Some Days Are For The Birds

Recently the warm weather allowed me to get out for a few minutes and visit the bird feeder at my dad’s house. Dad goes all out for his little feathered friends. The TV is on but he has his binoculars pressed to his face looking out the window at all the activity in the chestnut trees on the edge of the yard. The term “yard” is kinda used loosely at dad’s place. In general it’s any place where you mow plus just under the trees where the woods begin. As we observe the feeding dad recounts the events at the feeder over the past few days. He hasn’t actually named these birds out loud but he knows all of the species and individuals who frequently visit his yard. He tells me that the Common Flicker in tonight’s feature image is the boss of the yard and how he even challenges and keeps at bay the murder of crows that are larger and outnumber him. He talks about the covey of mourning doves and how one always lands on the feeder and tosses food down to the ground for the rest of them. A Pileated Woodpecker swoops in as dad talks and lands on a dead limb of a hickory tree. He hits the dead wood like a jackhammer and sends wood chips flying everywhere in his search for insects living in the wood. ( I tried to get a nice shot of the Pileated Woodpecker but he’s far too camera shy and took flight as soon as I stepped outside.) Dad has one mortal enemy at his bird feeder and surprisingly it’s not the squirrels. It’s a mob of Common Grackles that have run the bluebirds out of his yard and have even overwhelmed the Flicker on occasion. The former Marine came out in dad’s eyes when he postulated on how to defend his songbirds from the Grackles. A few minutes later he softened a little and said that God had a place for the Grackles too. Most of shots from the window didn’t really turn out well and so I put my wilderness stalking skills to work and began to ease myself closer to the feeder. Most of the birds scattered at first but soon the chickadees returned. Small and agile the chickadees figure they can be gone with a mouthful of food before the human can react. I remained as motionless as a stone until they began to ignore me. As soon as the others saw that I wasn’t chasing after the chickadees they also returned. Then finally the Flicker decided that it was time to let me know that this was his feeder. The others gave way to him as he came in for a landing. He dug into the seed mix and found the one he wanted. Then he flew directly at the camera so fast that I couldn’t adjust the focus. He pulled up at the last moment and landed on the branch above me. Few a few minutes he seemed to play peekaboo by popping out from the tree with the nut in his beak. Finally he tucked it into his hiding spot on an upper branch.

Common Flicker hiding a nut in a tree branch

I watched him repeat this stunt a few times before I went back inside to visit with dad some more and share the photos with him. I’ve been told that some days are for the birds but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I want to encourage you to spend some time birding. The songbirds not only bring much needed beauty to the dull winter climate but also share their beautiful songs and impart a little peace to your morning.

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A Conversation Between Friends

Tonight’s Feature Image is titled ” Friendship & Sunshine”. If you would like to purchase a copy please use the contact info at the bottom of page.

There’s something special about having a day with nothing to do but sit by the river with a friend. I look at the ducks in tonight’s feature image and I have to imagine that they’ve been best friends since the day they met. As they stood there on their rock looking out over the Kanawha River they seemed to quack to each other in a hushed tone and this could only mean that were gossiping. Which makes me wonder what ducks would gossip about?Perhaps they are having a conversation about Gertrude. “Gertrude thinks she’s in charge of everything but she’s just a silly old goose.” Or maybe they are talking about what an old crow Joe is. Of course it might not be gossip at all. They could be quizzing each other on the lecture given by the wise old owl last night. So that when he asks who they’ll be the first with the right answer. Perhaps they are discussing the sermon that the cardinal gave last week or the upcoming drake concert. I can almost hear one say to the other that “The hummingbirds are going to open for him!”. They could be commenting on how tall young Mr Crane is or Mrs Dove is so pleasant. It’s also entirely possible that one of them is saying that “There’s some guy sneaking up behind us with a camera.” Of course it doesn’t matter what the conversation is about. All that’s really important to them is spending time with a best friend.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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The Discovery

A couple of years ago when I visiting my dad, my mom came into the room and with a hushed voice announced that the twins were here. She then lead me to the window and pointed out at the two baby deer asleep in the back yard. I had just taken my T-5 out the box a few days prior and I decided that this would be my best opportunity to try it out. Being familiar with the behavior of the local deer population I opted to “trust stalk” them. I snuck out the other side of the house with my T-5 in hand and slowly walked along the side of the house. Even though they were only a few weeks old their keen instincts and finely tuned senses told them that they were no longer alone. Fortunately for me their natural reaction was to freeze in place and try to be as invisible as possible. I made a point to not look at them and sat down in the grass nearby. I would occasionally speak in a soft tone and purposefully let the know I where I was. The idea is not to act like a predator. A predator would try to sneak in on them so by not sneaking I was avoiding the flight or flight response. Eventually I just laid back in grass and pretended to be napping myself. I could see them out of the corner of my eye. They would perk up their ears and zone right in on me. The flick of a tail would let me know that they had relaxed again and would work my way a little closer. Eventually I got in range for framing I wanted and slowly rolled over on my stomach. I raised the viewfinder to my eye and engaged some of the marksmanship skills that I had developed as a hunter. I turned my camera on and the click from the power switch was all it took to bring them to full alert. They got up but didn’t run. Instead they they separated from each other a little and waited to see if I would chase them. When I didn’t they hesitated. The one in the feature image decided that if he stomped his foot that I just might be intimidated enough to leave. When I didn’t they decided to move into the shadows under a thick hemlock tree. They never did get close enough for me to say that I fully gained their trust but they did eventually come back into grass after I left them alone.

