Backyard Critters

It seems most of us have them … small wild animals and a variety of birds living close to home. Year around in many locations. Here in SW Virginia we especially have lots of squirrels and wild birds flying and running about the yard. They seem comfortable with us humans and aren’t too shy. Each in their own way can make a nice photo. However, you have to be alert, because they move quickly.

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I was fortunate to see this friendly squirrel sitting on our patio fence right by the door as I peered out. He didn’t move.

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Then today on a misty, cool morning my favorite type bird flew on top of our sundial to clean up seed I’d accidentally dropped after filling the nearby bird feeders. I grabbed my camera with telephoto lens and made this photo through the window glass over the kitchen sink. It’s not as sharp as it might have been had I been outside but these guys don’t linger so I had to get what I could. Photography is fun. Just keep your eyes open and camera handy.

The Blue Bird House

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Our neighbor George is a diligent worker. Slow but deliberate. When he sets his mind to start and complete a retirement project in between exploring trips, at home and overseas, he does so with usual success. He wanted to attract Blue Birds to nest in (what else) a “blue” house. It even has a metal roof.  I told him one day I’d make some photos of it and post herein for others to enjoy. As I did. He made every part by hand. I especially note the “windows.”

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Blue Birds Misc

First, I have to say that making photos of Blue Birds isn’t easy. They flit around very fast, and when using a 200mm lens like I was, the critters aren’t always in perfect focus. I did the best I could, however, and overall I’m happy. Here’s a gallery to see what I saw. (I note that the very early buds on the trees now, and the warmer weather insects below the trees on the ground, are attracting one of my favorite birds. Our neighbors have bird houses for them, so they are always around. Unfortunately my long lens camera isn’t. I kinda got lucky here.)

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I needed this …

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Looking out our kitchen window while making a cup of coffee recently, I saw that our two bird feeders were mostly empty. It’s been very cold here in SW Virginia, and I know birds need the warmth provided by food. So, I cleaned out the feeders and filled them to the top. Walking back inside to get my just-made coffee I looked out the window again and saw this bright red Cardinal, pecking away at some of the seed that had spilled on the ground while I was filling the feeders. I suspect my favorite type bird had been waiting for me to come “do my duty” while sitting above watching from overhanging trees. After I made this photo, he flew away temporarily, apparently satisfied. My mood improved significantly after seeing the Cardinal taking advantage of our feeders. They need me, and I need them.

Merry Christmas

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While we might wish for a snowy white 2017 Christmas, this photo I made earlier this month right after we had lots of the stuff, will have to suffice for us here in SW Virginia. The one below says it all. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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The Magpie

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I’ve only seen Magpies in Alaska. Like crows, which I am very familiar with, they are not at all shy of us humans. Inquisitive birds. As I was getting into our parked rental car high up in mountainous terrain north of Anchorage, this bird landed on the car adjacent and watched me. A few years ago at the same location, I watched two Magpies harass a Fox that was trying to get near one of their small chicks huddled in a sheltered spot. The Fox gave up, being chased away by the swooping pair. The one on the car was not so hostile. To me at least. I’m pretty sure he was just looking for a hand-out of a tasty snack. Too bad for the beggar I don’t believe in feeding birds or any other critter in nature. I prefer to look and marvel at what i”m seeing.

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Action and Beauty Along a River

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Some photographers say that “lighting” is key to making a photo special. This one and the one below proves that, to me at least. Made these at Western North Carolina’s Nantahala Outdoor Center near Bryson City. These rapids are a small part of the Olympic-level kayak and canoe training and championship event site.

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And then there’s the bottom-feeding duck. Funny watching him bob up and down.

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Martinsville’s Lake Lanier

After all the snow and extreme cold we’ve had over the past week, I decided yesterday I needed to get out and about, even if it was cloudy and in the mid 40s. I spend a lot of time with my cameras, driving around Martinsville, Virginia where we live, looking for interesting sights and memories to share. Why I picked going to Lake Lanier I don’t know. As the next image shows, I’m glad I did.

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I made photos of the boat house and canoes laying on shore from various angles. Had it not been cloudy as it was, I’m not sure I could have captured the soft look I did.

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And there’s the wildlife. Ducks, geese and two magnificent swans were there … the latter swimming up next to shore where I was standing. I felt like they were posing for me. Perhaps they were.

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As I was walking around the lake (about an hour’s leisurely stroll) I spotted an adjacent pond with an interesting fishing pier projecting out. Peaceful indeed.

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The lesson learned for me that day is that it’s not the weather that matters, it’s what we do with it.