Altamira Oriole

12 03 2019

Spent a wonderful afternoon at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, TX with my high school friend, Vanessa. I was using my Nikon D850 for macro shots, my iPhone for overall shots, and my Nikon Coolpix P1000 for bird shots. There is such diversity of wildlife in this sanctuary that is adjacent to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. I wanted to see this sanctuary before “the wall” cuts through the middle of it. I talked at length with an employee of the center and learned quite a bit about the issues related to the wall, as well as the myriad water and environmental laws that are being circumvented for this project.

This is an Altamira Oriole, just one of the many unusual birds we saw this afternoon.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

WEB Oriole





Winter cleaning find

8 12 2017

Yet another spring cleaning session last week…this time in the “craft room,” where I prepare matted photos, make jewelry, sew, craft and such. Biggest task is to go through boxes of papers to file…and I always run across random photos, like this one shot by my friend Karen back in the late 80s. We were outside her townhouse (I rented a room from her, and we had just returned from Giant Food, where we both worked as graphic designers). This little sparrow landed on the brick wall surrounding the back patio and eventually landed on my hand (with a little coaxing with a piece of bread). Everyone who saw this photo said, “oh, it must have been sick.” Seriously? It couldn’t be that I just might be a sparrow whisperer? Hmm? (This was during my curly hair perm days, which earned me the nickname of Curl Girl by my friends Karen and Nina.)

© Karen Byer-Storch

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Nesting

30 04 2015

A Mourning dove has built her nest in a plant pot on the top of my gardening bench. You can see part of one of two babies to her right (black with white streaks). I can’t do my annual cleanup in that area until after flying lessons are given! Isn’t she pretty? (iPhone 6 with Snapseed2)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

DoveBabyLorez





Road trip in Iceland: Lone puffin

12 06 2014

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Lone Puffin Latrabjarg





Road trip in Iceland: Puffin

9 06 2014

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Puffin

 





Road trip in Iceland: Puffin

9 06 2014

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Puffin 1





Re-post: Flamingos

16 12 2013

Originally posted 12.2009

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

I believe I shot this image of flamingos at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. I’ve always loved this composition, and it was one of my first images I selected to send to ScanCafe. Notice the “S-curve” composition?

Interesting Sidebar: I read on Wikipedia that “a well-fed, healthy flamingo is more vibrantly colored and thus a more desirable mate; a white or pale flamingo, however, is usually unhealthy or malnourished. Captive flamingos are a notable exception; many turn a pale pink as they are not fed carotene at levels comparable to the wild.” The amount of pigment laid down in the feathers depends on the quantity of pigment in the flamingo’s diet. An absence of carotenoids in its food will result in new feather growth that is very pale; the existing pigment is lost through molting. Flamingos in captivity require a special diet to ensure they preserve their striking colors.

Flamingo5low





Stretching

4 11 2013

Great Blue Heron stretching…loved shooting in this mid-afternoon light right before the rain…storm clouds covered most of the sky, but the sun kept coming through just a little bit here and there

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

GBH Stretching





Breaking a few photographic rules…

6 10 2012

I was inspired by National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson’s essay titled, “Let There Be Light,” where he discusses breaking photographic rules, in this case the one about overexposing highlights in a photograph. In breaking the “read the histogram to correct the blown-out highlights” rule, he captures an image that is ethereal and far more evocative than he would have created had he just followed the rules.

