Spring Rush 2

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A lot can change in a couple of weeks. The landscape is now teeming with life and tender growth. Heatwaves and sunshine. The pace of change is almost dizzying. It’s hard to keep up with everything. I have had a chance to check in on the purple martins, though, who have returned from their far-away winter grounds in Brazil. They are busy catching insects, bickering, and setting up house for this year’s breeding. Pictured here is a female martin in flight.

© Karen McRae, 2015

Purple Martin Stories

PurpleMartinsLandscapeThere are moments when it’s hard not to mourn the quick passing of the summer even though we are still in it. Cold rainy days that feel like they were borrowed from another month. A month like October.

And seeing that the Purple Martins have ‘left the building‘. Their summer nesting boxes empty – devoid of those beautiful summer sounds the swallows bring – the babies fully grown, independent. Eventually, hopefully, they will make it all the way to their winter home in Brazil, some of them banded and/or outfitted with tiny GPS trackers. Little winter ‘backpacks’ to tell stories of where they go. When they return in the spring the birds will be carefully caught and the tiny GPS devices removed. The number of Purple Martins is significantly dropping and it’s not really known why so, this data is hopefully a step in finding out what might be causing the decline in their population, and a step too, in finding ways to protect them. You can read more about the fascinating Purple Martin Project here and here on the Nature Canada website.

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[The first image is a layered photograph ~ purple martins, a rainy window and a summer landscape made with movement.]

© Karen McRae, 2014

PurpleMartin_SpeedofFlightThe Speed of (F)light

Another Purple Martin (male) caught in flight ~ It is difficult to get a precise synthesis of both focus and movement when photographing these birds – I think this is what interests me the most – but this particular image might be the closest I’ve come. I like the somewhat abstracted nature of the form and the simplicity of the monochromatic tones. They might be getting sick of me hanging around, though…

[Click on the image for a larger version]

 

© Karen McRae, 2014

Up with the Birds

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Purple-Martins-6Above: Purple Martins in flight

I stopped in to see the Purple Martins after a very early start to my day. If I were a Robin I might have got the first worm…

There is a lot of activity as they are busily collecting materials for their little nest-box homes. I spotted a pair of Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) attempting to build a nest in one of the boxes. It seemed that the Martins were discouraging their presence but those Starlings are tenacious.

StarlingandNestMaterials1Above: Moving in ~ A Starling in flight, gathering nesting materials

Each type of bird has its own wonderful shifting form when in movement. I don’t think I could ever tire of observing and trying to capture these various forms. Anyway, I like how these images look a bit like drawings and this process is giving me some ideas (and reference material) for an art project.

© Karen McRae, 2014

Purple Martins

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Purple-Martins-4The gorgeous Purple Martins have returned to their summer home near the river. I saw a little bit of nest-building material being collected but mostly the swallows were zipping about catching insects when I made these photographs.

Purple-Martin-Nesting-BoxI love their songs and when you hear an entire community of them vocalizing together – especially once the young are hatched – it’s really quite a wonderful auditory experience. I’ll try to make a little recording at some point but there is a soundbite link below if you’re interested.

Click here to listen: Purple Martin Vocalizations (Soundclip from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.) Imagine perhaps 100 birds making those sounds…

Purple-Martins-5It’s been so beautiful outside it’s been hard to stay indoors!

[The image with three birds is a composite (layered) image showing various flight acrobatics.]

© Karen McRae, 2014