Sunday, 29 April 2012

Bird Photos - April 29 2012

Good couple of days for birding, first Brown Thrasher of the year showed up at our feeders today, yesterday we saw a Ring Necked Duck, several Greater Scaup and 4 Semipalmated Plover. 
Rearranged our feeders as the Grackles were gobbling up the black oil seed and peanuts at a phenomenal rate. Have moved the black oil seed feeders and peanut feeder so that the larger birds cannot access them, although Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and smaller birds will be able to feed from them. Placed a feeder of loose corn in spot where I had the black oil seed. 
Two benefits, the Grackles are not chowing down the black oil seed as quickly, it has lasted two days and is still half full, since I moved it. The Grackles now come and have a feed of corn and leave where as before they would sit at the black oil seed feeder or in the tree for extended periods of time and scare the smaller birds off.
A few pictures from the last few days.
 Small group of Geese taking off
 Kildeer -  Would have turned out better had I thought to adjust the camera settings

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Bird Photos - April 26 2012

Weather a bit more cooperative today, not as much wind but still a little cool when in the open.
Returned to the lagoons today with our Tamron 70-300 VC, got some decent pictures and saw close to 1,000 waterfowl at the lagoons. Canada Geese, Cackling Geese, Snow Geese, Tundra Swans and Mallards.
Stayed at the lagoons for about 30 minutes and witnessed several flocks of Tundra Swans and Snow Geese arrive. At one time well over 100 Snow Geese took to the air, circled the lagoons 3 times and landed pretty much at the point they had first taken flight.
After the lagoons I went for a walk in the bush and heard a Wild Turkey calling from across the river, but, never saw it.
The waterfowl at the lagoons were more than 100 feet away at any given time.

 Tundra Swans Flying with a Canada Goose - They arrived flying in formation and landed together
 Mallards in the river
 Ruby Crowned Kinglet
 Snow Geese
 Snow Geese as they flew by, this is about half of the geese who suddenly took flight
 Swamp Sparrow
 Tundra Swans landing
Tundra Swans

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter - April 25 2012

Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter

Decided to take the Kenko out one more time mounted on the Canon T2i and Canon 100mm F2.8 macro lens.
Stopped at the sewage lagoon and found about 20 Tundra Swans, numerous Canada Geese, several Cackling Geese, Mallards, Northern Shovlelers, Kildeers, Tree Swallows, Brewer's Blackbirds, Tree Sparrows, numerous Crows and a few Clay Coloured Sparrows. I regretted not taking a larger lens. I wandered around the lagoons for about 45 minutes then went for a walk in the bush.
I took 270 photo's and deleted about 265 of them. 
I now wonder if I am not using the right settings with the Kenko, perhaps someone with more experience than I could get it to perform better. It is very much like our mirror lens, some photo's turn out great but the vast majority are marginal to useless.
Only one of the pictures that I kept was I really happy with, the rest were really marginal at best. 
We went back to the lagoons today but it was far to windy to take any pictures as the wind was strong enough that there was no way to hold a camera steady.
Here are the best of the worst from yesterday.

 Brewer's Blackbird 40 feet - large crop
 Kildeer - 20 feet I was disappointed in this photo - it was the best of a series of 6 photos of this bird.
 Robin 20 feet - The best photo of the day
 Tree Swallows - 20 feet manual focus - There were several darting around me and they were really difficult to get in the viewfinder much less focus on. I missed the best opportunity when I lost sight of them and when
I lowered the camera to find them they were 10 feet in front of me with one swallow pinning the other on the ground, they took off before I could raise the camera.
Tundra Swans -  Well over 100 yards - This is a very large crop.
This is a crop of the centre group of birds

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Scenery Photos - April 22 2012

Not a lot changed in the bird migration this last week, it is still very early for migration, but weather is supposed to get warmer starting today. We did notice the Yellow Rumped Warblers are hunting bugs more in the air rather than pecking at trees the last few days. we even saw a Robin listening for worms the other day, the first time we've seen this behaviour this year. The Grackles are doing their mating displays lately. Mourning doves have shown up this week and we have seen a few Hermit Thrushes.
Today we are posting a few scenary shots from some of our outings.
 Frosty Morning Southern Manitoba 
 One of Rose's first photo's, taken with a cheap Canon pocket camera
 Fall Southern Manitoba
 Horses on a Southern Manitoba back road
Fall Rose Isle Manitoba

