Sunday, February 5, 2012


After my disappointing photographic experience in East Tawas, where I had an opportunity to get some great shots of some fairly uncommon birds and blew it because I am not used to shooting small, moving objects, I decided to spend some time experimenting with my camera.  So I took my equipment out to the studio and set the long lens up on a tripod and played around with exposures.

What I determined is that to get birds with no blur, the shutter speed needs to be at least 1/500 of a second, preferably 1/1000 or greater.  That means it has to be a pretty bright day, and that one has to have really good equipment.  A long (telephoto) lens by its nature lets in less light than a shorter lens--the light has to travel farther to reach the camera.  So a good telephoto lens has to have a much wider diameter to allow sufficient light to stop action, like birds.  But a larger diameter means bigger glass and that raises the cost significantly.  A 600mm f4.0 (meaning a large opening to allow lots of light) lens can run you--I kid you not--$10,000.  Those of us of modest means simply can't afford that, so we make do with what we've got, and will be limited to getting the best results only under the best conditions.

At any rate, I was having fun shooting the birds through the studio windows (kind of like a huge blind).  I was focused on some birds in a large red pine when movement on the cherry tree to my left caught my eye.  I looked and OH MY GOSH a Brown Creeper!  I swung the camera around just in time to get this shot of him.

This is one of those birds who I just thrill to see.  They are not all that common, although I've had one hanging around the studio in winter for the past couple years.  I had seen this bird a week or so before so knew he'd returned, but this was my first chance to catch him with the camera.

It didn't take long before he started creeping up and around the tree.

I am fascinated with his coloring.  I thought at first that these shots were really blurry but I went back and looked at the first one and realized that his coloring is like that naturally.  Whereas so many birds' markings are bold and well defined, this little guy's colors are soft and blend into one another.

What perfect camouflage--no wonder they're so hard to spot!

Brown Creepers are in the family of chickadees and nuthatches.  They cling to the trunks of trees and glean insects.  They tend to move up the tree, whereas nuthatches tend to move down--a subtle difference but one worth noting.  I've never seen him on a feeder, so I wonder if he's coming around looking for bits of seeds the other birds may have left behind in the trees.  Both the nuthatches and the woodpeckers take peanuts to the trees, cram them in a crevasse and bash them to bits.  Perhaps the creeper is picking up the pieces.

After this last photo he flew off to another tree where the light was not so good, so I gave up.  I was happy to have gotten a few shots of this elusive little bird!

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