Friday, October 7, 2016

Birding By Ear

My bird-photographing efforts have been stymied by more than just my lack of expensive equipment.  Because you have to see the birds before you can take pictures of them.  And lately, I just haven't been seeing them.

Now, part of the problem is that I already have decent pictures of the birds I commonly see in my yard.  One only needs so many shots of sparrows, juncos, chickadees, flickers and woodpeckers--at least in the environs of my feeders and back yard trees.  I even have several really good captures of  "Big Yellowlegs" and "Little Yellowlegs"--the Coops and Sharpies who predate at my feeders in fall and winter.  So I don't see a whole lot out my kitchen window anymore that sends me running for the camera.

But even when I go out on photographic "safari," I just don't seem to spot much in the way of photogenic wildlife.  This was particularly frustrating on our last camping trip.  Admittedly, I didn't hit the trails as much as I might have had I been out by myself (my sister and her husband were along).  But when I did, I saw...zilch.  Nothing.  Nada.  But, oh...I did HEAR them.  I heard flickers, and pileated woodpeckers, and gray jays and even the penny-whistle "toots" of Northern Pygmy Owls--about which I was totally stoked and totally bummed at the same time...because I knew they were there and I couldn't SEE them.

On a stop into Finley Wildlife Refuge, I even heard a conversation between two bobcats, which I assumed to be an adult and a youngster, by the different timbre and attitude of the two voices.  THAT was quite cool...and a little hair-raising.  But I sure would have liked to have seen them as well.  No such luck.

So, back at the campground, I adopted a somewhat cheating strategy.  If you can't see them  out in their own habitat, get them to come to yours.  A seed block strategically placed on an unused picnic table seemed to do the trick...  Brought them right out into the open!

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