Not Quite Ozzie and Harriet

Friday, August 3, 2018,

This is a family unit of Oystercatchers. Here we have Mom, Dad, and little Ricky Nelson. My younger readers will have no idea of what I’m talking about, but that’s okay. Most of the time I don’t know what you’re talking about either. The young one in the center is the chick of the two adults on either side. He’s probably asking for food but I do suppose he could be singing about a Garden Party. You never know with these kids today. 

JK

On Photographing Birds

Wednesday, August 1, 2018,

Those of you that read this blog or view the work of other photographers may enjoy the photographs of birds without thinking very much about what goes into a these shots. “A bird. On a branch. Pretty bird.” While these are correct and true observations, they don’t really capture what is actually involved in taking a photograph of a bird, or any wild animal for that matter. I’m not complaining, or bemoaning my lot in life. In fact, I’m hoping that parts of this little essay will bring a smile to your face. That’s what I attempt to do here at Joe Kayaker. Mix in some Nature, a little humor and a dash of knowledge, bake for thirty minutes and maybe we’ll all get to enjoy some wild creatures and places. And maybe we, or our children, will try to preserve the recipe.

Okay, back to the premise at hand. I was talking about photographing birds before I went all philosophical there. It happens, get over it. Photographing birds is not as easy as one might think. First off, you have to find the bird. I know, I know: They’re everywhere, right? But they’re not. Not really. We all have Robins or Sparrows or Blue Jays or Crows in our back yards. Or pigeons for you city dwellers. But if I or any other wildlife photographer just took pics of those guys, we wouldn’t generate much interest. People might get to thinking that they’d seen all there was to see and why seek for more? No one would want to preserve open spaces or parklands. They wouldn’t understand the why of it.

I did it again. I was talking about finding birds and I went all sideways with it. So, really, you have to find the bird. You need to go where the birds are, whether it’s a park, a river or wetlands, a sea shore, or wherever. Again, you need to go where the birds are. You’re not done yet. Even when you’re in the right place, you still need to find your quarry. It’s not like birds are lining up to meet you. I have friends that can find and identify birds by their calls. I am not so gifted. I have several CDs of bird calls but I find my retention for such recordings – or lack thereof – do not help me in the field. Also, I am mostly deaf in one ear so even if I could recognize a particular call, zeroing in the location of a particular call is nigh on impossible. By the way, I can hardly believe I found an excuse to use the word ‘nigh’ in a sentence.

Okay, so you’re in a right place and you’ve found a bird. You don’t always see it right off. Sometimes, it’s just a rustle amongst the branches or a disturbance in the flowers. But it’s a bird. It’s right there, maybe just a few feet away. You know it’s there. Maybe you can even hear it. But can you see it? Can you get a photograph? Is that bird sitting there, proud and dignified, waiting for you to take its picture? Most times, at least for me, the answers are no, no, and no. Birds flit and fly from branch to branch and from tree to tree. It turns out that the darn things have wings.

But sometimes, those sweet wonderful sometimes, you get lucky. The bird peeks out from the foliage or the flowers and is right there. All you need to do then is put it in focus. And that is an entirely different conversation. JK.

 

 

Another Good Year For Monarchs

Wednesday, July 25, 2018,

Monarch butterflies are in trouble. Many of you probably already know this but, perhaps, there are some of you who don’t. Monarch butterfly populations have been shrinking for a couple of decades. Loss of habitat appears to be a major contributing factor but it is by no means the only reason. Monarchs depend on Milkweed plants for both their sustenance and as nurseries for raising their young. And Milkweed is in decline across North America. There are several reasons for that, most of them related to human activities. But let’s not get bogged down with bad news. I want to talk about good news today.

The good news is that there are still places where Monarch butterflies can be found and in decent numbers. Last year, I saw more Monarchs than I had seen in a decade. Many of my friends noticed the same thing. These beautiful butterflies weren’t found everywhere but there were locations where they were very near plentiful. Avalon Park and Preserve was one of those places. The main reason for this is that Avalon has many, many Milkweed plants. Those are Milkweed flowers that the Monarchs in these photos are perched upon. And now, some more good news: This year is shaping up to be an even better year for Monarch butterflies than last year. As I walk along the open fields at Avalon I see more and more of these glorious insects. I think it’s going to be another banner year for both the Monarchs and my camera. JK