Finally, we have had a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird visit our backyard feeder. For several years all have been females-- not that I object, but I did wish to get one which shows this species' most prominent feature, a colorful throat patch. To see it, the light must be just right.
The color of a hummingbird's gorget (an old term which described the metal protective collar worn by a knight in armor) is due to iridescence. The otherwise dark feathers are coated with tiny lens-like platelets which reflect and refract the light when facing the light source:
"Look this way, please..."
This is a female out in the wild area:
Getting out early helps us avoid the heat of day, but poses photographic challenges. Low light requires high sensitivity (ISO) settings which produce very blurry images. Up until about 15 minutes before sunrise, the best I can hope for is a shot which will help me identify a bird in flight or sitting on the top of a tree against the morning sky. The combination of fog and darkness obscures the fine feather marking but sometimes produces pleasing effects. This Great Blue Heron was patiently fishing in the wet prairie in morning twilight:
A Great Egret flying over before sunrise picks up color but looks a bit "grainy:"
I was surprised at how a camera can sometimes "see in the dark." Twenty minutes before sunrise on November 16, the wind was blowing as a cold front approached, I captured this view with my little pocket camera, a PowerShot SX700 HS. Its image stabilization produced a fairly sharp image with an exposure of only 1/20 second at ISO 1000, hand-held:
Only 10 minutes later, when my DSLR was still set for flying birds (ISO cranked all the way up to 16,000 and at an exposure of 1/50 second) I saw the form of a Coyote loping downwind along the gravel road towards me. The resolution of the photo was horrible, but I think the experience was worth sharing:
Perhaps the Coyote heard the clicking of my shutter or recognized my profile against the shrubs behind me, but he suddenly pulled up and fled:
This as another DSLR "shot in the dark," of a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in deep shade exactly at sunrise. It seems counter-intuitive, but I had to decrease exposure compensation (i.e., tell the lens not to try so hard to brighten the scene) to bring the exposure speed up to 1/50 second at ISO 1500, hand-held:
The first rays soften the white plumage of another Great Egret:
So much for all the blurry stuff. A real treat was this male American Kestrel which greeted me later every morning for more than a week. My problem was that I had to approach him with the sun at his back. This required a rather circular approach to avoid getting too close as I passed the bird. I did take "insurance" photos even when the light was behind him in the event he decided to fly off, as often happened.
In this shot I moved to place the trunk of a palm tree behind the bird, hoping it would provide some contrast with the light quartering from behind it:
A few more steps provided side-lighting as the bird ruffled his feathers, preparing to flee:
Here he is in full light, against the blue sky:
The local Bald Eagles were getting ready to raise a new family. On November 26, when I arrived at their nest at about 8:30 AM the female (Jewel) was roosting on the nest support branch just in front of the nest. I checked usual roosts but found no other eagle present. The nest appeared to be empty.
At 8:57 AM the male (Pride) flew in from behind the nest with an unidentified prey item. He left the prey in the nest and the female joined him and started eating.
Pride then flew up to the same branch which had been occupied by Jewel. The female continued eating. They both then flew up to a perch above and just left (east) of the nest.
They began calling and then copulated at 9:19 AM.
Following this they roosted side by side. They remained in this position when I departed at around 10:00 AM.
Their first egg was deposited on or about November 30, and the first eaglet should hatch after 5 weeks, around January 4.
My new iPhone 11 Pro MAX takes very nice low-light photos. This was the wet prairie about 10 minutes before sunrise. A Great Egret and several White Ibises are foraging:
A view of the Pine Bank and the east shore marsh in the foreground, before the sun has touched the treetops:
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Linking to Misty's CAMERA CRITTERS,
Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,
Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy
Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James
Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni
Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi
Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart
Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue
Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh
Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display