Our Painted Buntings stayed a little longer than usual this year. Typically the yard crew leaves in the first week of April, and then we have a couple of greenies stick around till around Earth Day. But this year, my wintering birds departed on April 15. They invited me to take their portraits so I’ll recognize them when they return in October!
I think we peaked at around 4 male Painted Buntings and 6-ish Greenies this winter. As always, I kept my millet feeder stocked for them inside their bunting cage, which protects their food from the bigger hungry piggies grackles. On this particular evening, they were enjoying eating seed from my red salvia plants.
It was a cloudy evening, which gave me more flexibility in my shooting position. Normally I photograph from my blind in the afternoon, but since there was no sun angle, I could pick anywhere and still have good light. I was experimenting with my Beast and teleconverters on the R5 camera, and I was amazed at how well that camera still focuses with the 2x on at 1200mm!!
The buntings weren’t the only striking red birds outside that night. This Northern Cardinal flew up and grabbed a seed to take to his mate. He may be ready to be a father, but he hasn’t yet learned to chew with his mouth shut!
One of the greenies is a sugar addict. She grabbed a purple petal of a salvia flower and took it with her to the grass. She nibbled at it to get the nectar, then dropped the flower. Then she ventured to find some seeds in my lawn.
The yard is suddenly very empty and quiet without my little buddies. Is it October yet?
I stuck my wide-angle lens in my camera bag for my last bike trip to Lake Apopka, and I was really glad I did! I’m loving using my bike to get out with my camera. The sun was just coming up as I started out, and I saw some great birds too.
This was my first glimpse of the sun looking back over the canal. I bracketed the exposure and combined them using HDR in PhotoMatix Pro.
An Osprey greeted me as he flew over the marsh.
I headed to the Crazy U, hoping I’d see some migrants. Seems like I’m usually seeing Yellow Warblers by this point in the year, but not this year. I spotted a few Palms, that was about it. Then this Red-bellied Woodpecker flew in and asked if I’d take his photo.
The morning was cool with a slight breeze. The clouds glistened pink and purple as the sun’s soft light fell over the marsh.
I moved on, biking along to visit the Great Blue Herons at their nest. I heard the baby before I saw the nest. “Na-na-na-na-nah!” Bird parents must be very patient. Mom leaned down and regurgitated some breakfast for the baby.
I spotted some small birds darting back and forth in the bushes. Then I heard the call of a Prairie Warbler, and I may have seen a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, but the birds didn’t feel like posing for the camera. When I phished a little, only this Common Yellowthroat answered me.
Looking back over the canals, I saw the last traces of the sunrise over the palm trees. I wished I had a different vantage point to put the sun directly over the canal. The clouds were gorgeous.
My last bird of the morning was a Northern Flicker. I’ve seen them nest in this vicinity, and when I spotted two birds, I started to get excited about baby pictures. Maybe on my next trip!
Sometimes it’s about being in the right place at the right time. Like during my last visit to Lake Morton, when I was about to head back to my car. A small group of Wood Ducks came flying across the lake. Several drakes and a female gave me perfect positions as their feathers glistened in the light. I’ve dreamed of photos like these for years. I love my new Canon R5!!