Saturday, June 22, 2019

Bay Barn Swallows a Challenge to Capture

Capture on "film" that is. Yes these small birds are really fast as they dart through the sky, skim the water and dive under a dock in their pursuit of bugs to eat.

While photographing the Ospreys seen in my previous post near my parents' house on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia another feathered friend caught my eye. I had no success trying to focus on one in flight and get its picture.  So then I got smarter and focused on a section of dock where the birds would occasionally fly.

I set my camera to burst mode and started firing away- click, click, click- when a few of the birds looked like they would go under the dock.

Alas, I had some success. I was determined in this effort because I thought this bird with a forked tail may be a first-time "lifer" bird for me.

This photo was my best result, as it shows the forked talk that intrigued me so. Click on it for a better, bigger view.

My mom had an Audubon bird book at her house that I used to identify my target as a Barn Swallow.

When I realized that these birds are Barn Swallows I also realized this was not a lifer for me. I had photographed a "kettle" of them a few years ago back home in coastal South Carolina. See that post here. 

I thought this may be a different type of bird (photo above) but with the help of's identification forum I learned this is also a Barn Swallow.  Click on the picture to better see the two strands at the end of the tail. This next picture better shows the bird's forked tail.
A very curious thing about these photos is what is hanging from the dock. From my distance of 150 yards or so I thought it was a piece of metal.  But after transferring the shots to my iPad it is clear that this is a snake.  But is it a real snake or a toy rubber snake?  In the sequence of shots I took it never really moved. The photo above shows something that looks like it may be wrapped around the snake or might be its tail.

But again to the rescue. A very observant member says that is actually another Barn Swallow behind the snake. It's the bird's wings.  I think that is correct too, now.

Why would someone put a fake snake on a dock like this?  Did a kid leave it or lose it?  Maybe it is an effort to scare off pests such as this Groundhog (also called Woodchuck), which I photographed from a distance while shooting the birds you see.

The Barn Swallows didn't seem to rest much when a couple landed on the dock for a moment I was pleased to get this photo of them.

Neat encounter and like the Osprey nest with three little ones this had its share of surprises too! That's what makes this such a neat hobby!

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