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Blue Treasure

Tiny wings dance in the warm summer breeze as I explore the edges of my yard. She seems so carefree as she flits and flickers from place to place. The pale blue wings are are a joy to behold as the shutter snaps. It’s as if the Spring violets came to life and took to the wind. I have watched these little butterflies my whole life and never really took the time to find out the name. At first I thought that it was “Small Blue” which is a species found in the U.K. and Asia. But with a second Google search I learned that it’s a Spring Azure. Both are from the Lycaenidae family. The internet is full of scientific data on the feeding and mating habits as well as the season and range and all of the wonderfully nerdy things that make the internet interesting. But the best part of the little blue butterflies that are spotted in the warmer months is the childlike giggle that comes from deep within the soul when they’re near.

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Solitude And Focus

There are times when a person just needs a little solitude. When the world around you is full of flashing signs and blaring music and distractions of every kind. We all have those moments when the mental clutter just needs to be pushed back and space needs to be given for focusing on one thing at a time. We need to just let our minds drift for a little while like a bird on the lake. He’s not trapped in the water. He can leave at time of his choosing. He can paddle around and go to any part of the water or land that he wants. He’s not overtaken by winds or currents but instead he rides them. He works in harmony with creation and achieves what is needed. And he rests when it’s time. He is at peace with his environment as God intended. Solitude isn’t really about being antisocial or introverted. It’s about focus. It’s intended to be a limited time for mental and emotional recharge. We exercise our bodies to grow stronger and have more endurance but any successful athletes will tell you that it’s during the resting cycle that the strength manifests. Our minds and spirits are the same way. We need a resting state to fully benefit from the stimulation we experience in daily life.

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Look Who Dropped By For Lunch

One of the true pleasures of the Appalachian Fall is the whitetail deer. We’re at the point where they have begun to shift their travel patterns just prior to the rut (mating season). This little guy in the feature image frequents the property around my day job with his mother and twin brother. He’s not quite a year old and as only recently lost his spots. He and his family decided to join us for lunch over the past few days. Being a city deer he’s reasonably comfortable with his human neighbors and didn’t seem to mind posing for a few pictures in front of the beautiful fall foliage. Deer are actually fairly curious creatures. As I knelt down to get different angles he pretend to eat the sweet clover on the lawn while inching nervously closer until his mother decided that he was close enough and stepped between us. She gently herded her children back to forest edge and to a comfortable range. I’ve seen the buck whom I believe is the father of twins. I expect that he’s a ten or a twelve point this year. The buck normally keeps his distance from us. This time of year he’s busy defending his territory from rivals. The ritual combat of the bucks is really nothing more than a wrestling match. They lock horns shove each other until one of them gives up. I’ll be watching the edges of the property for next few weeks hoping to get a good shot of the bucks as they contest each other for dominance.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook. Recently, I’ve been made aware that many of my posts on Facebook are being buried in the feed. So, if you don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website at the bottom of the Welcome Page.

Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Yearling Buck 1” and is available for purchase by contacting me on Facebook or by using the Contact Form on my website. (Note, I do not share or sale contact information. EVER)

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Masks, Bandits and Native American Lore

With Halloween right around the corner there are masks everywhere. Creepy masks, funny masks and superhero masks. There’s also a few bad guy masks. So with this being the season of the masks I thought that I would share a my best masked model so far. All summer long she would come to our office to find a huge mess near the entrance. Someone was throwing trash all over the recreational area. It wasn’t long before we spotted the culprit sporting her own bandit mask. The North America Raccoon. Although they’re pretty cute they can be not only troublesome but eventually they get dangerous. The one pictured here (or one of her sisters) had to be removed because it jumped up on the lunch table and took a sandwich out of someone’s hands. But what else can we expect from someone who wears a bandit mask 24/7?

On the subject of masks, I believe that I promised my friend Enni that I would tell the story of “False Face”.

The version that I was told says that the Creator and False Face had a contest to determine who was most powerful. False Face liked to brag and was cruel to the people by making them sick with his magic. The winner of the contest would determine the fate of the people. To show his power False Face strained with all his power and moved a mountain into the sea. Satisfied with his might he turned around to brag about his power and crashed into the same mountain which the Creator had moved between them effortlessly. As a punishment for his troublemaker ways the Creator cursed False Face to be subject to the command of the medicine men and must undo all of sickness he caused. Those medicine men became the False Face Society and while healing the sick they wear a mask with a crooked nose in honor of the Creator’s victory.

I’ve probably left a few details out of the story and there’s different versions but the basics are there. I know it’s really kinda odd but when I see a raccoon I think of masks and when I think of masks I think of False Face even though the raccoon has nothing to do with the legend.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. Please also consider following Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook. If you don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website at the bottom of Welcome Page.

Prints of tonight’s Feature Image have not been placed on sale. However, in place of the print option I want to let you know that I am available for portrait sessions by appointment. For details you can message me on Facebook or use the Contact Form on my website. Rates will vary depending on the type of portrait and number of people involved.