Friday, February 25, 2022

A Murder in New Haven...Shocker!

I kid. New Haven gets a bad rap, and it really shouldn't. Or is it "bad rep??" I just don't know.

New Haven: Come for the pizza, stay for the crime!

Last week I was out messing with my brand new camera body, the Canon R5, which at the time I had paired with my trusty ol' 400mm f5.6. I was walking back to the car at Fort Hale Park when I heard a "THWACK!" right next to me followed by the most awful gull scream you've ever heard. I looked down to my left and a Ring-billed Gull was flailing a bloody, broken right wing. Looking up I eventually located the culprit, a hefty adult (presumed) female PEREGRINE FALCON.

It seemed odd that the falcon didn't remain on its prey, so I am assuming that it was startled by my human presence mere feet from its attack. I retreated down to the water's edge to presumably watch the 'grin return for its meal. The falcon seemed noncommittal though. It made a couple passes near the gull but for whatever reason refused to finish the job; she eventually flew off as the flightless gull scampered to the water and swam away. It could be that I lingered too close, but more likely it was the human activity on the beach and the sidewalk, closer to the bird than I was, that spooked it. Hopefully the gull became a meal sooner than later, as it had no hope of flying again. I have been back there twice since then and have not seen any broken-winged gulls, so here's hoping its end came rather quickly. Nature is brutal but endlessly fascinating.

I didn't spend much time in the field locally in 2021, but the new camera purchase might get me out there a bit more. Either way, I should have some travels to report during the first half of 2022 including Norway in March and Madeira in June.

 - Nick

Sunday, February 6, 2022

"Black" Brant in New Haven Harbor

Yesterday afternoon (5 Feb 2022) was cold and blustery, but the sun was shining and I was itching to use my new Canon R5 for the first time. So I went down to the West Haven Boat Ramp to try shooting gulls from the car. This site is reliable for close views of gulls without having to brave the elements, and the afternoon sun would be at my back. A first cycle ICELAND GULL was on site for a bit. Otherwise I practiced with the new camera and experimented with different settings, particularly different autofocus modes. At one point a distant Brant flock took flight across the harbor and I took the opportunity to shoot a few artsy (and I use that word very loosely) photos of the flock with East Rock Park in the background. While sorting through the images that evening I picked out a "BLACK" BRANT that happened to be perfectly lit and positioned for an identifiable photo. It's better to be lucky than good!

original photo

crop with "Black" Brant the bottom bird

first cycle "Kumlien's" Iceland Gull

Other than confirming that you can crop the heck out of an R5's image, the results of the first outing were inconsistent. The switch from dSLR to mirrorless will have at least a bit of a learning curve, especially for somebody like me who does not use his gear very often these days. Practice makes perfect. I'll continue to work with it as I prepare for a late March trip to Norway for which I'd like to have a decent handle on this camera! The other question is whether I continue to use my old 400 f5.6 or upgrade to the pricey 100-500.

 - Nick