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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

World Bird Wednesday LVII

  A Mark in Time

    What marks the passing of 2011 for you? Perhaps there is a new baby in your family or maybe you've discovered your passion and are ready to begin your life's work in earnest. A year is a convenient measure of time, beginning and ending for us Michiganders in the shivering cold of winter. A single day is a life time in microcosm; it's bookends a long sleep. It is useful to think in such terms, to take an accounting of our experiences and then stack them in orderly rows. I sought to understand the ebb and flow of my life by making a timeline and writing down under each year the noteworthy things that had occurred. At first it was easy. Kindergarten in '58, High School in '71, Heart attack in '07...but then, there were many lost years, like 1996, that stared back vacantly. Once a carpenter friend sought to explain the passage of years to me by stretching out a metal tape measure to 75 inches. "This," He remarked,"represents the average life expectancy of a human being." He went on to ask my age and grasped the ruler at that mark and inch number 75, pinching off a messily 17 inches in the process and letting the rest dangle in a mess on the floor.
"And this is all you've got left."
I am not so tough that I didn't get a cold shiver at this graphic display.

As a bird photographer the passing of a year is measured in photographic moments, those peak experiences when you, nature and your f-stop come together in kumbaya harmony. For this WBW and perhaps the next I'll be poking through the ashes of year 2011's findings to stir the fire and enjoy the warmth again.
The arrival of my 400mm Canon 5.6 L lens in the early going of 2011 clearly put its mark on this, my 58th trip around the sun. I took around 30,000 bird shots this year, the vast majority had the 400mm on board. The first Eagle pictures taken with this rig took me completely by surprise, there was more raw power here than I could have ever hoped for. Like a novice magician tapping his wand and garbling the incantations, it was difficult to predict how and when the magic would explode. Who knew taking pictures could capture shaman like views of a hidden world? I was hooked, and with the fervour of the newly converted I went out daily to polish my approach.

   Suzanne and I took a week in Florida where her hard won vacation was turned into a field trip. She was slowly coming to terms with her boyfriend losing his mind to bird photography. My driving had become particularly erratic as I automatically scanned the tree lines for raptors, these near death experiences concerned her, a cracking hawk picture was not something she was willing to give her life for, but for the most part, the people close to me have been amused by, and tolerated my fixation.
   Like they had a choice! 

 Has this year made an indelible mark on your life? Were your calm waters stirred? Has your sense of wonder been awakened? Have you lost sleep over the excitement of a new discovery? These are the small things I pray for and wish for you this Holiday Season.
   It is no wonder we mark the winter solstice with a beautiful variety of celebrations across this planet. At the heart of it, all the world's creatures share a common desire for an abundant life. We are all not so lucky.
   Maybe we should all make that call today, surprise an old friend who spends long hours alone, or put a strong arm around someone elses troubles.
   Remember please, this simple advise: You are the blessing, share it.
  That is a mark worth making! 

   This is the home of World Bird Wednesday. A place for bird photographers from around the world to gather and share their photographs and experiences as they pursue Natures most beautiful treasurers, the birds.
   You don't have to be a Bird Watcher or expert photographer to join in, just enjoy sharing what you bring back from your explorations and adventures into nature!

   World Bird Wednesday will be open for posting at 12 noon Tuesday EST North America through midnight on Wednesday.


#1. Simply copy the above picture onto your W.B.W. blog entry, it contains a link for your readers to share in the fun. Or, you can copy this link on to your blog page to share WBW.

#2. Come to The Pine River Review on Tuesday Noon EST North America through Wednesday midnight and submit your blog entry with InLinkz.
#3. Check back in during the course of the next day and explore these excellent photoblogs!

The idea of a meme is that you will visit each others blogs and perhaps leave a comment to encourage your compatriots!

Come on it's your turn!


  1. as always, your shots are spectacular! love that woody shot! wow! and the anhinga in your header as well!

    merry christmas, dear springman!

  2. I received a similar lens for Christmas, couldn't wait tell the 25th so my recent bird photos have been taken with this lens. I don't yet have anything to compare with the images you have here. Beautiful!

  3. That tape measure analogy is going to stick with me. Are you using a tele-extender with your 400mm Canon lens? If so, what power and is it a Canon also? Am thinking about going that route myself although I may be limited with Nikon. Wonderful shots Springman which continue to inspire me.

  4. Love that shot of the eagle! Beautiful! The woodpecker close-up is amazing as are the herons. Excellent work! That 400mm lens is great.

  5. Brilliant images as always Springman!
    I can only wish for a 400mm lens. I am extremely happy with my 55-250mm at the moment, but a 400mmm, now that would be amazing!
    Love your header & your shots... I am in awe.

  6. Absolutely amazing pictures! That eagle is a great one. You've given me lots to think about.

  7. Oh your prose is wonderful...yes since I turned 55 I have been thinking about my life in terms of the shorter end of the measuring tape... it's humbling..I think the magic of Mother Nature helps to keep us young and its ever changing landscape keeps us interested.... lovely bird shots...Michelle

  8. Welcome to WBWLVII, let's get this party started!
    Quick note to John. I have a 1.4X Canon extender but I seldom use it. I don't want anything to interfere with the optimum optics of a sweet prime lens. You simply have to get as close as circumstances will allow even with a 400 or 500mm. A rock steady camera is key. My Canon T2i takes 18meg images giving me tremendous cropping power and detail if I'm focused properly and lose the shake. It's such a crap shoot regardless of the equipment involved! In contrast the woodpecker picture I posted this week was taken with a $99 50mm prime lens. So go figure!