My photo of a gull ready to take flight breaks some other rules that I traditionally follow when photographing. I photographed this bird for several minutes before I got this shot and I considered it a throwaway when I viewed it on my screen. Later, I reconsidered saving it. The image has at least two things that immediately put it into the “not up to par” category: 1) you can’t see much of the bird’s head (just a tiny portion of the top of his head)—so much for focusing on the eyes to make them tack sharp, which is a top rule in bird photography, and 2) the motion isn’t stopped with a higher shutter speed, so the wings are extremely blurry. In the “plus category,” what’s good about this image is the composition (nice, off-center positioning gives it a dynamic that I must admit was not planned at the time), and the anticipation and tension of lift-off with the wings blurred in mid-air next to the tack sharp wood grain in the dock pylon. The gull is grounded yet I’ve serendipitously captured a split second before it will no longer be. It’s graphic with lots of negative space and there is ample contrast.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Carolina Beach gull

20 08 2012

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Great White Egret, Cape Fear River

7 06 2012

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Pelican, Carolina Beach

30 05 2012

Pelican against a backdrop of storm clouds at Carolina Beach

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





I always feel like somebody’s watchin’ me…

5 09 2011

I photographed this preening mourning dove through my kitchen window last week.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





American Goldfinch

25 07 2011

Finally—my first-ever shot of the elusive, quick-moving American Goldfinch (male), photographed at Green Spring Gardens yesterday morning. My friend Gina saw one of these in her garden yesterday too (perhaps he followed me home?) and thought for sure she had discovered something rare and exotic—much like a sighting of Bigfoot or even rarer, the Dodo bird. She even thought it was perhaps a flyaway pet looking for its home. That is, until she started a web search and learned what it really was. She was so excited doing the research that she is contemplating a career change from flight attendant to ornithologist. This morning her voice had morphed into that of the character Miss Jane Hathaway (the love-starved-pith-helmet-wearing-avid-bird-watching perennial spinster) from The Beverly Hillbillies. (P.S. I advised Gina to not quit her day job.)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Male House Sparrow

12 04 2011

When I was sitting on our front porch photographing the potted Grape Hyacinths on Sunday afternoon, this little bird landed less than 10 feet away from me. I turned to get this quick “record” shot before it flew off. I did a bit of sleuthing and I think this bird is a male House Sparrow.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Signs of spring in dad’s backyard

6 04 2011

When I was photographing my niece Lauren wearing the necklaces (see previous post), we startled a tiny bird nesting in one of the hanging ivies on the back porch. I took a peek and noticed this perfectly-formed tiny nest with three little eggs. We don’t know what kind of bird she is—she’s very small, slimmer than a sparrow. The eggs have a slightly blueish tint and some dark speckles here and there. Any guesses? It’s not the best photo in the world (certainly won’t win any prizes), but I didn’t want to disturb the nest to get a better shot—I just held the camera up above the ivy and photographed it without looking. This is the best shot I got!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Gull at Goat Rock Beach, Bodega Bay

6 02 2011

Photographed at Goat Rock Beach by Bodega Bay (Sonoma Coast), California, where the Russian River meets the sea

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Goose and gosling

24 04 2010

While I was photographing the ‘Blue Moon’ Siberian Iris, a pair of Canadian geese waddled across a boardwalk near the Martha and Reed West Island Garden at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Mom and Dad were trying to keep up with their baby gosling, off exploring the world in all directions. I got this “record shot” (not award-winning by a long stretch) when the mother (I presume) and baby slid into the water and began grazing in the vegetation.





Who-o-o, who-o-o

12 02 2010

I photographed this handsome (beautiful?) owl at a wildlife rehabilitation center near the Mote Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida. I had to photograph him through a cage, so I’m surprised the resulting image was this good (couldn’t avoid the lumpy tree limb to the right, though). The rehabilitation center is free to walk through, but they take donations to help their cause.

I was researching how to spell the “hoot” sound that an owl makes and found this site here that lists superstitions associated with animals. (How in the world does one keep up with all of these superstitions?) They are from a book published in the 1920s—Kentucky Superstitions—by Daniel Lindsey Thomas and Lucy Blayney Thomas. Here are the ones I found concerning owls:

3617. If an owl hoots, someone will die. (Fortunately, this fella was a quiet one.)

3618. If an owl hoots on the top of a house, there will be a death in that household.

3619. It brings bad luck to imitate the hoot of an owl. (I must confess that I did utter, “who?” when I saw this owl, which prompted him to look me straight in the eyes. What does that mean??? Am I’m in trouble???)

