Sunday, June 28, 2009

They Didn't Even Say Goodbye


After weeks of watching the pair of House Wrens popping in and out of their cigar box home they have quite literally flown the coop. Or so I hope. Two days ago I noticed that the front had fallen off the house--it is just a modified cigar box, after all. When I replaced it I had an excuse to look inside and found three little Wrens looking, at least to me, like they were about ready to fledge. This evening, for the second day in a row, we were treated to the spectacle of the local American Robins mobbing what I believe was a Cooper's Hawk. They were raising a ruckus and chasing it off to another block to be another group of Robins' problem. That's when I noticed the absence of the Wrens' constant chattering and singing. At first we thought it might just be that they were laying low until the Hawk was definitely gone. But now, a couple hours later, it's still very quiet out there. I opened the front of the box and found only a nest and some feathers inside. I hope the little wrens are somewhere being cared for by their parents and that maybe Mom and Dad will be back to raise another brood. Honestly, an occupied birdhouse is better than television.

Watching the Wrens - An Easy Digiscoping Subject

For some time now we've had the necessary equipment for digiscoping. It's the practice of taking images with a point-and-shoot digital camera through a spotting scope. Many people have produced some very impressive images this way. I don't know how they do it.

In the field I've tried two approaches and both have proven frustrating and ineffecive. In Method A I start with the camera attached to the scope and try to locate the subject using the lcd screen on the back. Reflections off the screen make it difficult to tell what I'm looking at. The small size of the screen doesn't help much with making sure things are in focus. In Method B I start with the camera off the scope, get the subject in the field of view and in focus. I then quickly fasten the camera rig--which resembles the aparatus that imobilizes the accident victim's head in pretty much any television show--onto the scope. At this point the weight of the camera causes the tripod to move and/or the scope to tilt enough that the subect is no longer in view if it hasn't actually just flown off to find a better photographer.

Recently I set up the equipment to do an easy shot. On our deck, under the umbrella there wasn't as much glare on the lcd screen. The subject, the wren house in the garden, was stationary and about 50 feet away. I set the camera to shoot video clips and used an infrared remote to start and stop it. Here's one of the clips I got:

video

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pupa

I found this little treasure when I was moving some plants around in the garden today. It's now nestled in a pot of soil in one of my small conservatories. When it emerges I'll be able to see what it is. I love doing things like this. I once found one much larger than this which turned out to be a beautiful, big hawk moth.