Saturday, January 28, 2012

Photo Quiz (Eastern North America)

See if you can ID this bird thats chowing down on this suet feeder. Leave your answer in the comments below. The real answer will be posted Feb 1. Thanks everybody for reading.
John Mark Simmons for TB

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Birding in the Neighborhood

On a perfect Saturday morning, my friend and I went through his neighborhood going from lagoon to lagoon searching for birds and getting pictures!  After an hour the camera died and we were not able to get pictures of many Black Crowned Night Herons, Wood Ducks, or Pine Warblers, but we did get a bunch of pictures of Hooded Mergansers, Pied-Billed Grebes, and Double Crested Cormorants.

- Sam Brunson

 Double Crested Cormorant
 Hooded Merganser (male)
  Hooded Merganser (male and female)
Pied-Billed Grebe

Friday, January 20, 2012

GA Bird Trip Part 3

Here is part 3 of my trip. The overall trip was awesome. My favorite part was obviously the pelagic that I went on. But I really love birding on the beach. More photo opportunities arise when your on a beach it seems like. Follow our blog for more photos and cool posts. Any questions always welcome. 
Posted by John Mark Simmons
 Manx Shearwater
Female Buffleheads 
Photos by John Mark Simmons

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

GA Coast Birding Trip Part 2

Here is the second part with more photos. I used manual focus on all the photos. The reason being my auto focus is rather slow on my camera and I have learned to master M focus. We are considering opening up a photo ID section where you can send in photos " from Eastern North America" and we will help to ID the subject. We are also going to start doing our own quizzes. First one is being posted today.  Hope you guys like the photos. If you do please follow and help spread the word about this blog.
Posted by John Mark Simmons
 Sunrise White Ibis
 Red Phalaropes
Boneparte's Gull

Sunday, January 15, 2012

GA Coast Birding Trip Part 1

 During a beautiful weekend in January I went to Tybee Island and surrounding areas to do some winter birding. I found a total of 11 life birds. Here are some of my pictures from the pelagic trip I went on. The Razorbills were my favorite bird of the trip and a rarity for Georgia. The boat trip was fun and successful despite all the sea sickness that passed around the boat during the first few hours. Hope you enjoy the photos and happy birding everyone!
- John Mark Simmons.
 Manx Shearwater
Boneparte's Gull

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Birding Tip: Something New

I am going to present a challenge to you. Try to identify as many birds as you can without thinking about color. Richard Crossly likes to bird without using color as a field mark. By not using color as a field mark you will become more accustomed to tougher identifications. It is not as easy as it sounds. Birding without using color is hard. Think of pattern, shape, size, and range rather than color. It may sound weird at first but it is a great training exercise. I hope you try this! It should make a difference in your birding. Because sometimes you can't see the colors of a bird, by doing this exercise you can hopefully identify those birds more easily. Thanks for reading everybody and have a good day. And check out Richard's bird guide for Eastern North America! It's the best yet.
John Mark Simmons for TB

Dark Eyed Junco ( Brown Adult) by John Mark Simmons

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Operation Bye Bye Blackbird Kills Millions :(

Over the course of the past few years the USDA ( United States Department of Agriculture) has poisoned a variety of starlings, blackbirds, cowbirds, and grackles. The reason? Crop damage caused by the birds has enraged farmers that grow massive amounts of plants. The USDA took action against the birds by poisoning. I am not sure exactly how this was done but it left the lifeless bodies of birds scattered throughout cities. There are numerous news stories dotted around the internet about the event. Birders are enraged at the drastic numbers of birds that were slaughtered. The USDA kept their mouths shut until now, claiming responsibility for the millions of dead birds. Although many people including me are upset I can see some reason in it. Look at it like this. Your a farmer that just planted a hundred acres of corn, wheat, and beans. Here comes a giant flock of birds that demolishes all your hard work. So you can understand right? I'm not trying to completely defend the bird poisoning for it has a devastating effect on birds like the Rusty Blackbird. But I wanted you to see it from the killer's point of view. Thanks for reading this today everybody and you have just been filled in on the biggest news about birds.
John Mark Simmons for TB

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Ok here is a top and bottom comparison. I wasn't able to do side by side but you can still see the difference. These are not both the same picture but they are both similar enough to show as an example. They were both taken within a second of each other. As you can see the one on the bottom is over exposed and the light is harsh on the bird's front. But with these two things changed: exposure compensation down half a stop and white balance changed to "direct sunlight" you can see the difference. It may not seem that significant to some people but if you want to enter one in a contest or something, you have to change your settings to adapt to the lighting situation. If you have any questions on how to do these things please comment.
Posted by John Mark Simmons

With settings changed
Without settings changed.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Photo Tip: Direct Sunlight

Today I came across a group of six Red Shouldered Hawks in my yard today. Two of them offered great photo ops. So I come up to one and he shows no signs of flight so I keep approaching until I am as close as I can get. The lighting situation was direct sunlight. The sun was shining directly on him from the front. This is the lighting that you want. But since the light was a little harsh I brought my "exposure compensation" down half a stop. Which is just one turn of the command dial on your DSLR. This brought my exposure level to an even state. I also put my white balance on the setting "direct sunlight" which helped balance the colors. So whenever the light is at a good angle but too harsh on the birds feathers try these two things and see the difference. To really see what difference white balance makes, read the post titled "White Balance." Thanks to all who read TBAB and happy birding everyone!

Posted by John Mark Simmons

Red Shouldered Hawk by John Mark Simmons

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Resolution

Hey everybody,
The TB team took a little bit longer of a Christmas break than originally intended but we are finally up and running again. How many of you have any "bird related" resolutions for the year of 2012. I certainly have one. I plan to write down in my lab book every bird seen for each day of 2012. The location, the date, and how many birds of that species will also be reorded. It is definitely going to be a hard task to do the entire year. But I always just think of how valuable this info will be when I am done. Im sure not all of you would like to assume such a task but you can do something smaller and easier to do. As long as you identify a good amount of birds every day your skills will stay fine tuned. Don't wait two weeks and then go birding once, then another two weeks and so on. Think of something creative, something that not many people have done. Best of luck to all who crate a new year's resolution. Happy new year!

Posted by John Mark Simmons

Tree Swallows by John Mark Simmons