PAUL ROEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY

Wildlife and Nature Photography

Posts tagged ‘Paul Roedding Photography’

A Proven Hot Spot For Winter Waterfowl

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A wide variety of waterfowl including this female Northern Pintail were recently observed in Springbank Park

In my last post, Fresh Snow Provides The Perfect Backdrop For Photographing Birds, I shared some of my recent observations and images from Springbank Park, one of my favourite winter birding locations. One of the reasons I love this park so much is the abundance of waterfowl within it. Those of you that have followed my blog for a while will know that I absolutely love waterfowl and often target these birds specifically during the winter months. 

Throughout winter, Springpark Park is home to a wide variety of waterfowl with hundreds of ducks and geese present on any given day, albeit Mallards and Canada Geese are the most prevalent species. When it comes to ducks, a good population of divers can be found within the park from December to March each year. Mixed in with the large flocks of Mallards other dabblers are often present, but locating them requires a keen eye to recognize the subtle differences between the species.   

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Recognizing the cinnamon coloured head and dark bill helped me quickly pick this female Northern Pintail out of a large flock of Mallards.

I will be the first to admit that bird identification is extremely challenging and has taken me a significant number of years to confidently identify the number of birds I can. Referencing a quality field guide is something I still do to be 100% positive if required. One thing that has helped me incredibly over the years to assist in proper identification is to look for the subtle differences that separate similar species. 

When it comes to waterfowl, the Northern Pintail is my favourite. I find the male’s plumage absolutely stunning while the females, as is the case with most birds, appear more drab but equally beautiful just the same. 

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Each winter I seem to locate at least one Northern Pintail within Springbank Park. In January 2016, I found this pair resting in small pond adjacent to Storybook Gardens. Note the subtle differences between the female Pintail and the female Mallard.

On my visit to Springbank Park last week, I spent a significant amount of time scanning the 100s of Mallards searching for other dabblers that may be mixed in. American Black Ducks were easily picked out by their contrasting dark plumage. While I observed plenty of divers on the river including Common Goldeneye, Common Mergansers, and Hooded Mergansers; Mallards and American Black Ducks appeared to be the only dabblers present. As I made my way past the small duck pond adjacent to Storybook Gardens, a cinnamon head and dark bill caught my eye. As I moved closer to the fence, I could see that this duck was in fact a female Northern Pintail. For me, these two subtle differences helped quickly separate this bird from large flock of female Mallards. 

This particular sighting was the highlight of my day as not only is the Northern Pintail my favourite duck, these birds are typically much further south at this time of year overwintering in the southern United States. That being said, I always seem to locate at least one Northern Pintail within Springbank Park at some point during the winter each year. 

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In 2013, I found this male Wood Duck resting on the same fallen log as the pair of Northern Pintails located in 2016.

Over the years, I have found a number of interesting dabblers and divers within this small pond beside Stroybook Gardens during the winter months. Northern Pintail, Amercan Black Duck, Wood Duck, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Redhead, and Common Goldeneye have all been observed.

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 Last winter, this male Redhead spent several days in this same small pond providing excellent views.

If you happen to visit Springbank Park throughout the winter months, try not to dismiss all the ducks present as Mallards. Look for subtle differences in colour to differentiate between species. If you are unsure what the species is, make note of these variations whether it’s feather colour or bill colour and look the bird up later in your field guide or favourite bird identification app. By taking the time to look for and recognize these characteristics, you may just add a few new birds to your year or life list. 

Good birding,
Paul   

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Fresh Snow Provides The Perfect Backdrop For Photographing Birds

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Belted Kingfisher photographed against a background of falling snow.

As our seasons change, we experience a variety of beautiful conditions for photographing birds. From budding trees in the spring to vibrant leaves in the fall, beautiful backdrops seem almost endless. For me, my favourite backdrop for photographing birds is snow, and I always eagerly await the first significant snowfall of the season. After three snow squall warnings for my area back in November that didn’t materialize, I was happy to see over twelve inches of fresh snow fall last week, presenting the exact setting I had been waiting so patiently for.  

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Black-capped Chickadees at the local park are quite tame and will even accept food from your hand. These small songbirds are perfect subjects if you are shooting with a shorter lens.

With a fresh layer of snow already covering the ground and more flurries in the forecast, I grabbed my camera and headed to one of my favourite winter birding locations, Springbank Park in west London. This popular park boasts a variety of habitat including deciduous and coniferous trees providing the birds with plenty of food and shelter. The Thames River flowing through the park provides a dependable water source throughout the year as the river’s moving water prevents a complete freeze up even during the coldest weather. With the three necessitates of life: food, water, and shelter provided, Springbank Park is home to an abundance of birds. Songbirds, birds of prey, and waterfowl are all readily observed within the park’s boundaries. 

