Sunday, December 23, 2012

So I decided to take up Birding....

And So It Begins

After being in the US for nearly 6 months now, I've become interested in taking photos of birds.  Here are the reasons:
  1. In the last 26 years in Asia, I've only really seen birds on plates in restaurants or in zoos.  Seeing birds in the nature is a pretty cool experience for me.
  2. I really enjoy taking shots of people and will continue to do this, but taking shots of birds is a whole new experience and is teaching me a lot about my camera and it's capabilities.
  3. It's healthier to be walking about in nature rather than stuck at home on the computer or in the mall shopping (unless it's for cameras!)
Naturally my wife, Christine, is very concerned about me taking up this type of photography, as the cost of long lenses is ridiculous! So I've pretty much committed to do this with the lenses that I have EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM with the Extender EF 1.4X III. I mainly use my Canon EOS 1D X and sometimes my Canon EOS 5D Mark II. The 1D X auto focus functionality is amazing for following birds and I find myself changing between One Shot and AI Servo mode as well as adjusting the Auto Focus area depending on the environment I am shooting in.

My aim is to post one photo of each of the different birds I see each month - hopefully I'll post the right names, but if not, let me know and I will change accordingly.  You can see all the photos of the different birds in my Birding album where I will also tag the birds with the right names.  I currently use the iBird Pro app on my iPhone and iPad to help identify the birds - but don't always get it right!

A Brief Background

My interest in birding started when I took some photos for a friend of mine, Darlene Sillick, on a business trip from China to the States, who works with the Ohio Wildlife Centre, an organization that is a leader in wildlife rehabilitation and conservation education.  Since moving to Ohio in the US, I have subsequently photographed the birds there on a number of occasions and each time became more fascinated by the birds themselves.  Attending a release of a Red Tail Hawk that had been nursed back to health was a wonderful experience and was probably when I first thought about getting involved.

Red Tail Hawk - Release

Recently another friend from work, Matt Erickson, invited our family to his house for Thanksgiving lunch where I was introduced to the hummingbird world and subsequently wrote about my experience on a cold Sunday morning.

Allen Chartier: Banding a Rufous Hummingbird

This was when I decided to get involved in photographing birds.

The Birds - December 2012

American Goldfinch (Winter Plumage)

Blue Jay

Red-bellied Woodpecker (male)

Rufous Hummingbird (Female)

Downy Woodpecker (Male) - Backyard feeder

Downy Woodpecker (Male) - Prairie Oaks Park
Downy Woodpecker (Female) - Backyard feeder

House Finch (Red - Male, Brown - Female), Sparrow (Dark Brown) and a Mourning Dove

Northern Cardinal - Male
One point to note: do not use the the 61-point automatic selection AF in AI Servo mode when it's showing unless you want to see a really pretty display of moving focal points in your viewer :-)

Northern Cardinal - Female

Eastern Bluebird

Carolina Chickadee

Brown Creeper

Red Tail Hawk

Red Tail Hawk
The last photo of the Red Tail Hawk was shot using AI Servo mode and was flying through a wooded area and I took a number of shots while following the bird through the lens and had a remarkable high level of success when you consider the branches in the way!

Other birds spotted but not photographed include:

Please feel free to leave any comments if you have any more information about the birds above.