle but the emotional impact of the image dramaticlly increases when you get the head angle just right.  If you want to delve into this subject a little deeper here's a good discussion to look at on Bird (a great site to learn from),

A little while ago someone mentioned to me how awesome it was that all my bird images have catchlight in the bird's eye.  Flattery aside, I thought about it for a second and realized that catchlight isn't something I even think about anymore.  By following last weeks tip of proper light angle and this weeks tip of proper head angle catchlight in the birds eye becomes a given. :)

Next week we'll finish off the trinity with Perspective and Backgrounds.


Where To Find Shade Grown Coffee in Barrie 

Our love of birds and all things nature has propelled us to alter our coffee consuming ways. Recently, as we were nearing the last of our Folgers, I decided to spend an afternoon trying to find shade-grown, fair trade, organic (SGFTO) coffee to purchase.  I was more than happy to find exactly what I was looking for at quite a few locations.

At Nature's Best on Glenwood Drive I found a local brand of coffee I had never heard of before - The Creemore Coffee Company.  How cool is that?!?  I quickly found out that drinking SGFTO coffee was going to be expensive.  A one pound bag of Creemore Coffee was 14.99!!  For the same price, the store also offered Kicking Horse Coffee brands as well.

At Sobey's I found four kinds of Kicking Horse Coffee priced at 15.99.  I almost didn't even see them as they were located right in the bottom left corner of the display.

Finally, at Zehrs in the organics section, I found yet another brand I had never heard of before - Ethical Bean.  There were seven different varieties of one pound bags to choose from, all priced between 14.69 - 15.99.   I also found in both the organic and regular coffee sections the Kicking Horse Coffee brand priced at 15.99.

I didn't end up buying coffee that day but a few days later I did.  While picking up a few things at Nutrition Plus downtown on Maple Avenue, I happened upon an array of Ethical Bean choices at a great low price of 13.99.  I scooped up a bag of the Robust Columbian, came home, made a batch and it was great!  We're already on our second bag :)

So if you live in Barrie (or ever find yourself in Barrie) and feel so inclined, now you'll know where to go to find shade-grown, organic, fair trade coffee.