Off to New York City!

It has been quiet around here all summer and I apologize that my brief hiatus turned into a much longer break.  However, I have had an extremely busy and productive summer with a lot to show, though not much new photography.  I’d like to take a quick moment to announce that this morning my wife and I are headed down to New York City for the next 10 days or so.  As you may know, my wife is an archaeologist ,and she will be working on excavating the ship that has recently been found at the site of the World Trade Center.  It’s an extremely exciting opportunity and it should make for a fun time in the city.

There is a chance that I will be able to get on site and create a series of panoramas of the ship and the excavation but we aren’t sure yet.  Details are still being worked out so I am just headed down prepared to either shoot or work from the hotel.  Whatever happens, We will be in the city for at least the next week or so.  I’ll post some more details about the project sometime this coming week once I know more myself.

If you are in the City and want to meet up for coffee or a drink, shoot me an email or leave a comment here.  Hope everyone has a great week!

In Search of an Ovenbird

Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) - Genung Preserve, Freeville, NY

Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) - Genung Preserve, Freeville, NY

Singing Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) - Genung Preserve, Freeville, NY

Singing Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) – Genung Preserve, Freeville, NY

Having grown up in central Florida and lived in Texas for the last few years, I am used to seeing warblers during migration, not singing on territory like they do here.  This means I have quite a steep learning curve trying to learn the songs of local birds. I am making rapid progress, but there is an incredible amount to learn!

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Living on the Semester Schedule

It was a quiet week on the blog last week and I must apologize.  Amazingly, it was probably my busiest week of the year so far, though this week and the next also look quite daunting.  It is that time of year, as the semester winds down and summer begins.  Yes, I know I am not a student but I still am heavily influenced by the semester schedule and I must admit, I rather like it.

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Warblers: Environmental Portraits

Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia) - Foster Pond, Finger Lakes National Forest, New York

Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia) - Foster Pond, Finger Lakes National Forest, New York

Yesterday morning, I spent a couple hours with another local photographer Raghu Ramanujan at Foster Pond in the Finger Lakes National Forest.  It was a spectacularly beautiful morning and the woods were alive with warblers feeding and singing.  Despite the huge amount of activity, we struggled to create photographs because we couldn’t really get close to many of the birds.

Rather than get frustrated with myself, I decided to switch gears a bit and focus on creating images of the warblers in their habitat rather than close up portraits.  While I love the challenge of getting close to warblers and other small songbirds, creating environmental portraits can be even more of a challenge and extremely rewarding when one works.

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Blue-winged Warblers are Here!

Male Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora pinus) - Genung Nature Preserve, Freeville, NY

Male Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora pinus) - Genung Nature Preserve, Freeville, NY

As a birder, one of my nemesis birds for a long time was the Blue-winged Warbler.  I have seen all but one or two species of wood warblers that are found in the eastern half of the country but for a long time, Blue-wingeds avoided me.  I finally got my eyes on one at High Island, Texas two years ago but it was just a single bird.  When we finally decided to move to Ithaca, I knew that this would give me a chance to not only see Blue-wingeds, but hopefully get some photos as well.

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Spring Wildflowers

Unidentified Trillium - Robert H. Treman State Park, Ithaca, New York

Unidentified Trillium - Robert H. Treman State Park, Ithaca, New York

During this past weekend’s Backcountry Photography class, we asked all of the students to present a vision statement describing what they wanted to get out of the class and provide a theme to help direct their photography.  Going into the class, I knew I wouldn’t be doing a lot of photography as I was in instructor mode, rather than photographer mode, but I set out a goal for myself as well.  Since we were backpacking and with a large group, I knew that bird photography was going to be difficult.  Instead, I simply took my normal lens, the 24-70mm zoom, for demonstration purposes and then also carried my 105mm macro lens.

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Migration: Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) - Summerhill State Forest, New York

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) - Summerhill State Forest, New York

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) - Summerhill State Forest, New York

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) - Summerhill State Forest, New York

Like yesterday’s Song Sparrows, many Dark-eyed Juncos hang around the area over the winter and are commonly seen at feeders.  They also set up territories and begin singing early in the spring.  They breed in forests dominated by conifers but are also seen in mixed woods.  I have had them singing in my back yard in the past few weeks, but I was able to photograph this male singing in Summerhill State Forest last week.  I have enjoyed photographing these sparrows both this spring and last fall because we don’t get them in central Florida.

Migration: Song Sparrows

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) - Summerhill State Forest

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) - Summerhill State Forest

Talking about Song Sparrows as a migrant might not be totally fair as some birds stay over the winter and some migrate south.  However, regardless of whether they are returning migrants or just over wintering birds, Song Sparrows are one of the first birds of spring to start singing.  Here in Central New York they are everywhere and their song is ubiquitous.  It seems that nearly every time I put my binoculars on a sparrow, it turns out to be a Song Sparrow.

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Migration: Swamp Sparrows

Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana) - Summerhill State Forest, New York

Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana) - Summerhill State Forest, New York

Sorry it was so quiet around here last week.  I have had a busy week but now have some time to share a few new images.  Songbird migration has finally gotten underway.  For several weeks there have been huge flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds and American Robins around, but now many sparrows have also returned and are now on territory and singing.  Last week, I was able to find and photograph four different species of sparrows in just two days.  Over the next few days I’ll be sharing with you a few images of these birds while we wait for the warblers to start showing in the next few weeks.

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Spring Goals 2010

Prairie Warbler (Dendroica discolor) - Falmouth, Maine

Prairie Warbler (Dendroica discolor) - Falmouth, Maine

It’s getting to be spring and the earliest migrants have arrived.  In only about 2 weeks we should see the first arrival of warblers and the rest of the songbirds.  With all this reviewing of goals this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the spring and what I would like to accomplish.  Once again, I thought I would take a few minutes to share what I have been thinking about.

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