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Old Jun 8, 2004, 12:20 AM   #1
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The wax wing was on my wish list because I think it's a beautiful looking bird. Today I went out and the first blurred and vague bird that I focused on turned out to be a wax wing once I'd focused in, so I began photographing. However, I was on a 70-200 with 1.4x converter and couldn't get close enough, so, after getting a few shots that I thought were at least verifiable as toidentity, I went back to the car to get my 50-500, hoping that the bird would still be there when I returned.

Of course the bird was gone. Oh well, at least I got the distance shot. Hoping against hope I decided to set the 50-500 up on a tripod and attach a remote shutter just in case (I was absolutely not expecting another chance). Suddenly the bird appeared about 10 feet in front of me but it was behind a tree limb and I couldn't manipulate it with the lens on tripod, so I released the lens and tried to move around to get the shot you see below (behind the limb). Of course it flew away and I was absolutely certain that this was my last chance and I'd blown it. However...I decided to prepare anyway, so I placed the lens back on tripod and got the remote shutter ready.

I was then amazed to see these two wax wings land on a pile of dead trees immediately in front of me. They performed long enough for me to capture a number of decent shots, a few of what I have posted below along with the first long distance shot and the "behind the limb" shot. It's clear to me that these birds are not as bugged by human presence as they are by huge black crows who hide in the limbs waiting to pounce on them, which is exactly what happened to stop this little photo op. A crow, or raven, or something to that effect landed behind the clump of trees and the wax wings took off. This buzzard also took off as soon as it saw me. I hoped to get a shot of itbut it took off too fast after spotting me. Oh well, I'm thankful for what I did get before that crow, buzzard, black ravenhappened upon the scene.

First shot from a distance with the wrong lens (cropped quite a bit)



Next shot (behind the limb after I'd changed lenses but scrambled, taking the lens off tripod in orderto try to get around the limb)



Then the bird helped me out but his rear end was in the wrong place and I couldn't do too much about it but hope...I decided to focus on getting a shot when the light fell on his eye; this one was relatively successful.



Then this kind bird turned around. Wow, I now knew why I wanted to photograph this bird. What a majestic and colorful bird, and it's feathers look like "fur" to me, not feathers.



And one last photo. I was amazed at the brilliance of the yellow tip of the tail feathers on this wonder. Gads what a beautiful bird!


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Old Jun 8, 2004, 5:17 AM   #2
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Nice shots, sounds like you had a great day. Cute bird as well. :-)
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Old Jun 8, 2004, 10:10 AM   #3
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the last two shots are great, unusual looking bird.
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Old Jun 8, 2004, 1:24 PM   #4
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Those are amazing pictures.

What an awesome looking little bird.

Thanks for sharing these great pictures.
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Old Jun 8, 2004, 2:54 PM   #5
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That last one is lovely. I think they are great birds as well.

They are fairly social... you'll often see them in flocks so when you see one, look around for more. They are usually not that scared of people. I've had one land on a bush in front of me, eat some berries and then fall asleep. Right there! So I crept closer and closer and eventually had to stop getting close because I was too close for the lens to focus (about 1.6 meters!)

It did wake up a few times while I was there. The first time it looked a little alarmed, but then didn't care and settled back down. After that it would look at me a bit and then fall back asleep. Wonderful bird. Here are two pictures I took of it:

http://www.marx7.org/~esmith/web_posts/cedar_waxwing1.jpg
http://www.marx7.org/~esmith/web_posts/cedar_waxwing2.jpg

They ave great colors and their feathers look so soft and delicate.

Eric
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Old Jun 8, 2004, 3:06 PM   #6
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very nice eric! i love the second one!!!
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Old Jun 8, 2004, 11:54 PM   #7
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Good grief eric, that second one should win an award of some sort! It is spectacular, beyond words. Thanks for capturing it and sharing it. You must have been extremely pleased with that shot.
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Old Jun 9, 2004, 3:19 PM   #8
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I am very pleased. I consider it one of my best shots ever. I'm still kicking myself because of the blown hilight on the beak. But I still like it. And that is almost full frame, so I could make very big prints of it.

I hope to get into a similar situation with one of those birds again. I think they are amazingly beautiful birds with wonderful colors and smooth color transitions. Well worthy of the time spent trying to capture them.

Looking again at the forth photo of yours, about the only thing I would have considered doing differently would have been to use a slight fill flash to lighting the breast a bit and fill in the shadow under the beak.

And I looked at the third picture again. I like it. Its different, still crisp and shows the things that I like about this bird (color, feather softness.) It looks almost pensive as it stares off into space. I don't know if others would like it (its fairly non-traditional) but I'm talking about me here!

Eric
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Old Jun 10, 2004, 12:19 AM   #9
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Eric, I can't imagine a better shot of that bird with the berries enhancing. If I were you I'd push that and spread it around as much as possible. It's certainly better than anything I've ever seen in any magazine or birding book on wax wings.
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