I'm an avid birder and nature photographer wishing to share some of my sightings & images taken while out in the "wilds" of Cape Ann and surrounding New England countryside. More images can be found on my web site at New England Birds Plus Enjoy, Phil Brown

"Click" on any image below for a larger version....

Comments & Question - nebirdsplus@gmail.com

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Amesbury Waterfall

Hidden in plain sight in the center of Amesbury, MA is a wonderful little waterfall created by the waters of the Powwow River and formerly used by the surrounding mill buildings.

One of the items you walk by on your way to the waterfall is this 6' tall tribute to Amesbury's own Al Capp, creator of the Li'l Abner comic strip. More information on Al Capp here

I spent a bit over an hour trying to find the best angle through the fence on the pedestrian foot bridge over the river. The image below was shot a just over a full second to create the smooth look to the water.

This is a typical image with the water "frozen" with a fast shutter speed. Nice if you like the look....

This is a very quiet area on a mid-morning Sunday allowing for lots of time to play with the camera settings.

and lastly a closer look at this lovely little water fall that's just a few steps from the center of town.

 I'll have to go back on an overcast day to get a bit more detail out of the water.

Peregrine Falcons - Fledged

Another nesting season comes to a close for a pair of Peregrine Falcons and their 3 youngsters, 2 males and a female. The falcons nested in the Boston area for a second year with the female banded this year along with the youngsters. That's the adult male below, he'd been banded a few years prior.

One of the young males testing his wings.

The second young male doing the same with the younger female sitting to his left.

The adult female leaving after delivering a tidbit to the young female.

The youngest of the bunch, she was also the last to fledge by several days.

Lot's of flapping to develop those flight muscles.

With running across the ledge a comical sight to see.

The adult female checking in on the youngsters.

Loads more downy feathers seen on the young female as she spreads her wings.

The adult male with another food delivery.

The young female giving her brother a "what's up" look.

Ready to fledge. He left the day after this was taken.

Another look at the downy female.

The threesome with one of the males calling to the adults.

Hey look! I think I can fly....:)

and a last look at the other young male that also fledged the day after this was taken.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cooper's Hawk and HDR

I had a visit this week by one of the local Cooper's Hawks, this one an after hatch year female (just one year old or a month or so shy).

She stopped in the Trumpet Creeper long enough for these 3 images but heard the shutter on the camera and was off for a quieter hunting location.

but not before giving me the one-eyed stare....

I've been having fun with Photoshop and some HDR (High Dynamic Range) software recently. The following photos are not bird related so if that kind of thing doesn't interest you may want to leave now...:)

We've been remodeling a 4 family built in the early 1900's in Gloucester recently and these 4 shots are of the interior as the carpenters work their way through the project. These are all handheld shots, which were rather dull looking prior to being run through the HDR software.

The old kitchen - soon to be bathroom with Brian hard at work.

The old dining room, looking at the living room.

The old dining room - soon to be kitchen. 

This has led me to look at some of my images in a different light with the following examples of different processing.

The Gloucester City Hall, currently being restored - HDR

and run through the oil paint filter in Photoshop as well as HDR.

and lastly... if you've read this far..... a shot of my backyard or what I call "Hummingbird Haven"

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Different Kind of Owl Box

Scott Weston, a fellow owler, nature lover and photographer from Hamilton, MA with his blog Owl Oasis Trail is now selling his "Squirrel Resistant Owl Boxes" for the very reasonable price of $45. apiece at his Etsy store

This is one of Scott's photos (used with permission) showing the very slanted and linoleum covered roof of his "SQR" box. The pair of adult Screech Owls sitting in the box nested at this site this season.

Scott has had great success with his SQR design, keeping the squirrels out of the boxes with the linoleum covered sides and roof along with the correct placement of the box to keep the squirrels from jumping onto the front. Scott has directions for placement and maintenance of the boxes on his Etsy store along with tales of his success at the 9 sites he has erected boxes on his blog Owl Oasis Trail

Here's another of his great photos showing a pair of young owls peering out at the world.

I've had my share of squirrel problems over the years and currently use baffles either on the tree or pole the box is mounted on with varied success and additional cost. I plan to try a pair of Scott's boxes, one with the slotted opening and one with the 3" round opening in the woods behind the house and am looking forward to reporting the results! Great idea Scott!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hummingbirds - Not Always A Pretty Sight

On 3 or 4 occasions over the past 17 years of feeding Hummingbirds here in Essex I've had a male exhibit behavior that makes it appear to be having trouble swallowing. I had another one of these last week and for the second time in all these years I had a Hummingbird expire in the yard. Very, very sad to see.

I came home to a Hummingbird hanging from the feeder with another male displaying to it from a few inches away, trying to chase it from "His" feeder. This is what it looked like when I arrived.

And within a few moments the Hummingbird was on the ground. 

Back in July of 2010 I had another male showing the same symptoms, having a hard time swallowing, sitting on the feeder for extended periods of time with it's bill straight up in the air and eyes closed as if resting until being chased off by another male. This shows the tongue out as it tries swallowing hard.

And a brief video of the 2010 male as it tried to feed at the window feeder.

Both of these Hummingbirds were collected and given to the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology in Cambridge to add to their collection. I've asked several sources for a diagnosis of the problem and have heard from others that have seen the same behavior at their feeders but have yet to hear a viable reason. I do know that male Hummingbirds live an "average life" of 1 1/2 years with females living longer, so maybe with all of the time I've spent watching I've just witnessed the end for a few of these flying wonders. Sad indeed.