Backyard Morning

Today I took the day off work to attend a conference, but since it doesn’t start until noonish, I decided to take the chance to spend the morning in my backyard and discover what critters frequent the feeders in the AM.

I’ve noticed the squirrel a few times now.  He seems to live in the neighbor’s yard, but occasionally comes over to sneak some of the peanuts and such that I leave out for the blue jay.  Here, he is on the neighbors fence and seems to be cursing the dove that is standing watch on my fence, baring his way to my yard.  Truth is, when he comes over, the doves scatter, so they really aren’t much of a defence.

The blue jay showed up for a brief second.  I’m getting closer to getting a very good shot of him, but in this one, I just cut to tip of his tail off.  And yes, there are two peanuts in his mouth.  How long before he realizes that there is no threat to him here and takes him time.  Then I’ll be able to aim and shoot much better shots of him.  I look forward to that t day.

Next, the male cardinal showed up but spent most of the time up in the tree above the feeder.  I don’t know, maybe I have the only birds around here that just aren’t hungry in the morning.  In any case, I got a shot of the bird in its natural habitat: a tree.

And finally, seems that I can get all the shots of doves that I want, and then some.  They guys just hang around all the time.  They were even hanging around my yard long before I ever put up the feeders.  In any case, I realized that normally shoot them from the side, but when this one looked at me straight on, he seemed to be saying to me, “What are you looking at?”  To which I replied, “Snap!”

That was it for the morning shoot.  It was very windy and cloudy, so maybe that kept the birds away.  I’ll have to try again.

Shots taken with Canon 7D, EF600Lf/4IS

Test Firing the Canon EF600mm f/4L IS + 2x

So, now that I have added the Canon EF600mm f/4L IS to the lens lineup, I just couldn’t resist trying it out with my Canon 2x TC.  Of course, I lost autofocus on my 7D due to the 2-stop light loss, but I figured “Hey, I used to focus manually way back in the olden days, so why can’t I do it now.”

All I have to say is “WOW”!  Canon really knew what they were doing when they built this stuff.  I was shooting at ISO 800 and 400, and considering I was manually focusing at 1200mm (with my almost 50 year old eyes), I’m pretty impressed with the outcome.

These are just simple birds from my back yard, but they really show off the power of this lens.  Thank you Canon!  These shots, while having been resized for the Web, have not been cropped in any way.  The EXIF data is intact on these images if you are at all curious of the settings.

To begin, I focused on my feeder and waited.  Eventually, along came one of my local House Finches.  I have lots of these guys around the house and they are always willing to model for me.

Wow, not bad.  Not quite as clear as at the native 600mm, but not bad, especially when it comes to posting on the Web!

Listening, I could hear chirping coming my neighbor’s yard, so I turn to find another one of the little fellows up in the top of one of their trees!  A distance shot!  Great test!

Not too shabby.  Looks like I might take this 2x with me to Yellowstone next month!  Might help out with those long shots of the wolves in the Lamar Valley!

Next up was a local Mockingbird that landed on my bird bath.  This was the first time I have seen him/her there so I fired away.  (One of these days I need to figure out how to tell the guys from the gals for this species.)  You can certainly tell that the depth of focus is really narrow shooting at this range.  Still, very clear! 

As I’m sitting there enjoying the early afternoon, I hear my buddies the Bluejays approaching.  They always announce their approach and all the other birds scatter.  Funny thing is though, these guys really are bullies!  They make a lot of noise and scare other birds, but they are about the most skittish birds that visit my back yard.  I have the hardest time luring them out for a photograph.  They will hide in the trees, swoop down to be a peanut or two, and then right back to the safety of the tree before the camera can even focus on them.  But not tonight!  With the big gun, I can get him even when he is hiding in the tree!  I’m really liking this lens!  (I’m starting to get redundant.)

And last but not least, there are always a few doves around sitting on the fence, all made up with their blue eyeshadow.  They seem to be able to sit there for hours, just watching me and the other birds.  Then sooner or later, a whole flock of them will descend to the ground and start picking up the seeds that the finches have knocked out of the feeders.  These guys are good models because they don’t move much, so even as the sun is setting, you can still use a pretty slow shutter-speed with them.

So that was it for the evening.  I didn’t see my Northern Cardinals around, but they can’t be far away.  Maybe by Saturday morning I’ll be able to catch the “early birds” as they are rooting around looking for those fabled worms.