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Using the weather to my advantage allows me to observe more birds when I am out birding. Wind can make the location of Northern Cardinals and other songbirds extremely predictable.

When birding during harsh winter conditions, I like to put the odds in my favour by paying attention to the weather. Finding areas out of the wind with a food source greatly improves my success. During periods of high wind and snow, birds will seek shelter from the elements but must also feed regularly in order to keep warm. On this day, I searched for birds using a tree line and the near riverbank as a wind break. Songbirds were observed feeding on a variety of fruits and seeds including sumac, birch, alder, various evergreens, and goldenrod. 

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This Song Sparrow was one of the many birds I found feeding on the seeds of goldenrod and other native wildflowers.

After locating an abundance of birds in this food rich, protected area, it was just a matter of fine tuning my camera settings to achieve the proper exposure based on available light and snow cover. I always take a few test shots of the scene I am shooting even if there are no birds present. Doing so and checking my camera’s histogram ensures I have the correct exposure. This way when a shot does present itself I am ready. All I have to do is obtain focus (I always focus on the bird’s eye, because when the eye is sharp the image is sharp) and press the shutter. Taking these test shots and adjusting my settings before photographing the birds has been one of the biggest things I have done to improve my photography and consistently get better images. Before this, my images were almost always over or underexposed and by the time I adjusted my settings the bird was gone. 

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Blue Jays and other songbirds were located in protected areas during last week’s high winds and snowy conditions.

Given the conditions, I needed to overexpose my images to compensate for the white snow in most of the scenes I was shooting. If you find that your winter images appear too grey or underexposed it is because all cameras, regardless of price point, are made to believe a properly exposed image is mid-grey. Consequently your camera will automatically underexpose images not recognizing that snow is supposed to be white. Therefore, adjusting your camera’s settings so that the snow appears white is paramount.

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Mourning Doves were among the 27 species I observed while birding at Springbank Park during last week’s snow squalls.

Adjusting for snowy conditions to achieve the proper exposure is easier than you may think. I like to work in aperture priority mode as this allows me to fine-tune my settings quickly and adjust on the fly as the light conditions change. Once in aperture priority mode, I can over or underexpose my images by simply turning the large wheel on the back of my Canon 7D. Each click of the wheel changes my exposure by 1/3 of a stop of light. Rotating the wheel clockwise will overexpose or brighten my exposure while rotating the wheel counter clockwise will underexpose or darken my exposure. This is known as exposure compensation and is something every photographer should learn in order to achieve proper exposure in a variety of situations regardless of your subject. If your camera does not have a wheel on the back, most cameras whether a Canon, Nikon, or other brand will allow you to adjust the exposure compensation by holding down the AV +/- button (usually located on the back or top of the camera) while turning the camera’s dial simultaneously. How and when to use exposure compensation is one of the many aspects of nature photography I teach during my Nature Photography Workshops

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In my opinion, Brown Creepers are one of the best camouflaged birds found in our area. The patterning on their backs blends in perfectly with most tree bark.

In snowy conditions, overexposing by 1-1/3 to 2 stops of light (4 to 6 clicks of the dial clockwise) is often required to achieve proper exposure. This will ensure that the snow appears white and not grey in your final images. One question I always get asked is “can’t I just fix this later in Photoshop?” My answer to that question is this. You can change your exposure later in Photoshop; however, “fix” is not necessarily the correct word to use. Anytime you increase your exposure in Photoshop or any other post processing program you will increase the amount of noise in the image, drastically negating image quality. Getting the exposure correct in camera is one of the easiest ways to quickly improve your overall image quality. 

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Carolina Wrens can be a challenging bird to photograph due to their tendency to inhabit thick cover. I was happy to see this one emerge briefly providing me with an unobstructed view.

With my camera settings dialed in to achieve a fast shutter speed and proper exposure, I was ready to photograph the plethora of birds within the sheltered, food abundant area in which they were associating. By using the weather to my advantage and choosing the correct camera settings, I managed to locate 27 species and capture sharp, properly exposed images of almost all of them.

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Northern Cardinals are one of my favourite birds to photograph in the snow.

Next time you are out searching for birds in winter remember to use the wind and weather to your advantage. Successful birding has far more to do with formulating a plan based on conditions than it does with luck. When photographing birds, focus on the bird’s eye for sharper images and learn how to use exposure compensation to achieve proper exposure based on light conditions. If you are not getting the results you are hoping for from your camera and lens, consider joining me at one of my upcoming Nature Photography Workshops. During these two hour workshops I will show you everything you need to know to greatly improve your overall images. Group size is limited during these workshops for individual attention, and a few spaces still remain for early in the new year. Why not make it your resolution to become better with your camera and get the results you are hoping for? 