3620. If an owl hoots at the door for three successive nights, the sound foretells a death in the house.

3621. An owl’s hoot about midnight is a sign that a member of the family will meet with an accident.

3622. Tie a knot in your dress or skirt to stop an owl’s hoot. (I was wearing jeans.)

3623. Avert the disaster of an owl’s hooting by turning an old shoe upside down. (Is it too late for me to turn an old shoe upside down to avert disaster?)

3624. To make an owl stop hooting, take off your left shoe and turn it over.

3625. An owl will stop hooting if you pull your shoes off and cross them.

3626. To stop an owl from hooting, turn the toes of your shoes to touch the wall. (What is it with owls and shoes?)

3627. To avert the disaster that follows the hoot of an owl, heat a poker until it is red hot. (Then what do you do with the red hot poker?)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Picture this. Miami. Christmas day. 1991.

4 01 2010

(FYI, the title borrows from the character Sophia Petrillo in Golden Girls…”Picture this. Sicily. 1912.”)

With no plans to visit our respective families for Christmas that year (no particular reason not to either), we declared that Christmas must be spent in the Everglades National Park. We loaded up the car with cameras and camping equipment and embarked, with unbridled enthusiasm, on Great Aventure #17 (remember, this was early on in our courtship, so the adventures hadn’t stacked up just yet!) to the Everglades. What surprised us most is how close the park is to Miami. One minute you’re at the mall, the next minute you’re surrounded by alligators.

Camping + Nachos + Steve Martin = It Must Be Christmas!
Michael, master camper that he is, set up a fine tent. It was getting late and we were too impatient to cook over a campfire (okay, so I was the one who was too impatient), so we did what any camper would do if they were just a mile from a city—get in the car and drive to a Mexican restaurant, followed by a late showing of the newly-released movie, Father of the Bride. Mexican Food and a chick-flick. How Christmas-y is that?

Gators + Marshmallows + Open Boat = Are You Kidding Me?
One afternoon we booked a tour on an airboat that took us through the glades to spot alligators. At one point the guide spotted a rather large one, slowed the boat down, then tossed out a marshmallow in its direction. The guide then joked (insert Captain-Clint-from-Jaws voice here), “Aye…ya know…he could scamper onto dis boat in no time flat if he really wanted to…arghhh.” The group was so silent, you could have heard a marshmallow drop.

Mama?
One morning we were walking along the Anhinga Trail…camera in hand, I searched for something to record in the saw grass marsh. I came around a corner and there sat a miniature alligator…not more than a foot long…and a mere five feet away from me. I stopped and snapped a few shots. Then I kneeled down and shot a few more, moving very slowly so as not to frighten him away. Michael was a few feet behind me. I paused, then turned to him and asked, “umm…this is a baby alligator, right?” He nodded yes. “umm…so…where is its mother?” He replied, “in the tall grasses near this boardwalk, probably watching you.” We had seen several “mothers” sunning themselves on the banks when we entered the park. This little guy? I could take him, but I was no match for his mother. “Ummm…10 shots of this little guy is plenty, I do think. Oh, my, I think it’s time for lunch. Let’s go. Now.

Do You Get The Feeling We’re Being Watched?
I photographed these Black Vultures in a tree overlooking our campsite. In retrospect, I think these vultures must have seen our license plates, figured we were lost Yankees, and were just waiting for us to run out of prepackaged R.E.I. meals and simply perish…our bodies ripe for the picking. Little did they know that in town we had supplemented our MRE’s with refried beans, enchiladas, buttered popcorn and Nonpareils. We lived to tell the tale.

Vulture #2: “So, how long do you give ’em?”

Vulture #1, shrugging shoulders: “I dunno. Whaddya think? Two, three days, tops?”

