Sunday posts this month were supposed to be all about elephants, but this lovely visitor changed my plans for the week. I can’t even explain how nice it felt to have the opportunity to get out and take a few photos, and having both weather and wildlife corporate in the process was a bonus 🙂
I’ve seen a couple of different bucks in the neighbourhood on occasion, but have lately been seeing lots of evidence of them around the yard; they’ve been rubbing their antlers on many of the willow trees around, scoring the bark off and knocking down smaller branches and limbs.
This guy was really unconcerned about me being outside with him, but I kept my distance to not put any pressure on him and cause him to leave the cozy spot he found in the sun to relax.
He’s still in the yard as I type this, and has actually been joined by another, much smaller deer. The little ones are sometimes much easier spooked, so I am going to leave this with just the images I have so far, and let all the deer graze without interruption.
This is a topic I haven’t done in a while! I’ve been trying to keep my camera close, as there is such an abundance of birdlife in my yard at the moment. It can be a bit challenging though, with the days being so short, and we’ve had a lot of overcast days recently. But even when the light isn’t great, it’s still awesome to have camera in hand.
I must apologize for the lack of posts over the last couple of weeks. I hadn’t intended on taking any time off the blog in the run-up to Christmas, but time just got away from me.
Christmas Day saw a very unusual visitor to the bird feeder – a Blue Jay. To those on the east coast I’m sure that doesn’t sound very exciting; but they are considered rare in my area, and I’ve not seen one since I was a kid growing up in Ontario, so I was thrilled. The jay was very skittish though and while I have seen it a few times over the past couple of days, they are usually blink and you’ll miss it moments. All I have to show for it are some fuzzy shots through my office window, but at least I have proof that it was here.
We’ve had a fair bit of snow the last few days, and it’s been very busy at the feeders; chickadees and nuthatches, flickers, downy and hairy woodpeckers, gray jays and even a visit from the magpies that I generally only see a couple streets over from where I live. The ruffed grouse has also been around quite frequently. I’ve been battling a bug with a nasty cough so I haven’t been outside much with my camera, but I did manage to capture the magpie and the grouse. Now that I am starting to feel better I am hoping to get out and capture more of birds in the yard, and perhaps with any luck the blue jay will make another appearance.
Mother Nature has certainly not been cooperating with my plans to get out and shoot at night. While I still have images from Joshua Tree that I would like to work through, I thought I would switch it up this week and edit some old images instead.
Like last year, Northern BC has been hit hard with wildfires. It’s actually pretty scary looking at the wildfire maps, as it looks like most of the province is currently on fire. Thankfully, there is currently no danger in our immediate vicinity, other than extremely poor air quality from the substantial amount of smoke that has settled in the region, and the airborne ash that lately has been coating my car every night.
Yesterday morning started out normal enough for the past few weeks, a bit smoky but nothing too terrible. But then as the morning wore on, it got darker rather than brighter, and at 9:10am it looked like we were in the midst of some type of solar eclipse event. I went outside to try and capture a few images; it was extremely smoky, cold like it would be in the middle of the night, and all the photo sensitive lights had come on. It was spooky quiet as all the birds had dropped to complete silence.
By 10am the darkness had passed but it remained incredibly smoky throughout the day.
I was in the middle of work so I didn’t have the opportunity to drive anywhere more interesting to take pictures; this is a view down my driveway to the road… not that you can really even see the driveway in the image. It was just the sky I was focused on.
This shot was taken on my Fuji camera with the 18-55 lens, shot at f2.8, ISO 2000 and 1/60 sec. I created the merged panorama in On1 Photo Raw, and for efficiency edited it in On1 (back to the Luminar processing tomorrow). The merged panorama was a bit of a challenge because the images were so dark. I had to up the exposure slider on all the individual images, and then reverse that on the panorama. My camera is basically always set to auto white balance, and I changed it in editing to daylight, and that got the sky to be true to life.
Just to give some perspective, sunrise this week is around 5:55am.
All of us here are praying for the safety of all the incredibly brave people working to put these fires out, and hoping that some favourable weather will be heading their way soon.
I missed putting together my Sunday post, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share this adorable deer and fawn that briefly popped by the yard last week. They showed up for only a couple minutes at the end of a miserable rainstorm, so I am glad I looked out the window at the right time and had my camera handy. I didn’t recognize the mama, so I only shot a couple of images out the window, as I didn’t want to spook them. Most of the local deer are used to me being out walking so it probably wouldn’t have been an issue to pop my head out the door, but I actually wouldn’t have had time as they only popped over for a brief visit to the salt lick and then vanished back into the bushes.
As promised last week, I have some hummingbird photos to share this week. I’ve been spending as much time as I have been able outside, enjoying the antics of the rufous hummingbirds. I probably should have tried taking some video, but I don’t want to delay this post and go out and attempt it. Perhaps over the coming week I’ll give that a try.
The rufous hummingbirds arrive in Prince George early to mid-May; with the males arriving first followed shortly after by the females. Their arrival coincided with the weather going from unseasonably warm to ridiculously cold and frosty, so there wasn’t much for them to feed on, making them extra reliant on the feeders that I put out. I started with one feeder and as more birds arrived hung up extras. Currently I have four feeders around the yard, and am putting out between 1 to 1.5 litres of nectar per day for the group living in my vicinity.
I have photos of four at a feeder at a time, but have seen more than eight gathered around one, with others hanging out at the other options. Usually that is early in the morning or late in the evening, when it is challenging to get images. If I had to guess, I would say there are probably 15 to 18 individuals that are frequenting the feeders, but they move so quickly and erratically, it is really tough to say. There are definitely lots of juveniles, so their breeding has been successful this year. With the long days we have, they are busy feeding from around 4am until after 10pm every day.
My yard is surrounded by thick forest, and the hummingbirds retreat deep into the bush between feedings, making it had to get decent images of them on natural perches. Images of birds on feeders aren’t ideal, but that’s where they are gathering, so I have to work with what is available. I am going to keep trying to get some images of them on the forest, but I don’t have long to do so, as they usually begin their southern journey mid July.
If you want to learn more about the rufous hummingbird, check out the link below. They are noted as being feisty – that’s a complete understatement!
It’s only the second instalment of my wide angles only topic for the month, and I was honestly ready to bail on it already. The days when it was nice this week, I was knee deep in work and couldn’t sneak off with my camera. Then the weekend arrived with the promise of more free time to get out and explore, and for the most part, dull, grey skies have been the order of the days. Add to that the slowly melting snow carpeting the landscape in a dirty blanket and you’ve not really got the recipe for epic landscape images.
But, despite all that, I went out for a wander in one of the local parks yesterday and I had a great time. Sure it was muddy and slushy and lots of paths and areas were inaccessible, but it felt awesome to go out and shoot. It was also fun to be limited by only having one lens with a small range, and having to focus on things that wouldn’t probably be my first inclination.
I’m definitely going to have to get creative though if I am going to come up with something for each Sunday of April. Stop by next weekend to see what I have come up with.