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Dog Fighting Birds and a Plant or Two

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Blog entry by stefang posted 05-20-2010 09:32 PM 710 reads 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hello friends. My cold still hasn’t gone away, so I spent some time just relaxing in the garden today. Well, relaxing might be putting it a little too strong. I took my camera out with me in the hope of getting some dramatic pictures. I might have mentioned before that the magpies who have a nest in one of the trees in the mini forest next to us are not very popular with their neighbor birds, which are doves and a some others I’m not sure about.

I think the problem is that the magpies don’t mind stealing the other bird’s eggs. The other birds, large and small keep a constant watch on the magpies every movement. The magpie chicks have just hatched out and magpies are very busy feeding them. Both the male and the female are making many flights back and forth, while the smaller birds are attacking them when they leave and when they come back. Fortunately none get hurt and the magpies just get harassed.

So it seems that while we ‘smart’ humans have been unable to cope with the rise in crime and prefer to catch our criminals after the fact and then eventually punish them, the ‘much less intelligent’ birds have managed to work together to actually prevent crime. Of course this requires vigilance, cooperation, active participation and some courage. We humans are of course capable of doing all of those things too, but not necessarily all at once like the birds.

I waited and waited for the perfect shots, but eventually my battery went out so I had to put it on the charger. Right after that the perfect opportunity presented itself. Oh well, better luck next time maybe. The pictures came out pretty fuzzy. I am getting a little better at it though.

The first photo shows one of the magpies Leaving it’s nest. The next one is of the magpie being attacked in mid-air by one of his neighbors.

Photobucket

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I wanted to show you our rhubarb plant.It always does well. Here it is pictured alongside our flowering bush (Ribes Sanguineum).

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And finally our neighbors beautiful ‘Blood Beech’ tree (Fagus Sylvatica) which just got it’s leaves out very recently. The leaves will soon turn dark red (think oxblood red)

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I hope you good folks have found something of interest here . I know it’s pretty thin, but I figure that folks who are a little reticent about posting might get their courage up to do the same after seeing how little I usually come up with. Thank you for reading and have a nice day.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian



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stefang

393 posts in 1640 days
hardiness zone 7

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22 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14683 posts in 2661 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-20-2010 10:19 PM

that’s a great shot of the attack!!

It’s really hard to do bird photography from the backyard – right time, right place, right camera, charged battery … :)
Thanks for the photos and the story.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Cynthia's profile

Cynthia

651 posts in 2066 days

posted 05-20-2010 10:54 PM

That Beech tree is pretty! Do not belittle your bogs and photos: they are always interesting! The magpies are pretty as far as birds go! Now you have done bees and birds. Will the next ones be bigger varmints? Just curious…Keep it coming!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

192 posts in 1963 days
hardiness zone 7b

posted 05-20-2010 10:58 PM

Nice job of pho0toing the bird war :-)

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1640 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-20-2010 11:15 PM

Thanks Debbie, Cynthia and Bob. I do think I might have a talent for wild life photography. You sit for hours and then use just a few seconds to get a photo. So to summarize: waiting and photographing. Ok, I can see that I’ve already mastered the first half. Now I just have to learn how to take the pictures.

I have to admit, I’m kinda pleased with the ‘attack’ photo, but what I really wanted was a picture of many of the birds attacking at the same time, which they occasionally do. The magpies seem to be a lot smarter than their adversaries however, and they usually fly out and back to their nest without much fuss.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View sharad's profile

sharad

1639 posts in 1878 days
hardiness zone 11

posted 05-21-2010 07:38 AM

Mike, nice to read your narration of the birds’ activities and the lesson that we should learn from them. Your picture of the fighting birds deserves a gold medal. Many more opportunities will come to snap more birds fighting. Do they make noise when they fight? If yes do audio recording also side by side. The Blood Beach is looking good as it is. Can imagine how it will look when the leaves turn dark read.

Sharad

-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4305 posts in 1923 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-21-2010 01:12 PM

Stafang, I enjoy your photos and musings. They don’t seem “thin” to me. I believe a huge part of gardening is being outside and observing nature. I often am wandering around my garden – just observing and thinking about the changes. When you are out in the garden watching, listening and paying attention to nature, you are not loafing, you are really gardening!

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1640 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-21-2010 01:39 PM

I haven’t really thought about it that way before Robin, but you are quite right and we shouldn’t put our garden experience in only one ‘box’. Shortly after moving to Norway in 1971, I mentioned to the husband of one of my wife’s girl friends that I was thinking about buying some books so I could acquaint myself better with the local flora and fauna. He said that just as much could be learned from just observing the nature. To be honest I really didn’t understand what he meant by that, but I have since learned that a lot can be learned from thoughtful observation. I still don’t mind some book learnin though. As I get older I am more and more in awe of what nature has to offer.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3808 posts in 2290 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-21-2010 06:06 PM

Good day, Mike. I, too, enjoy your blogs and pictures. I think you must be a gardener at heart. You think like one!

I am always thinking about what I’d like to do in ‘my next life’. :) And I do believe a naturalist is the job for me, or perhaps a nature photographer. :) I think either of these professions, as described by you, would suit me fine. LOL

Be careful, Mike, bird-watching and gardening is very habit forming. I know people who have been addicted for life!

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View superdad's profile

superdad

45 posts in 1635 days
hardiness zone 6b

posted 05-21-2010 06:12 PM

Good Job Mike. You have inspired me.

