A Goldfinch Kind of Day

A Goldfinch throws me a bone.

Today I completed my second monthly “Four Hour Walk” which is like the popular photowalk, but I’m by myself instead of with a group of photographers and I’m in a wildlife management area, Merrimac Farm, instead of in a city or town. Hurricane Irene had passed through the area during the night, so I wasn’t sure if I would find any damage or flooding. Fortunately there was none of either.

My last Four Hour Walk was so much fun that I have decided to make it a monthly exercise. This second time turned out to be somewhat frustrating, but fun none the less. I had decided to take a four foot computer controlled camera slider along with three cameras, tripod, video monitor, and my regular bag of lenses and accessories. Dumb.

Walking through the woods with this much gear makes it all but impossible to get shots of birds and other animals during the fleeting seconds that they stay in range. I missed getting a shot of a beautiful Great Blue Heron as well as a small herd of white tail deer.

More frustrating was all the goldfinches. The area around the Stone House is known for always having a lot of songbirds around. (Can you imagine how great it will be when the Conservation Landscape Project is completed?) Today it must have been goldfinch day. With all of the thistles in full bloom, the birds were plentiful and active. So why is the only photo I have of them the poor image above?

It’s because they were too fast and elusive. If one landed on top of a thistle bloom, they would be gone before I could get the camera to my eye and focus. They would leave the trees and fly just barely above the grasses and weeds. (I kept hearing Stephen Stills’ Treetop Flyer in my head.) I finally backed way off and tried to hide. After about 15 minutes the male shown above, threw me a bone and made a brief, but distant, appearance, and I got three blurry images from the highly cropped files.

But it was still great fun. I enjoyed watching the goldfinches flying around as much as any airshow. Although I spent way too much time trying to get a decent shot of these birds, I did get some good video and a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird stayed long enough for me to get a few nice images. They are included in this month’s video.

Like last month I have included a little mystery in the video. If you want to play along, this month you are looking for something that’s just wrong. All of the images and video were shot today at Merrimac Farm, but I used a little magic to create this month’s mystery.

I hope that you will have a chance to visit Merrimac Farm soon. It is a year-round treasure!

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4 comments so far

  1. Judy Gallagher on

    Do hummingbirds nectar on thistles?

  2. Ernie Sears on

    Yes they do! I was back there this afternoon and there had to be a dozen or more feeding on the thistles.

  3. Nancy Vehrs on

    I don’t think that cardinal flower, lobelia cardinalis, comes in purple like that in your video!

  4. Ernie Sears on

    Congratulations! We have a winner! The real color of the cardinal flower is a bright, intense red. Using software and a little patience I was able to change it to a nice purple. Unfortunately the prize closet is still empty, so the satisfaction of being the winner will have to do for now. Thanks for playing!


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