Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How To Photograph Hummingbirds

Yesterday, I turned the spaghetti sauce down to simmer and glanced out the window just in time to see the hummer zoom into the combo coral honeysuckle/grape vine in the back yard. The two vines compete for space on a bit of relic fence from when the kids were wee things.

The sauce (Italian sausage, bell pepper strips, usual host of seasonings) needed to cook down for a while so I grabbed the camera and went out back.
I fed the dogs on the way out so they would stay on the porch and not interfere with what I had in mind. I only had an hour or so of good late day light before the sun sank behind my westernmost trees.

I was hummer hunting.

At the vine covered fence, I stretched out, still in my nerdy work clothes, and waited for the hummer to come back. I've noticed that when they are active, there's about a 15 minute gap between vine visits.
The afternoon was exquisite. Sunny, low humidity, a cool breeze, and no mosquitoes. None! Two weeks ago, we were running from the car to the house just to survive their onslaught.
There wasn't even a foraging fire ant to aggravate me.

As I lay there waiting for the buzz of the bird's arrival. I started noticing little ground level things around me ... a wasp working the spiderwort, the fleabanes from last week looking kind of haggard now, the yard birds moving and scratching in the oak duff behind me.

Peaceful bliss.

It was about at that moment of bliss that Flounder noticed the chickens so close to the house and decided to give chase to Hoot the rooster. You may remember a previous post about this dog/rooster attraction.

Apparently if you are prone, old dogs and roosters don't really register you as YOU and Hoot came dashing right over my feet, followed closely by Flounder. They disappeared around the corner of the house, leaving me in peace again.

That was when Feather appeared at the porch steps. I lay still watching her gingerly work her 12 year old puppy body down the steps. When she made it down to ground level, she sniffed the air and then put her nose down retracing my steps from the porch to where I now lay.
Her eyes and ears don't work so well anymore, but her nose is a thing of wonder and in a few minutes she was laying beside me, demanding belly rubs.

I figured if she'd lie still, I could rub her with one hand and keep the camera ready with the other.

This could work ...
Just as Feather settled down with me, Flounder reappeared Hootless, but focused intently on the crawlspace beneath PFHQ.

Wonderful. Once again he'd managed to chase Hoot into a tiny gap in the lattice and the rooster was under the house. The gap was too small for Flounder to follow, but it also works like the funnel in a crab trap, completely befuddling Hoots smooth little brain so that he can not find his way out after these episodes.

He spent 4 days under there the first time this happened. I thought he'd got eaten by some predator until I heard him crowing one morning ... from beneath the porch.


A few feet away from me, Flounder began immediate Hoot Extraction procedures, flinging sand over my feet and into Feather's face.
I yelled at him to stop ... kind of a whispered yell at first as ... if you still remember ... I was trying to photograph hummingbirds.

That did no good as he hears about as well as Feather does ... plus he was pretty intent on his mission.

It was about then, in the midst of yelling at Flounder and ducking sprays of sand that I heard it ......BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ


I only got this one shot before the Hummer fled for his life from the commotion below.

I just love it when a plan comes together.

18 comments:

lej619 said...

Glad you got some peaceful time to yourself.haha you did get a great picture of the dogs,oh ya and of the hummer!

Hurricane Teen said...

It's easy to notice the little things when there's little else to do. I sit way out by a retention pond on the edge of campus at lunch time to get away from all the obnoxious commotion of my peers. I began to notice things like how expertly the honeybees gather nectar from the clover, how ants build a nest one grain of sand at a time, and that constant low roar the emanates from the pine plantations in even the slightest of breezes. It's an extremely refreshing break from the madness of high school.

CrackerNation said...

That is how my plans come together as well. Sometimes they do and sometimes...

The hummers arrived in East Tennessee last Friday!

robin andrea said...

It's great how everything cooperated just the way you wanted. Hah! Not a bad way to spend some time, though, while the tomato sauce reduced. Quite entertaining.

jojo said...

welll???? did you get roo out? LOL...

hey give more edumacation on the little gators. I have one now in the pond that used to house the big'un (over 6 ft). now i can't find the big'un anymore and this littl'un is now king of the pond. looks exactly like the one (size and coloring) as your pics do. where'd mama go?

great hummer shot. i haven't seen any here :(

kathy a. said...

great story!

we adopted some feral kittens a few months ago, and humans are still far too dangerous in their upright positions -- but the kittens have both been sleeping on top of me lately, when i am safely prone. one lets me pet him now, and he even crawled into my lap when i was sitting one night. i'm wearing them down.

freste2715 said...

Hummer hunting conjured images of you wearing full camo, ashy face paint, the floppy hat, intertwangled with jasmine vines with sugar bottles hanging from everywhere. About died laffin after seeing the first pic. You've taught us all it ain't necessarily the picture. It's what happens until you get it.
Good job, "Hannibal". :-)

Anonymous said...

Best laid plans? But, 1 good shot. With a bright colored shirt or hat, they come in close to check things out. Had a scare 3am cdt,this morning. Thunder storm w/hail. 1/4" w/shooter size (marbles) mixed in. My thoughts went to the nest in the gravel drive. All survived untouched. That's a dedicated parent. Any way, no hummers here yet! 1st Baltimore Oriole this am for this season. So hummers are around somewhere.
Bro J

Doug Taron said...

Rooster-chasing dogs, alligators. errant hummingbirds, photo events gone awry. Just another day at PFHQ.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Some people just live right.

Floridacracker said...

To all,
Thanks for commenting. It really did happen just like that.
Hoot is still under the porch.
... I think Doug hit the nail on the head ... "Just another day at PFHQ."

Thunder Dave said...

Poor old Hoot!

Hey I like the idea about the gators! Could you go ahead and dig a pond out there while you're at it! ;-)

Sharon said...

Amazing! Now that's what you call "multi-tasking"! :)

Alan said...

And a good time was had by all... except, I suspect, the poor old rooster, who probably was (is) not enjoying things at all. :)

threecollie said...

But what a shot! It sounds like you had fun getting it. lol

SophieMae said...

Most of my plans go that way... detour after detour till I eventually get to the original destination. Unless one of the detours takes me to a completely different destination.

Great hummer shot! I was hunting them yesterday, as well, but that was one of the detours on my way to another detour. 8-]

Floridacracker said...

Update:
I tried to lure hoot back out through the gap, with bits of bread, but he just stuck his neck through the lattice.
I can hear him crowing beneath me as I type this dawn.

Floridacracker said...

Update 2:
He found his way out!