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





I know what you can get me for my next birthday…

10 07 2009

TreeBedYes, I am fully aware that $15,000 is pretty pricey for a bed frame, but if just 15,000 of my currently 82,733 blog visitors chipped in just $1 each, I could sleep in this bed every night! Imagine that. (I didn’t account for tax and shipping charges, though—this thing must weigh quite a bit. Does anyone have a large truck?)

Of course, it might bring on recurring nightmares about the snake-and-doomed-robin-chick episode of last week that I posted here. The scene atop the bed looks eerily familiar. You see, I have this visual penchant for trees, leaves, nests, feathers, birds and eggs. Oh, and sleep. That’s a good thing, too. So, this present would combine four of those faves of mine in one simple gift. And you don’t even have to wrap it! Oh, and I’ll provide the linens, so no need to fret about including those.

Then again, $15,000 would buy at least three of the pricier prime Nikon lenses that I don’t already have but certainly still lust after. (Which ones, you ask? Oh, say the 600mm f/4D IF-ED II, the 200-400mm VR f/4 AF-S, and maybe the 200mm Micro f/4D IF-ED, in case you were curious or just taking notes.)

Tree bed, Nikon lenses. Tree bed, Nikon lenses. Hmmmm. What do you think? Talk amongst yourselves. I’m sure I’ll love whatever you get me.

Take a look at artist Shawn Lovell’s other metal creations on her website here. Beautiful work!





Requiem for a baby robin

1 07 2009

Not too long ago, a mama robin fashioned a beautiful nest at the top of the gazebo outside my office door. From my chair in front of the computer I could watch her come and go. I wasn’t sure if she was sitting on unhatched eggs or already mothering a hatched baby. Early this morning, after she left for her morning food gathering mission (I assume), I tapped on the gazebo and heard some faint chirping. I pulled out the ladder and climbed up to get a peek (camera in hand, of course). The gazebo has a grapevine growing over it and the area she had built the nest is well hidden by branches and leaves. We also put up one of those light nets that you put over bushes at Christmas so we could have mood lighting during parties. I wasn’t able to get up high enough to look down on the nest, so I just slipped my lens through the net, put the camera over my head, pointed it in the general direction, and snapped away. I got this not-that-great photo of her solitary sweet baby this morning.

About an hour ago, while we were watching a movie, Michael heard a bird chirping loudly and since birds don’t normally make much noise at night, we knew something was dreadfully wrong. Had the baby fallen out of the nest? Had Indie, a neighborhood cat, come into the yard and seen the baby? We ran downstairs, turned on the porch light and watched the mama bird hopping from branch to branch under the gazebo, chirping away. As soon as we opened the door, mama flew to the fence. We looked on the ground; no fallen baby. I looked up—and gasped—was that the curvy outline of a SNAKE? Yes, it was. I hollered to Michael. He went to grab a flashlight and grabbed the (black) snake by the head and pulled it out of the nest, banishing it (unharmed) to the woods nearby. Had we known the baby was already gone, I would have taken the dead bird and the snake out to the woods. I’m not a big fan of snakes, but I would never kill one (unless it was attacking me, that is) and I always discourage my snake-fearing friends from doing just that when they encounter one. I respect them but really…go feast on something else…and not in my yard!

I climbed the ladder to see if the baby was still alive. It was too late. I pulled its still warm but lifeless body out of the nest and began crying. Michael came back and we gave the baby bird a proper burial in the garden. Just 12 hours ago I was photographing an almost-ready-to-leave-the-nest baby and now we were burying it in our garden. I realize snakes need to survive, too, but it’s just such a sad thing to witness so soon after photographing it. Of course, when you build a paradise in your backyard, you’re bound to attract all sorts of wildlife, including the predators. I wish I had a better photograph to honor this sweet baby who lived such a short life. A short life, long remembered.

