A Thing of Beauty is a Joy … The Perch II « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy ... The Perch II

What’s Up?

Saturday morning was gorgeous, dead clear with a gentle northeast breeze. I was set-up on the edge of the marsh by 6:45am, but the Black-necked Stilts were nowhere to be seen. None showed up, nothing flew by, and nothing swam by. At 7:15, I left to drive around. There was an Osprey atop a dead cabbage palm struggling with a big Black Crappie. As that bird is is very shy, I stayed well back. The wind was perfect. But as I placed the lens on the lowered window the bird flew off. It was gonna be one of those days …

I drove around some more with similar results. I did see all five of the young Sandhill Cranes along the lakefront, making a few images only of the half-grown colts. I headed home early and decided to go look for a new perch. Anita North and I had searched for and set up a new one last week. The very attractive top broke off as we took it out of my SUV. We thought that we had repaired it well with duct tape and wire, but by the next day the repair failed, probably startling the first Osprey that landed on it. So I decided to look for a new perch a few blocks from my house.

I was fairly deep in the woods when a friendly voice said, “Arthur, is that you?” It was my neighbor Ralph. On that day, at that minute, Ralph was the perfect person to run into. Keep reading below to learn why.

Today is Sunday 23 May 2021. I will be heading down to the lake soon no matter the weather. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you have a great day.

This blog post took about 90 minutes to prepare, and makes 149 consecutive days with a new one. Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head — for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords and is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great if you opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to save 3% at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And doing so always earns my great appreciation.

ILE In-the-Field Sessions
Sandhill Crane colts and small chicks guaranteed!

Monday May 24, Tuesday May 25, or Wednesday May 26, 2021
2-hour sessions: $300.00

The crane colts family and the crane chicks family have been utterly dependable for the past few days. Join me for a morning at Indian Lake Estates with a money-back guarantee: if we do not get to photograph either the colts or the chicks at close range you will get every penny back. Also possible: Ospreys in flight and Black-necked Stilts.

Lodging and Photoshop lessons available. If you are seriously interested in joining me for one or more sessions, get in touch via e-mail or call or text me on my cell at 863-221-2372.

This image was created on 22 May 2021 in the marsh down by the lake at ILE. I used the hand held Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 368mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 1000. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/1250 sec. at f/6.3 (wide open) in Manual mode. The exposure was confirmed as perfect by RawDigger. AWB at 8:08pm with some haze along the western horizon.

Wide/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to see a version that fits in your browser window.

Image #1: The Perch II on Day One at sunset

The Right Man at the Right Time …

So Ralph says to me, “Whatcha doing?””Looking for the perfect perch,” I replied. We chatted for a while and an hour later, we were driving around in Ralph’s somewhat battered truck with a chain saw in the bed. We looked and looked and I explained him why each dead tree he pointed out was not the perfect perch. “You’re being quite picky, “he said. “You are correct sir.” Anyhoo, I finally spotted a dead tree that I thought would do the trick. It was tall enough –about 18 or 20 feet. It was very sturdy compared to previous perches. And the single branch at the top, on your left in the image above, seemed to be perfect for all manner of large birds like Osprey, Anhinga, and Great Blue Heron.

The first trick would be to cut the tree down without breaking off the single side-perch near the top. We came up with a plan. Ralph made the first cut from the bottom. Then he taught me to use the chain saw. I would make the top cut and Ralph, shorter, 15 years younger than me, and quite a bit stronger, would break the fall of the tree to prevent the side perch from snapping off. I had never used a chain saw before, so my goal was not to cut off a hand or part of a leg. I made the cut and withdrew the saw as the tree began to crack and fall. It was a great plan, but the tree was too large and too heavy for Ralph to manage; he lost control of it almost instantly and it crashed to the ground. We heard a loud crack, and we were both sure that the side perch had broken off. Miraculously, it had not.

After Ralph cut off the bottom four feet of the new perch, we wrestled it into the back of his truck. It probably weighed at least 80 pounds. We stopped by my house to grab a post-hole digger and by Ralph’s house to grab two five-gallon buckets. We drove to the home of a guy whose lawn Ralph mows regularly to fill the buckets with broken and smashed roof tiles. So far, so good.

