Thursday, January 3, 2013

Loggerhead Shrike

Beyond excited to see my very first loggerhead shrike! I started to ignore this little bird thinking it was a chickadee or a sparrow, but when I enlarged it on the computer I realized how wrong I was. It pays to trust your instincts, people. I googled "gray bird with black mask" and VOILA! Known as the "Butcher Bird", they impale their prey on thorns because their talons aren't strong enough to get the job done.
This was my first sighting on 12/30/12. As you can see, he was very far away, so even through the viewfinder, I couldn't quite tell what I had.
I returned to the lakes today and my persistence paid off.
I stalked Zorro from one end of the lake to the other.
I think he's ready to gouge my eyes out. Or something.



Bertha and I are learning to co-exist. When she is paired with the 100-400mm lens, adequate light is a necessity, so I've accepted that if there isn't enough light, to wait. Also, I am now using back-button focusing instead of using the shutter button to focus. Enabling the back button next to the AF point button allows me to lock focus. In other words you don't have to keep pressing and refocusing if something enters the picture that might interfere with the initial focus. There is a good blog post here, which explains it much better! This is particularly helpful for sports and nature photographers. That one little change has made photography a little easier for me. 

Linking with

37 comments:

Brian King said...

Congratulations! I've never seen one myself. Your photos are beautiful! I like the branch backgrounds in the various shots. The last one shows how handsome it really is.

I also use the back button to focus. Very quick and convenient.

TexWisGirl said...

really nice, gail! very cool bird to see (i've never seen one!)

Evelyn S. said...

Wow, Gail! These are terrific images of "impaler" birds! As for back-button-focusing, I need to re-read the how-to and try it. I'm so impatient and if anything reminds me of math.....I just avoid it. ;-)

Deanna said...

Yowza...that is one fine looking bird...good for you for stalking. How heavy is your 100-400mm lens? Do you use it with a tripod or hand hold it? Curious minds want to know.

Barb Brookbank said...

Congratulations on getting these amazing shots! I know how hard catching a bird is! I'm going to have to research your method of back-button focusing - thanks for the tip!

Carol L McKenna said...

Wow! What a bird! What excellent photography you do ^_^ Fantastic !

(A Creative Harbor aka ArtMuseDog and Carol ^_^)

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

These are amazing pictures. Persistence sure paid off here. I really need to get into the habit of using that back button focusing.

hootnonny said...

Pretty bird. When I BBF, I move the camera too much. Think it might be the location of Nikon BBF button.

Have you looked at this site:
http://www.whatbird.com/
My son uses it in his bird IDing.

Lynn said...

Beautiful, Gail, just beautiful.

Tricia said...

Beautiful photos, Gail. I can't get over the variety of wildlife you manage to see. It makes me feel like there's not much going on around here or i'm not looking hard enough. I remember reading about back button focusing...I think it's something I need to revisit.

Kerry said...

Great shots of a neat bird. It...impales it's prey? Yikes.

One day I will get a camera that requires me to understand what you just said about focusing.

Shug said...

I'm happy with your persistence....we all get to share in the joy of it!
Beautiful bird! I so love the little moss that grows on the tree limbs. One thing that I enjoy seeing when we pass through your state..
Hugs

Amy Burzese said...

These are great shots. I am not familiar with birds beyond your basic cardinal, robin, etc., That little guy does look a bit mean, but I can't see him impaling something :) BBF has been on my mental list for a while, but I haven't given it much of a try. Now is the time. Thanks for inspiring me.

Linda said...

Your little "Zorro" is a stunning little fellow. In that one picture, I think he was sizing you up and looking for a suitable thorn. :)

Spare Parts and Pics said...

Awesome photos, Gail! I'm going to check out back button focusing... never heard of it, but it sounds like it could be helpful.

Tree Hugger - Suzan said...

Such neat shots of the little bird. Don't you wish you could catch him with dinner!! Interesting seeing the air plant on the branches and leech? I forget what they call the grey stuff - love the details!

ladyfi said...

Wow - what beautiful shots of this bird. (Although those eyes are a bit scary!)

Dave said...

That's a nice little bird Gail. Well done for getting the shots - Dave

Jacquelineand.... said...

These are amazing shots Gail! I've never seen a 'butcher bird', must say I'm glad he's fairly wee...he's a scary Zorro!

Stewart M said...

Hi there - nice picture and nice tip. My camera has a AF (and exposure lock) button on the back that I often use ti recompose the image without messing up the focus.

And dont you just look a "computer tick"!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne.

eileeninmd said...

Cool sighting of the Shrike! It would be a lifer for me. Awesome photos! Have a great weekend!

Phil said...

Your persistence paid off there with some reaaly good shots Gail.That Loggerhead looks so like the Southern Grey Shrike I posted on my blog last week - worlds apart but closely related.

Rosemary Aubut said...

Great shots Gail! he is a real beauty! Love your tenacity!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

LOL on the butcher bird. I must admit he's a cutie. Glad you and Bertha are getting along much better!

Coloring Outside the Lines said...

Wowser! I've never seen or heard of a butcher bird.

Gone Country said...

Love the mask on him! The other day I saw a Road Runner about 20 feet from me and I didn't have my camera, grrrr! That was the first time I've seen one up so close. Hopefully there will be another time.

I'm going to check out that link for using the back button focusing technique. A photographer friend recommended I do this but I had so much else to learn about my new camera that it was overwhelming at the time. I think I'm ready now to figure it out.

Great shots, by the way!

bailey-road.com said...

Your stalking paid off. These are beautiful shots. Congratulations on the sighting and photos,

Stephanie said...

Amazing, amazing, AMAZING! Your captures are so lovely! Your "stalking" definitely paid off :)

Hugs,
Stephanie

Mitzi said...

Gail my sweets, you capture some of the most fascinating images and this series is no exception! I just love popping in and sitting around viewing all of your beautiful images! Big hugs,xoxo

Ruth said...

What an amazing bird! Great shots Gail, well done.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

That is one interesting bird (he looks like a masked villain sort of)....wonderful shots and description.

Patrice said...

Wow, we're getting a bird AND photo education, Gail! Great job!!

Buttons said...

Good for you Gail these are great shots.. We seem to have a lot of these on the farm. They are a protected species here. B

Barbara said...

I've never even heard of one! Congratulations! These are great shots! He's kinda cute, even if he is ruthless.

Lisa Gordon said...

He is just beautiful!
Love the bokeh you captured in the 5th one here.
Simply perfect.

the wild magnolia said...

Patience pays off!

Charlotte Wilson said...

Gail,
You blow me away! I am severely suffering from bird photo envy! seriously, you need to make a book with your photos.
BTW, what lens are you using? is it the 70-400?