Friday, June 14, 2024

Adverse conditions

If I have one rule in regard to my motion-triggered DSLRs, it is "Save the shutter actuations." In other words, put the wear-and-tear on the ancient 1D (#9) instead of the 5D (#8) or 6D (#12). I don't want to be firing off 2,000 bad images and get nothing, but that's what happened with the 5D since last evening. I saw in the weather report that it was supposed to be sunny today, so I left the 5D out overnight hoping to get some shots of birds coming to the birdbath just after sunrise. What I neglected to note in the weather report was the projected high winds. I woke up around 3:30 and heard the wind howling, and in the morning found our umbrella table blown over. It was not damaged, but it got moved five feet despite being set in a water-filled base. The 5D worked through the night, responding to every nudge of the wind with six shutter actuations, getting absolutely nothing.

I replaced the 5D with the 1D, and found out the forecast sunny skies actually were intermittent clouds and rain. We had a heavy but brief downpour and some small hail, which put on a show as it hit the water in the birdbath. Fortunately, one of the attributes of the sturdy 1D line is its weatherproofing. And finally, a flicker came and posed while getting a drink. Canon 1D Mark II, 70-200mm zoom at 131mm.

Small hail
<--- It belongs over there

Thursday, June 13, 2024

One shot

I set up the 5D Mark III (#8) with the 17-35 zoom set at 28mm with the remote trigger, and got several images of scared sparrows flying away. The lens was right up against the bird bath, and the noise of a 6-shot burst sent them flying. So I backed off a bit and switched to the 70-200mm zoom lens set at 100mm. I got a lot of false triggers, not sure why, but I also got this. I don't really want to spend 500 shutter acuations on my 5D every time I try this just to get one image, but this is what I was going for.

Maybe I will switch to the 1D Mark II (#9) tomorrow, but it has a 1.3x sensor crop so I would have to back off to 70mm to shoot from the same spot. And I have to get my extension cord out because the 20-year-old battery does not hold a charge. It was nice of Canon to include an AC adapter kit with the camera back in 2004. Imagine that these days. The expectation, I guess, was that some customers would use it as a studio camera even with the 1.3x crop.

After that is a horribly flawed image that still made me go "Wow!" With the DSLR on the small birdbath, I moved the Gardepro back to the big birdbath and got this really close image of a magpie.


I have the 5D (#8), zoom lens set at 28mm and motion trigger set up on the small birdbath, hoping to get more flicker images. These are from this morning with the Gardepro (#14) almost three hours apart. My question is whether these are the same bird. The earlier one looks stockier than the later one, but is that just the angle, or the bird puffed up in the morning chill? I have a few dozen images now from the trail camera and DSLR, so if this really bothers me I could try to analyze the spot pattern to determine whether there is more than one bird.

5:46 AM
8:36 AM

Wednesday, June 12, 2024


I moved the Gardepro close focus camera to the short bird bath today. I collapsed the tripod all the way and it still wasn't enough, so these images are from a high angle. I have a good tripod that will get much lower, but I don't want to leave it out in the weather like the cheap tripod, which is outside all through the winter. Anyway, shown here are three of the larger birds (flicker, magpie, crow), but there also were some robins (adult and fledgling) and sparrows. The flicker came three separate times during the day, so I may put out the motion trigger DSLR with the good/low tripod tomorrow. It is supposed to be sunny.

The crows spent quite a bit of time at the bath, and seemed to be chasing away the magpies when they came too close. But the magpies also got their turn.

The fourth image is manually triggered and is the lopsided buck from the last two years. The shape of the antlers is not evident in this image, but in another image shot as he was moving away, the deformity is visible. He ran right past Browning #5 to make his escape after I disturbed him eating our bushes, but upon checking the Browning I found that the batteries died two days ago. I use rechargeables in the yard cameras, otherwise I would be buying batteries all the time. The good cameras out in the woods go through batteries very slowly, every year or so, so they get the lithiums.

Lopsided buck

Tuesday, June 11, 2024


I didn't learn my lesson from scanning through 6,000 potential hummingbird images yesterday. I set the Gardepro out overnight, aimed at the hummingbird feeder again but shooting from a lower angle to get the birds against the sky. This time I had 40,000 images to go through, taken between 8 pm and 9 am. I thought maybe there would be very few images in the dark, but the motion detector kept working through the night and more than 20,000 of the images were lit with the no-glow flash. I was hoping to get flash-lit birds, but there were none. The morning birds were still in shadow, but shooting against the sky gives good profiles.

Later in the day I put out the camera trying to get sunlit birds, and gleaned a few from the 10,000 additional images. At 4:42 when the fifth image shown below was taken, the sun had already moved to the point where the bird was mostly backlit. As I was taking a closer look, I realized it was not a Calliope like all of the other hummingbird images I've gotten since 2021. I'm going to say this is a Ruby-throated as I referenced previously in a 2021 blog post on my site. This reminds me that one of the other names for Trail Cameras is Scout Cameras. Now I know there is more in the area than just Calliopes. This fifth image was shot from only 12 inches away, and still the bird is very tiny.

I'm done for now with flipping through 10,000 images at a time. I will be moving the closeup camera to the small bird bath hoping to get a flicker or something.

Just before sunset yesterday
Just after sunset yesterday
20,000 images like this
After sunrise today
Not a Calliope

Monday, June 10, 2024

Something new

There hasn't been much action around the nest boxes besides the swallows, and the truth is I'm not as enamored of them as the bluebirds, so I moved the trail camera over to the hummingbird feeder. Who else would shoot hummingbirds with a trail camera? The reason this is a bad idea (besides the birds being really tiny) is the feeder sways back and forth in the wind, and there are lots of false triggers. It wasn't too windy this morning so I decided to chance it. The camera triggered about 6,000 times in three hours. The clip on the support keeps the feeder from rotating, but it can still sway.

Anyway, what I was hoping to get was the birds chasing each other. I witnessed that yesterday, but they were moving so fast there was no way I could photograph it. With the Gardepro wide angle and fast shutter speed, I thought they might swoop into view. I found a number of images with two birds in it, but not really swooping. Shown below two examples is a 400mm DSLR shot in comparison. Obviously there is no comparison, but I do these things anyway.

I'll probably move the camera to the small bird bath next, hoping to get something similar to the fourth image, which I snapped yesterday.

Canon 6D Mark II, 100-400mm zoom lens at 400
Northern Flicker

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Where the bluebirds at?

Even though I put out two nest boxes under the internet-approved theory that swallows and bluebirds can nest side by side, it seems the swallows claim the entire backyard and the bluebirds have decided to reside elsewhere. But they did make a cameo a few days ago.

Anyone home?
Just visiting