Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Chipmunk Choir - We Wish You A Merry Christmas!


White Breasted Nuthatch conducts the "Chipmunk Christmas  Choir" in a rousing rendition of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" beneath the town square Hemlock Tree. The Peanut Gallery - er "audience" is the forest squirrels. There is a special guest appearance by Chickadees whose singing upsets Mr. Nuthatch! Have a great Holiday Season!

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Chipmunk Choir - We Wish You A Merry Christmas!

Amazing Bird Echoes on Weather Radar



Animation of Birds on Radar! December 19th, 2016 - A rare perfect circular donut  echo is seen on weather radar from flocks of birds taking off at sunrise south of Orlando, Florida. It has long been known that bird movements show up on radar, but rarely do they show up as perfect circles starting from a small area and growing to such a large area. These birds took off south of lake Tohopekaliga near Kissimmee, Florida. Another circular bird echo can be seen further south toward the north shore of Lake Okeechobee.

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Bird Echoes on Weather Radar


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Abominable Squirrels Discovered in Alaska - Exclusive Drone Footage


Drone footage reveals giant Abominable Squirrels in a remote part of Alaska. As you can imagine the found footage affords only a brief glimpse of these shy and elusive creatures!

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Video: Abominable Squirrels Discovered in Alaska - Exclusive Drone Footage

Squirrel Nut Burying Frenzy



Gray Squirrels bury nuts as fast as they can - a true nut burying frenzy - as I spend some quality time handing them large ripe acorns given by a friend. The Backyard has no acorns this time of year (water oaks) while they are falling in piles in other areas of Florida with small live oaks. Rather than eating them as I expected, the squirrels seem in a great rush to bury them as fast as possible - many they will not find again. Maybe it is going to get cold this winter! You will also hear the calls of Gray Catbirds and Northern Cardinals in the background at various times.

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Squirrel Nut Burying Frenzy

Thumbnail source image from Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0:
Squirrel photo collage created by Bob MacInnes.
Changes were made to the original image and the modified image and its use are not endorsed by the original author.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/lonetown/3197405657/sizes/l/
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/



Polka Dot Wasp Moth



The stunning Polka Dot Wasp Moth is the adult stage of the Oleander Caterpillar, here pollinating our Backyard Loquat Trees. It is rare to see and get film of these elusive beauties which flutter around slowly in the daytime (Syntomeida epilais Walker). Its dangerous wasp-like appearance and unusual color patterns say to potential predators like birds - stay away - thus they are perfectly safe to feed on pollen in the daytime alongside the bees and other pollinators. Their caterpillars are only destructive to Oleander Trees which are highly poisonous. Oddly another similar wasp moth with bright red wings is actually called the Spotted Oleander Wasp Moth - it can be seen in this video:

The adult stage of the oleander caterpillar is sometimes called the polka-dot wasp moth. Wasp moth is the common name given to the subfamily of arctiid moths to which this species belongs (the ctenuchines) because of their resemblance to wasps such as the sphecids and pompilids. The moth's body and wings are a beautiful iridescent blue/green. Small white dots are found on the body, wings, legs and antennae, and the tip of the abdomen is red/orange. Male and female moths are quite similar in appearance, and have a wing span of 45 to 51 mm. These moths are slow-flying and active during daylight hours, which contrasts them with other moth species which are usually nocturnal.
http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/orn/oleander_caterpillar.htm

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Polka Dot Wasp Moth

MOVO VXR 300 Compact Stereo Video Microphone Test



Improve your videos! A practical test of the MOVO VXR 300 Compact Stereo Video Microphone designed for DSLR cameras, point and shoot or "bridge" cameras and any audio recorder with 3.5 mm audio input jacks. 
Movo VXR300 HD Professional Condenser X/Y Stereo Video Microphone for DSLR Video Cameras and Movo Photo HVA20 Heavy-Duty Video Accessory Dual Shoe Bracket for Lights, Monitors, Microphones and More.

