Archive for February, 2011

Dreaming of spring

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

I’m dreaming of spring and wanting to see something green!  Found a few images that we took last April at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St Louis, Missouri that perked up my gray day mood.

Sycamore tree in spring

Something green and something pink….

Pink Flowering Dogwood Tree in spring

Pink Flowering Dogwood Tree in spring

And something pinker…

Pink flowering dogwood in spring

Pink flowering dogwood in spring

Victor Hugo said, “Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.”  I’m an eternal optimist who’s rather impatient at the moment!

Daybreak Bird of the Month: Snow Goose

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Late January at Daybreak Imagery is typically a rather slow time for bird photography.  If it snows, we enjoy the birds in our yard in snowy trees and at feeders.  But with no snow, the scenery in south central Illinois in winter is brown and boring, to say the least.  But we do watch for migrating species, and Richard is out in the field as much as possible searching for and photographing what he can find.  

In January of 2010, Richard spent a lot of time photographing short-eared owls at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area, which is located approximately 7 miles from our home.  He took some amazing flight shots during a 10-day period when the owls were hunting voles on the prairie habitat.  But on January 28, when he drove to the sanctuary to photograph short-ears, he didn’t find any.  He did find Snow Geese and here’s his story behind this photo. 

Snow Geese in flight, blurred wings, Marion Co., IL

Snow Geese in flight, blurred wings, Marion Co., IL

“I had struck out on short-eared owls at Prairie Ridge and was feeling a little bummed when I heard snow geese in the distance.  For some reason their squeaking calls always bring a smile to my face so I packed up my gear and drove north on the country roads to get closer to them.  Canada geese fly in orderly V-formations and are somewhat predictable in their behavior—but not snow geese!  They are constantly on the move—always rising, then sitting, continually going up and down, zigzagging about like a platoon of disorderly soldiers with a poor leader.  They make me laugh when I watch them and are a challenge to figure out where to be to take their picture!  But that day, I managed to follow them over by Armstrong Road where I set up my tripod beside my car and took one photo before they moved on.  

It was a very dark, gloomy day with extremely low light so I decided to use a slow shutter speed to blur the action of the birds moving in a group.  This photo was taken with a Canon EOS 50D camera body, Canon 500mm f4 IS lens, shot at 1/160th of a second, F4, ISO 400. “   

Yesterday, when I was working in the yard cleaning up downed tree branches from our recent ice storms, I smiled again as I heard Snow Geese flying overhead.  Thousands poured in from the sky and landed in a field across the road from our house.  I dropped my chain saw and grabbed my camera gear and took the photo below.  

Snow Geese across road from Daybreak Imagery Feb 13, 2011

Snow Geese across road from Daybreak Imagery Feb 13, 2011

Snow Goose Fast Facts: 

Scientific Name:  Chen caerulescens 

Medium sized goose 26-33” with wingspan of 52-55” 

Adults are primarily white with some brown on back with black patch on wings. 

Two color morphs:  White-morph is white all over except black on wings.  Immature is gray on top with a dark bill.  Blue-Morph has dark brownish gray body with white head and neck.  

Breeds in the arctic and subarctic. 

Winters in wet (freshwater and saltwater) areas, marshes, and fields. 

Behavior:   Migrates in large flocks that feed together in fields and wet habitats. 

Diet:  Vegetarian.  Plant material, seeds, leaves, grasses, roots, aquatic plants, waste grain in agricultural fields.

Best Suet Recipe!

Monday, February 7th, 2011

We’ve been fans of Bob and Martha Sargent and the Hummer/Bird Study Group for many years.  They are hummingbird and bird banders from Alabama, and we’ve been on the speaker line-up with them at the Rockport-Fulton Texas HummerBird Celebration several times.  They truly love birds and have dedicated many years to training banders and helping birds through their research.  Besides that, they’re also fun people to hang out with and talk about birds!

Here at Daybreak Imagery, we’ve been feeding Martha’s Super Suet Recipe to our birds this winter and it’s been a huge hit.  Martha has graciously given us permission to share it with you.

Martha’s Super Suet

1 Cup of Crunchy Peanut Butter

2 Cups of Quick Cook Oats

2 Cups of Cornmeal

1 Cup of Lard (not shortening)

1 Cup of regular white flour

Melt lard and peanut butter in the microwave or over low heat.  Stir in remaining ingredients and pour (or spoon) into square freezer containers about ½” thick to fit into your suet basket.  Store in freezer or refrigerator until ready to use.  This makes 6-8 cakes.

You can also freeze it into thicker “logs” and slice later into sizes to fit your suet baskets.  We’ve been crumbling it into bits and putting them on tray feeders for the birds during the ice/snow lately.

Let us know if you’d like a recipe for a larger batch that makes 32 cakes, and we’ll post that on our blog later.

We’re members of the Hummer/Bird Study Group and enjoy reading about their fascinating research in their newsletter.  You can learn more about the Hummer/Bird Study Group here:

Ice Storm February 2011

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

The ice storm at Daybreak Imagery showed us what Mother Nature can do in winter.  We received ¾” of ice followed by blustery winds that toppled trees,  knocked downed power lines, and more.  We live just 70 miles east of St Louis where record blizzards conditions occurred.  Nearly 200 miles of I-70 between St. Louis and Kansas City, MO  shut down because of record amounts of  snowfall and blizzard conditions.  In our neck of the woods, we just received ice…and lots of it!  Many trees and limbs fell down throughout south central Illinois which also caused power outages.  Richard Day has posted some photos from our yard and a video of why power lines don’t like ice!

Broken Tree


Icy Grass



Waiting on Spring