  9. So enjoyed going through your post. And it's a joy to see your bird pictures. Such amazing shots!

    Merry Christmas!

  10. Wonderful musings! You remind me of Job, lamenting how the days and years move by relentlessly, "swiftly as the weaver's shuttle." For kids and hummingbirds, the shuttle moves much more slowly. Summer days and classroom sessions seem endless, though vacation passes in an instant. I do think that the hummingbird, and all little creatures whose hearts and wings beat so rapidly actually perceive the passage of a day the same way we would experience a week, a month or even years. So much is crammed into each moment. Hunger presses so often, and danger is always just on the other side of a leaf or tree trunk. Their tape measure has so many more tiny increments. With age, it seems my oil changes, my annual doctor visits and monthly haircuts just speed by. Yet, we all live only in the present, for the past is gone and the future hasn't happened. Oh, to be seventy again!

  11. A review of the year? A great idea. Looking at your timeline, of the magic mark of 75, I should be making my shroud rather than planning on getting a monopod and 400mm lens. I have been living on borrowed time for six years at least. Now, with two man-made hear valves, I continue the dance. I think of death as my friend and we have waltzed together so often that now the steps are familiar and and the rhythm soothing. Meanwhile, with life's inevitable traumas circling around me, my camera and I seek Nirvana in nature,
    Your obsessive, compulsive bird shots are becoming more amazing by the day. The perfect composition and precision of your header took my breath away!
    A shot I can but dream of . . .
    the herons in the tree are a conversation piece and as for the hen-pecked goose, well, they tell their own story.
    So much to learn, so little time . . .

    I wish you a Happy, fire free Christmas and some really inspiring birding!

  12. great post as usual with stunning shots. But today I was focusing on your header. I saw this bird in CR and have some shots of it. The Anhinga is a special bird. Teh Swedish name for it is "snake neck bird". :)

  13. Springman, as always, your images are exceptional! The Anhinga blows me away! Great Shot.
    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and have a chance to get away from the "barn!" If not I hope for a quite holiday season.

  14. Wonderful images and it's always a treat to read your prose..
    I remember so well seeing the beach image from your trip to Floridan (the only state I have visited).
    The 400mm lens was your highlight. Looking back over 2011 mine moment has to be when my Dslr broke down during the summer and I had to turn to my little camcorder to capture wildlife.
    I had dabbled before but discovered I really enjoyed doing it.. even the laborious job of editing my little clips.

    I have to give you some credit.. your lovely comments when I shared them on WBW did give me a boost.

    I wish you and yours all the best for this Chritmas weekend... I will be looking back through 2011 for next weeks post..

    Take care Springman..

  15. each time I visit your WBW post I'm in awe at how you say your piece. The words fall into place and have a lovely 'ring' to them. "those peak experiences when you, nature and your f-stop come together in kumbaya harmony" for example. Thanks again for a wonderful site to explore and enjoy each week. Best wishes.

  16. Great photos of all the birds. You certainly are making the most of the new lens you got - and we are the ones who benefit by seeing the amazing detail you get. I like your ideas about taking stock of the past year but sometimes it takes more than one year to achieve goals and then the longer term is more relevant. We are just now getting signage to protect one of the roosts in the area - and I have been waiting for this for seven years! I guess good things just take longer!

  17. Fantastic birds and photos. My favorite is the shot of the two herons. But, they are all wonderful. I have thoroughly enjoyed all my visits to your blog and seeing your bird photos. And, I very much appreciate you doing World Bird Wednesday. Being a bird lover, it is a real treat to come here each week and see everyone's bird entries. I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!!

  18. how spooky is this....

    A few days ago I had a moment to reflect on some images that had sat in the back of my mind over the past year or two. One of these images was of your original post of the Amish folk on the beach (not the same image as the one in your post here but obviously from the same day).... it provoked thoughts and images at that time and they have stayed in the depths of my mind since.

    As always another thought provoking post very well written and Springman.

    Happy Christmas fellow blogger


  19. Wow what a brilliantly written post Springman, although the tape measure analogy was slightly chilling. For me 2011 has gone by in a complete blur with no real markable achievements apart from having a good time. Next year I have a couple of projects that I want to work on and a few goals that I want to achieve.

    Have a great Christmas and I'll see you in the new year.

  20. Again, your header shot leaves me gasping. Over the past year I have "oohed" and "aahed" at your fabulous photos and delightful posts.
    WBW is a delightfully bright spot in the blogging community, bringing together an international group of folks with a common interest.
    Merry Christmas, Springman!

  21. Your words are beautiful and very meaningful! The pictures are the work of a genious! I can only dream of a lens like yours.
    A very Merry Christmas to you and your family. Stay safe.