Good birding,
Paul   

 

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Birding By Car: An Excellent Winter Option

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This Snowy Owl was observed perched high above a county road while birding from my car.

In my last blog post The Best Gloves For Winter Birding and Photography, I shared which gloves I wear to keep my hands warm while birding during cooler weather. If despite being properly dressed you still don’t enjoy getting outdoors for winter birding there is another option. Birding from the comfort of a warm car can be incredibly rewarding.

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Horned Larks are regularly observed feeding in open fields and on spilled grain along area roads and highways.

With the vast majority of county rounds surrounded by open farmland and woodlots, expect to find birds specific to these types of habitats when birding by car. Birds of prey, Wild Turkeys, and songbirds including Horned Larks and Snow Buntings are all readily observed when birding by car.

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Rough-legged Hawks breed across the arctic tundra, but return to Southwestern Ontario each year to spend the winter months.

When birding by car, it is generally the larger birds that I search for, those that are more easily observed from a distance. Birds of prey can be easily located and viewed from a vehicle simply by driving down area roads. During the winter months, Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, Rough-legged Hawks, and Snowy Owls are all readily observed along county roads and highways throughout Southwestern Ontario,  Whether perched on a wire, in a large tree adjacent to a farmer’s field, or sitting on the ground, these birds are easily found. 

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Red-tailed Hawks are regularly observed while birding by car. Look for these raptors perched along forest edges adjacent to open fields.

While many of these birds can be found just about anywhere based on the abundance of suitable habitat throughout the area, there are a few resources available to improve your success. The Middlesex/Elgin/Oxford Observation Group is great for keeping up to date with recent sightings from within these three counties. Another great option for following recent observations is the eBird Species Map. Simply type in the species you wish to observe and the area in which you intend to look, and all reported sightings will appear on the map. You can narrow your search further by choosing a custom date range. Having a quick look at these websites before heading out will greatly increase your success. 

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Travelling area back roads in the comfort of a warm car often reveals an abundance Red-tailed Hawks.

There are a couple of things to be mindful of when birding by car. First and foremost, be safe. Pay attention to other vehicles including snowplows sharing the roads with you. I constantly check my mirrors for faster moving vehicles approaching from behind, and if safe to do so, pull over to let them pass. Choosing some of the less traveled roads is a great way to avoid traffic and increase your safety. Be aware of the weather and road conditions and drive accordingly. When pulling over to let other cars pass, make sure there is room for your vehicle and not a deep ditch waiting to engulf your car. Snow covered shoulders can be deceiving and having to call a tow truck will result in a long wait and an expensive bill. 

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Eastern Coyotes and other mammals are often bonus finds when birding by car.

Another thing to keep in mind is to be respectful. This applies to both landowners and the birds. Most of the land surrounding these roads and highways is privately owned, so observe the birds from the shoulder only without wandering across lawns and fields.  In the case of Snowy Owls, these birds have traveled hundreds if not thousands of kilometers from their breeding grounds in search of food. In many cases owls are exhausted, hungry, and already stressed. Chasing them from their perch only adds to that stress. If you cannot get close enough for a decent view or photograph remember the area and return another day.

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Despite a large number of Snowy Owl sightings around the Great Lakes already this season, it is important to remember this species is now listed as vulnerable suffering a 64% population decline since 1970. Giving these birds space and not causing them added stress is of utmost importance.

Snowy Owls will remain in an area all winter if not repeatedly disturbed and often return to the same area each winter. With a little patience and multiple visits to the same area, great views and images will be obtained without stressing the birds. I have said this before in previous blog posts, but will say it again, stay in your car. Snowy Owls are far less likely to flush from their perch if you observe and photograph them from within your vehicle. Approaching on foot for a closer look will only cause the bird to fly resulting in lost views and unnecessary stress. 

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The American Kestrel is North America’s smallest falcon. These birds can be easily found perched on wires throughout our area.

If heading outdoors in the cold and snow is not your cup of tea, but you would still like your fill of birding this winter, give birding by car a try. Southwestern Ontario’s back roads are surrounded by an abundance of ideal habitat to attract and sustain a variety of birds and wildlife. Grab your camera, binoculars, a warm drink, and hit the road. Remember to be safe while driving during winter conditions and to respect the birds. If you have never tried birding by car, give this method a try. I think you will find it incredibly gratifying and you may just record a new species or two along the way.

Good birding,
Paul  

    

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Good Birding Report: London, Ontario
November 10 – 17, 2017

waxwing - Good Birding Report: London, Ontario <br>November 10 - 17, 2017

The movements of Cedar Waxwings can be incredibly predictable during the month of November. I often find flocks of these birds each year in the same fruit trees.