Anita and I had found and set up the first The Perch about three or four years ago. The birds loved it and I shared many of the images made of birds sitting atop (and flying to and from) The Perch here on the blog. About a year and a half ago, the top cracked off. I attempted to repair it, but it was not tall enough and, as above, the repair failed. I set up several other perches fairly recently, but none of them were any good for various reasons. The trick now would be to plant the new perch successfully.

This image was created on 23 May 2021 in the marsh down by the lake at ILE. I used the hand held Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 lens at 24mm and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 1000. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/80 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. The exposure was confirmed as perfect by RawDigger. AWB at 6:35am in pre-dawn light.

Upper Zone/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to see a version that fits in your browser window.

Image #2: The Perch II on the morning of Day Two in the pre-dawn

Success!

I picked a spot for the new perch and started the hole with a long-handled spade as Ralph suggested. Then he took over with the post-hole digger. When Anita and I had set up the perch that failed last week, it took me about 20 minutes to dig a four-inch wide 18-inch deep hole. As The Perch II was much bigger and much heavier, we would need a much deeper and much wider hole. I volunteered to go back to the truck and grab the two buckets of rocks. When I returned five minutes later I was amazed; the hole was about eight inches wide and three feet deep! Ralph was a machine!

In short order, The Perch II was upright in the hole. We rotated it so that the side perch would be close to square with both the rising and the setting sun (as the position of the sun in the sky changed with the seasons). Then we filled in the hole with rocks, tamped them down with a shovel, and topped that off with a few shovel-fulls of dirt. Last was to pour two half-buckets of water onto the dirt and into the hole and stamp the mud down. Running into Ralph on Saturday morning was quite serendipitous as he was surely the right man for the moment. Without his help, strength, and brains, not to mention his chain saw, the Perch II would never had happened.

Ralph thinks that this perch will definitely outlast me. And I agree.

Now, it is up to the birds. I am quite optimistic, but only time will tell …

Thanks, Ralph!

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A Video Webinar

In this 1 hour 28 minute plus video you will learn and be inspired. We cover everything from the very basics to the fine points. After a brief bio, the topics include Behavior, Action, Diagonal Lines, and the Cuteness Factor; Birds in Flight — The Holy Grail of Bird Photography; Mis-Framing!; Basic Image Design/HORIZONTALS: Get the subject out of the center of the frame. Basic Image Design/VERTICALS: The center of the frame is generally fine; The Importance of BACKGROUND; Isolating the Subject; Other Elements of Composition; On Getting Low; Going Wide for Bird-scapes; Super-tight!; Working in Sunny Conditions; Working in Cloudy Conditions; Working in Foggy Conditions; Working in the Shade; Working in Bad Weather; Creating Back-lit Images; Creating Silhouettes; and Creating Pleasing Blurs.

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This presentation is based on the webinar that I did for the South Shore Camera Club in April. You can find some of the comments below along with comments from two of the folks who viewed the webinar the night before the DeSoto IPT began.

You can order your copy of Designing and Creating Pleasing and Dramatic Natural History Images/A Video Webinar by clicking here or by calling Jim with your credit card in hand at 863-692-0906.

Typos

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8 comments to A Thing of Beauty is a Joy … The Perch II

  • avatar Margaret

    ‘Then he taught me to use the chain saw.’ I was half expecting ‘Next, a quick lesson in neurosurgery.’
    Great perch in a beautiful setting, Artie. No bird will be able to resist it.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      So far they have resisted it :). Anita is often wanted to give my neurosurgery lessons …

      with love, artie

  • Both photos are great!! Both are different but still great and good!!

  • avatar James Saxon

    Ralph’s help was all that was needed to help you get the new perch installed. Can’t wait to see the images it will produce.

  • avatar Jean-Louis Rousselle

    Kudos to you both

    Obviously Ralph is one heck of good guy “Takes one to know one” I can only imagine the satisfaction and pleasure that the new perch will provide for both the human & Avian kind, most definitely a win win project. In addition, that sunset image depicts a beautiful nature expressions scene.

    All the best and keep the ball rolling,

  • Howdy Artie
    Way to go Ralph, aren’t friends amazing!
    Cannot wait to see pictures as it is only a matter of time and all the birds will be using the Perch II
    Always with love b
    PS Yes i did receive the Eagle/Crow

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