Friday, June 10, 2011

Photographing a Robin's Nest Near My Window 1

I have a post near my breakfast room window.  I placed it there for support of a clematis.  The post was an used 3" x 6" that was once the platform of an outdoor advertising poster panel.  It was 24' long and I used a circular saw to cross cut it.  The blade could not cut clear through in one pass so I cut each side going around the post.  The cut was not square to the side, it had a peak in the center and slopes on all sides.  Come to think of it, I may have done that on purpose so the rain would drain off and not puddle on the top of the post.  In any event, I planted the post 2' deep and its elevation is approximately 7' above ground level.  I had some 2" x 4" green plastic coated wire fencing and I surrounded the post with that.  The fencing does not touch the post and stands away from the post about 3" on all sides.  I stabilized the fencing with wire I ran around the post and then back to the fencing on opposite sides, forming an X if viewed from above.  The fencing extends above the post by a few feet allowing the clematis to climb as high as possible.

Last year, a robin tried to build a nest atop the post.  Because of the post being peaked the nest began to slide off.  I tried to stabilize the nest with string but it didn't stay and the robin abandoned the nest.  Robins generally have two or three broods per season.  Soon a robin began to build a new nest in the same place.  This time the nest seemed to be stable and I began thinking of photographing the bird activity through my window.  I raised the blinds in the window and kept them in that position for ease of access.  Standing comfortably inside the bay window I was able to place the camera lens against the glass.  Because I was only two feet away, the robin and nest almost filled the viewfinder.

Without the camera, I
began to sneak up on the robin hoping it would become comfortable with my presence.  Many times we would stare eye to eye and as long as I didn't move shapely it didn't fly.  Fly it did.  I began to think of some kind of blind I could fashion so that only the camera lens would be visible by the bird.  I thought of mirrored film to affix to the window but my spouse vetoed that idea.  I thought of paper with just a lens sized hole.  Again vetoed.  I now had rules in which it was necessary to work.  I am most creative when I am limited by rules.  Here is my solution.

I would set the camera on a tripod in the window with the lens against the glass, remote release attached.  This solution would create an environment  with no movements to startle the robin.  My next step was to find a remote release.  I searched in my camera equipment for my old bulb release with a 15' tube.  Alas, my digital camera has no release connection.  Any remote would need to be electronic.  I didn't have time to send via mail for an electronic remote release.

I continued to sneak up on the robin.  The robin flew each time.  I disturbed the robin too often and the nest was abandoned, again.

This spring as I cleaned up my yard, with my daughter's impending wedding scheduled for the end of May 2011, I trimmed back the honeysuckle(Lonicera) and the rosa Zéphirine-Drouhin on the side of the house, not within view of any windows.  There I found a robin's nest on the rose trellis.  There were no signs of eggs but the nest was intact and just about 4' above ground level.  Thinking of creating greeting cards from my photographs, I placed some rose petals in the nest and some Geraniaceae flowers around the nest.  Not quite as exciting as the anticipation the year before but what surprised me is that I never even saw the nest or any bird activity on that trellis at all last year.

Greeting Card Universe

I never did get any quality images of the robin, eggs or hatchlings.  This year, I hope to show enough patience to allow this robin time to lay eggs before I begin to experiment with the camera in the window.  I eagerly anticipate the wide open mouths of the hatchlings in my viewfinder.

Related Links
Greeting Card Universe
Attracting Nesting Robins
Robin Nesting Shelf Plans

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