I have always enjoyed birding in November. Sure the big push of migrants has already moved through and the weather can be fickle at best, but great birding opportunities exist for a variety of species. It is at this time of year that I have some of the best views of Cedar Waxwings as their movements can be extremely predictable.

With seasonal temperatures not conducive to insect activity, waxwings are easily located feeding on fruit. Find fruit trees and you will most likely find waxwings. That being said, be extra observant when searching for Cedar Waxwings in November. During spring and summer months waxwings will regularly give away their location with their high-pitched whistles, but at this time of year they tend to remain almost silent as they gorge themselves on berries. 

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With most of the leaves now gone from the trees, locating birds is less challenging and one of the many things I like about birding in November.

This week I decided to check one of my favourite locations for finding Cedar Waxwings and in particular a few specific trees. Sure enough, as in previous Novembers, waxwings were present. Also observed among the sizable flock of Cedar Waxwings were large numbers of American Robins also enjoying the bounty of fruit.

As I watched this feeding frenzy I heard the occasional soft call of a robin and the odd whistle from a waxwing, but otherwise this group of hundreds of birds was silent. Cedar Waxwings will not remain in one area long at this time of year though, as once the berries are gone so too will the birds. Finding more fruit trees in areas that are close by and following the flock is key to achieving continued views over the course of the month. 

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This Bald Eagle was observed along the Thames River in Springbank Park. This is one of my favourite sections of river for observing these majestic raptors all winter long.

November is also when Bald Eagle activity along the Thames River in London, Ontario begins to increase. Eagles that have migrated from our north are often attracted to the river due the fact many sections remain open year round, offering a sustainable food supply throughout the winter months. Combine this with the local population consisting of many first year birds from several nest sites in the area and chances of spotting a Bald Eagle along the river are pretty good. This week I had great views of a mature eagle as it flew downstream in Springbank Park. 

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This Blue Jay added a touch of colour to an otherwise grey day.

Other plentiful birds around the Forest City in the past seven days were Blue Jays. These birds are often quite vocal revealing their whereabouts making them an easy bird to locate. Speaking of vocal birds, I was treated to great views of a male Red-bellied Woodpecker as it called from high up in a dead tree. Northern Cardinals were yet another songbird heard long before they were seen. 

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A male Red-bellied Woodpecker takes a break from trying to extract a meal from beneath the bark of a dead tree.

Waterfowl numbers on the Thames River really seemed to increase this week, with mostly Canada Geese and Mallards observed. I always look closely at these large flocks for any ducks that look slightly different as November is when I often find the odd Gadwall or other dabbler mixed in with all the Mallards. This week I did locate an American Black Duck/Mallard hybrid while birding along the river. Within the next month, good numbers of overwintering waterfowl including mergansers and Common Goldeneye will appear on the river for another season. 

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This male Northern Cardinal was busy foraging on cedar seeds that had fallen to the ground.

If you are not convinced that great birding opportunities are available throughout the month of November, I encourage you to get out and give it a try. Resident birds are always abundant and overwintering species will continue to arrive in the area as the weeks progress. Dress accordingly to the day’s predicted forecast and always be prepared for rain or wet snow as weather in November can change at a moment’s notice. Be extra observant as sometimes birds can be right in front of you while not making a sound, as evidenced by the Cedar Waxwings.

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Cedar Waxwings are just one of the many songbirds I target at this time of year.

Birding in November has always been rewarding for me and is why I look forward to the change in weather so much. I think if you visit your favourite natural area this month you too will agree November birding is incredibly rewarding. 

Good birding,
Paul 

*If you were unable to attend one of my November workshops, I have added more dates in January. If you were able to participate, I have added a couple of new workshops that might interest you as well. Please view my upcoming events for more details.*

Taking Advantage Of The Full Moon For Rutting White-tailed Deer

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Fall is a great time to observe White-tailed Deer in Southwestern Ontario.

After the rush of fall migration has passed, I often switch my focus to photographing White-tailed Deer. Fall is mating season, also known as the rut, for these large mammals making them highly active at this time of year. Unlike other times of the year when deer are more active at dusk and dawn, during the rut White-tailed Deer are easily located during daylight hours. Large bucks are often observed at close range as they are less wary of humans during the rut as they have only one thing on their mind. 

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During the rut, I try to keep my distance from White-tailed Deer as they can be aggressive at this time of year. This particular buck crossed the path only a few meters in front of me.

Research suggests the second full moon following the fall equinox triggers the peak of the rut in White-tailed Deer. With last Friday’s full moon being said moon, I grabbed my camera and headed to the woods in search of some White-tailed Deer.

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This doe garnered the attention of several bucks.

Making my way into the woods the imprints of fresh deer tracks were present in the mud, and I knew that the day’s target species couldn’t be too far ahead. A short distance down the trail rustling in the bushes caught my attention as the first White-tailed buck of the day came into view.