Speaking of snakes…a few years ago Michael was driving home through our neighborhood and noticed a U.S. postal truck that had stopped in the middle of the road. There was a group of kids on a nearby curb watching our postman beating the crap out of a harmless black snake! Michael gave him a lecture about black snakes and promptly rescued it, taking it to the woods to release it (although I’m sure it didn’t survive the postman’s wrath). The snake was simply slithering into the woods (as snakes are inclined to do) and the postman turned into animal control. Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Michael came home from work, then walked across the parking lot to get the mail from the communal post box. The mailman came running over, shouting “do you have a shovel?!” Michael asked him, “what in the world do you need a shovel for?” He said, “there’s a snake over there and I ran over him a couple of times with the truck but he’s still not dead!” Michael walked over and looked at the snake. Once again, it was a harmless black snake. And guess what? It was the same damn postman, too. When Michael came back in to the house, he told me what had transpired. He was mad, which in turn made me mad. I called the local post office to register a complaint. The man who answered said he would be the one to report to, so I told him both stories. I gave him our address so he was able to pinpoint exactly which mailman I reporting. He said, “that is so not his responsibility nor his job. Plus, doesn’t he know that snakes keep the rat population down?” He apologized for the man’s behavior and said he would speak to him about the incidents.

Obviously Michael is the calm one in this relationship. It’s a good thing I didn’t encounter the postman either time!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Baby Robin





Chewk chewk chewk

6 04 2009

Melodious mockingbird at Green Spring Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

mockingbird1





Cracker Barrel bird

2 04 2009

Sunset, March 26, Cracker Barrel parking lot, Harrisonburg, Virginia

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

crackerbarrelbird





Gigglebean with parrot and sugar glider

30 03 2008

During my surprise (short!) visit to San Antonio this past weekend, a group of us went to Willie’s for an early dinner. As we were leaving, we met Len Little, a.k.a. “The Birdman of San Antonio,” his parrot Polly (of course), and a sugar glider. Len is a bird trainer and provides entertainment for parties, day cares, and other organizations. (birdmanofsa@yahoo.com or 210.387.2510).

Since I had three different cameras with me and knew I could get a decent shot, we offered up my niece Lauren (nicknamed Gigglebean by me in her toddler days) as the guinea pig for the Birdman’s tricks (thanks for being a good sport, girl!). She even let Polly hang from her earlobe and the sugar glider crawl up the front of her shirt. Anything for a good shot, I always say!

A sugar glider is a small, nocturnal marsupial native to Australia and Indonesia. To learn more about these cute little critters, go to www.sugarglider.com or read all about them here: http://www.sugarglider.com/gliderpedia/index.asp?SugarGlider. After reading about the care, feeding, and specific needs of these exotic animals (as well as the downside to having them as pets), I don’t think I’ll be adding them to our menagerie any time soon!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Baby Chickadee

1 08 2007

I have a newly-hatched family of chickadees in my backyard garden. I have a metal and wood bird feeder that I never even noticed had a bird house built into the top (and I’ve had it for four years!)…an observant Regina pointed out a chickadee had gone into the hole a few weeks ago.

Yesterday I was looking through the patio doors and saw a “miniature” chickadee on one of my plant stands (and you know how tiny an adult chickadee is), and realized it was one of the babies (there are at least two of them).

I got some “record” shots of him through the window yesterday, but this afternoon, as I was watering the garden, one of the babies flew up about two feet away from me and just sat watching me…I slowly went to get my camera (which was near the patio door) and went back to the basket where he was perched. I sat there for at least 15 minutes on the arbor bench, just watching and photographing him…at several points I was less than two feet away from him…so I was able to get some beautiful shots. Momma (or Dad) and the baby were chirping back and forth….I’m sure they were telling him to “be careful, that’s a red-shirted-frizzy-haired human about to pounce on you!”

Learn more about these beautiful birds at the links below:

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Black-capped_Chickadee.html 

http://library.thinkquest.org/5078/Wildbirds.dir.chicadee.html

baby-chickadee.jpg

© 2007 Cindy Dyer, All rights reserved.