 I am mainly concerned with its use on DSLR's and bridge cameras like the Canon SX60 HS which is my bread and butter Nature video camera and was used on most of the videos on this YouTube channel.

I felt I needed an external microphone for three reasons - in this order - 1) especially with age and hard use all electronic super-zoom bridge cameras like the Canon SX60 will produce very annoying noises during zoom in and out operations that really sounds amateurish and needs to be edited out.  2) Wind noise - I just hate that loud wind roar that ruins many good videos and leads to putting music with the videos. and 3) to improve the overall sound quality of the videos. 

Movo VXR300 HD Professional Condenser X/Y Stereo Video Microphone for DSLR Video Cameras and Movo Photo HVA20 Heavy-Duty Video Accessory Dual Shoe Bracket for Lights, Monitors, Microphones and More.

MOVO VXR 300 Compact Stereo Video Microphone

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Black Crowned Night Heron


Black Crowned Night Herons roost low in trees during the day and then take of around dusk for a night of hunting. I was lucky to catch this beautiful bird taking off from its daytime roost. They are unusual for herons with short stout necks and short legs. 

Typically solitary when foraging, the Black-crowned NightHeron
is most often observed at dawn, dusk, and on
cloudy days. Black-crowned Night-Herons have distinct
immature plumage and attain full breeding plumage in
their third year. Virtually worldwide in distribution, it
breeds from the northern United States and southern
Canada south to Hawaii, Peru, and Argentina.
Habitat. This cryptic species is inconspicuous at roost and
when seeking food, even though it forages during the day
while feeding young. Outside the breeding season, the
Black-crowned Night-Heron forages mostly at night,
usually wading in shallow water, and feeding on fish,
crustaceans, small amphibians, reptiles, nestling birds,
and mammals, as well as other aquatic organisms.
This species nests in homogeneous colonies, in colonies of
other waders, and, rarely, singly. Nests are formed of
dead surrounding vegetation in a marsh or built of sticks
in trees or bushes near or over water. Three to 5 bluegreen
eggs hatch in 24 to 26 days, and the young fledge
at about 42 days of age.
Seasonal Occurrence. Breeding has been reported from January through August, but the presence of young
birds in south Florida in December indicates that breeding may occur year-round there. In summer, Blackcrowned
Night-Herons are absent from most of the Panhandle. Migratory individuals appear in March and April,
sometimes as late as May. Fall migrants have been reported in September. Florida populations increase
considerably in winter with the influx of northern migrants. Florida is probably the southernmost wintering
ground for Black-crowned Night Herons from the eastern United States.
Status. Because it is a wetlands-dependent species, it is considered a Species of Special Concern by the Florida
Committee on Rare and Endangered Plants and Animals .

The statewide breeding distribution of the Black-crowned Night Heron follows the availability of wetland habitat
Most nesting colonies are located in central and southern Florida, with scattered colonies in north Florida. Howe
(1932) mentions breeding in Pensacola, but no records west of Wakulla County were obtained during the Atlas
project. No trends are currently measurable for this ubiquitous species. 
http://legacy.myfwc.com/bba/docs/bba_BCNH.pdf

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Black Crowned Night Heron

Osprey Sky Dance And Mating Calls



High Definition Audio. Amazing male Osprey Sky Dance and courtship calling right over the Backyard and low. While the male shows off his voice and stamina for over 10 minutes the female can be heard calling loudly from high in a long leaf pine tree below probably encouraging him on! Hopefully they will build a nest nearby in the coming weeks. Luckily I had just attached my new external microphone with wind screen - this was the perfect test!

