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Fresh Pond in the Sun

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fresh Pond had been so good to us on Thursday, Hodge and I decided to go again on Monday. It was a rip-roaringly beautiful day for November 14. We saw a very late red-eyed vireo spooking about in the shrubs. I don't think I've ever seen a vireo in November before. He didn't get the hint in the Halloween snowstorm, we gathered.

The vines and shrubs were full of food for birds. Look at this bittersweet banquet draped all along a fallen tree.

 A closer look:

and through the magic of digital cropping, a closer look yet, confirming my original suspicion that this plant was altogether too vigorous and fruit-laden to be our native American bittersweet, Celastrus scandens.

 American bittersweet bears fruit capsules that are orange over red fruits. And it bears fruit only at the ends of its twigs.

Oriental bittersweet (C. orbiculatus)  has yellow fruit capsules over red fruits, and it bears fruit in the leaf axils, all along the long stems. Bah. But still excellent bird food, as the giggling robins, warbling song sparrows and wheezing waxwings attested.

Because we were sort of power-walking, I did not bring my telephoto lens. I had only my point-and-shoot Canon G-11 with me. And I turned the air blue trying to photograph some resting canvasbacks that had blown in overnight to join the ruddy ducks, American coots and ring-necked ducks already ensconced at Fresh Pond. 

This (an avian subject behind a screen of twigs) is where manual focus override is such a blessing. And lacking it is a bird photographer's curse. Here is my beautiful study of winter twigs with blurry hen canvasbacks behind. The G-ll was convinced I was doing an arty shot of the near twigs and absolutely refused to refocus on the ducks. !@$#$@#$%$#%!!!

This is as close as I could get to an in-focus canvasback photo, even though they were close enough to hit with an acorn. !#@$#%$#%#!!

You'll just have to imagine the drakes' ruby eyes, winking open and closed as they drowsily listened to my profane lullaby. I know, it's not worth getting that mad. But I do anyway. I am used to cameras that do my bidding, not defy me with their own little autofocus ideas.

I had far better luck with one of the resident Fresh Pond redtails who was obligingly perched in the open, in full sun. Ahhhh.

Hodge said that she sees redtails pretty much every day in every possible setting in Cambridge (something that certainly was not the case when we were both there in the 70's and 80's). And she says she is always thankful to see them, and always stops to admire them, and never stops loving them. And I watch her doing just that. I feel the same way about redtails. Always worth a third glance and a crane of the neck and a happy sigh, this big beefy beautiful buteo, just waiting for rats and rabbits.

Hello darling! and thank you for being here, for just being you.


Thank you for this valentine to our perambulations around FP. Today would have been my mother's 86th birthday, and she was a lover of bittersweet and waterfowl,, so I thank you on her behalf as well.

Today it was Fresh Pond in the Sun, and Coots in the Mist, the air being colder than the water as the sun was coming up. Beautious, as mom would say. You'll just have to come back for a winter walk!


Posted by KHMacomber November 22, 2011 at 7:48 AM

How funny, I never think to switch to manual focus on my camera, and often have very lovely shots of vines and beautiful, blurry birds behind. I may have to give that a try. Although I'm so accustomed to letting the camera do everything it may be a bit of work to retrain myself. Love those Buteos!

Beautiful!! Very good shot of the Red Tail. Looks like he was posing for you.

Hi Julie: P&Ss are frustrating when shooting through bushes. One way to get around it is to focus on something in the open which is the same distance away, hold it with a half-depressed shutter, and then turn on the Canvasbacks and release the shutter. Magic!

You think I wasn't trying that? That's what all the cussing was about! The brush was just thick enough that every time I tried to focus on something in the mid-distance, the blasted camera found a twig to spotlight! !@@#$#$%!! Thanks anyway, Northern Birder!

Though I suppose I coulda turned around...focused on Hodge...duh. Next time!

Oh,autofocus angst. Been there done that.
What a beautiful place though.

Thank you again.

More gorgeous bit of Mt. Auburn for us to devour! The bittersweet was delightful, even if it isn't the native species. As you said, still great food for the birds. Your study of the twigs was definitely a good one [now, now, we all do such a lot more than you, I can tell you! :-)] and I LOVE your shots of the redtail! They are such wonderful raptors! Great pictures!

Not to be a smartass -- although you know I am -- page 94 in the owner's manual tells you how to focus manually. Doesn't sound all that accurate, but it might work under some conditions.

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