Been taking my camera out ss often as I can, experimenting with manual mode.

P6120970 green heron

And lighting. That seems to be my biggest problem.

There was a particular grainy, 18% gray day this week, where everything came out fuzzy and monotone. Like this guy over here ———>

I went back on the next day, which was bright and sunny, and did much better. Like that guy down there. . .same greenie, better light so better focus.

Even phase-detection focus points need some sort of contrast to work effectively.

P6130381 green heron with fish

So, I’ve got to learn how to make the best use of available light. . .which may mean just waiting until there is enough of it to work with.

That, and birds-in-flight. Andy gave me some great tips, but it’s putting them into practice that’ the problem. . .

The first — and most important, I think — is to focus on the bird in the distance, before it takes off.

If you wait until it’s in flight and then try to focus, it’s really hard to get a good lock. . . reallyreallyREALLY hard.

P5230074 gbh hopping

Maybe not for others, but certainly for me.

Another issue: I’ve GOT to learn not to underexpose.

The lack of suitable subjects is frustrating. This has been worsening ever since I got back from Florida.

There were sooooooooooooo many birds in Florida! Here in western NY?

Not so much.

P5081470 tricolor water landing

I’ve been spoiled!

I have only two nearby wetlands, and they are not very nearby. Each takes about an hour to get to.

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge used to be my go-to birding place.

It has a 3-1/2 mile Wildlife Drive, which used to be a rich source of wildlife. On either side of the Drive there are wetlands, a marshy pool on the west side and the Seneca Canal on the east. As the Drive curves around to the west and south there are smaller bordering pools.

P5230034 GBH in flight

Or, what used to be pools.

You see, the marsh managers think it’s a good idea to drain the marshes every spring, which dries up a vital element of the food web.

They’ve been doing this for the past 5 years.

Indeed, the last year there was any appreciable water in the marshes was 2017!

The wildlife aren’t stupid.

P5240108 juvie redwing

The herons, eagles, osprey, kingfishers, etc. who at one time frequented this Flyway stop, simply look elsewhere for better fishing grounds.

This year it’s been virtually deserted, except for a delightful sandhill crane family, who thrive searching the meadows-that-were-once-marshes for edible goodies (but usually on the bad-light side of the Drive!).

P5240180 song sparrow

Of course, there is also the occasional great blue heron, an eagle or two, and a rare pie-billed grebe. And yesterday I saw two great egrets — but way out in the main pool, where there was a decent water level.

There’s always hordes of redwing blackbirds, purple martins at the feeders (in season), song sparrows, kingbirds, and a few warblers (again in season).

And geese. There are always far too many Canada geese!

The (formerly) good variety of shorebirds, which included a pair of Wilson’s phalaropes (!) are long gone, now that their feeding grounds have dried up.

P6040120 pink


My other go-to area is Sterling Nature Center.

No Wildlife Drive here, but certainly some very good trails, one of which takes you to a great blue heron rookery.

This is always a great place to visit!

Especially in the spring, when a variety of flora and fauna can be found and the herons are busy raising their young.

P6100015 looking down

I am going to get busy and search for new hunting grounds, some close by and some farther away.

Stay tuned!

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