For the birds

Today was our local Audubon chapter’s Christmas Bird Count, and while Mom and Steve scoured the mountain, I hung out in my mother’s kitchen watching the feeders. I had bread to bake, as well as a casserole for the evening potluck. (Click on the photos to view at a larger size.)

house finch

To pass the time, I thought I’d try taking some pictures. For several days now I’ve been meaning to photograph the black raspberry canes below the back steps. They make really terrific patterns, especially against a white and brown bokeh. But the birds must’ve known it was their day — they kept landing right in the middle of my shot.

cardinal 2

I mean, what did they take me for, some kind of wildlife photographer? I don’t even wear a floppy hat! I’m trying to be an artist here, you know?

tufted titmouse

They particularly seemed to like perching on the cross-stroke of a thorny “A.” Anarchists!

goldfinch

I tried shifting the camera to another part of the patch, but it was no use. The birds insisting on critterizing my every attempt at an artsy abstract composition.

My only unique contribution to the Plummer’s Hollow count, by the way, was a pine siskin (which I did take a photo of, purely for documentary purposes). Overall, it was a rather poor count for our property, but Juniata Valley Audubon’s preliminary tally was just short of our all-time record, owing to a large number of unusual waterfowl species elsewhere in the count circle.

For a related post from the archives, see Christmas bird count: the wild and the quiet.
(Update) See also Christmas Bird Count 2007 at the Plummer’s Hollow blog.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

11 Comments


  1. Great photos – from both the artistic and wildlife photography points of view! I see you can wear both hats at the same time, even when not trying, heh.

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  2. Well, it would be just like a duck to put a wing-tip on the scale.

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  3. Hey, better critterizing your shots than criticizing them…

    Sounds like your birds are celebrity wannabes, they pose for the photgraphers!

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  4. it would be just like a duck

    If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s probably a robotic decoy.

    Our dirty little secret is that the group of birders who visited the large lake within our count circle were tipped off by a duck hunter who’d been there since before dawn, and knew where everything was. One of those fellows who still carries a gun when he goes out to sit in the woods, but somehow can’t quite bring himself to pull the trigger, apparently.

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  5. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s probably a robotic decoy.

    You should check out Bob Levy’s recent photo of a wood-duck in Central Park, at GirrlScientist’s place.

    By his own account, it was a lucky shot in the first place, but the close-up flash makes it look shiny enough for a wooden duck, not to mention the glowing eyes!

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  6. “I had bread to bake” — damn, I want a life like that.

    No. Wait. I already have one. It’s time to bake some bread, methinks.

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  7. Thanks for the comments. Truth to tell, I thought we were way overdue for some critter shots here. There are other valid reactions to nature than the purely aesthetic, I think, and “Kawaiii!” is one of them… in small doses.

    David, that duck is indeed the stuff of nightmares. Or at least the stuff of Far Side cartoons: “Revenge of the Duck.”

    Pica – Making bread is O.K., but after a decade or two it kind of loses its romance.

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  8. This used to be a nice raspberry bush, before the paparazzi found it….

    There’s talk of a January 4 Christmas Count here in Pocahontas County. I’m trying to decide whether to participate. It looks like it’s organized by the county Tourism Board, which is cooking up some sort of summer weekend eco-tourism event, rather than by birders. I’m skeptical that anything will get accurately identified, let alone counted.

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