Birding and more...Newsletter
2010 / Issue 9



Most of you know about my passion for bird photography. It's a hobby that brings me a lot of pleasure and satisfaction, and also provides a load of challenges. I've been at it a few years now, and I've learned a lot. In the next few issues of our newsletter, I will pass along some of the tips and tricks that I've learned.

Birds are everywhere, but photographing them can be a little bit like nailing jelly to a tree. It takes patience, persistence, and planning.

Let's start with the basics. Birds are great subjects. They all look great and nature provides phenomenal backdrops for our pictures. Having said that, birds are timid, fidgety, and often difficult to locate. They are also relatively small. So the first rule of getting good bird photos is to

There's no substitute for getting close to your subject. When we snap a picture, we often fail to realize how small the object is in relation to the frame. An image like the one on the left can appear to be fine through the viewfinder of the camera - but no amount of cropping is going to turn that image into a portrait. You have to get closer. However, getting close enough to produce a quality image is no mean feat. Birds have incredible eyesight, so without taking special measures, the birds are always going to see you - and this will almost always cause them to fly away. Some birds, like Chickadees, Doves, Mallards, Canada Geese, and even Yellow Warblers are easier to approach, but most birds are very skittish. So how do we get close enough to get a photo like the one on the right? Here are some tips:
1. Wear camouflaged clothing and try to blend in with your surroundings. Hiding in dense foliage near an area of high activity works well.
2. Move slowly and quietly and try to keep a tree trunk or dense bush between you and your subject bird. Also, try not to make any quick jerky movements. Raise your camera to your eye slowly and smoothly.
3. Use a portable blind in situations where there is no natural shelter.
4. Use a telephoto lens on your camera that can get you close up from a distance.
5. Wear rubber boots so you can walk through wet muddy places if that's what's necessary to get close to where the birds are.



Red-headed Woodpecker
taken by Linda G aka Crafty Gardener

After reading about the Red-headed Woodpecker that I spotted recently at Prince Edward Point, Linda sent us this terrific photo of one that had passed through her garden a couple of years ago. Not your typical yard bird!

Linda has a great website:

The Readers Patch is a space for your photos, stories, and/or comments.
Send anything you'd like to share with us to:


See if you can unscramble these weird phrases to spell the names of
four common birds.

   GIRLS TAN   _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
U SWAM TEN  _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _
        ONE PIG  _ _ _ _ _ _
      YULE JAB  _ _ _ _   _ _ _

What's New this week at

Many new posts have been added to the Birding and more blog.

New Icons/buttons have been added to the
Other Stuff section of the main page.

Check out our Garden Bird List to see the surprising newest addition.

On the east side of '2nd Dug Hill Road'
200 metres north of County Road 33
 there is a pond where a pair of
 Mute Swans have built their nest.


Nesting boxes should be safe and secure. They should also be durable and easy to clean.
Here are some guidelines to follow whether you plan to buy or build.

1. Should be made of untreated wood.
2. Roof should fit into a slot in the back to prevent water from running down into the box.
3. Thick (3/4") walls.
4. Extended sloped roof to protect from predators and the elements.
5. No perches that can aid predators. This will also discourage House Sparrows.
6. Entrance hole properly sized for intended species of bird.
7. Easy access for cleaning.
8. Sturdy construction.
9. Drainage holes.


I mentioned the several different shrubs we have planted around our backyard in an earlier Newsletter and all of them are coming along nicely. The Honeysuckles are in full bloom and the Chokeberry and Bridalwreath Spirea are also blossoming now. The Mockorange has a number of small flower buds (first time so I'm quite excited!) and the Hydrangeas and Nannyberries are also showing numerous buds. Even the two Holly bushes have miniscule flowers so hopefully one of them will develop berries. The Butterfly Bush is slower this year and only has a few shoots coming up from the base so I'll be watching it carefully – I hope it's not a shrub that will need to be replaced every couple of years!

I want to plant three more shrubs this year so I've been going through my “Trees & Shrubs” book and have added a couple of new choices to my long-standing “heart's desire”... I have wanted a Highbush Cranberry (also called American Cranberrybush) since the first garden I ever planted but it's either not commonly stocked in the garden nurseries or I've found others on my list more easily, and it had to wait for another year. Well, this is its year and I intend to start looking early and persevere until I find it! The main reason I want this shrub is for the berries it produces (for the birds of course) and hope that they stay on the shrub through the fall and into the winter. Obviously, if they are eaten up sooner rather than later, that's okay too! Another shrub I'd like to plant this year is an Azalea, if I can find a species that is hardy enough for Zone 5 winters. I have a partially shady spot that would look nice with a flowering shrub, next to the hedge, and apparently Azaleas attract hummingbirds too. And then, just for the bright colour, I'd like to plant a Shrubby St. Johnswort in a fairly sunny location. These two additions are not carved in stone and if I don't find them, or they aren't really suitable, I'll choose something else along the same line and let you know!

Last but not least, we want to add a couple of Clematis vines along one fence and Garry has requested a couple of Wild Grape vines to complement our Honeysuckle vine and Virginia Creepers along the other fence.

It's so exciting to plan and dream but even more so, to watch your dreams come to fruition and that's how we feel about our backyard!

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   Copyright © 2010 Garry Kirsch                                                          

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