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Old Aug 22, 2009, 10:51 PM   #1
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Default Hummingbirds and an nasty surprise (6 imgs)

Hi All,

I finally found a reliable place to find some hummingbirds. I'd stopped going to the Crab Tree Nature Center because they'd made some changes that adversely effected access to a lot of my favorite places.

Anyway, I was passing by, and stopped in a couple of days ago. I just observed for a while, but saw that their HB feeder was being visited regularly, so I came back with some gear, and have returned for the past couple of days to learn something about their behavior and try for some shots.

These guys are a real challenge. Very quick, incredibly small, and very unpredictable. The lighting was generally horrible, threatening rain the whole time, and very dark, with a few minutes at a time when the sun was able to penetrate the very thick cloud cover.

This first shot was massively underexposed so the colors are off -- I'm still getting used to the metering of the K-7, not that I wouldn't have made the same mistake with the K20. . .

Here are a couple from the second day. I learned a lot from just watching them, and found that they weren't intimidated by my just standing there, as long as I was over about 10-12 feet away. . . I'll try to get a bit closer. . .

These (and the first, I believe) are all female Ruby Throated HBs.

I've been told that these are the only kind that visit around here, but. . .

maybe the sun reflecting wierd off its chin feathers, but they're supposed to be a bright red in the male. . .

And this guy looks a lot like the Black Throated HB pics in the guides. . . They aren't supposed to even come close to the northern midwest. . .

And WTF is this????? -- the body alone was about 2" long -- easily the biggest fly I've ever seen, by a magnitude of at least 2 or 3. Opaque black wings, and now that I can look at the pics, what looks like orange tips on the feet. This might look like almost a macro, but it's a snap I took at 510mm from 15-20 feet away. This is about a 2/3 frame crop.

I thought it was a rubber toy that someone had tacked up as a joke -- until it took off, smacked into a big window with a loud thud, then flew off to parts unknown. . . in flight, it looked a little bigger than the HBs. I'm considering bringing a shotgun for self protection the next time I go there. . . We aren't supposed to have mega bugs around here . . thank you very much!!!

I'm thinking of concentrating on these guys for a little while. . . and maybe I can remember to bring my flash. . .

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Old Aug 23, 2009, 5:57 AM   #2
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Thats one huge fly indeed, and lovely hummingbirds.


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Old Aug 23, 2009, 7:53 AM   #3
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I really like the third one. The way it just hovers there.

And, that fly! Yikes! 2"! Shivers down my spine just thinking of a fly that large.

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Old Aug 23, 2009, 8:13 AM   #4
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Great images, love those little birds, and a nice shot of a "black horse fly"

"This horse fly is a blood feeder, slashing the hide of the animal and sponging blood from the wound." Don't think that shotgun is a bad idea.


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Old Aug 23, 2009, 10:09 AM   #5
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Scott, these are great compositions..especially like the one feeding from the flower. Re. the color of the male, on some of the images, the colors on these images look somewhat hazy & pale on my monitor...almost as if the've been shot through a hazy glass...not sure if it is your images or my monitor.
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Old Aug 23, 2009, 12:29 PM   #6
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Scott... they weren't perhaps shooting a Sci Fi movie close by....

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Old Aug 23, 2009, 2:38 PM   #7
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Alright, time for a battle royal, your fly vs my wasp:

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Old Aug 23, 2009, 3:54 PM   #8
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Scott - the feathers on hummingbird gorgets have structural colors, and not pigments. Think of them as bearing little prisms that reflect different colors - or none at all - depending on the direction of the light falling on them. Bring your flash - it should help. Otherwise you seem to be getting the hang of it.

There looks like there might be a tinge of blue in the gorget of #5 - hummingbirds sometimes stray into the East and Midwest, but Black-chins and Costa's - (the ones that show blue in the Gorget) are not likely in Chicago.

And you are lucky that that horsefly wasn't hungry - only the females bite - and painfully too - (like female mosquitos they need a blood meal to lay eggs), and that one is a female! Those horseflies only occur in eastern North America, so they are one thing I haven't missed by moving West.
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Old Aug 23, 2009, 5:21 PM   #9
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not my image thank god but this little (well not so little) beasty trumps pretty much all insect life - japanese giant hornets

as this is my first post here should really say hi, the humming bird shots are really nice - love the one in flight - bet you needed alot of patience to get those shots - been tring to get some shots of buzzards lately but having spectularily bad luck
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Old Aug 23, 2009, 5:56 PM   #10
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his fly, your wasp !!!!! i got both..

Passion is in all great searches and is necessary to all creative endeavors. - W. Eugene Smith
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