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Seiurus-ly Cool

May 13, 2010
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My gift to my wife on her first Mother’s Day was to remove from her morning all of the attendant responsibilities of being a mother.  So with Danielle snoozing away in bed, Noah and I headed off to Mason Farm for a morning’s birding.  Well to clarify, I spent the morning birding.  For Noah it was a morning of looking at trees and eventually falling asleep which I realize is an extremely fortunate situation for me given the birding with kids scenarios so many other birders have to tackle.  It was also another morning of firsts, the first opportunity for me to pack everything up at the same time.  Binoculars, baby backpack, and perhaps most crucially, the new camera.

Now, while I’ve suggested that baby birder is just about the best birding companion one could hope for, that’s not entirely true.  For starters, he rarely spots birds himself, almost never has anything to add with regard to particularly vexing identifications, and he could stand to be a little more excited about first of season birds, but beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose.

He also has this urgent need to always be moving, be it forward, backward, or repeatedly up and down.  Staying still is as sure as way as there can possibly be to ensue his wrath, which as you might imagine, poses a small problem for the photographer.  I do have one small secret weapon, however, that I hate to bring out unless I absolutely need it.  His only desire that supersedes his need for speed is that for food, and we’ve recently discovered at Casa Drinking Bird that he has a thing for lightly toasted bagels.  Maybe it’s his jewish mother’s influence, but he can’t get enough of them.  They’re chewy enough for him to sink his gums into easily, but at the same time, firm enough that they don’t immediately break into a million crumbs once he starts gnawing on it.  Plus they’re easily hand-held.  In short, a hunk of bagel will keep him busy for 20 to 30 minutes at a time so long as he stays a little bit hungry and, as a baby, that’s a condition that’s never that far off.

So while I was no doubt a little hesitant to bring the camera along, the possibility of photogenic birds won out.  I hoped that he would soon fall asleep, at which point it doesn’t really matter what you do so long as it doesn’t disturb his slumber, but in a pinch I had my secret toasty weapons.  I packed a bag full of bagel pieces and headed out.

I ended up glad I brought the camera.  The primary habitat at Mason Farm is scrubby fields and willow and poplar groves, which means the majority of birds are usually at eye-level or slightly higher.  It’s always full of appealing subjects and I soon snagged a lucky shot of a Parula, which I discovered you only really get one shot at, and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird that stayed just enough in the shadow to prevent a photo of its full-gorgeted glory.  But I’m lucky if I get the bird in focus half the time so perhaps I should manage my expectations accordingly.

Best though, was a Northern Waterthrush walking back and forth along a stretch of mud near a canal.  The bird was completely oblivious to the people standing there watching it and offered some cool opportunities to take a photos of a bird I rarely get to enjoy.

Last but not least, a messy male Rose-breasted Grosbeak made an appearance down at eye-level.

At this point, the effectiveness of the bagels was rapidly lessening and Noah was having enough of the near constant stops to pull up the camera and rip off a couple dozen shots of every single colorful bird that hopped down out of the canopy.  Besides, we had to get back home to get ready for a Mother’s Day brunch with Danielle’s folks so our time was short as it was.

I have to say, I’m really enjoying the opportunity to share something on this blog that’s a little more exciting than my previous run of  scenery-heavy “mood shots”, even if the quality is not professional grade by any means.  Maybe I had a low bar to clear in the first place, but Noah is going to have to get used to regular stops.  I suppose I I’ll have to buy stock in a bagel shop or something.

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4 Comments
  1. May 14, 2010 9:35 am

    I will remember the bagel trick for when Desi is a bit older.

    And, I must say, it is disconcerting (in a good way) to come to The Drinking Bird and find pictures of birds.

  2. Nate permalink*
    May 14, 2010 10:13 am

    @Corey- Bagels are awesome. They’re so much better than those expensive “biter biscuits” which are messy, break when the kid drops them, and can be choking hazards if they bite off a hunk (which happens far more than they advertise).

    Thanks! I feel a lot better about posting pictures of birds, even common birds, than the repetitive scenery shots. It proves I’m not making stuff up.

  3. May 14, 2010 9:48 pm

    I’m thinking Noah has the right idea. Bagels and sleep make a perfect combination.

    And I’m with Corey: it’s nice to see you comfortably including photos from your exploits. It adds a new dimension to your posts.

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