Bird-watching in St L, photography, and cheetah cubs
December 15, 2006
talks about the mindset which makes him rush off somewhere as soon as he hears of the prospect of seeing a rare bird.
At my beginners' level, too, I find symptoms of this dread disease. I missed two wonderful trips, to B R Hills and to Bhadra...but family commitments took me halfway across the world at the time when LOTS of winter birds arrive at home, when travelling is such fun and when I could have learnt a lot more.
But having come here, I decided that I would at least visit the Zoo, which is just half an hour's walk away, and see the exotic birds there with newly awakened eyes.
Alas, KM didn't want to bring either the Canon prime lens, or the 75-300 lens which I have been somewhat getting used to...now, instead, I am getting used to the Tamron 28-200 lens instead. Predictably, my pictures quality has regressed again.
I have shot a couple of birds on nearby trees that I can't yet identify...but today, I got some AWFUL pictures of what is THE representative bird of St Louis, after which their baseball team is also named...the Cardinal. It is such a bright and beautiful bird...bright red in colour. Birds are not frequently to be seen at this time of year.
My friend Abhijit Menon-Sen gave me a useful link for birds of Missouri; I am trying to match my OFP (Orrible Fuzzy Pictures) to them to get id's. I *might* post the fuzzy pic of the cardinal...if my birder friends promise not to laugh at it.
I tried my hand at some pictures of some of the beautiful birds at the Zoo, like the Hyacinth Macaw, Spectacled Owl, the Tawny Frogmouth and so on...but alas, the low light in the bird house meant that red-eye is a permanent problem, and the wire of the cages keeps getting in the way, too, Will have to figure out how to leave the flash off and yet get good pics. I am a basic-point-and-shoot person getting into deep waters....helllpppp!
But meanwhile...I picked up a local newspaper yesterday..and it says that the cheetah in the Zoo has just had three cubs!! Wow, what a success for the Zoo. (the St Louis Zoo is a smaller, but to my mind, an even better version of the world-famous San Diego Zoo...indeed, they have several times won the Best Zoo in the US award, no mean feat when you know the size and clout of other Zoos.) Apparently, since the weather is so cold, the cubs will not be displayed at the Riverside Enclosure until spring....I am planning to call/ email someone at the Zoo (I find people there VERY approachable, I might even just go there in person) and ask if, as a visitor from halfway across the world, I could get a sneak peak at the babies...maybe I won't be allowed to photograph them, but I would really LOVE to see the cheetah cubs, even though captive!