Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Conflict of interest

With several osprey nests on my radar, I'm torn away to band hummingbirds. At long last I've joined in on my first session of the year and so glad I did.

I've banded the last two years outside of Port Alberni in some pretty nice settings, but this year I'm helping south island crews and my first site was at a charming bed and breakfast on Salt Spring Island. 

We sat on a deck with a multi-million dollar view (really it's for sale) and tortured small birds. 

Usually banding starts at first light but we caught the 11 a.m. ferry for a noonish start and took tea around three with home made brownies. 

Very civilized.

The feeder was humming and we gathered data on nearly 40 birds, I believe. I learned many new techniques and feel like a more competent bander for it. 

I have felt conflicted in the past, but with the latest state of the birds report saying that the rufous hummingbird (the only species we catch) populations have declined significantly, I think the information gathered justifies the chance of stressing a few birds.

So that was Saturday. Which, of course, leaves only Sunday for the osprey. But never fear, I believe some fantastical osprey adventures are to come and I may even be able to call them work.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lock up your gold fish

Doesn't this osprey look demonic?

I haven't done any digital manipulating of his eyes (this is the male of the UVic nest). It may be that he's got the old third membrane drawn.

In osprey, and other birds that dive head first into the water, a special nictating membrane protects the eye from those high impacts.

Also called the haw, this slider moves across the eye horizontally unlike human eyelids. It can be clear or transluscent. Some animals, like camels, use it to remove debris from the eye. Polar bears get protection from snow blindness from the nictating membrane.

I heard a story about the UVic osprey grabbing overgrown goldfish from garden ponds. Probably didn't need the old eye protector on that dive.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Last photo tip

If it's a picture of osprey it doesn't matter how crappy it is. Everything else you need to know about photography you can learn from people much more qualified than I.

Oh, wait, there is one more tip that this photo demonstrates. It was actually the last thing I was going to say before I recommended reading good books on the subject or taking a photography course.

See in the bottom left part of the frame where all those wires and things lead the eye out of the picture? You don't want that. When composing, take time to really look at what is in the viewfinder and where your eye travels within that rectangle. If the eye is running out of the frame, that's not good. Sometimes squinting reveals the overall impression of form and line and the path the eyes take.

I didn't do that in this case because these are the first osprey of the season and the first nest I've found in Victoria, so I was freaking out. Wildly snapping away without any thought at all.

That's it for photo tips. We will now resume our regular osprey programming.