Raising may camera I took several photos as this was a decent sized buck with an imposing set of antlers. As he crossed the trail in front of me, a doe behind him was observed grazing on vegetation. A few minutes passed and a smaller buck came into view. The first buck quickly turned and chased the second buck out of the area. 

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Not all of the bucks on this day had impressive antlers. Several younger bucks were mixed in with the herd.

Doubling back on the trail to not disturb this pair, I made my down another trail. Hearing more rustling in the bushes another buck passed only a few meters in front of me presumably chased by the first buck encountered. Making my way deeper into the woods, several more bucks of various sizes were observed. Some were young bucks with only small antlers while other were mature bucks displaying more remarkable antlers.   

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This past week I had great views of several bucks demonstrating their typical rutting behavior.

In total, six bucks were observed in this small area all within sight of each other. Mixed in with these bucks were several does. Keeping my distance, I watched from behind a large oak tree. A medium sized buck to my right was busy chasing two smaller bucks whenever they came too close to the does nearest him.

To my left, two larger bucks briefly locked antlers but as I attempted to raise my camera for a photo, a smaller buck was running in my direction as he tried to escape the pursuit of a much larger buck. Not wanting to take my eye off these moving bucks, I failed to capture an image of the battling bucks, but no picture is worth risking my safety. The two bucks quickly unlocked antlers as the slightly smaller of the two seemed to give up rather easily as the exchange was short lived. 

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This large buck was clearly the king of the forest. Only a subtle movement on his part and the other bucks took notice. 

Watching this rutting behaviour was certainly fascinating, and I was grateful to experience it first hand. One other observation I made was the respect that the largest buck in the group commanded. He was the least active of the group, but his limited actions were responded to most by all of the other bucks. As the other bucks chased each other and defended their own small areas, all activity ceased when the largest buck so much as turned his head. One step in any direction and the 5 other bucks were on the move. Observing this chain of command was truly impressive and I could only imagine the battles this buck has lost and won over the years to achieve his spot in the forest’s hierarchy.  

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From behind a large oak tree, I watched as several mature bucks moved through the forest.

If you are planning on heading out in search of White-tailed Deer in the coming weeks there are a few things to keep in mind. Be aware of the hunting seasons in your area and whether or not hunting is permitted on the land you plan to search. The area I chose is a public area within the city limits and hunting is not permitted. Remember, White-tailed Deer are wild animals and large bucks do defend their territory and the does within it aggressively so be sure to keep your distance. The average weight of a mature White-tailed buck in Ontario is between 140 lbs and 250 lbs, add in a large set of antlers and this is not something you want to be on the receiving end of. Play it safe and observe and photograph mature deer form a distance.

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Opportunities to observe large White-tailed Deer will continue throughout the fall.

Despite the peak of the rut coming to an end, White-tailed Deer will continue to breed into December and thus will remain quite active. With the remaining leaves quickly falling from the trees, the added light in the forest makes locating deer and observing them much easier. Many of our ESAs, conservation areas, and other public lands have healthy populations of White-tailed Deer, so travelling far to observe these impressive creatures is not necessary.

Taking in a late fall hike and observing White-tailed Deer is a great way to spend time in nature. Next time you are out at your favorite natural area, listen for movement and keep an eye out for fresh tracks on the ground and you might just be rewarded with an excellent view of a White-tailed Deer.

Good birding,
Paul 

The Buzz From The Hive Today

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If you are not getting desired results out of your camera and lens combination, considering joining me for a nature photography workshop.

One of the questions I am asked most is how do I capture the images I do. The simple answer is knowing what camera settings to use in each situation and being able to adjust them quickly to the changing conditions as I shoot. After receiving several requests regarding group nature photography workshops, I found a venue that would allow for both an in-class indoor portion as well as a natural outdoor area with plenty of wildlife for implementing these techniques in a practical setting.

“It was a great workshop Paul! I’ve had a quick look at my photos and notice a big improvement in sharpness!! Thank you for the great tips!”
~ Christine

 

“Paul did a great job on covering what you need to know to get started with good results, and to build a plan to practice and improve
~Kevin Stewart

 

“This workshop took the guessing out of what to do with all the buttons. The environment was fun and casual. Paul is a fantastic teacher; his words will guide you as your hands and eyes capture the beauty of nature!” 
~Tammy Thibert 

Most of the fall nature photography workshops for November are full, with a couple of spaces remaining for Sunday, November 26, 2017. If you are interested in participating, please contact me to register and secure your spot. Unable to make it on the 26th? I may add a few dates in early December if there is enough interest to warrant booking the venue as I know December is a busy month for many people. If participating in a December workshop is something is you are interested in, contact me and I will look into booking the space.

