Saturday, August 23, 2014

Hummingbirds Preparing for Fall Migration


  

Hummingbird Action with Ariel Displays and Mid-air Dueling


Suddenly late one afternoon in August of 2014 I noticed a larger number of hummingbirds coming to the feeder closest to my house.  As I stopped to watch the birds, I also observed that they were showing much more aggressive behavior by chasing, diving and coming very close toward each other.   The following day, I put out an additional feeder on a hanger where it was protected from the hot afternoon sun. 

Since there was so much action at both of the feeders, I decided to try and get some photos before the sunlight dropped too low.  I set up the tripod with a Nikon 80-200mm 2.8 lens on my camera to crop in on the action as tight as possible.  After metering the light, I wanted to go with the fastest shutter speed that would also allow for the most depth of field, so I selected Aperture Mode at f/8 with 400 ISO which gave me a 1/1250 second shutter speed. 

When I processed my first run of photos, I was a bit shocked at how dangerous the antics of these hummingbirds appeared, almost like they were fencing and using their long beaks as foils.  

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Checking on the Internet, I learned that the birds use this aggressive behavior for defending nests and prime feeding territories.  The aggressive behavior becomes worse in late summer as the birds are preparing for fall migration.  Apparently, a new group of hummingbirds were doing a stop-over at my feeder and the local residents were not welcoming the new arrivals.  

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Most of the hummingbirds that summer here at Walker Lake are Broad-tails, a medium sized bird, inhabiting subalpine meadows throughout the western U.S.

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I was surprised to see a few Black-chinned hummingbirds that I had not noticed at the feeders until now. 


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 Typically, the Black-chinned is found more in the Northwestern U.S. and British Columbia.  


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The camera catches an angry Black-chinned diving at a Broad-tailed hummingbird.  The dive is used as a threat to an intruder, whether it is another hummingbird, an animal or a human.  Flying up high above the intruder, the hummer may then dive straight down while making a share chirping sound from its tail feathers at the base of the dive. 

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 A show of size and strength is used by dueling hummingbirds as wings are raised and tail feathers are flared. 


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Angry hummingbirds have been known to lock beaks and spin in circles sometimes using their beaks and claws as weapons.  This heightened aggression can result in injuries or even death.  Fortunately so far the feuds at my feeders have just been the Ariel displays with maybe a downed feather.  

 
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Humans are advised not to interfere with the hummingbird's behavior and allow them to work things out as nature intended.  Putting out additional feeders is about the only recourse.


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 Well, after several days life at my feeders returned to status quo and the large group of hummingbirds moved on.  However there are still many days left before October arrives and the last stragglers bid a bitter sweet farewell. 

No images on this blog are within Public Domain.






With my Nikon and tripod, my goal is to recreate the scene as it appears in nature, to preserve in a photographic image the awesome, yet simplistic beauty of the scene that waits around a bend or over a hill. Sometimes it's a colorful landscape, and many times I'm allowed in the presence of the numerous creatures that adapt to life in the wild.

 All rights reserved, world-wide and images protected by Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). All photography, graphics, text, design, and content is copyrighted by Bonnie Rannald and should not be copied, down-loaded, transferred and re-created in any way without the express consent, in writing to Bonnie Rannald. For information on Bonnie Rannald licensed, right-managed images, please submit a written request.


"Reflecting Nature's Artistry"


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Friday, August 1, 2014

Conserving Water in the Old West



More precious than gold?


Taking a drive on a desert trail can often turn up some interesting and intriguing sights when you are open for adventure.  Such was the day on my most recent outing when I came across what appeared to have been a settlement that was built to trap rain water and snowmelt. 
 
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 Many years ago, trapping and containing water was crucial to the survival of settlers in the desert where precipitation levels can range to just a few inches per year.      
 
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Lured by the promise of free public land, a cruel hoax had been played on the homesteaders by speculators that if they came to the west, rain would surely follow them.  Water was to become as precious a resource as gold and John Wesley Powell foresaw the struggles of settling in the dry barren desert. To offset fighting over the scarcity of water,  Powell in 1878 published "Report on the Lands of the Arid Region", thus laying out a strategy to  organize settlements  and conserve this scarce but vital resource.  Powell's idealism sought to prevent the overuse and/or pollution that could come as a result from the rapidly expanding West.    
 
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My thoughts are with Powell as I walk around the mud-cracked retention basin and think about the latest warnings regarding the Colorado River  at an all time record low.  
 
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I look across at Walker Lake and see where this natural desert lake has receded more since the beginning of this hot summer in 2014.  
 
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Powell had the foresight to conserve and protect this natural resource and now that many years have passed since the rush to settle the west, water still remains as critical an issue.  It is a harsh reality when our natural lakes are allowed to dry up but then artificial ones are built with eloquent sounding names. 
 
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 I just wonder what will happen in the western U.S. when the day comes that the ground water can no longer quince all the feverous demands?


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No images on this blog are within Public Domain.






With my Nikon and tripod, my goal is to recreate the scene as it appears in nature, to preserve in a photographic image the awesome, yet simplistic beauty of the scene that waits around a bend or over a hill. Sometimes it's a colorful landscape, and many times I'm allowed in the presence of the numerous creatures that adapt to life in the wild.

 All rights reserved, world-wide and images protected by Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). All photography, graphics, text, design, and content is copyrighted by Bonnie Rannald and should not be copied, down-loaded, transferred and re-created in any way without the express consent, in writing to Bonnie Rannald. For information on Bonnie Rannald licensed, right-managed images, please submit a written request.


"Reflecting Nature's Artistry"


Follow this blog for upcoming post!
Photos Make Great Gifts!
Many of these images are available on our website.
We now offer Gift Certificates and Digital Downloads in addition to the
"Off The Wall" custom matted and framed images.