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Old Apr 4, 2010, 10:33 PM   #1
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Default Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers and some mugshots (7 imgs)

Hi All,

It's finally spring, so I've had some chance to get out and shoot. I found an area where a couple of Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers had staked out some territory, and were tapping the spring sap flow in the trees. I've only seen a few of these guys in the past, so I got permission to venture off the trails at the Nature Center to see if I could get some shots. These aren't the greatest, but they're the best I've gotten (so far).

All the shots are of the male. I have seen the female, though I haven't gotten close enough to get any decent shots. The difference in appearance between the male and female is that the female has a white throat.

Here's the male and the characteristic horizontal line of almost perfectly circular holes he's pecked out to tap the tree sap. The sap has been running and has wet a section of the bark of the tree. It seems that they pick a few new trees a day to tap, but return to previously tapped trees to gather bugs that were still being attracted to the sugar from the dried sap.


This female Downy WP is also taking advantage of the insects that are drawn to the running sap. You can see a few of the YBSS holes in the bark.


Some more shots of the male YBSS






The birds at the Nature Center commissioned me to get some mug shots of the main feeder thief at the Center, apparently thinking that being identified would intimidate him. This guy came right up and volunteered, giving me both a full front and profile, and he laughed and challenged the birds to try to keep them away. . .

Both of these are full height, just cropped from the sides and downsized, shot at 510mm from about 10 ft. These are easily the closest shots I've ever gotten of a squirrel in the wild.



It's really good to be able to get out -- it sure seemed to be a long winter around here.

Scott
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Old Apr 4, 2010, 11:26 PM   #2
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Scott, these are all great. Excellent focus and exposure. What lens did you use?
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Old Apr 5, 2010, 6:41 AM   #3
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Wonderful work with those VERY SHY sapsuckers! All these photos are great, but #1 is just superb - both the art and the science...
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Old Apr 5, 2010, 12:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtnman View Post
Scott, these are all great. Excellent focus and exposure. What lens did you use?
Hi mtnman,

Thanks!

These are from the K-7, FA*300/4.5 + P F 1.7x Auto Focusing Adapter (510mm, f7.7) This is my favored handheld birding setup. Because of the slow max aperture of the combination, it's still challenging to use, even on reasonably clear days during the early spring, but I needed the extra reach for these elusive guys.

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Wonderful work with those VERY SHY sapsuckers! All these photos are great, but #1 is just superb - both the art and the science...
Hi mole,

Thanks!

It certainly took some patience to get these. I first spotted the wet sections of the tree trunks, saw the birds from a distance, and took a couple of long distance shots to confirm the ID, then spent a few hours sitting on stumps and fallen logs hoping they'd come closer.

#1 is the shot I really wanted, with the bird right there at one of the sap-soaked areas it had been working on. I had waited by this tree for a couple of hours, had given up, and moved on to another group of trees when I spotted him back at this tree and had to backtrack and stalk to get close enough again to get this shot.

Scott
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Old Apr 5, 2010, 9:39 PM   #5
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Patience is the key Scott!
you did quite well. I really like the yellow bellies wardrobe.
Quite the handsome little devil.
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Old Apr 5, 2010, 9:40 PM   #6
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Scott - Glad to see you've finally been able to get out and about. You always amaze me with your bird shots. These are great. I struggled yesterday just trying to get a simple shot of a robin that was keeping his distance from me, but not even running off. Just wanted his little buffer distance between me and him. I'd move a foot, he'd move a foot.

Patty
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Old Apr 5, 2010, 9:48 PM   #7
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Nice work Scott, your patients really paid off with some splendid shots. That lens and TC combo seems to work great together.

Thanks for sharing!

Lou
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Old Apr 5, 2010, 11:47 PM   #8
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Your normal awesome shots! The sapsucker is a very pretty bird, besides. I don't have the patience for this type of thing at all - how I admire you! Oh, and your squirrel portraits are nice, too. I've gotten almost that close-up pictures but I wouldn't call the ones I was photographing wild - I almost stepped on one because I was looking up, not down!
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