Having discovered about six or eight months ago that I am an introvert, I’ve begun to realize how so many of my hobbies align with that fact. This past weekend while sipping coffee on the patio I was amazed at the depth of all the bird-song I was hearing. It was one of those typical Central Texas mornings where the haze hadn’t quite burnt off yet so one can’t tell if rain is in the forecast or clear blue skies. Those of you who are local will know what I am talking about.
Anyway, I decided to forego the cups of coffee (I usually take three or so in the morning on the weekend) and instead gathered up my tripod, camera and telephoto lens for some “birding.” I have to take a quick time-out and mention how supportive my wife Kris is. This morning, both Kris and I were talking about some travel plans when all of the sudden I was rambling about a camera and birds. She is wonderful and incredibly patient with my eccentricities.
Returning to the patio with a bewildered look and hastily assembled bird-watching gear, I must have been a sight to Kris. As the screen door slammed shut behind me, it managed to catch my shutter release cable thus jerking me back in that general direction. I wish I could have seen the look on my face when that happened. Judging by the look on Kris’ face, it must have been a beauty. When I regained my balance and completed a brief self-assessment I realized that not only was half my gear on the ground, but my coffee had managed to create a caffeinated abstract masterpiece, worthy of MoMA, on the front of my tee shirt.
Eventually, when I stopped making an ass out of myself, I gained my composure and set everything up the correct way and was ready to see what I could “see” in my backyard. Now I know I mentioned that the sheer volume of the birds this morning had inspired me to capture some photos, but what I didn’t mention was all the nesting I had seen going on the last couple of months. Also, the day before I had witnessed a Grackle feeding a juvenile in the nest and had hoped to get some National Geographic type shots.
For those of you not familiar with the grackle, it is a black bird not too unlike the common crow. The main differences between the two is that the grackle is slimmer, has an iridescent shimmer and bright yellow eye. I’m not sure the domestic range of the grackle, but they are all over the place here and man are they loud. The male is solid iridescent black/blue, the female is smaller and has a brown under-carriage and the juveniles are brown and grey with very bright pinkish/orange beaks.
As I sat quietly on the patio, I was able to capture some images of common blue jays and doves as well as a large male grackle who had gone for a dip and was pruning on my fence. A few minutes later I was able to hone in on a juvenile grackle resting in the firethorn shrub on the far end of the backyard. I stabilized the tripod and got some nice images of landing, feeding and takeoff.
Not too long afterwards, the juvenile wandered closer to a sage bush about thirty feet or so away and I was able to get some better images of the feeding. Not exactly National Geographic quality, but pretty good for someone covered in coffee in his own backyard.