Appearance:
The undersides of the toes on each foot are covered with short spines, which help them grasp slippery fish.
Habitat:
The osprey is smaller than the bald eagles that typically share the same habitats, but its five to six foot wingspan is impressive nonetheless. Adults are dark brown above with a white underside and head. Look for the distinctive dark line that extends behind the eye and the gull-like way the narrow wings are angled downward when the birds are in flight.
The osprey is found year-round in Florida both as a nesting species and as a spring and fall migrant passing between more northern areas and Central and South America. Ospreys in Florida did not suffer the serious pesticide-related population declines that occurred in other states in the 1950s and 1960s. Pesticides, shoreline development and declining water quality continue to threaten the abundance and availability of food and nest sites for ospreys.
Behavior:
Ospreys, also known as "fish hawks," are expert anglers that like to hover above the water, locate their prey and then swoop down for the capture with talons extended.
In Florida, ospreys commonly capture saltwater catfish, mullet, spotted trout, shad, crappie and sunfish from coastal habitats and freshwater lakes and rivers for their diet.
Ospreys build large stick nests located in the tops of large living or dead trees and on manmade structures such as utility poles, channel markers and nest platforms. Ospreys have adapted so well to artificial nest sites that the species now nests in areas (e.g. inner cities) once considered unsuitable. Nests are commonly reused for many years. Nesting begins from December (south Florida) to late February (north Florida). The incubation and nestling period extends into the summer months.
The osprey is listed as a Species of Special Concern only in Monroe County. Permits are required throughout the state to remove a nest for these wonderful raptors, however, and a replacement structure must be erected to mitigate the removal of the nest.
http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/birds/raptors-and-vultures/osprey/

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Osprey Sky Dance And Mating Calls

Squirrels Trash Thanksgiving Dinner Party



Backyard Gray Squirrels were invited to Thanksgiving Dinner, but it didn't go well. Most of the year they seem to be able to function, however the holiday festivities apparently upset their routine and the first guest to arrive - from above of all places - totally trashed the carefully planned seating arrangements and party favors. Talk about an entrance - well It was downhill from there!

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Squirrels Trash Thanksgiving Dinner Party

Test of Tamron 150 - 600 mm Zoom Lens With Vivitar 2X Teleconverter 1920mm



1920 mm optical zoom lens - Tamron Auto Focus A011C700 SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD Zoom Lens for Canon EF Cameras with Vivitar Teleconverter Lens (2X4C). With special guest appearance!
This is a practical non-technical real-world test of what can expect using this setup in less than optimal shooting conditions for the vast majority of users this should be acceptable especially considering cost-benefit. Remember for every picture a professional sells or gets published they probably discard hundreds if not thousands of shots. This was just one day of examples in bad conditions.

All pictures and video were shot on a Canon T5i with the Tamron 150-600 and Vivitar 2X converter and remote shutter control. This provides an effective 1920 mm optical focal length. It was also a very windy day which has a significant impact when shooting at nearly 2000 mm. The lens was 1000 bucks with a $200 rebate and 10% cashback and the converter $75 used/recondition at Amazon so I have about 800 bucks total in this lens setup.  
None of the pictures or videos have been cropped or enhanced prior to loading into the Filmora Video Editor, of course in the process of conversion into this video there was some degradation of the imagery, but it is presented as best as can be to give you an idea of the results possible with the Tamron and teleconverter.
I set the shutter speed at 1-800 and let the camera choose the f-stop and ISO and manual focus. Autofocus will not work with the teleconverter as the video demonstrates this is to be expected and not a defect.
All of the imagery was taken in what would be considered bad to poor or harsh lighting conditions.
Of course all the videos and pictures could be improved significantly with post-processing.

The next generation Tamron lens (Tamron AFA022C700 SP 150-600mm Di VC USD G2 f/5.6-40.0) is out at around 1,300 buck with a $400 teleconverter available and this setup would probably provide incrmentally better results in poor conditions. I personally shoot mainly video and use a Canon SX60 1300mm 65x optical zoom for my workhorse, but I find the video with this 1920 mm setup more than acceptable especially in the sun. 

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Test of Tamron 150 - 600 mm Zoom Lens