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter - April 21 2012

Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter 

We have tried the Kenko with a Tamron 70-300VC on the Canon T1i and with a Canon 100mm F2.8 macro lens on a Canon T2i. We can't say we were overly pleased with the results.
We found that the Kenko seemed to affect autofocus particularly when clutter was present. Images were sharper without the Kenko with both lenses.
We found we could crop a photo and achieve the same or better image quality than the Kenko could provide.
We were disappointed.
We might use it when we go to a lake to get pictures of water fowl at a distance, or in large open spaces.
Initially we thought that the Kenko would work for us, but, our first trials with it were of stationary subjects within 20 feet, we will likely play with it some more later in the summer once migration and nesting is complete, At this point we really can't recommend the Kenko for the type of birding we do, which is walking and taking photos hand held. We may have had better results if we used a tripod or maybe a monopod. We may experiment with them later in the summer or fall at the lake with a tripod.
The Kenko seems to work best in bright sunlight, we found its performance dropped even in bushy areas before leaves sprouted.
For those who are visiting the blog for the first time there are quite a few sample pictures using the Kenko further down in the blog.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Birds, Scenery & a Prairie Dog - April 19 2012

Neither the weather or the birds have been cooperating with our outings, so we haven't gotten any photo's for almost a week.
Some minor computer problems have pressed me into buying a new case. While I was shopping for a new case on line I came across an Asus monitor on sale for an incredible price, so Thursday we head into the city to pick up a new case and monitor. Discovered last year that my present monitor is terrible for viewing or editing photo's. I must have deleted hundreds of what I thought were terrible pictures until one day I happened to see some of our photo's on someone else's computer. I thought they were so so pictures when I posted them, but,seeing them on another monitor they looked much better than I originally thought.
Looks like it will be a nice day so we intend to go to Fort Whyte to do some birding. Migration has started but the birds are slow in coming, mind you it is still early for spring migration.
We have a solitary Red Wing Blackbird coming to our feeders, we don't usually see them in town.
Bird food consumption has increased, what used to last a week is now gone in two days. Once breeding starts it will last less than a day.
Other than Grackles and Robins there is not anything else new coming to our feeders. The Dark Eyed Junco's are coming in bigger numbers lately as well.
On our walks we have seen a few Hermit Thrushes, Yellow Rumped Warblers, Ruby Crowned Kinglets,  Northern Flickers, 4 Kildeers, a Belted Kingfisher and one Golden Crowned Kinglet. A few Hawks, the only one we have been able to identify was a Merlin.
We have had some Canada Geese pass through and some Wood ducks and Mallards seem to be sticking around.
Trees are sprouting leaves already.
Hopefully we will have some new photo's in the next while. Here are some photo's from the past.

 Great Blue Heron - Burst out of some bush and we only managed 2 quick shots before it disappeared. The Red Wing Blackbird chasing the Heron popped out of the bush as soon as the Heron did. 
 Prairie Dog
 Clay Coloured Sparrow
 Ruby Crowned Kinglets
 Slanty shanty - Near Dauphin Manitoba
 White Throated Sparrow
Northern Flicker

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Tamron 70-300 f4/5.6 DI VC USD & Kenko Teleconverter - April 12 2012

Tamron 70-300 f4/5.6 DI VC USD
Went out again today this time without the teleconverter.
I actually found the AF was much more precise without the TC, particularly when trying to get a photo of a bird in amongst the clutter of branches. I've found that that light affects the TC more so than I had originally thought. It seems to work best in bright sunlight.
Here are some pictures from today's outing.
The two Robin photos were taken about the same time of day at about the same distance, (aprox 25 feet), on two different days, one with the TC and one without.
Without TC 
 With TC
 Yellow Rumped Warbler 20 feet
 Juvenile Fox Sparrow? 20 feet
 Robin 15 feet
 Ruby Crowned Kinglet 20 feet Auto focus
 Crop of photo above
Ruby Crowned Kinglet 20 feet Auto focus 
Crop of photo above 
 Song Sparrow 20 feet
Tree Sparow 30 feet
This sparrow had just flown up from having a bath in the river and was drying off in the sun.
I think we will try the 1.4x TC on Rose's Canon 100mm F2.8 lens next.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Tamron 70-300 f4/5.6 DI VC USD & Kenko Teleconverter - April 11 2012

Good day to get out and see some birds.
Took quite a few pictures, all with the 1.4x teleconverter.
I am finding that the brighter the light the better the quality of picture.
I've edited the photo's in Photo Shop elements, cropped, auto fix and sharpen.
I am pretty satisfied with most of the pictures, the Purple Finch was about 30 feet away and probably 20 feet up in a tree, I had to use manual focus as AF would not lock on the bird with all the trees and branches around it.

 Dark Eyed Junco 20 feet
 Downy Woodpecker 10 feet
 Downy Woodpecker 25 feet
 Purple Finch 30 feet
 Ruby Crowned Kinglet 10 feet I saw a few Kinglets and took quite a few pictures, this was the only one that turned out as the Kinglets are tiny and constantly moving. They are very difficult to get into the viewfinder long enough to get a shot.
 Wood Ducks 50 feet
 Yellow Rumped Warbler 15 - 20 feet