  22. An awesome post today Springman! And oh,yeh, I do envy your 400mm ... ! This year for me has brought the wonderful gift of my camera and lens and has opened my eyes to such beauty that was already there every day! Never ever thought I would find interest in birds but that just goes to show to never say never!
    Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

  23. Yes its time to look back and ask, "What did I do this past yr?"
    Well it certainly was a yr of change for me...not all good not all bad, but all accepted, dealt with and now moving forward to the next one.
    Your 400 has brouhgt us all a lot of joy not just you...Awesome detail in these shots Including the 50mm shot too. Im really loving the anhinga on top that white is really perfectly balanced. Great work,,,,you are honing your craft and it shows.
    Enjoy this yrs end and welcome in the new.

  24. I don't know where you always find those beautiful, fitting words.
    You know that I am still envious about that lens, right? ;-)
    When you see my last photos, you'll know why ;-)
    That birdie was one I got excited over this past year.
    Else? Don't know. A lot going on and at the same time not much. Not the greatest year ever, but not a bad one either.
    I am always glad to have the photos to look at, or all these years would be a big blurr to me too.
    And looking at a measurement tape? Nope, thanks, but no thanks ;-)
    Best wishes for you and yours and to many more happy WBWs :)

  25. Aside from your amazing photos...your message tenderly grabbed my heart.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    PS...I will be back to the meme next year.

  26. Not only are your photos amazing, I enjoy your story too. I missed linking this round. Have a wonderful holiday and an exciting 2012.

  27. As always, a tremendous post sir!
    Excellent images too.

    A year of a few lows for me, but some of the highs have been my local lake; always a source of great moments, and my trips to Wales, with some of its birdlife I seldom see here.

    Plus, meeting up with some fellow bloggers during the year.

    I eagerly await to see what next year brings.

    A very happy Christmas and New Year to you and your family Dave.

  28. I like the last photo in particular, what is it?
    2011 was an overall good year for me, but a mixed one for my SO. He got and lost a job this year and we had to postpone getting married (which is a less big deal than it sounds, though) and moving together (which really sucks).
    But we both had a lot of good times as well, on our own and with great friends.

    I dug out my tape measure just now...that really is chilling.

  29. Really very nicely written post. It really makes you think about what is important. Cheers and happy holidays.


  30. As usually tour photos amaze me - they are simply great!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family, and thanks for opportunity to watch birds with you:)

  31. It seems each of your posts and photos tops the previous one! What can I say that hasn't already been said in the comments? I am envious of the beautiful photos you take and am thinking about getting a Nikon 400mm prime lens too, but of course it's not just the lens; it's your quick eye and hand coordination, your perceptive mind. Your story of what's left of the 75 inch tape made me look at my own life. I am going to have to do some serious un-cluttering, too many time-eating activities and not making enough room for those, and for the people, that really count. Thanks for the reminder. Happy Holidays to you and those that you love.

  32. Beautiful thoughts as we reach the end of another year Dave. Thank you so much for giving us this platform to share our birds and our lives with each other.

    I can totally identify with your statement "My driving had become particularly erratic as I automatically scanned the tree lines for raptors, these near death experiences concerned her, a cracking hawk picture was not something she was willing to give her life for, but for the most part, the people close to me have been amused by, and tolerated my fixation.Like they had a choice!"

    Have a safe and wonderful Christmas and New Year Dave!

  33. Your words are as beautiful as your pictures!

  34. I`ve missed visiting for awhile.I have the 400 lens too on my canon rebel.I have fell a few times with it in my stalking,but it has a small crack but is still going strong,I`m thankful for that.
    You always make me yearn for some water shots of birds,I may have to go up the road & find some birds on the lake,tho I`ve never seen any,but try,try,again,I shall.
    Beautiful shots,as always,have a merry Christmas & hopefully you won`t have to fight many fires over the holidays,stay safe,phyllis

  35. Hi there - two truisms I like:

    1. Never let a birder drive!
    2. If you pictures are not good enough, you are not close enough.

    The second may not be true for birds, but with the woodpecker shot I think you show its a valid idea!

    Thanks for hosting WBW - looking forward to my 50th post early in the New Year.

    Have a good Christmas!

    Stewart M - Melbourne

  36. Great shots and text, as always! The woodpecker and the heron close-up are great, so is the herons in the tree. Merry Christmas!

  37. Wish you a Merry Christmas! Wonderful pictures and text!

  38. it is always nice to read your comments because you appreciate a great shot as much as a great bird. :) Thank you and have a great holiday season. :)

  39. Merry Christmas! Wish you a wonderful holiday season!

  40. Wonderful pictures as always but as always I am even more awestruck by your words! Your posts (and hosting this meme) are a gift all through the year!

    I see that the tape measure analogy struck home for many of your commentners. I hope I still maintain mysense of wonder even though I've nearly exceeded the number of inches on that tape measure! (Or I guess another way of looking at it would be that it is just plain a wonder to be here at all.)

    Merry Christmas -- I will be back on WBW soon (assuming the tape measure.....;>)

  41. Uh oh -- that was me above commenting anonymously. (Hit the send button too soon -- I better go have my morning coffee.)