Outside My Door

It is now winter and a new post is long overdue.

I say it is winter but it has not felt like it along the shore of Lake Ontario. Here it is, nearly 2 weeks into January, and so far this winter  we’ve only had about 2 inches of snow and temperatures many degrees above average.  Today, it has been raining for hours with at least 1.5 inches falling. That is about to change. Temperatures have started to drop and with that we will have freezing rain and then snow.

With a heavy snowfall I find that the birds arrive at my many feeders in droves!  Actually I can’t wait to see “who” arrives tomorrow morning!

Today I am going to share something different with you.  It is a video that I created with the help of my friend, Debi.  It show-cases photos taken “outside my door” and a few from down the road during different seasons.  All of the photos are mine, the music was “borrowed” and credited to the maker, and I presented this slideshow at one of our Oshawa Camera Club meetings early in 2015.

Please double-click on the arrow below and enjoy the show! If it doesn’t work, I will repost it!

 

 

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Posted in Flower photography, Gardens, Nature Photography, Nature Video, Our Farm, Photographs of Birds, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Squirrel Proof? …..I Don’t Think So!

Many people find red squirrels “adorable” and I’m no exception!  Their beautiful chestnut coloured fur, bushy red tails, off-white under-bellies, tufted ears and white-rimmed eyes make them a great subject for nature photographs. Here is a group of photos that I have been saving in a folder this summer.

We have these little mammals around the farm.  As well as wild seeds, they eat food that I put out for the birds. Some of the squirrels even eat the watermelon meant for the mockingbirds and butterflies!

 

 

This little red squirrel also seemed to be a bit devious and “ambidextrous”.  Look closely at the series below. This round red peanut feeder is meant for birds. “Squirrel proof”, it definitely is NOT! Pay particular attention to the third photo…

 

 

 

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A Summer of Beautiful Blooms

It is difficult to realize that summer is drawing to a close as we are still experiencing July-like weather with very warm days and nights and light summer breezes.  Nearly every day is filled with sunshine and some humidity. Perfect growing weather! It is hard for me to do anything inside so I’ve been very lax in keeping up with my blog.

The summer of 2015, although it began wet and cool, was perfect for my gardens.  Our grass did not dry up in August and the perennials have continued to bloom beautifully.

Many of the photos that I am going to post were taken with my Canon 100-400 mm. telephoto lens which I normally use for my wildlife pictures.  It allows me to focus nicely on the individual blossoms, especially the centres of the flowers.  A few of the garden pictures were shot with my Tamron 18 – 270 mm. lens.

I am also updating my Flickr site today.  Feel free to click on the link in the right-hand sidebar to see a few more photos.

Posted in Flower photography, Our Farm, Photography, Summer Gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Attracting Baltimore Orioles……My Secret

Since creating my protected areas for birds, I was always hopeful that I could attract Baltimore Orioles. If I was fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of these elusive birds, it was early in May. My attempts to keep them around my bird gardens were  quite futile.

I had always read that the trick was to put oranges out and also to purchase oriole nectar feeders. I did both of these things but found that after a visit or two in the early spring, the oranges would spoil without a sign of even a nibble. I wondered if the problem was the lack of a stream near our house. Early this year I read that orioles love grape jelly. Thinking it was worth a try, I found some different containers, an oriole feeder with a well for nectar, a half orange, and jelly.

I was in luck! In May, shortly after setting up a few homemade feeders and those that I purchased,  I saw a pair of Baltimore Orioles using the different feeders. By far, the favourite food was the jelly. I eventually gave up on the oranges because unless I hollowed them out and filled them with grape jelly, they were ignored.  After a short hiatus, the pair were back with their young! I took photos of them through my front glass door so those that I will share with you may not be the best quality. Also, the various feeders and perches are functional rather than works of art. The one pretty purple one confused one of the little “guys”.  You’ll see him trying to eat a glass berry!

It is the end of July. I rarely see the parents but numerous times a day the juveniles come either together or on their own for their treat.

If you want to attract orioles, you just might want to invest in a few jars of grape jelly and find a way to hang them in your garden. IMG_8792 IMG_8964 Juvenile Baltimore Oriole Juvenile Female and Male Baltimore Oriole Juvenile Oriole Trying to Eat Berries Love that Grape Jelly Male Balltimore eating Grape Jelly Male Baltimore Oriole and Baby while Feeding Male Baltimore Oriole and Baby Male Baltimore Oriole at Oriole Feeder Male Baltimore Oriole Eating Grape Jelly Young Baltimore Oriole

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Perfect Peonies

On May 28th., I was in Oshawa and luckily had my camera with me.  With 30 minutes to spare before an appointment, I decided to visit the Oshawa Botanical Gardens at the Children’s Arena, 155 Arena St. I realized that the Peony Festival wasn’t scheduled until June 13th. but often, the earliest peonies bloom before the festival.

I wasn’t to be disappointed! Most of the tree peonies, with their splendid giant blossoms, were at their peak. A few of the bush peonies were also in bloom.

Although it was nearly noon and a very sunny day, I managed to stand in the shade or focus on some peonies that happened to be shaded by some larger trees nearby. The lighting was tricky but I was pleased with the results of a few shots which I will share with you.

It is great to attend the Peony Festival, however, a sneak peek ahead of the event is often the best time to take photos especially if you use a tripod. It is a very popular event and throngs of people attend. I will include the link for your information. https://www.oshawa.ca/things-to-do/peony-festival.asp

 

Posted in Events, Excursions, Flower photography, Gardens, Photography, Spring Flowers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Many Colours of Spring

With the warmer weather of the past few weeks, my garden beds have put on a wonderful show of colour. Many of the bulbs that I have planted over the years have multiplied. I add a few new packages of tulips and daffodils each Fall so my collection is expanding. For little time spent and a modest amount of money, spring bulbs are the best!

