Birding With My New Camera!

For the past few years I was using a Nikon 1 V3 mirrorless camera for all of my birding photos.  While I loved that camera when I had plenty of light, I was always let down with any photos I took that were in low-light conditions.  The sensor in the camera just couldn’t handle low light, high ISO conditions.

So recentlly I purchased a new camera.  An Olympus OMD EM1 Mark ii (could they have come up with any longer of a name??!!).  This new camera is a micro 4/3 camera.  It has a better sensor for low light and it has much better in-camera stabilization.  I got a birding lens to go with it that has a reach of 800mm.

Of course, I just had to take it out right away to see how it performed birding.   So I planned a whole day of birding in different locations and light conditions.  When I shot with my Nikon, I mostly used shutter priority.  So that’s what I set the new camera to.  I was less than pleased with the first photos I took that day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Meadowlark

I headed over to Owlville in Los Lunas.  I had heard there were lots of Burrowing Owls nesting there this year.  I wasn’t disappointed either – I saw lots of owls.  They are located right next to the road, so you can get pretty close sitting in your car.  I played with the settings in my camera and my results were better.  It was a lot of fun watching these little owls.  It was early in the morning and the owls were very sleepy still.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Burrowing Owl snoozing in the morning sun

They seemed to be having a hard time waking up.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Big yawn!

I just never seem to be able to get enough owl photos to satisfy me.  They just make me smile.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Love this expression.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This one was a little more alert than the others.

Then I saw one on a bush.  I think this made for wonderful photos.  I really like the bokeh with my new setup.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m impressed with the details in the feathers with this new setup. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Burrowing Owl

I then headed to Belen to the Taco Bell marsh.  When you shoot there, you are looking toward the sun – always a challenge to get good photos in those conditions.  I was pretty pleased with how the camera performed though still disappointed in the end results.  I just couldn’t figure out how to set this camera.  It has a very complicated menu system that is not intuitive.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Killdeer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Necked Stilt

As I was leaving the marsh, I saw someone had created a track that goes to the other side of the marsh.  Seeing as I own a Jeep Wrangler, I was pretty confident I could drive on this sandy track and be ok.  I knew if I got to the other side, the sun would be behind me making more perfect conditions for photos.  And I wasn’t disappointed!  I saw this Cinnamon Teal right away.  Beautiful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cinnamon Teal

I then saw this Morning Dove fly in looking for nesting materials.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mourning Dove

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Getting some nesting material. 

I then headed to a rookery I had recently heard about (thanks to my friend Joe!).  Here the lighting was low due to all the shade trees.

As soon as I got there, I saw a Cattle Egret in the tree right above me trying to get just the right stick for its nest.  I was amazed at how well this bird balanced itself on that skinny limb.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cattle Egret

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It took some skill to walk on that limb.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course it wanted the stick on the very end LOL!

While photographing this egret, the owner of the home came out.  We visited for a while, and then he invited me into the yard to get a closer look.  Wow!  He was very kind and you could tell he enjoyed having the annual visitors.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Crowned Night Heron

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Snowy Egret

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The owner leaves some of the fallen sticks on the ground for the birds to use.  This Cattle Egret was taking advantage of this bounty. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is just one small view of the trees in this yard.  Look at all those nests! 

The owner told me about a Sharp-Shinned Hawk next door.  It was deep in the canopy and my camera was struggling to get a focus.  So I put the camera in manual focus and was pleased with how easy it was to change the settings and focus on the bird.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was still trying to shoot on Shutter Priority.  While I like these images, I still think this camera could do much better.  I know it’s all user error.

My next stop was in Santa Fe.  I had to deliver some supplies to a job site there, so I visited the Randall Davey Audubon Center.  I walked the trail behind the center that follows a steam in the woods.  I immediately spotted warblers!  I love warblers but they are a big challenge to photograph – especially with a new camera!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Throated Gray Warbler

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Grace’s Warbler

I spent a little time in the gardens of the center.  I was really challenged trying to focus on my subjects.  I just couldn’t figure out the settings for center focus.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pine Siskin

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mountain Chickadee

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

I could see I still needed to practice and learn this camera.

My next outing I went to check on the owls at Academy School.  I haven’t been there in weeks.   I figured that baby might have left the nest by now.  He had, but he was still hanging out in the same tree.  I think he needs to grow into those feet!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Horned Owl

At my home I got more practice with my camera.  Lots of good stuff showing up this spring!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lesser Goldfinch

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

House Finch in gorgeous breeding plumage

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Throated Gray Warbler – the second year in a row it has come to my home

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Plumbeous Vireo

Remember that Mountain Bluebird I saved last December?  Well, he’s doing fine and is nesting with his lovely lady this spring.  I love the photo I got of her, but I just couldn’t get a decent photo of him.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mountain Bluebird – female

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mountain Bluebird – male

I made a brief stop at Kit Carson park to find the owls there.  I had heard about them, but hadn’t had a chance to go by.  I found one adult and one baby.  The baby had left the nest and was way up high hiding well within the canopy.  So well I couldn’t get a decent photo.  But one of the parents was nicely out in the open.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Horned Owl

My last outing was to the Cienega Trail on the east side of the Sandias.  It was a cold and cloudy morning.  Very low light conditions.  By this time I had switched to Aperture Priority.  I was much happier with the results.  I also learned I can set a maximum ISO when on Auto ISO.  This is great because I know I can control the amount of noise in my low-light photos.    I think these low-light photos are much better than what I would have gotten with my Nikon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mountain Chickadee

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hairy Woodpecker

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spotted Towhee

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Orange-Crowned Warbler

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chipping Sparrow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Say’s Phoebe

So all in all I’m much happier with my new gear.  I know I have lots to learn, but I think I’m off to a good start!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not sure what this little guy is…but he’s darn cute!  I saw him at the Cienega Trail parking area.