We've been having an extending period of gray gloomy days here in central Ohio, so when I saw that last Sunday was supposed to be largely blue skies, I left home well before the crack of dawn to visit the Wilds. This is a strange place, weather-wise, and I am becoming convinced it generates its own weather. As I neared the place, the skies were clearing and all looked good. As I entered the Wilds proper on Zion Ridge Road, dense fog settled in, shrouding the landscape and largely putting the kibosh on bird photography. Prior to strip mining, this region was almost entirely deciduous forest. After clearing and major soil disturbance, numerous springs were exposed and the ground is seemingly soggy nearly everywhere. Maybe it's all that moisture going airborne that creates the fog, I don't know.
While the fog killed any chance for a good sunrise, the sunset sure looked promising. Come day's end, I got myself into a good position, and was rewarded with the odd flaming orange and yellow sky you see above. I was hoping for one of those brilliantly parti-colored palettes of pinks, oranges, reds, blues and purples, but no. Oh well, it was still pretty cool looking.
Shrikes are sometimes called "butcherbirds". Slightly smaller than a robin, these songbirds are predatorial terrors. They'll catch prey ranging from large insects to mice and voles, to birds up to the size of blue jays. Shrikes often cache their victims by impaling them on thorns, hence the somewhat gruesome nickname.
This shot was made from the vehicle, not long after he launched from a wire on one of his hunting forays. The topography worked to my advantage, as he was not far above eye level when I made the shot and the natural light was superb. The image was made with the Canon 5D IV and the outstanding Canon 500mm f/4 II lens, with 1.4x teleconverter (=700mm). The settings were f/8, ISO 500, 1/1600, +0.3 exposure compensation. As always, I used back-button focusing, and only the center focus point was active.
Speaking of bird photography, if you would like to enter the land of avian abundance and feathered photo ops galore, Debbie DiCarlo and I are leading a photo workshop to Florida from February 18-23 (with optional extension from February 23-25). We'll have scores of opportunities to shoot many interesting species, and learn lots about the art of bird photography. All details on this trip ARE HERE. We'd love to have you along!