The Blog Post previously scheduled for this week which would have included nudity, Redi-Whip Dairy Topping and liberal applications of various sized feathers, has been cancelled due to my inability to figure out a way to illustrate it without showing or betraying confidences. I am working on the problem.
So, I found myself sitting on the back porch … semi-contently, almost thoughtlessly, pitching peanuts out into the yard. This was a direct consequence of running out of my special mixture large bird feed. And so, the third round of peanuts this morning momentarily, and I strongly stress momentarily, rested in the grass about sixteen feet from my shooting perch. I was in a way … fishing for Blue Jays by pitching peanuts with no small amount of accuracy, into the backyard.
I ran out of my special seed mix during a small marathon bird shoot where I was trying to get a special shot which would be leaps and bounds beyond the standard run of the mill bird photographs. In my inventory of blue Jay photographs are numerous left, right, front and rear shots of the magnificent birds. I wanted something special.
Unfortunately, I hadn’t shot a single digital frame which could be considered a keeper because I was being worked over by a band of those blue bandits. Even as I put pen to paper, I have lost two peanuts. Land, hop, hop, gone. Land, hop, hop, gone. A series of blurred blue and white rear-end tail feathers was all I was seeing. I was being picked clean without being afforded the opportunity to show my ability to adjust shutter speed, aperture settings or my pan and shoot ability.
Blue Jays are illusive, fast as hummingbirds, sneaky, whisper quiet and at times bold as a thief in the broad daylight. You can look away, scratch your nose or adjust your shutter speed for a change in the light and there … a peanut is gone … and another one. A blue and white blur burns your vision. You can watch a bluejay flying straight at you where it lands in the pine tree to the left and at the same time a different one flies in from the right … whoosh … another peanut gone. At times, I’ve had more than one gang of blue work me over during an afternoon.
Generally, my inventory of photographic shoot supplies contains a cane, straw hat, chair, footrest, camera, iPod Touch, coffee and either a bag or large jar of in the shell salted peanuts. Now, these aren’t share with the critters peanuts but nice grade A number one fancy eating peanuts. Unfortunately without the lure of a nice meal, the blue Jays would be non-cooperative to say the least.
I found that a random pitching of peanuts into the yard was counterproductive. It was hard enough to predict exactly where the blue thieves were heading after picking up the photographic bait … such as up, down, left or right… but it was nearly impossible to guess which peanut would be selected. So … to help my odds of a good photograph, I found that a single pile of peanuts worked wonders. It took a while to get all my ducks in a row, but I was soon obtaining the keeper photographs I was after.
For this new season of shooting, I have an additional factor that often complicates my shooting. The Gretchen dog has on occasion scared off a Blue Jay by investigating the peanut file or continually barking at a real or imaginary curiosity. She has a lot to learn about the peculiarities of fast bird photography and good dog decorum.
Pitching peanuts to the Blue Jays was a learning experience. Several times, I even had Blue Jays waiting up in the tree for me to pitch them a peanut when their pile was exhausted. I even had one arrogant bird fly down and wait in the grass for me to pitch it a peanut. Two hops and the blue bandit sprung into the air with its prize. It was good to feel wanted.
Now … about those Hummingbirds …
Next week … Old Guys … Ever wonder what old guys do during the day, night or throughout the week?
To see more bird photographs go to oldguyphotography.com