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Special thanks to my wife for taking this photo of today’s beautiful workshop location.

Private one-on-one instruction is also available and I will be hosting a variety of other workshops in the new year, including those geared toward birding. Please keep an eye on my Upcoming Events page for future workshops or contact me to be added to the list to be among the first notified. 

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Many of the participants at my nature photography workshop were happy to have the opportunity to photography this female Downy Woodpecker at close range.

Monday, November 6, 2017, marked the first fall nature photography workshop at The Hive, where I shared tips and techniques to help participants achieve better results from their camera and lens. One of the key points I emphasize is investing the time to learn and understand how to properly operate your current gear is more important than investing in more expensive equipment. Quality results have much more to do with the photographer than they do the price tag on your camera and lens.   

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Black-capped Chickadees made frequent visits to the feeder I placed out for the day’s event.

Each workshop is limited in size to allow for individualized attention and on this day six participants took part. The first half of the workshop took place indoors where we discussed everything from achieving proper exposure to selecting the optimum camera settings for a variety of subjects including birds, butterflies, and landscapes. Participants were encouraged to take notes to use as a guide moving forward, so they can reference the material later and refresh their memories as they implement and practice these techniques on their own. 

After ensuring everyone had a basic understanding of the information covered, we headed outside for the second hour to apply these techniques to practical situations. In an effort to guarantee birds for the participants to photograph, I placed a couple of feeders on the south side of the property the week prior in hopes of bringing our feathered friends closer. This typically is not my shooting style as most of my images are taken while hiking at area parks, ESAs, and conservation areas. However, for the purpose of the workshop I wanted to ensure we had a few subjects as many of the participants were using lenses in the 200-300mm range.

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During the outdoor portion of the nature photography workshop there was a brief break in the songbirds activity as a pair of Red-tailed Hawks circled overhead.

Immediately upon exiting the building we were greeted by the sounds of several bird species, including American Goldfinch, Black-capped Chickadee, Downy Woodpecker, and Blue Jays. As we made our way over to the feeders, we could see a flurry of activity as birds came and went. Gathering around the feeders, we were presented with great opportunities to photograph the previously mentioned birds while a pair of Red-tailed Hawks circled overhead. I answered further questions from the group, observed and made recommendations on shooting techniques, and reiterated many of the points covered inside as they applied to the day’s shooting conditions. 

As the group continued to take photos, I was happy to begin hearing feedback as many of the participants could see improvements as they reviewed their images on their LCD screens. There was a lot of material covered on this day, so I advised the group to implement one technique at a time and practice it until they were comfortable before moving on to another one. Understanding these concepts lays the foundation for achieving the results you want. Improving your photography skills, like anything else, is really contingent on practice. The more you practice, the easier it becomes and the more you will improve.      

blue jay - The Buzz From The Hive Today

Blue Jays were among the variety of songbirds located on the property at The Hive during the first of the fall nature photography workshops.

I was really fortunate to have such a great group of people attend the first workshop. It was a pleasure to finally meet many of those who have been loyal blog and social media followers over the years. Sharing my tips and techniques is something I really enjoy, and hearing such great feedback really means a lot to me.

downy 3 - The Buzz From The Hive Today

This Female Downy Woodpecker offered plenty of great opportunities for photographs during the nature photography workshop held at The Hive.

Once again thank you to everyone who came out for today’s workshop. It really was a pleasure to meet each of you and share my tips and techniques to help you improve you nature photography. 

Good birding,
Paul

 

Nature Photography Workshop

Nature Photography Workshop - Nature Photography Workshop

Are you interested in joining me for a workshop to improve your nature and wildlife photography this November?

Whether you’re new to photography or are more experienced but not getting the results you want, use a DSLR or point and shoot camera, this workshop will help you improve your overall photography.

bcc - Nature Photography Workshop

During my photography workshop I will teach you how to get the most out of your camera and lens combination. You don’t need expensive gear to achieve great images. This Black-capped Chickadee was photographed using a Canon 55-250mm lens, a lens that retails for $229.00.

The two hour workshop will be $25 per person, held at an event center in south London, and will be limited to five people for individualized attention.

The first half of the workshop will be indoors and we’ll focus on optimal camera settings for nature and wildlife photography, as well as other technical elements such as composition, shooting techniques and tips to improve your overall photography. 

cw - Nature Photography Workshop

If you are not getting the desired results from your camera and lens combination, register for my nature and wildlife photography workshop.

During the second half of the workshop, we will venture outdoors to apply this knowledge in a natural setting. I will be providing one-on-one assistance as you photograph birds and other wildlife in their natural environment.

Please contact me if interested, and let me know what day of the week is preferred (weekdays or weekends) as well as time (morning or afternoon), as I will be booking the venue based on your feedback. 