-- Cooking, weeding, and growing what I can in Brampton. -Joe (Superdad)

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stefang

393 posts in 1640 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-21-2010 09:04 PM

Thanks Iris and Joe. You are so right Iris, it is habit forming. I sat out with my wife this afternoon totally obsessed about getting a better photo of those darned birds. I think the my wife is getting a little irritated though, as my social etiquette has suffered (along with my wife). This was all started by Orchids77 with her wonderful bird pictures and then reinforced with those unbelievable bird photos by Sharad’s friend. Here’s what I got today! Total chaos.

Click to enlarge
Photobucket

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

192 posts in 1963 days
hardiness zone 7b

posted 05-22-2010 12:04 AM

Next thing you know, you’ll have a 3 foot long lens mounted on a rifle style stock so you can get some really good close ups of the bird wars ;-))

Twice I remember wishing I had a camera in my hand; first was a bald eagle fishing a creek flying about 15 feet over head. i could see the the individual feathers on his head. The second was a bald eagle flying right beside my truck down a road about 5 feet outside my window!!! That one was about 2 blocks from the house. I haven’t seen them aournd that much before or since ;-(

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stefang

393 posts in 1640 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-22-2010 12:31 AM

I’m really finding it almost impossible to get a good shoot with my telephoto lens Bob. At full magnification the area covered is so small that it is difficult to get the flying birds into the picture and it’s also very hard to follow them. I really have a lot to learn!

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

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TopamaxSurvivor

192 posts in 1963 days
hardiness zone 7b

posted 05-22-2010 01:25 AM

Birds in flight are probably teh thoughest action shots. That is why a gun stock mount with a trigger release would be great for that.

View davidc61's profile

davidc61

417 posts in 1694 days
hardiness zone 4

posted 05-22-2010 06:04 AM

Photography is a patient mans sport, especially with wildlife. Sometimes with todays cameras, try viideo then capturing a still with a good software program. Still that doesn’t always work. A nice comfy spot and a lot of spare time is usually the best way, a good shot can make it all worth while. The advantage of digital photography there is not waiting to se a result.

-- David, Adelaide South Australia. Every day I wake up breathing is a good day!

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1640 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-22-2010 02:33 PM

I’m still trying to get a feel for this stuff guys, so it will be awhile (or maybe never) before I get anything actually interesting. I really don’t need more hobbies, but they seem somehow to find me and refuse to let go. I am finding that getting bad quality pictures is a great motivation to learn more in order to solve the problems encountered. I found that changing the angle can help a lot too. So, for example, instead of taking a deflection shot of a bird crossing my path at high speed I can instead take it with a more direct view on it’s incoming/outgoing trajectory and get a lot more time to take the shot. Maybe I need to think more like a hunter and less like a photographer.Simple stuff for you guys, but all new to me.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3808 posts in 2290 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-22-2010 03:41 PM

Davidc61, I agree. Digital cameras mean you can see instantly if you got the shot….....it’s just too bad that it doesn’t take the picture the instant that you see the picture! I find that delay bt framing/focusing my shot and the actual ‘click’, the subject has moved on. So frustrating. A butterfly (or bird) may only touch down for an instant and the camera is just not fast enough to grab that instant. My old 35 mm was faster.

I guess I need to think and shot like the hunter Mike mentions. :(

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View superdad's profile

superdad

45 posts in 1635 days
hardiness zone 6b

posted 05-22-2010 05:13 PM

To take a faster shot with a digital camera you have to hold the button down a little bit and let the camera focus, then when the picture is what you want click and it should be instant. That, of course, depends on your camera.

-- Cooking, weeding, and growing what I can in Brampton. -Joe (Superdad)

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4305 posts in 1923 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-22-2010 05:57 PM

Mike, I think you are doing well. I have trouble photographing a sedentary plant, let alone something that is moving. My opinion it is much easier to grow a garden than take photos of it. : )

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

192 posts in 1963 days
hardiness zone 7b

posted 05-22-2010 07:55 PM

With the SLR digital, set it up and put it on manual, youi can take instant action photos just like the old days.

Follow through like wing shooting will dramaticall increase yoiu shutter speed, so to speak.

I have too many too Mike:-) If I live to be 100, I won’t get all the books I have read, much less most of the other stuff I would like to do:-( I’m too easily side tracked into doing two things at a tiime, then wonder off to a third one ;-)) Good think the garden is too shady now to plant all the stuff i used to grow. More time for other stuff ;-))

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1640 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-23-2010 11:48 AM

Thanks for the tips. I have found as Bob said to set the focus to manual. The auto focus is just two slow. I tried to manually focus at the distance I expected to catch the birds at. I also increased the shutter speed to slow down or hopefully ‘stop’ the movement. I have only partially succeeded so far and right now the learning curve for me is more like a vertical line.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View Bon's profile

Bon

7374 posts in 2441 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-23-2010 04:35 PM

I’m still trying to figure out my new camera too Stefang.It has way too many settings for a simple person like me. (lol) Nice shots of the birds fighting and the magpie.

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

192 posts in 1963 days
hardiness zone 7b

posted 05-23-2010 07:37 PM

Mike, go to the menu to ISO. That is the film speed. It is probably at 200 from the factory. Set it to 800 or 1600 to stop action. That will give you a faster shutter speed to stop action. In film, the higher film speeds were very grainy, but they were getting much better in the last couple decades before digital took over. I have messed around with it a little. I still set it back to 200 for normal use.

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