Monday, February 8, 2010

Owless Adventure

Where are the Owls?
Yesterday I went "Owling" with my friend Stella Miller (of Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society) in the Brookville/Mill Neck area.  While my hopes were high, Stella reminded me that this is nature and things aren't guaranteed.  Everytime I saw a cavity in a tree I was envisioning the Screech Owl or Great Horned Owl that was sure to be there, sunning itself, to no avail.  We saw a few common species (Mockingbird [see below], Cardinal, Junco, etc.) but nothing of true note.  I was shown the location of a historical nest, and it will be monitored over the next few weeks for Great Horned activity - I can only hope some Owlets are produced.  I will be trying again with Stella this weekend up in Pelham bay for Saw-Whet's and Long-Eared owls with hopefully much better results!

The day was not a total loss however, as I had just enough light to photograph two pairs of Redhead Ducks at Lake Orowoc in Islip.  The "lake" is really a pond adjacent to a McDonalds (of all places) and while the Redheads could be anywhere on the "lake" they hangout right next to the concrete bulkhead making photographing them ridiculously easy.  I actually had to remove my 1.7X teleconverter for these shots and instead used just the 300mm f/4 lens.  If/when I return, I am going to try shooting with my 105mm Macro, possibly paired with teleconverter which should provide excellent detail.  While I used the on-board flash for the photo above, the photo below was photographed at ISO 1000 to get the needed shutter speed for a sharp image.  The fact that I did NO noise reduction in photoshop on the bird is amazing as this same photo at ISO 1000 on my previous camera (the Nikon D60) would be virtually unsusable.  This was my first time seeing/photographing a Redhead as they are quite scarce on Long Island and when they are found they are NEVER seen at such a close proximity, so a big thanks to my friend John Turner for tipping me off to this location.

Morning Red-Tailed
This morning when I got to work I was rewarded for always having my camera.  Just as I pulled in a Red-Tailed Hawk came screaming down off the roof of Town Hall chasing a pigeon, with crows in hot pursuit.  As I parked my car I lost track of the pigeon (which got away) but saw the Red-Tailed perch in the nearby woods, directly behind a sewage treatment plant building that would shield my approach.  I took some photos from my car before getting out and approaching being cautious not to spook it.  The Hawk was too preoccupied for looking below for squirrels and listening for birds that it didn't even notice me and made it quite difficult for me to get a good photo showing off its eye.  I was quite pleased with the warm early morning light that lit up this beautiful hawk.

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