Good birding,
Paul

Meet Me In The Village

Meet the Artist • Paul Roedding BLOG - Meet Me In The Village

I am doing a meet and greet this Saturday October 21st in front of Curiosities Gift Shop in Wortley Village between 11am and 1pm. I would love for those of you in the area to come by, say hello, and talk birding while enjoying the beautiful fall weather. Please do not feel obligated to purchase anything, it will be great to put more faces to the names of my amazing blog subscribers. 

Meet the Artist: Paul Roedding 

Date: Saturday October 21, 2017 

Time: 11am to 1pm 

Location: Curiosities Gift Shop, 174 Wortley Road, London, Ontario 

Wortley Village local and wildlife photographer Paul Roedding of Paul Roedding Photography will be outside of Curiosities Gift Shop this Saturday October 21st. Drop by anytime between 11am and 1pm to talk birding and nature in the city with Paul, and check out his spectacular 2018 calendars.

Calendars will be available for sale during this event and are $20 (cash only). If you would like yours signed, Paul is busy practicing his signature and will be happy to personalize your calendar for you.

He will also be bringing an extended collection of his art cards, in addition to his new fall/winter series currently in the card room at Curiosities. 

Did you know that Curiosities has five rooms of made in Canada creations to explore? These unique finds include jewellery, home décor, women’s clothing, baby, bath & body, and an entire room dedicated to cards. Visit with Paul and then head inside to continue your adventure in Wortley Village!  

Not in London or able to make it on Saturday? Calendars are also available for purchase online at http://paulroeddingphotography.com/2018-calendars

Curiosities Address summer filter - Meet Me In The Village

 

Less Yard Work Equals More Birds

pil - Less Yard Work Equals More Birds

Dead limbs and branches will attract more birds to your yard by providing a food source and potential nest sites. If safe to do so, consider leaving a few dead limbs around your property. 

Fall and winter months are excellent times to attract more birds to your yard and fortunately there is an easy way to do this. In fact, attracting more birds during these months is so easy it involves doing very little at all. With fall now upon us, many homeowners are reaching for rakes and pruners and are busy bagging leaves, picking up sticks, and cutting back perennials that have long since flowered in an effort to beautify their properties. The truth is many of these items considered yard waste are incredibly beneficial to birds and will actually attract more of them to your yard. 

ag1 - Less Yard Work Equals More Birds

American Goldfinches are among the many birds attracted to the seeds produced by New England Asters and other garden flowers.

Seed heads produced by many perennial flowers offer an excellent food source that will attract a wide variety of songbirds to your yard. Refraining from cutting these back until next spring creates a steady supply of natural food throughout the fall and winter months. In my garden for example, the seeds produced by native coneflowers have been attracting American Goldfinches for several weeks now. The asters and goldenrod that were providing a food source for migrating Monarch Butterflies only a few weeks ago are now offering a natural food source as well. White-throated Sparrows have recently migrated back into our area and the bounty of seeds in my garden has attracted good numbers of these birds looking to replenish spent energy.

wts - Less Yard Work Equals More Birds

White-throated Sparrow enjoying the seeds from a goldenrod flower.

By not cutting back perennials until next spring the remaining dry foliage of these plants also provides a home for many insects. Downy Woodpeckers and Black-capped Chickadees are regularly observed during fall and winter months extracting gall fly larva from goldenrod stalks.

downy 2 - Less Yard Work Equals More Birds

Downy Woodpecker preparing to extract a gall fly larva from a goldenrod stalk.

This past week I observed an Orange-crowned Warbler foraging on insects in my garden as it made a brief stop to feed during its migration south. These insects would not have been present had I cut back the flowers in an effort to make my yard more aesthetically pleasing. Other birds observed feeding heavily on seeds and insects this past week in my garden were both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, a Tufted Titmouse, and Dark-eyed Juncos which have recently returned to our area to spend the winter months  By leaving the remnants of these flowers, my garden offers a natural food source for many songbirds while also providing plenty of cover from predators and the elements. 

rcc - Less Yard Work Equals More Birds

The dried foliage of garden plants is home to many insects which attracts an abundance of birds during the fall including Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

After the recent high winds many of us will find tree limbs scattered across the ground on our properties. Rather than bundling them up and dragging them to the curb or breaking them down so they will fit into a container, consider constructing a brush pile by piling them in a corner of your yard. Brush piles attract birds by providing shelter from harsh weather and predators. 

card - Less Yard Work Equals More Birds

Many ground feeding birds will forage in fallen leaves for both seeds and insects.

