A cardinal moment . . .

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge – Rule of Thirds 

My dad was famous for giving me items that I could seldom use.  I could never quite figure out his gift at my baby shower – an old tool he found that I probably needed while creating the nursery.  A reamer.  Really, dad?

But there are many things he did give me that I will always be thankful for.  He was pretty good at photography, long before DSLR cameras.  He taught me about ISO – when it dealt with film (actual film) speed.  A tripod.  And a table tripod.

I remembered the table tripod recently when I realized the new macro lens I bought was ultra-sensitive to movement.  How was I ever going to capture the birds in the feeder with my shaky hands?

I figured out how to attach the table tripod to my camera’s body.  I realized I could take closeup shots of the birds in the Stained Glass Birdfeeder from INSIDE (the dirty windows aren’t in the field of focus – yea!!)

And just look at this!

at the feeder
at the feeder

The visitors to the feeder are very efficient – leaving me very little time to focus and shoot!  In fact, this cardinal was a one-time visitor, and I was lucky enough to capture him.

It’s not the best of shots, and I do realize that I need lots more practice with this lens.  But I’m so happy with this shot.

A candid surprise

I woke up Saturday morning to a lovely blanket of snow, the wet snow that sticks to trees.  A snowman kinda snow.  There wasn’t much, but enough to cover the grass and settle so quietly in the branches.  As I ran out to get the paper, I noticed the birds chirping.  It’s pretty amazing how sound travels when the snow blankets the ground.

Wait . . . what?  Birds chirping?

I must take this opportunity to capture some of the birds with the snow in the trees.  I run back into the house and grab my camera.  Wrong lens.  Change lens.  Quick, run outside.  Battery dead.  Run back in for fresh battery.

Typical.  Can you tell I’m a newbie at this photography stuff?

The temperature was a bearable 35F, so I took a seat on the deck and waited for some bird activity.  A strange sound in the tall tree behind the house, so I focused the camera as best I could on the bird at the top of the tree.

I’m not very good with my new lens (yea, I’m famous for stating the obvious), and I’m sure it will take lots more practice to get there.  I tried to hold the camera very still, but with this lens I really needed to have the tripod. For as steady as I might think my hands are, they aren’t.

In the meantime, I was able to capture something amazing – to me.  I had no idea this kind of bird visited my back yard.

FF-woodpeckerHe’s a red-bellied woodpecker (thank you Google).  I really could not see the details from my deck – he was about 50 ft up in the tallest locust tree.  But the picture I took told a very different story.  A little zoom-in, and look at that!

After the storm

I have to tell you, I’m in a state of disbelief and mourning, and not just for the robin family.

We installed a gazebo over the Memorial Day weekend.  I love this thing – it’s a very large 10’x12′ double canopy that will shade the deck perfectly in the early afternoon.  Up until now, we had to avoid the deck at lunchtime, as the boards get so hot in the sun.  I love eating out in the summer, and this gazebo has a mosquito net that will keep the bees and flies at bay.  I got one with sturdy legs so that it wouldn’t get whipped around in storms.  We built it on the deck and secured it with bungee cords, with the intention of securing it permanently once we decided the location was right.

Well, Sunday afternoon as I was finishing up a weekend filled with weeding, I looked up to realize that black clouds were rolling in.  I quickly put away all my weeding tools and headed inside.  I moved the cars to the back just in time to get in from the impending storm.  As I walked inside, the wind started.  And it got pretty fierce.  And it lifted my gazebo like a child’s umbrella, over the side rails of the deck and into the yard below.  Thank goodness we had it secured with bungee cords.  One set held, and the gazebo just missed crushing the side of our new pool.  It landed with legs in the air, and just missed smashing my car.  I have no idea how we were able to avoid real tragedy, but I have to believe my angels were watching over.

Shortly after the storm passed, my kids ran outside to see the most spectacular double rainbow!

Two Pots ‘o Gold?

We snapped a few pictures, but they truly don’t do justice to the intense colors – I have never seen such vivid colors in rainbow.  There appeared to be more colors below the purple – simply glorious!

So I’m back to wondering how I’m ever going to get the nerve to reinstall the gazebo, if I even should.  I’m investigating ways to secure it to the deck boards.  I’m probably going to have to drill holes through the floorboards and secure it from below.

Sad day on Wisteria Lane

On my way to the car this morning, I strolled past the robin’s nest in my wisteria that now holds 4 eggs!!

At least it held 4 eggs yesterday.

Last night while lying in bed, I thought of the nest.  Thought I should take a picture of the 4 eggs, just in case they hatched soon and I would miss my chance to record them as eggs.  But it was late, too dark for good pictures, it will wait for tomorrow.

And  now the eggs are gone.  The nest was EMPTY when I went out this morning.  I am so sad about this.  I was looking forward to watching the birds hatch and grow.  But I guess my railing was just too exposed, and those bright blue eggs must have been a tasty treat for some unknown predator.  I have no idea what creature would have done this, but our neighborhood has its fair share of large black crows that I’m very suspicious of.  There was no evidence of what visited the bird family, no pawprints on the steps, not even a speck of shell left behind.  Just the nest.

I glanced over at the fence and spotted momma.  She was just watching me look at the nest.  Not sure if birds have emotions, but I imagine she’s pretty sad too.

A purpose for the wisteria

This weekend was filled with all sorts of outside activities – watching Son #2 playing baseball, watching B playing softball,  swimming in the pool (I am so glad we opened it in late April), and building a gazebo.  And I realized that we humans weren’t the only ones so busy.

My wisteria has become the home of a bird family!

We noticed last week that a nest was being built, but I really thought it was too close to our steps that we use every day to get from the deck to the backyard.  We went out on Sunday, removed the nest, and look what I found yesterday morning!

Those robins are very persistent.  Now you must understand, this wisteria is growing up the railing of my deck, which connects the deck to the yard below.  Not the most desolate location for a nest.

We will do our best to give this family some privacy, and hopefully the momma bird will be patient with us for using our steps.  What’s really cool about this location is how close we can get to it.  Other nests have been built under the supports of the deck, but we can’t really see what’s going on in there unless we look through the boards of the deck.  Not a very clear view.  But we will have a close up view of this family.

I’ll keep you posted on our new borders!