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Showing posts from September, 2011

Improving BirdCam Photos with Photoshop

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The Wingscapes BirdCam is a popular tool for birding enthusiasts.  It is a sensor-activated, 8 megapixel digital camera hardened for outdoor use.  It has a fixed f/2.8 aperture with shutter speeds 1/8 to 1/400 of a second.  Set it up aimed at a feeder and see who is visiting your yard when you're not around.  For birds like these clever and perceptive crows, it would be impossible to capture such a relaxed demeanor if there was a person with a camera in the yard.

There are many variables involved in producing a great digital photo.  Since they can't all be controlled, the BirdCam sometimes produces hazy, softly focused shots.  If the lighting is less than ideal, photos might be under- or over-exposed.  All is not lost, however, since these problems can often be fixed with a good photo editor.  Click on the 'Before' and 'After' photos here to view them full-sized.  These methods will also work for Trail Cam, Game Cam and Plant Cam photos.

The longer I do this, …

Procyon Lotor

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Procyon lotor is the scientific name of the Common Raccoon.  It literally means "like a dog that washes its food."  Astronomy buffs will also recognize Procyon as the brightest star in Canis Minor.  I caught these guys in my koi pond yesterday afternoon.  There were five altogether, not fully grown.  They are probably littermates who have not yet learned that they are supposed to be nocturnal.  Grabbing a photo was a challenge.  They kept scooting around to the other side of the tree.

Having them around is a mixed blessing.  They have chewed up one hot tub lid and they can make quite a mess in the koi pond.  Their dexterous little fingers managed to pull all the weather stripping off the bottom of the back door.  This time, I caught them before they could do any real damage.  Despite rascally behavior, they are definitely cute and engaging creatures.  At night I have had them climb up onto my front deck and look in the windows.  Startling!

They have adapted successfully to l…

Glaucous-winged Gull

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I was at West Beach in Deception Pass State Park yesterday.  This Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens) agreed to stand nicely for his portrait.  I can add this photo to my collection of "seagulls standing on rocks."  This must reveal some unique behavioral characteristic, but I have not yet figured it out.  Whatever is going on, it certainly adds to the charm of these common shorebirds.

Pink feet and a red spot on the bill are identifying characteristics.  A similar, less common local bird is the Western Gull (Larus occidentalis).  The Western has black wing tips with white spots, while the Glaucous-wingeds have gray wing tips with white spots.  This is complicated by the fact that these and several other gull species will interbreed producing hybrids.  In general, gulls are extremely difficult to differentiate.  As we get further into fall and winter, the head and neck of these birds will take on brown mottling.

In natural areas, Glaucous-winged Gulls like to nest on t…

Pine White Butterfly

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Over at Google+ I am following some great wildlife photographers.  I have been envying all the wonderful shots of butterflies I have seen posted there.  The Lepidoptera are favorite photo subjects.  Now, such as it is, I have finally gotten one of my own.

This is a Pine White Butterfly (Neophasia menapia) enjoying some Russian Sage.  This little fellow was very camera shy.  He (she?) was already airborne when I managed to catch this one quick shot.  Their range is southern British Columbia and Alberta, and down through the western states.  One source indicates that they are "absent from northwest coastal forests."  Well, I happen to live at the edge of one those, so obviously, this photo contradicts that statement.

I believe my yard suffers from lepidoptepenia.  I rarely see any butterflies at all.  Despite the fact that I have chosen plants for the garden known to attract them, they just don't come calling.  I think I should be seeing all of these, but no such luck.  D…