Leaves in a garden may not be the look most of us are accustomed to when it comes to landscaping but this so called yard waste is incredibly beneficial. Allowing leaves to decompose in a garden will enhance soil quality and provide nutrients to trees, flowers, and shrubs. Leaf litter is also home to a multitude of insects which in turn attracts a variety of birds. Rather than bagging my leaves and placing them at the curb, I now mulch all of my leaves with a lawnmower and add them to my gardens while leaving some on my lawn over the winter. I quit using fertilizer years ago and my lawn (excluding this summer’s extended dry spell) has never looked better. 

pil1 - Less Yard Work Equals More Birds

Woodpeckers and other cavity nesters will be attracted to dead limbs and branches left around your property.

Another great way to attract more birds to your property with less yard work is by not removing dead limbs or branches from trees if safe to do so. Many birds prefer dead limbs for perching while also being drawn to the bevy of insects found within the wood. Come spring, these same dead branches will provide potential nesting sites for cavity nesters such as woodpeckers and nuthatches.  

ats - Less Yard Work Equals More Birds

After a heavy snowfall this American Tree Sparrow found food emerging from the snow in the form of seeds from a Calico Aster.

If you are like me and love attracting birds to your yard, try implementing these methods this fall. I think you will find that soon after taking these measures you will notice an increase in the number of birds visiting your yard. Not only will you enjoy more birds and potentially even a new species or two, spending less time doing yard work will free up more time for birding and other leisure activities on your well-deserved days off. 

Good birding,
Paul 

*My 2018 calendars have arrived and are now available for purchase. To see the images featured and to purchase click here.*

 

Green Herons Present Phenomenal Views At The Westminster Ponds ESA

Green Herons will soon be leaving our area for their wintering grounds to our south. Fortunately, these birds are currently providing exceptional views at an area ESA. 

Over the past three weeks, I have been enjoying incredible views of Green Herons. In fact, the views achieved have been the best I have experienced. If you are unfamiliar with these birds, Green Herons display the most beautiful combination of iridescent blues and greens combined with a reddish brown neck. Standing only 18″ tall, Green Herons are often a challenge to locate within the swampy habitats they prefer despite their colouful plumage. This however is not the case currently at the Westminster Ponds ESA located in south London. 

Under the right light conditions, the iridescent plumage of the Green Heron becomes quite evident.

Throughout September, I have seen as many as four Green Herons, both adults and juveniles (juveniles are heavily streaked on their necks and breasts) at one time at the west end of Saunders Pond. On most visits, these birds have been viewed within 20-40 feet of the path running alongside the pond. Green Herons will soon be leaving our area for their wintering grounds in the Southern United States, Central, and South America, so opportunities for these close encounters are running out.

The mix of cattails and fallen timber on the west side of Saunders Pond provides the perfect habitat for Green Herons.

The easiest access to these Green Herons is from behind Tourist Information located at 696 Wellington Road. From the parking lot head north on the paved path until you reach the boardwalk. Continue north on the boardwalk and begin scanning the fallen timber to your right and the cattails to your left. My best views have come from just north of the boardwalk along the dirt path where Saunders Pond comes to an end. Both sides of the path throughout this area have provided satisfying views.

When alarmed, Green Herons will extend their necks and raise the crests on the top of their heads. This particular bird heard children playing in the area and exhibited this classic behavior.

In my experience, time of day does not matter for viewing these Green Herons as I have found these birds both in the morning and afternoon. If you are wishing to photograph these birds, I would recommend waiting until about mid morning as this will allow the sun to get high enough in the sky to light up the birds nicely while achieving a faster shutter speed, If you cannot make it in the morning than late afternoon has been quite good too. Try not to leave it too late though as once the sun drops low in the sky the area becomes quite shaded. Great views of these birds can still be obtained, but your image quality may suffer due to the lack of light.

Click on the two above images to enlarge these photos of a Green Heron with a Northern Leopard Frog. 

These particular Green Herons at the Westminster Ponds ESA are not overly wary of people, but moving slowly and speaking in a soft voice is still recommended to avoid stressing the birds.These Green Herons are in this area feeding heavily in preparation of their long migration south, so remember to respect their space and allow them to feed in order to accomplish this feat. The only times I have seen these birds startle is when a group of children ran by while shouting in loud voices. Even then the birds did not move far remaining in the area where there is an abundance of food. While watching and photographing these Green Herons I have observed them capture small fish, tadpoles, and Northern Leopard Frogs.    

The heavy streaking on this Green Heron’s neck and breast indicate it is a juvenile bird.

If you are hoping to achieve great views of a Green Heron, I highly recommend visiting the Westminster Pond ESA soon. As mentioned earlier, these birds won’t remain in the area much longer, so time is running out for potentially the view of a lifetime.

Good birding,
Paul

*My 2018 calendars have arrived and are now available for purchase. To see the images featured and to purchase click here.*