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Attack of the birds!

June 7, 2009

Yesterday I was back in Bombay Hook again for the third time this Spring (fourth time ever). Even to me, it really seems like I’ve been there a lot more. Based on my schedule for the remainder of the year, I may be there at least fourteen more times before this year is up.

That’s a lot of trips but it will be at all different times of year and so far, I’ve managed to get something slightly different on each trip. This time around I decided that I’d never seen the very back part of the refuge. I’ve always started and the front and worked my way back. But the front parts are such a target-rich environment that I’ve always spent several hours taking pictures there and, before I can get to the back, some prior commitment forces me to leave.

So yesterday I resolved to go directly to the back, ignoring all photographic opportunities along the way, and begin working my way forward. “Luckily”, yesterday was a relatively dull day in terms of photographic opportunities. I had to pass on only a few temptations.

Looking back over it in my mind after I’d left, I somehow thought that the day really didn’t offer much photographically. Nothing stuck out as remarkably exciting like the first time I ever came face-to-face with a red fox or the first time I saw a fox kit.

After downloading and making a first pass at organizing my pictures, I was stunned to find that I had 52 pictures ranked either four or five stars. (I use Adobe Bridge from the CS3 suite to cull my photos. After making a backup of everything, I rank each image into one of six tiers. The lowest is “reject” — meaning entirely unsalvageable. Above that each image gets between one and five stars. The more stars, the better the image. Five star images in my own personal system are reserved for shots that make me say “Wow!” I think most other people have their standards set too low. After ranking them all, the rejects as well as all the one and two star photos get deleted. What I have left is all the 3+ star shots. I generally then re-rank those to provide a finer gradation. At this point, the only “reject” images are duplicates and those files I’ve already processed and saved a new copy of.)

Fifty-two images is quite a good haul. And that doesn’t even count the three star ones! I’m not generally a birder (something I’ve written about previously) but yesterday many of my best shots were of birds. That doesn’t disappoint me in the least. It started in the pre-dawn hours when this small flock of birds was skimming the wet mud of the tidal marshes at low tide, looking for insects.

Of course we saw birds with vibrant colors.

And more muted ones that were just as beautiful.

I guess maybe it wasn’t such a dull morning after all.

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