Sunday, November 19, 2006

Project Feeder Watch Day 4, a lifer, and an unknown

This is the second weekend of my feeder-watching for Cornell's Project Feederwatch, and I had a banner day. Last weekend's days were extremely slow, probably due to the constant rain, but today it's dry. I set up the crappy tripod I bought (which I'll return) and took some photos through the new scope. There are some definite problems with the scope, but I'll talk about that later. First, let's look at some birds.

I got up at 11, coffeed up, and went out to the three-season porch. There weren't many birds around at first, but then I realized the feeders were empty! I filled them all up and did my usual birdcall ("come on, budgies!") and went inside. Within minutes, the tufted titmice and black-capped chickadees appeared. I got a couple of photos, but please forgive all the obstructions--whether natural (branches) or manmade (that green garden arch between me and the hanging feeder):
Black-capped chickadee

Note the tilt--as if you couldn't without my mentioning it. That's the scope. We'll get to that later in the "will this scope ever work?" section.

Tufted titmouse cracking open a seed

Suddenly EVERYONE showed up and both the hanging feeder and the platform feeder were crowded with birds, and the nearby trees held queued-up birds awaiting their turn.

Northern cardinal


Purple finch
That's my garden arch in the way--gotta take that down today.

I even got a lifer at the feeder--my first nuthatch!

White-breasted nuthatch

Blue jay, with camera zoom only

By now you're probably getting a little motion sickness from the angled photos. I don't have photoshop yet--or I'd rotate them to proper orientation. That's on the list, though....

I also saw but didn't get to photograph the following:
White-crowned sparrow
White-throated sparrow
Downy woodpecker
House finch

Then a new bird came to the new peanut cake I put in the suet feeder yesterday. I don't think this is a mockingbird, but what is it?
I was using the camera only, and I was at a bad angle, but I think you can see pretty much what you need to. The body is mockingbird-like, but the head and beak were very small and fine, almost dove-like. What is it? Am I just not seeing it?

Here's a professional photo of a mockingbird:

That's a Northern mockingbird (photo by Lang Elliott). My guy looked--well, he just looked different. I also noticed white tips on his tail feathers. I don't know--maybe it's a mockingbird. Help!

All in all, it was a busy two hours at the feeder.


The "will my scope ever work?" section
There are some obvious problems with my latest scope. First, given the 90-degree angle of my image-erecting prism, I have to kind-of tilt it to the right or left then stand beside the scope, which gives me the angled views. I saw a 45-degree prism, which I don't remember seeing when I first looked for the prism. That would be nice to have.

Second, the focus is only so-so. I have worked on the focusing barrel quite a bit, but I'm just not able to fine-tune it. This is assuming that better focusing is even possible, given the construction, quality of lenses, etc. I don't know the answer to that question.

Third, the field of view is kind-of tiny, and the vignetting is horrible.

That's the full-screen view through the camera. Zooming the lens, which helps when I digi-binocularize (?), does not improve the view. I don't know why. Astronomy Boy once told me that vignetting means the optical path is obstructed. I would guess this is happening at the narrowing point, which makes me think I need to lengthen or widen or something. You see how fast the diameter narrows down because (for some strange reason) PVC pipemakers did not take into account my needs for scope-building.

I'll have to think on this for a while. Any suggestions?

Now I have to start my homework for tomorrow (reading about the sentencing phase of the criminal justice system, then beginning the essay portion of my next exam--the essay parts are always take-home).

Any help with the bird IDs--either corrections or confirmations--would be appreciated! And thanks goes to Mike McDowell for his excellent photos and discussions about different sparrows.

14 comments:

LauraHinNJ said...

Sorry - no help on the scope troubles - but I'd call that a mockingbird. Nice that he came to your suet feeder.

dguzman said...

Thanks--I don't know why I was so resistant to just call it a mockingbird; I guess because I didn't see it fly, which is when it's easiest to ID a mockingbird. After all, it is the state bird of Texas--I should've known it on sight.

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