Since gardening is only one of my pass-times, I’m afraid that I can’t keep up with the weeding and as summer progresses, it becomes more evident. Fortunately, the blossoms in my Spring gardens are able to hide the little weeds around them.

Although I own a macro lens, I tend to use my telephoto (Canon 100-400 mm.)  I find it works very well, especially on single blossoms, nicely blurring the background when I use  f 7.1 or even f 8. and “spot metering”.  Of course, I have to get back quite a distance from the flower and crouch at eye level with my subject but I still seem to capture enough detail on the petals as I am accustomed to hand-holding this stabilized lens. For  photos below and on the flower collection on Flickr, I did not use a tripod. With my macro 100 mm lens, a tripod is a must. It is always a good idea to use a tripod with any lens but I do not follow my own advice!

Below, I will share a few of the many garden photos that I’ve taken recently. To see more of them, please go to my Flickr site.  Just look to the right-hand side of this page and click on one of the flowers. My Flickr site also has many other nature pictures that I have taken in past years. I hope you enjoy them!

 

Posted in Flower photography, Gardens, Photography, Spring Flowers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Cinco de Mayo…..So Many Bird Sightings!

The first week of May, especially the 5th (Cinco de Mayo), was an amazing time for bird sightings here on the farm. Following a light rain the night before and welcome summer-like temperatures, I was able to see and to take some photos of “new” birds that I associate with summer.

Looking through the front window around 8:00 a.m., I noticed an orange, black and white bird on the ground of one of my front yard bird enclosures. It was an Eastern Towhee. I will include the photo in the group below as many people have never seen one even though it is only a “record shot”, certainly not a prize-winner. I saw one last fall but only once.the Towhee in the photo must have been passing through and dropped in for a quick bite of bird seed and a drink after a long journey.

Later the same morning I saw 2 male Rose Breasted Grosbeaks, a Ruby Throated Hummingbird, a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet and numerous White Crowned Sparrows. It seemed that all of these birds had arrived here the same day! Later that morning, I was amazed to see a male Baltimore Oriole trying unsuccessfully to drink from one of the hummingbird feeders! I had put them out about 2 weeks ago  although the weather was very cool at the time.  I had decided to wait until the weather warmed up to put out the oriole feeder which has the necessary perches for orioles to drink the water/sugar “nectar”.  I guess it is better to be too early rather than too late. I saw the oriole again yesterday feasting on the half oranges that I had set out for him. Last year there was a pair so perhaps a female will arrive in the next few days. I hope so!

I have included photos of a few other birds that arrived in the past 3 weeks. The most beautiful to me was the Purple Finch!

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Niagara Falls – The Big Melt

The photos in this post were taken just one month ago when I made a special trip to Niagara Falls to see them in their winter beauty. I had heard that the ice was beginning to melt so I joined a small group of my friends from the Oshawa Camera Club and made the 2 and a half hour trip on the Fun Bus. For a very reasonable rate, we made a day of it with the ride, a wonderful buffet lunch and opportunity to try our luck at the slots.

The weather on the 12th of march was absolutely beautiful! It was very sunny and warm enough to spend all of the afternoon outdoors. I wanted to share a few of the pictures which I took. Due to the time of day, the Canadian Falls were backlit and with the spray, I had very little luck in getting any decent shots but the American Falls were spectacular.

This was a wonderful sight. I encourage everyone to see Niagara Falls in the winter at least once. For me, it was well worth the trip!

IMG_5035 Niagara Falls Signed for Blog IMG_5033 Niagara Falls Signed for Blog IMG_5027 Niagara Falls Signed for Blog IMG_4988 Niagara Signed for blog IMG_4972 Falls Signed for Blog IMG_4941 signed for Blog

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BIRDS VISITING MY WINTER FEEDERS

This winter has been very busy at my feeders. I believe that February 2015 was the coldest February ever recorded and at our farm, we had more snow than in most past years. We also attracted a lot of hungry birds visiting the 3 areas that I have created for them. Red and black squirrels also enjoy the sunflower seeds and peanuts that are available. 3 varieties of woodpeckers have been consistent visitors to the suet and peanuts.
We’ve had a pair of “downie”s, “hairies” and “red bellies” all winter.

This past week, with milder air, I’ve noticed that the feathers of the American goldfinches seem to be turning a brighter yellow and the mating calls of the cardinals are also evident in the wooded area behind our house.

Although I have enjoyed seeing so many birds this winter, I can hardly wait for spring and the changes it brings.

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An Amazing Encounter with Nature – A Red Tailed Hawk

It has been a number of months since I’ve shared photos on my blog. I have still been visiting local nature areas during the fall and early winter and have taken dozens of photos. Somehow, they just never made it to my blog. Life has been getting in the way!

Recently, I had an amazing experience at Lynde Shores in Whitby. I noticed a red-tailed hawk perched on a 3 foot high stump about 10 feet away. With my 100 – 400 mm lens, I actually had to back off to fit this magnificent creature into the frame. The hawk sat there, intent on some small prey in the grass and leaves, for at least 10 minutes. Snap, snap, snap……It was a grey day so the images are a bit “flat” but that was the closest that I have ever been to a hawk and it is unlikely that I will again.  I hope you enjoy these shots of this hawk in his natural surroundings.  Your comments would be appreciated….

Perched for Portraits

Perched for Portraits

A real "poser"!

A real “poser”!

Red Tailed Hawk at Lynde Shores, Whitby.

Red Tailed Hawk at Lynde Shores, Whitby.

Is he looking at me as prey?

Is he looking at me as prey?

I can now delete about 200 previous hawk photographs from my computer!

 

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